Your Favorite Bands' Former Bands
  • FRIDAY, AUGUST 08, 2014

  • Posted by: Emily Geiger

If you're anything like me, when you fall in love with a band, you're completely desperate for all the music it has to offer. This desperation could manifest in you clinging to b-sides, live performances, and even their covers of other bands' songs. Another option to get your fix is to delve deep into the depths of the Internet to find your favorite musician's projects before they hit it big. Whether you find an unsigned high school band, a former solo career or a mildly acclaimed group, the magical world of YouTube is here to help tide you over until your musical idol finally puts out another album. And if you're too lazy to do all that research, don't worry, because I've done most of the work for you.

Lorde — And They Were Masked

Before Ella Yelich-O'Connor became the Lorde we now know and love, she was a regular teenager, though she still had evident musical inclinations and talents from a young age. Lorde's past ventures have been slowly surfacing on the Internet, and the latest revelation is her involvement in high school band And They Were Masked. Though their music is string and percussion heavy, it's still possible to pick up the unique voice of Lorde singing backup on "Sands of John."



Young the Giant — The Jakes

Before Sameer Gadhia was fronting Young the Giant, he was the lead singer of The Jakes. Consisting of high school and college students, the band released an EP, with some songs that eventually ended up on Young the Giant. After a couple of lineup changes, the band announced their name change in 2009, and went on to start their meteoric rise. That EP's namesake "Shake My Hand" was recorded by all the current members except drummer Francois Comtois and bassist Payam Doostzadeh, and although recorded under a different name, it definitely feels like a Young the Giant tune.



Local Natives — Cavil at Rest

The road to Local Natives is similar to that of Young the Giant: most of the original members started playing together when they were younger under a different name, Cavil at Rest, and after a few years went by and some band member change ups, the group changed their name and hit it big. Cavil at Rest also recorded an album, Orion Way, and although some of those songs ended up on Gorilla Manor like with Young the Giant, Local Native's name change marks a strict style shift. In the song "Who's There," the indie five-piece's soaring harmonies are missing and are replaced by harder rock beats and hand claps.



Cage the Elephant — Perfect Confusion

Cage The Elephant made it into the spotlight with their 2009 song "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked," but Matthew Shultz, Brad Shultz and Jared Champion have been making music together since 2001 under the moniker Perfect Confusion. And although their success in no way matched what was in store for them in the future, the musicians had a local following that allowed the band to tour for years. In 2005, the band released its eponymous album, which opens with "Live for the Day," which any casual Cage the Elephant fan could listen to and recognize Shultz's vocals.



Mumford and Sons — Marcus Mumford

When Mumford didn't have any sons, he was making music alone, and apparently playing at house parties in questionable attire. In this performance of "You Ain't No Sailor," it's evident that Mumford had not yet reached his peak as evidenced by his cracking voice and turn away from the crowd at the applause, but the boyish song about love is unmistakably a Mumford creation.



The Vaccines — Jay Jay Pistolet

When people talk about the beginnings of Mumford and Sons, they usually mention how the band got its start playing in the same community as the likes of Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale. Though this is true, many people don't know that current frontman of the rock band The Vaccines, Justin Hayward Young, was running around with these folk singers as Jay Jay Pistolet. If you look closely at this video for "We Are Free" you can see Marcus Mumford on drums and King Charles on harmonica. And the video's poorly lit so it's hard to tell, but one of those blonde girls dancing around could very well be Laura Marling.



The Shins — Flake Music

Before the indie world fell hard for The Shins thanks to Garden State, singer James Mercer and drummer Jesse Sandoval were part of Flake Music. The duo intended to make The Shins a side project, but they eventually abandoned Flake to focus on their new band — hopefully Mercer will not make a habit of this by leaving The Shins to take on Broken Bells full time. Here's "Spanway Hits" a single off of Flake Music's one and only album, When You Land Here, Its Time to Return.



MGMT — Accidental Mersh

Before Andrew VanWyngarden went to Wesleyan and subsequently went psychedelic with fellow MGMT member Ben Goldwasser, he was vibing with high school friend Hank Sullivant in Accidental Mersh. The duo sold out shows around Memphis and released two albums, which judging by "Joan," were probably both full of funk.



Parquet Courts — Teenage Cool Kids

If you're a big Parquet Courts fan you might be familiar with lead singer Andrew Savages other band Fergus & Geronimo, but I'm guessing only the real diehard fans know about Teenage Cool Kids, a band Savage started with people he met at college in Texas. The indie rock band was very lo-fi and DIY, as they kept all music and business within the band, a practice that Savage has stuck with in Parquet Courts by designing his own album art. Both of the singer's other projects released multiple albums, and have some unreleased songs, like this Teenage Cool Kids track "Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth."



Jagwar Ma — Lost Valentinos, Ghostwood

The two core members of Jagwar Ma both have musical back stories before coming together to form their psychedelic band. Jono Ma was a founding member of indie rock group Lost Valentinos, and Gabriel Winterfield was the lead vocalist of Ghostwood. Like the name suggests, Ghostwood has a darker sound than Winterfield's newest project, and though Lost Valentinos has much more production than Jagwar Ma, "Sereo" demonstrates that Ma brought his upbeat, danceable artistry with him to his current band.



Bleachers — Steel Train

Most people recognize Jack Antonoff as the guitarist in Fun., but his story before becoming the frontman Bleachers goes back farther than Some Nights. When he was a teen, Antonoff was part of hardcore band Outline, and he then formed Steal Train in 2002 after his first band broke up. Steal Train recorded multiple albums and EPs, which definitely brought them success, as they opened on tour for big groups like Tegan and Sara, and also took part in the festival and late night circuit. In the music video for "Bullet" you can see that Antonoff got his start as a frontman way before Bleachers.



Vampire Weekend — The Sophisticuffs, L'Homme Run

Prior to forming Vampire Weekend, Ezra Koenig entered into various musical projects with friend and future Ra Ra Riot frontman Wes Miles. The duo hooked up with Dan Millar and Andrei Padlowski in their experimental band The Sophisticuffs, and Koenig also played saxophone for Dirty Projectors. But my personal favorite pre-Vampire Weekend Ezra endeavor is rap group L'Homme Run, which Koenig started with fellow Columbia student Andrew Kalaidjian. Here's a track perfect for every college student: a rap about pot and pizza. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out other L'Homme Run classic "Bitches".

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