When does one person exceed the rest of the unit that makes up a team or a band or a company? With the unfortunate loss of the genius that was Steve Jobs, will Apple just level off like a consistent plain when it comes to new technology - never overly exciting us, but always keeping us attentive? Why is there so much press about a back-up quarterback last week? Why do publications with niches outside sports care about Tim Tebow in the Big Apple? Regimes change like fantasy drafts most every year, CEOs will always step down or be forced out of companies and if you've been following Chiodos over the past few years - you're familiar with the fact that bands also rotate members here and there, it's nothing new and has been going on in the punk rock scene for years. In the hype of whether Craig Owens will or won't return to front the band with the departure of Brandon Bolmer, I begin to wonder what makes one person's abilities outweigh the rest, and on what grounds - theirs or our own?
The additions, subtractions and multiplications and plain divisions of bands past and present is nothing new to any of us. Sometimes it's as positive and understanding as family, work or school. Sometimes it's about girls and drugs and going to jail - you know, tabloid shit we seem to care about more than that of the music. But I guess that's really a fuel to the industry fire of their old "no bad publicity," right? Honestly, what doesn't kill you can sometimes make you stronger depending on how you feel about a certain band's style. Depending on what album and at what age you've discovered said band - the whole damn thing is relative anyway. I'm sure, somewhere out there, there are a collective of people who agree that Chiodos' last album, Illuminaudio, is the best. Then there's the set of fans who've been there since All's Well That Ends Well. Those fans have probably taken their convictions with them in hearing both D.R.U.G.S. and Chiodos' most recent line-up.
What truly makes a band their strongest thought? Is it one person, or the collective of individual talents, and where does the majority put their focus on? I guess that depends on what you're into. From an outside view, the majority tend to think it's the vocal and lyricist end. Kids will follow Anthony Green anywhere. Some (unfortunately) have done the same with Jonny Craig in his move to Emarosa and back with Dance Gavin Dance. Others gave Aaron Gillespie a chance with The Almost. What we tend to forget is that a different band is a DIFFERENT band. It contains different members whose summary parts are different from the whole that you're familiar with when comparing them to their other bands. It would be dumb to compare Narrows to Botch or These Arms Are Snakes. There's a significant difference between the fun of Lifetime and the force of Paint it Black or Kid Dynamite. D.R.U.G.S. won't ever be Chiodos or Matchbook Romance or From First to Last or any of its members' pasts.
I also understand the longing for the original group of artists who presented you with something you continue to deem as special among the rest. The creation of anything still follows a timeline and each move defines generations to come. What if Keith Morris stuck with Black Flag, would Henry Rollins be an icon and would Circle Jerks not be another great edition to early '80s hardcore? If it were not for Milo walking away from The Descendants for a bit, we would not have another great band like ALL. At some point people accepted the past, but there will always be those who lived those initial moments of "glory" who will never get over it. When we found out that Taking Back Sunday was getting back together with its original line-up, we began to stack all our expectations like a thick structure of fortified brick and stubbornness. It led some people to be disappointed that five guys didn't write the same album they wrote when they were teenagers, but instead wrote an album from who they had become. Where does the subjective fault lie, in the band or in our degree of never letting go of a moment that many of us have sort of grown out of, but some will never admit and others will forever deny.
The exciting thing about change-ups is the product without expectation. Expectation is something we somehow can't seem to shake as listeners and fans. Everyone from the casual listener to the most die-hard has such expectations based on the music that meant a revolution per minute to them in the past. What we have to remind ourselves is that by taking different talents and rearranging them, we are continuing to challenge ourselves and to test the waters of our own pallet of tastes. Sure, it's not going to work all the time, but there's a layer of subjectivity in even saying that as well. What doesn't work for you, may be the greatest thing to others. Maybe those people didn't like band X or Y like you did, but the collaboration of members from both into band Z is exciting to them.
I could go on a whole other tangent about the consistency of line-ups and how it's worked for some bands and how they've evolved nicely among the original line-up - but that's another 1200 words off the subject of change. We have to learn to look at each band and each collective as something new and take it with that grain of salt first, without the expectations of our past getting in the way. If the past somehow reshapes itself into a familiar form - then what? Well, we need to still take it as a clean palette. A person writing something in their bedroom with no expectation at 17-years-old is not the same one under years of personal growth, artistic growth - hopefully - or even the everyday wonders of life we all face as humans.
Hypothetically, if tomorrow, Craig Owens announces he's been writing new material for Chiodos and will rejoin the band. Record in four months. Early next year there will be a release. What if it comes out the success you so want to see? Happy, right? What if it doesn't click? What if there's a loose connection? Ask yourself why that may be - is it the music itself or the fact you'll never be able to let go of something you continue to hold onto in the past? My bet is that it's the latter. Even I've found myself guilty of that more than once.