Leave it Behind
Stories of Members Who Left to do New Things
People come and go in music. It happens all the time. A lot of times, members leave bands and end up becoming obscure names that never see are to be seen again. Johan DeFarfalla was Opeth’s bassist for their first three albums and was dismissed for pretty much being too good. He was told that his style of bass playing was not really compatible with the sound that Opeth was looking to achieve at that time. That’s why the cool bass sounds in Orchid and Morningrise were replaced by Martin Mendez in 1997. Alas, Johan is long and gone, mostly forgotten. BUT I REMEMBER YOU, BUDDY, AND YOU KICKED ASS.
Anyway, this week, we’re looking at some people who, for some reason or another, were removed from the band and went on to do awesome new stuff. We’ll see how many I end up with. Maybe five, maybe ten. Maybe a completely different number this time. In any case, I’m going to present some of my favorites and will talk a little bit about their history.
ILL BILL (UNITED STATES)
Like most rappers, Ill Bill began as part of a rap collective. He was involved in a group called Injustice that no one ever heard of and went on be involved in Non Phixion. Non Phixion remains to this day a special place in Ill Bill’s heart but they are no longer together. It wasn’t until after I discovered Necro that I learned about Ill Bill. Someone told me that Necro had a brother who was just as talented and I went into learn more about him.
Ill Bill has made collaborations with many artists. He and Vinnie Paz have a group called Heavy Metal Kings, he and Necro often work together, and he is also a part of La Coka Nostra which features Slaine and DJ Lethal and used to include Everlast. I am a firm believer that his work in Non Phixion was the thing that propelled him to greatness and there is no end in sight for his work.
Jari Mäenpää (FINLAND)
Ensiferum is an awesome band. I have seen them four times and they never disappoint. Before I ever heard of them, Jari used to sing for them. Their first few albums are pretty good, but I love the work of their new singer. That being said, Jari went on to form Wintersun, which is quite possibly one of the greatest bands to have ever existed. With both of them on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise last year, we half-expected a cameo from Jari but it’s all good, both bands still delivered. In this case, the split was a good decision and both bands benefited.
EMPEROR MAGUS CALIGULA (SWEDEN)
It is largely believed that once the lyrical content of Hypocrisy changed from Satanism to aliens that EMC said “Bye Felicia” and formed Dark Funeral. Professor Wikipedia disagrees and I am inclined to believe him. Up until this very moment, I would have supported that very inklet as fact and I am glad that I looked further into it today. Hypocrisy has evolved into a really great band and Dark Funeral is one of the coolest black metal bands in the world. Both bands win.
PHIL DEMMEL (UNITED STATES)
Most fans of Machine Head have been through a tumultuous ride. The groove metal band began releasing albums in 1994 and by 1999 were in regular rotation on the radio for the song “From This Day” and were quickly typecast as a raprock band for a while there. Phil Demmel had played guitar in Vio-lence for years with Rob Flynn and initially filled in after the collapse of Vio-lence for a session on guitar for the recording of Through the Ashes of Empires in 2004 and stayed on as a full time guitarist. This is literally the turning point in Machine Head’s sound where they transformed into a formidable force. Their music is now very technical and full of heart and passion.
DEVIN TOWNSEND (CANADA)
Most people don’t know this, but Devin Townsend used to be the singer for Steve Vai’s band. While he and Steve Vai have a great respect for each other and are still very personal friends, Devin Townsend was discouraged with his music career because he didn’t feel that Vai’s music represented what he wanted to be a part of creatively. Thus, Strapping Young Lad was born. The band was very tongue-in-cheek in humor but also incorporated some early uses of the “Wall of Sound” and some very heavy arrangements. After having disassociated himself away from Vai’s music long enough, Devin Townsend felt it was time to put his name on the music he was creating. The Devin Townsend Band and The Devin Townsend Project has since erupted and he seems very happy with the direction his music is going.