When Griffin Kaye wrote about 10 Musicians For Which One Band Was Never Enough he merely uncorked the bottle and, having done so, there was no way that that particular genie was going to go quietly into the night.
Here, for your delectation, are a few (probably) less well-known musical luminaries for whom one band simply wasn’t enough…
When you first witness the (frankly horrific) CGI Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns the bellowing that you hear is not from the honeyed throat of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson but from the battle-scarred vocal chords of one Max Cavalera, former lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist of Brazilian thrash band Sepultura.
Over the course of six albums (1986-1996) Max was the face and voice of the band, leading them from being a relatively simplistic Venom-esque death metal band to becoming arguably the world’s first World Metal band, before the untimely death of his stepson and managerial matters resulted in him leaving/being kicked out of Sepultura.
But even before his departure Max Cavalera had begun to spread his wings, collaborating with (his step son-in-law) Alex Newport (then of Fudge Tunnel) for a one-off industrial metal project named Nailbomb.
Following on from his time in Sepultura, Cavalera has since maintained no less than three (relatively) full-time bands:
Soulfly is his primary focus. Named in part in memory of his late stepson Dana Wells (and taken from Max’s collaboration with Deftones on the song Headup from Around the Fur), the band mixes obvious thrash and groove metal influences with Brazilian and World Music, and has featured a plethora of collaborators from throughout the metal sphere… as well as one or two slightly unexpected names (such as Sean Lennon)
Cavalera Conspiracy is a more bare-bones thrash metal band that sees him reunited with his brother and former Sepultura drummer Iggor Cavalera, producing music that harks back to Sepultura’s earlier releases;
Killer Be Killed, the newest of Max’s three bands is a post-thrash groove metal supergroup also featuring Troy Sanders (Mastodon), Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan, amongst others), and Ben Coller (Converge) – who replaced Dave Elitch (The Mars Volta) – that may be the most melodic and commercially accessible of any of Cavalera’s musical endeavours to date.
Max isn’t shy about working with others either. His voice has graced stand out tracks by Dave Grohl’s Probot (Red War), Apocalyptica (Repressed), Ice T’s Body Count (All Love is Lost), and Five Finger Death Punch (I.M.Sin), and he provided guitars – alongside Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares – for Junkie XL’s 1999 release Big Sounds of the Drags.
Greg Puciato may not be a name you’re familiar with, but it’s one you should probably learn. Having been a fan of the band with their previous vocalist, Puciato joined The Dillinger Escape Plan in 2001, and had been touring with them for over a year when the band confused everyone by releasing Irony Is a Dead Scene… which featured Mike Patton on vocals. Puciato’s first recording with the band appeared on a Black Flag tribute album before his full-length debut on Miss Machine, culminating in him contributing to and appearing on five TDEP albums in total before the band’s dissolution.
Regularly ranked as one of the greatest (and occasionally controversial*) metal frontmen, he is also widely considered to be among the best and most versatile singers in heavy music and beyond. Indeed, even during his tenure with TDEP, he stepped outside of the band to indulge in a number of other projects:
Spylacopa ran from 2008 to 2012 or thereabouts as an experimental music project that saw Puciato contribute not just vocals but also guitar and piano work alongside programming;
The Black Queen officially began life in 2015 and is grounded more in electronic music, spawning releases in 2016 and 2018 which also culminated in the foundation of the Federal Prisoner record label by Puciato;
Error existed for a brief moment during 2004, the offspring of Puciato, Atticus Ross, and Brett Gurewitz (of Bad Religion). Officially declared to be no more by Puciato in 2012, they released only one set of recordings, a five-song self-titled EP;
Killer Be Killed, mentioned elsewhere, was initially formed by Puciato and Max Cavalera as a then-untitled project in 2011, with the name only being announced in 2013. Their debut release didn’t see the light of day until 2014, and a second album emerged in 2019.
In addition, Puciato has a number of guest vocalist credits to his name, including Genghis Tron (The Feast), Soulfly (Rise of the Fallen), Lamb of God (Torches), and Devin Townsend (The Mighty Masturbator) amongst others. Puciato also released a book of poetry and photography in 2019 (Separate the Dawn) as well as his first official solo recording, Child Soldier: Creator of God, an eclectic collection that touches on each of his former bands and projects.
*It’s probably best not to mention Reading Festival 2002*
Greg Puciato may be considered to be among the best and most versatile vocalists in heavy music today, but he’s only human: Mike Patton, most famously of the band Faith No More, is often considered capable of the inhuman, possessing the widest vocal range (six octaves) of any known singer in popular music.
Patton officially joined FNM in 1989, having performed in Mr Bungle since 1984 – which he continued to do on and off throughout his stint with FNM – and was immediately thrust into the public eye courtesy of the critically and commercially successful The Real Thing. Three more albums followed before Faith No More disbanded in 1998. The band reformed sporadically thereafter and recorded a new album in 2015.
