When Fugazi came onto the scene around the tail end of the '80's, they redefined punk rock onto a pedestal many will never be able to sit above. It turned a lot of heads for kids seeking progressive music from what they thought it was or could be. It was a band that for many, and still many of my friends years later, that defined not only how talented and forward thinking genres can be, but how reaching outside the box and being honest as a musician will make you sit atop the rest for a long time. "Legacy" is a word that over 80% of bands today will never reach. Possibly 90%.
That's a fact.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Fugazi had that much influence on me as a listener when I was young. It was a band I didn't discover until college and even begin to understand, analyze and realize the true worth until the last few years of my life. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the band I'm about to look back on will ever reach that level of broad influence, because time is yet to show us that. But picking up Progress by the RX Bandits for me was like others discovering Repeater. With each release and live show, I watched the RX Bandits just stride when getting better and better and give birth to some of the best music that will forever stick with me and be passed down. It goes without saying that missing the band's Hoodwinked set of Fugazi covers at this year's Bamboozle will be regrettable for years to come. A tiny itch in the back of my mind.
A little over a year ago today, I was sitting in the back of the Rx Bandits' tour bus on the second night of their summer tour. What was about to take place was an interview between Matt Embree and I. This was not the first interview I had conducted with Embree, but it would be my last to this day. The interview was a tough one to swallow, but it was at times inspirational. But in the moment, it was downright devastating. After forty minutes of quite an interview, I was left a bit hollow. Why? I was essentially told that the future of the RX Bandits was undetermined and on shaky ground.
Earlier this year, we were told of the band's decision to go on indefinite hiatus.
After seeing the guys plow through one of the most phenomenal sets I've ever seen from them, I was told that the general expectancies of albums and tours are definitely "on hiatus," but to say there's no "future for the band" is putting an unsolicited nail in the coffin. That night, the band chronologically brought the audience and I through album by album cuts (the set of the night consisting of the first two songs and the last of each record with others thrown in here and there), and one by one I realized not only why I stuck with the band for as long as I have been a fan, but it was an audible sense of the truest form of "progress" that hasn't been cheaply bastardized by the general mainstream of shitty journalist like myself trying to define a band moving forward with their "art."
For me, seeing the RX Bandits (and anticipation in the weeks and month leading up to the show) is about my headway into what I can subjectively call amazing music. Not only that, the RX Bandits was the first show I was ever snuck into (though Joe Troy's appendix was to explode that night in Baton Rouge, so Embree played a solo set) and the first big band I interviewed for my high school newspaper. I vaguely remember the four or five shitty questions I had for them, but it still dwells on my mind to this day. Even after that, I've had my share of interviews with the band, and each time the words and views out of their mouths express how the band built art upon exploration of not only other art, but first hand experiences - and as seen in the final tour's openers - their closest friends.
Bringing on Maps and Atlases and Zechs Marquise (and opening for a few nights, and the one I caught in particular, Happy Body Slow Brain) really shows that talent will follow and feed off of talent. Zechs' upcoming record shows them harnessing their skills and getting to the point better, stronger and tighter just like each time I've see them in the last few years. What's not to love about Maps and Atlases' precise playing, and the awe of how careless, yet flawless they make it look to the naked eye. Even after the show, Embree and Dave Davison sat out front of the venue jamming soul and blues classics between each other in front of a small audience that stayed. There is the common thread of grand influence that flows both inwardly between the bands and their outside influences.
Then there's the guy who packed his car and was following the entire tour, looking for a place to crash each night among fans. There's a showmanship of community among not only the bands, but the fans who appreciate the music themselves.
Here's just what some of our users had to say about the band's impact:
I understand that some of you reading this will probably just see it as a fanboy editorial and that's completely fine, because after writing, rewriting and coming back to this for a month now, it really was meant to be an honest farewell. Maybe it's not the RX Bandits in particular for you, but imagine if that one band that you held so personal in your collection just called it a day, how would that make you feel? This was that band for me. I've been talking a lot this past year about nostalgia and looking back at personal influence, maybe you're too young to get it now or have yet to experience this feeling, that's okay. Maybe that band broke up the other day, or will be destined to break up five years from now as you reflect back on 15 to 20 years down the line. Very few artists these days will hold a candle forever, and with the saturation of the market only swelling due to the Web when faced with a parallel constant touring schedule competition as well, you can't expect your heroes to last forever. Having these guys lay down their instruments for a while (but not completely when considering their equally talented current other projects) is really my first taste of bitter acceptance of the aforementioned point.
There have been so many reunions in the past two years alone, I've lost count - and for some of them - kind of lost interest. If in five, ten, thirty years the guys decide to get back together to create music as a unit of architects working on another well structured piece, I will be waiting as anxiously as I did when I learned of their departure. If this is the end, then I'd say they left a pretty solid catalog behind. If this is just a break, then I'll be one of the first in anticipating the return of easily one of the best, sometimes underrated and all around progressive bands to have existed.