Sometimes one band isn’t enough for someone, so they go off and do another music thing.
Sometimes the other music thing is good.
Sometimes it’s bad.
Sometimes it’s just like… what.
Here are a bunch side projects from big names in music that made an impact on radio, then promptly vanished and are almost never spoken of anymore. The radio made a big huge deal out of them and then they went FWOOOSH and were gone, even though most of them were kind
Band of Origin: Smashing Pumpkins
Why: Too happy to be Smashing Pumpkins songs.
Big Songs: “Honestly“, “Lyric”
Right around the time the Smashing Pumpkins went on their six-year hiatus, Billy Corgan decided to form another band that was basically the Pumpkins who just got back from summer camp. In some ways it made sense; if this came out as a Pumpkins record on the heels of Machina II and the electro-goth direction Corgan had been taking them it would have been way out of left field. It was a pretty decent record, Corgan clearly knows his way around melody and structure so it wasn’t super indulgent. It was just weird seeing him smile so much after many years of scowls.
2. Fort Minor
Band of Origin: Linkin Park
Why: Mike Shinoda wanted to prove to everyone he was a totally legit rapper.
Big Songs: “Remember the Name“, “Where’d You Go?” (note: lol)
Ever since this project came to be, Mike Shinoda‘s running theme in his rapping has been “I AM VERY GOOD RAPPER/ ALL THE OTHER RAPPERS ARE MY ENEMIES/ AND TRYING TO DISMISS ME”. It’s sort of like when Drake started out and was rapping about being huge before he was huge. Or how he said he “started from the bottom” when he started on Degrassi and was also very rich.
The difference in Shinoda’s case is that his underdog sentiment is simultaneously true and false at the same time. Nobody considers him a legitimate rapper. Nobody even brings him up in conversations about rap. He is not in any sort of beef with another rapper from the other coast. So when he says lines about being in the game and schooling other rappers it’s incredibly embarrassing because he…is not part of the game and never has been. He’s trying to drum up some sort of false reputation with his bravado and just not getting any respect from anyone. So yeah, you are an underdog, but that’s because you weren’t part of the pack to begin with. That’s why when Fort Minor released a one-off track in 2015 it immediately fizzled despite you boasting you were “back in the game WHO MISSED ME”. It’s kind of ironic that the biggest songs Fort Minor released were called “Remember the Name” and “Where’d You Go?”
3. Box Car Racer
Band of Origin: Blink-182
Why: Tom Delonge‘s ego
Big Songs: “I Feel So“, “There Is”
Other than being less puerile than Blink-182, there’s really not much separating this band from the pop-punk legends. It’s basically an album full of “serious” Blink tunes like “Stay Together for the Kids” or “Adam’s Song”, only missing Mark Hoppus‘ deeper register balancing Tom Delonge‘s nasal drawl. It was essentially a test run for Delonge’s ambitions as a frontman, which he’d fulfill in 2006 as the cosmic-obsessed Bono imitator in Angels & Airwaves. It’s regrettable that the material here ended up as part of the splinter group rather than Blink proper, as having these songs under their belt would have only bolstered their catalogue of hits. “I Feel So” with the verses sung by Hoppus seems like a natural fit.
4. The Network/ Foxboro Hot Tubs
Band of Origin: Green Day (but shhhhhh)
Why: They wanted to be unknown again?
Big Songs: “Roshambo“/ “Mother Mary”
In between 2000’s Warning and 2004’s American Idiot, Billie Joe Armstrong and company decided to put on costumes and get secret identities and that was The Network. Armstrong then pretended that Green Day weren’t The Network but it was very obviously them because the press releases to the radio stations said so and otherwise how else would this rumour have gotten started? It was such a hamfisted attempt at drumming up publicity and Green Day didn’t do it again for Foxboro Hot Tubs a few years later; they straight up just called it a side project. Not that it made the music any more vital, considering that the mod/garage/brit-pop route would be something Green Day would incorporate into their future music anyway. In fact the entire second album in their 2012 Uno! Dos! Tre! trilogy was supposed to be another Foxboro Hot Tubs album. The interchangeable nature made it the most inessential side project since U2 released an album as Passengers.
Band of Origin: No Doubt/AFI
Big Songs: Not really
Probably one of the most fleeting side-projects in the history of music, DREAMCAR existed simply because Davey Havok wanted to do some 80’s songs and AFI wouldn’t let him so he called the guys from No Doubt and they weren’t busy so they said yeah sure let’s just pump out some new wave/post punk jams and go on a tiny tour in between AFI shows. The music itself was okay! Nothing to feel strongly about one way or the other. The whole thing just felt strangely brief; this had less of a shelf life than Havok’s super eDgY electronic side project Blaqk Audio.