Video Fridays: When Is A Band A Band?

I’ve got a little different take on Video Fridays today.

Usually, when it’s a music-related Video Fridays, I feature just one artist or band, but this past week I came across two music-related items that inspired the question: When is a band a band?

The items concerned new albums by two “bands”, one, Menomena, that I’ve been into for some time (my October 2010 post on them), and the other, Tame Impala, whom I’ve been listening to and enjoying recently.

My second post on Menomena concerned the departure of one founding member of the trio, a kind of cliffhanger, because though the remaining two members announced that they would be carrying on as Menomena, it remained to be seen how they’d pull that off, whether or not they’d add new members, or whether or not they’d continue to produce good new music when the time came.

Well, their new album, Moms, is out, and we come to find out that the two remaining founding members, Justin Harris and Danny Seim, decided to carry on as a duo, splitting the songwriting and recording duties amongst them, and I’m happy to report that the result is a yet another enjoyable record that manages to be instantly recognizable as Menomena, despite the loss of Brent Knopf.

And yet, as videos begin surfacing on YouTube of the first live performances of the new material, the very first thing that jumps out at the viewer is that this “duo” has been expanded to include three additional members, contributing guitar, keyboard, and vocal duties:

It is certainly nothing new, for bands to add players for live performances in order to pull off performances of compositions that they layered together on multiple tracks in the studio, and it’s nothing that I see as necessarily negative. I do tend to feel sorry for the road musicians, who aren’t listed as official members of the band, but I do understand that the folks listed as official members are usually the creative force, those who actually crafted the songs, and the others are simply paid to help play those songs.

So, what to make of Menomena? What I said in the last paragraph notwithstanding, can two guys really be referred to as a “band” if they can’t even perform their own songs live without the help of three additional musicians?

Moving on, reading up on Tame Impala, I found out the following:

Via Wikipedia

[Lonerism, their new album] was created in a similar set up as Innerspeaker, being that Kevin Parker wrote and recorded the majority of the album by himself at his home in Perth, Australia.

Via The Guardian:

This is all in keeping with the image of Parker as a kind of heavy-lidded auteur, a man who sings and plays every note on Tame Impala’s records in his Perth bedroom…

Again, it’s nothing new, I suppose. One of my favorite bands for years, The Who, comes to mind, in that writer, guitarist, vocalist Pete Townshend wrote the vast majority of the band’s songs, recording on his own fully fleshed out demos, on which he played all the instruments, demos he’d then submit to the band and the band would perform them, usually using the same arrangements, on record and then live in concert.

But, how does Wikipedia refer to Tame Impala? (my emphasis added)

Tame Impala is a band from Perth, Australia, the psychedelic rock project of Kevin Parker.

Well, what is it? A band or a project?

My gut tells me that the lines are just getting blurrier and blurrier, that Tame Impala and Menomena are both bands AND projects, and it’s just time for me to embrace the blur.

For now, here’s Kevin Parker, with his project, um band, um…with Tame Impala, performing a song from around the time of his/their debut album:

Enjoy the blur, and Happy Weekend, everyone!

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