New York Buzz Bands of 2001: Where Are They Now?

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It’s all gone a bit 2001 this month, with the return of The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. As we were listening to Mosquito yesterday, we got to wondering about some of the less heralded bands from the garage and post-punk revivals that brought a whole heap of hype to NYC around the turn of the millennium. Some of the bands from that scene are still around and doing well, of course — Interpol spring to mind immediately — but the others… Well, we’ve put on our deerstalkers and done some digging.

A.R.E. Weapons

Ah, yes, A.R.E. Weapons. They were basically to the 2001 neo-garage scene what Menswe@r were to Britpop — a stylistic accoutrement with lots in the way of publicity and little in the way of decent tunes. (The NME loved them, of course.) Amazingly, they still exist (and apparently Chloe Sevigny’s brother still plays keyboards for them), although sadly original guitarist Ryan Noel died of a heroin overdose in 2004.

Radio 4

Named after a Public Image Limited song (not the BBC radio station), this band were pretty much as New York as New York gets — they proclaimed proudly that their music was “made in New York, is about New York, and sounds like New York.” Or, strictly, “is,” not “was,” because like A.R.E. Weapons they apparently still exist, despite not having made an album since 2006. Their MySpace was last updated in 2009, when they played SXSW (and apparently also lost a bunch of equipment in a scary-sounding bus crash). These days, singer Anthony Roman appears to work as a music supervisor for radio and TV, and drummer PJ O’Connor tackles crazed gunmen.

The Mooney Suzuki

Another band who still call themselves active, although they seem to have been on something of a hiatus since 2007. The band Wikipedia’s diligent editors have happily updated their Wiki page with what they were up to in 2010 (guitarist Chris Isom playing with a new band called Loud Owls, bassist Reno Bo playing with Albert Hammond, Jr., singer Sammy James Jr. has been “playing around NYC,” and drummer Will Rockwell-Scott was playing with Wolfmother, of all people.) As to what they’ve been doing since… Answers on a postcard?

French Kicks

These Brooklyn band still has a web presence, although its Facebook wall is something of a forlorn place these days, consisting of fans in far-flung locations shouting into the void. As per their official website, guitarist Josh Wise is doing this and singer Nick Stumpf is producing records.

The Rapture

One of the class-of-2001 bands that went on to bona fide commercial success. (Then, of course, they went and made that weird Christian record a couple of years back, but you can’t have everything.) They’ve been quiet since — the last update on their official website came in July last year.

The Bravery

Meanwhile, Sam Endicott et al have managed to construct a pretty decent career around having one decent song (“An Honest Mistake,” above.) Apparently they’re currently recording their fourth studio album, which is due out later this year. Still, in our mind, they’ll always be best remembered for their spat with The Killers, wherein Endicott was outed as having once sported dreadlocks and fronted a ska band called Skabba the Hutt.

The Walkmen

The quiet achievers of the class of 2001 — we never remember them being especially hype back in the days when any band from NYC with drainpipe jeans and guitars were getting attention thrown at them like crazy, but they’ve gone on to have the strongest career of any band on this list. Their seventh album Heaven came out last year, to largely positive reviews.

The Moldy Peaches

No one captured LES/East Village weirdness at the turn of the millennium quite like the Moldy Peaches did. They were the unlikeliest of buzz bands — a wastoid in an elf costume and an idiosyncratic singer a decade older than him — but for a brief moment, they seemed like they were going to be very, unfeasibly big. They went on “indefinite hiatus” in 2004, and these days, Kimya Dawson is doing solo albums and highly successful soundtracks, while Adam Green is doing drugs solo albums, too.

VHS or Beta

For every Rapture, though, there was a raft of dance-punk/garage hybrid types who never quite made it. Take VHS or Beta, for instance, whose 2002 debut EP Le Funk looked like it might deliver on the hype the band had been attracting prior to its release. It wasn’t to be, although the band still exists — founding guitarist Zeke Buck and drummer Mark Guidry have both left, but guitarist/vocalist Craig Pfunder soldiers on. (The last mention of him we could find on the internet was this.)