Mr Bungle, a somewhat avant-garde genre-bending ensemble, released three major-label albums between 1991 and 1999 before going on hiatus. The band reformed in 2020 (after a fashion) and released a re-recorded version of their The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Patton has over thirty studio albums to his credit, including works with Tomahawk (five albums; which includes members of The Jesus Lizard, Melvins, and Helmet), Fantômas (four albums; featuring members of Slayer, Melvins, and Mr Bungle), Peeping Tom (one album), tētēma (two albums), Dead Cross (one album), The Dillinger Escape Plan (one EP, the aforementioned Irony Is a Dead Scene, featuring a blistering cover of Aphex Twin’s Come To Daddy), and a slew of collaborative albums with art jazz noise supremo John Zorn. Patton has also produced a number of films scores (including Jason Statham’s Crank: High Voltage) and provided some of the most pants-wetting and disturbing vocal contributions imaginable to a number of games and films (The Darkness/The Darkness 2; Left 4 Dead/Left 4 Dead 2; Will Smith’s I Am Legend). He’s also provided guest vocals for Sepultura (once in the Cavalera era, once in the Green era) and Björk…
Not bad for a man once labelled as being nothing more than an Anthony Keidis clone!
Maynard James Keenan
Tool formed in 1990, and in the thirty-plus years since have only managed to produce five studio albums for a variety of reasons… which has allowed vocalist Maynard James Keenan to explore some of his more eclectic ideas.
Over the course of the aforementioned five albums and the tours that followed Tool have covered some very serious musical and artistic ground. They are, without a shadow of a doubt, a performance band, and Keenan has been a focal point throughout whilst also doing a great deal to deflect attention from the man behind the voice.
A prime example might be A Perfect Circle, the band he formed with Tool’s guitar tech. Very much an alternative rock act, Keenan stays firmly within his own wheelhouse contributing lyrics and vocal melodies to Billy Howerdel’s musical compositions. The band produced three albums before going on hiatus, and might not have reconvened for a fourth had it not been for a Brian May cancellation (true story).
Being party to two highly successful musical acts might be enough for most musicians, but Keenan apparently has other itches that require scratching on a semi-regular basis. Thus, Puscifer was born. Whilst APC has had a somewhat fluid line-up due to periods of inactivity, Puscifer has always been a revolving door of contributors and collaborators – a conceit that goes beyond the studio setting to the band’s occasional live shows.
As Keenan was the only permanent member, he considered the project to be his “creative subconscious”. Pinning down Puscifer’s sound may be akin to herding cats, but early recordings bore distinct trip-hop influences whilst later albums leaned toward experimental electronica and even post-industrial soundscapes. Probably the most prolific of Maynard’s bands, from 2007 onward Puscifer have four official studio albums, another five remix releases, and a handful of singles and EP’s.
It’s also worth noting what could have been: whilst some people may fondly remember Green Jellÿ’s Three Little Pigs (yes, Maynard was involved in that – he performed the falsetto “not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”) most don’t know is that Keenan was one of two contenders for the vocalist spot in the band that became Rage Against the Machine (and went on to contribute vocals on their first album). He’s also worked with Deftones, Tori Amos, Melvins, and Thirty Seconds to Mars.
For about fifteen minutes, Limp Bizkit was the hottest band around. Indeed, if you’re of a particular age then just reading that band’s name is enough to have you humming at least one of half a dozen early 00’s dance floor anthems. And whilst Fred Durst rightfully gets most of the attention in Limp Bizkit, it’s the ‘weird’ looking one I want to talk about.
Wes Borland may very well have been the soul of Limp Bizkit, the proof of which might be the turning of the band’s fortunes following his original departure in 2001. As a guitarist in a heavy metal band (nu-metal wasn’t quite a defined ‘thing’ at that point) he did just about everything he could to not sound like the guitarist in a heavy metal band; following his departure, it’s fair to say he then embraced it… in his own way.
In 2001, Borland reconvened Big Dumb Face, a band he and his brother Scott had initially formed in 1998. Influenced by Ween and Mr Bungle, Big Dumb Face might be best described as anarchic avant-garde art metal. Borland took on vocal duties as well as playing the guitar, and the entire affair seemed over in a moment – an album arrived, and sporadic live shows happened, and then nothing from 2004 onward… until the band’s sudden re-emergence in 2017.
Black Light Burns came about following the stalling of another Borland brothers project – Eat the Day – and record company politics killing off The Damning Well – a supergroup also featuring Richard Patrick (Filter) that formed for the purposes of recording material for the Underworld soundtrack and allegedly produced an entire album of songs. Material from Eat the Day and The Damning Well coalesced under the watchful eye of Danny Lohner (a.k.a. Renhölder) to form the basis of the first Black Light Burns album, followed by an album of cover versions. A third album featured material that was more alternative rock than metal.
Two albums of Eat the Day recordings eventually emerged, as did an album of Goatslayer tracks – another Borland brothers project – and Borland also released a number of solo albums, in addition to appearing on albums by Queen Kwong, Filter, Jonathan Davis, From First to Last (featuring a pre-Skrillex Sonny Moore on vocals), Drop Dead Gorgeous, and The Crystal Method.
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