We’re getting all too used to hastily typed Facebook eulogies to the dead (and, hey, we’ve posted a few ourselves), but it’s still fairly rare to read tributes to a band who’ve ceased to exist.
Maybe that’s because splitting up is associated with failure, and rock’n'roll deals in success stories (or – even more banal – entirely expected and frankly money-motivated reunions).
Then there’s the cold fact that no act who ever managed to sell a record in the first place seems to split up any more, instead opting to trot out the hits for ever decreasing circles of fans (sorry The Bluetones, we’re thinking of you here).
So let’s pause to celebrate one band who’ve had the decency to simply jack it all in and do something more interesting instead, rather than lingering like an eggy fart at the back of rock’s groaning buffet.
So let’s pause to celebrate one band who’ve had the decency to simply jack it all in
I first heard The Soundtrack Of Our Lives’ Mantra Slider being breathlessly back-announced mid-morning (well, 1pm-ish … ah, the freelance life) by Gary Crowley on London’s much-missed trailblazing dadrock station GLR circa 1996. Mid-Britpop, it was refreshing to hear from a turn who seemed content to luxuriate in a hot bath of exotically scented 60s influences, rather than subjecting us to a cold, cokey shower of English mod pop cliches. And, in the caped, bearded figure of Ebbot Lundberg, they had a frontman who styled himself as a sort of psychedelic survivor superhero; Mark Lanegan spliced with an oak.
By the time I came to work for NME, the production desk – always a tad more retro in their tastes than the writers at the other end of the office being urged to wax nonsensical about Craig David – made Soundtrack’s Behind The Music album a fixture on the office stereo. Ebbot was our Thor, and pinning a Rock’n'RollSoul badge on that cape of his – as we did, by now aged over 30 one Reading Festival – would only hone his shamanic powers, while sprinkling some of Ebbot’s cosmic dust on our little club night (if only we’d had a camera, a scanner and the Internet, eh readers?).
As Gallagher would attest, bands seldom get the chance to choose how and when they split
My personal Soundtrack ardour probably peaked on seeing them play upstairs at Catch on Kingsland Road, a painfully oversubscribed late-night appearance seen mainly from a wonky wet tabletop at the back of a seriously sweaty room. Others continued to live the dream: Noel Gallagher generously mentions how Soundtrack’s layered wall of guitars was gleefully borrowed by MkII Oasis, while I hear that Andrew Perry of Mojo magazine flew out to Sweden to hang with the band as soon as word spread that they were splitting.
Lundberg’s previous project Union Carbide Productions had found favour with Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth and, though Soundtrack never shook the world in quite the way they threatened to, they did change lives. Typically, now that we know we’re about to lose them, they might gain some recognition. As Gallagher would attest, bands seldom get the chance to choose how and when they split but now, like The Jam before them, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are getting the chance to rock their own wake. When the dry ice clears, the amps are turned off, and the thirsty faithful crunch back to the bar over a sea of plastic pint pots, how many bands would dare follow them?
The Soundtrack Of Our Lives play their final UK shows at Heaven, WC1 on Thu Sep 13, and Wed Sep 12 at the Roundhouse, NW1 (supporting Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds).