For Failure, long-awaited reunion comes at exactly the right time
When Failure broke up in 1997, the fanbase for the band just wasn't there. When they reunited in 2013, it was waiting.
"I feel really musically understood right now, whereas I definitely didn't in the '90s," said Failure vocalist/instrumentalist Ken Andrews via phone interview. "Maybe all that time needed to go by for our sound to make sense."
Two years ago, the band announced a reunion show at the El Rey Theatre in its hometown of Los Angeles - its first show in 16 years. It sold out in less than a minute.
"The real shocker was that the majority of the crowd was in their 20s," Andrews said. "That's what led us to rethink what we were going to be doing."
Andrews and bassist/guitarist Greg Edwards had only recently reestablished a personal relationship that had "disintegrated" in 1997 - a reunion that started in motion when Andrews and Edwards each had their first children within six months of each other.
"Some of our other friends were pushing us, like, 'You guys should go in the studio and see what happens,'" Andrews said. "And so we did."
At the time of the El Rey show, the band - rounded out by drummer Kellii Scott - had recorded four songs it was considering releasing as an EP. The rabid response to its first show led to a full tour and a full album "because there was obviously an appetite for it." The Heart Is a Monster, Failure's follow-up to its much-loved third album, 1996's Fantastic Planet, was released last week.
The new album feels right at home next to Fantastic Planet, evoking the same layered and distorted sound that gave them a cult following since the breakup - a dissonant-but-melodic space rock with alt-metal tinges through early Pink Floyd-colored glasses. And the climate for this album may be even better for this sound than in the late '90s.
"I feel like, in general, it's a good time for us," said Andrews. "It feels like people are getting what we're doing."
As the band kicks off a tour that's a mix of club headlining dates, festival slots and a couple opening gigs with Jane's Addiction - including its Columbus stop July 7 at the LC outdoors - it's encountering a fanbase that spans generations.
"I think in some cases it's the parents, maybe, who are turning their kids on to a band they liked when they were in their 20s," Andrews reflected. "I met one kid who brought his whole band who was like 17 or 18, and he was like, 'This will sound crazy, but I was actually born the day you guys broke up.'"
The climate of 2015 is also a better time for the members of Failure.
"You know, if things would have started happening commercially success-wise back then? I don't know, maybe somebody would have died," Andrews said. "Because we were really fucked up on drugs. It was just not ... it was not good."
But the current excitement for their new music also comes with overdue validation of their old material.
"It's so redemptive for us that, OK, we really were making something that people can hold on to and get absorbed into."
Photo credit: Andy Daly
LC Pavilion outdoors
Tuesday, July 7, 6:30 p.m.
405 Neil Ave., Arena District