The Ultimate Guide to Why These 90’s Band Broke Up

Oh, the ‘90s. A decade characterized by oversized t-shirts, the falling of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of nitty-gritty rock bands that didn’t care what anybody thought. With the decade came the re-emergence and new wave of rock music caused some unpredictable drama that no one could have missed.

Kurt Cobain / Dolores O’Riordan / 4 Non-Blondes / Oasis.

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And some of the best and most remembered bands of the ‘90s sadly fell apart. Some members regret it while others see it as their inevitable destiny. Whatever was happening at the time, good music was being released, sometimes at a heavy price. Let’s break down why some of these groups fell apart.

This 4 Non-Blondes Member Wasn’t a Fan

Talented as she may be, Linda Perry, the lead singer of her former band, didn’t love the music they made. One of the main reasons she stepped away from the band was because she felt like she needed to cater to the industry’s mainstream needs.

A studio portrait of 4 Non-Blondes.

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The band has gone down as a one-hit-wonder for their song “What’s Up,” which was released under their “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!” album. Perry had much to share about being in one production that caused the band to fall apart. The music meant a lot to her, and she didn’t like how it was being communicated.

Perry Gives Us an Inside Look

Perry shared that she hated the production of “What’s Up” and felt like the entire ensemble of the band completely mischaracterized who she was and what she wanted to portray. “When I heard our record for the first time, I cried,” she admitted.

A current portrait of Linda Perry.

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She didn’t do so bad for herself as she went to prove she could write songs for Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani, and Courtney Love. 2011 marked the years she was trying to put together a new band called the Deep Dark Robot to display who she was.

The Band Had a Problem With Perry

Perry leaving wasn’t the only reason the band shut down. Tensions ran high as other members, Christa Hillhouse and Dawn Richardson, had problems with Perry’s sexuality. She came out as a lesbian and being open about it in the ‘90s apparently wasn’t in their favor.

A portrait of Perry.

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The songs she later wrote for Deep Dark Robot reflected some of her personal battles with and how she felt when she wrote songs nobody wanted to make. “Basically, I fell in love with a woman, and really quickly it turned into an emotional tsunami,” said Perry. The tone for this new band was darker and less popular.

A Sibling Rivalry – Oasis

The British rock band left a legacy behind like no other for a ‘90s band. I mean, who could forget Wonderwall? It’s basically sung at every campfire by that one guy who happened to bring a guitar. The band was remembered for both their hit songs and their internal battles.

Liam and Noel Gallagher perform on stage.

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However, it was formed by two brothers, Liam and Noel Gallagher, which turned out to be a disaster waiting to happen. The worst part was probably that people noticed the brothers fighting; it wasn’t something that was hidden from the public.

Deciding to Leave Amid a Tour

The year was 1994, and Noel suddenly decided to leave a tour in America. Word spread that the band was high during a set in Los Angeles, which led to a bad performance. Liam apparently hit Noel with a tambourine that obviously made his brother angry.

Noel attends an event.

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A year later, a recording was released of the two brothers arguing, dubbed the “Wibbling Rivalry.” Verbal assault could be heard between the brothers that proved how much they despised each other. They didn’t just not get along; it was a full-blown rivalry.

Ditching the Group at Their Peak

Liam was struggling with something, no doubt. In order to avoid playing a gig on MTV’s Unplugged, he said he was suffering from laryngitis. Later, in a split second, he decided to drop out of the band’s American tour.

A photo of Liam performing on stage.

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The brothers have also openly bashed each other on social media. It looks like the brothers have used social media platforms since the 2000s to insult each other. Most of the scrutiny seemed to have come from Liam’s end, through his comments towards his brother over Twitter.

The Last Straw

Known as the ‘Paris Altercation,’ the incident occurred one night before their performance. They were on their “Mammoth” tour, and backstage before the show, Liam was throwing a guitar around in the dressing room that nearly struck Noel’s face.

A portrait of Noel.

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Noel realized he couldn’t do it anymore and left moments before the show was set to begin. In 2009, Noel made it official and shared that he was leaving the group for good. He said, “It’s with some sadness and great relief I tell you that I quit Oasis tonight….”

Nirvana Experienced a Tragedy like No Other

It was probably one of the saddest times for rock and roll fans everywhere. Nirvana had taken off as a band that went above and beyond anything they had expected. However, Cobain was battling deep depression due to health problems and drug abuse.

A portrait of Nirvana.

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He became addicted to heroin as means to deal with his chronic stomach condition. He felt the drug gave him much needed relief. Ultimately, the heroin him, evident by his vomiting, which had a major effect on his performance.

Pretending Like All Was Good

Nirvana had been set to perform on Saturday Night Live, and Cobain was in bad shape from using heroin before the show. The morning after they performed on the show, he underwent a near-death experience for the first time in his life.

A portrait of Kurt Cobain during a show.

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Nirvana needed to perform at the New Music Seminar in New York City in 1993, and Cobain had once again gone through a heroin overdose. His wife, Courtney Love, injected him with naloxone to wake him up and the band performed as usual.

Their Last Show in Germany

Nirvana’s last concert in Munich, Germany, wasn’t their best. It looks like Cobain had reached his breaking point, and after giving a lethargic performance, he walked off the stage and told his agent it was all over.

A photo of Kurt Cobain during a concert.

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The band wasn’t surprised by his behavior, and their next planned concert was canceled. Krist Novoselic, the bassist of the band, who knew Nirvana was reaching its fateful end amidst its Utero tour noted, “The band was over.” The scene followed another incident when Cobain overdosed.

His First Failed Suicide Attempt

Cobain wrote a letter sharing his to commit suicide “Like Hamlet, I have to choose between life and death…I’m choosing death.” Following the tour, Cobain attempted to take his life by combining Rohypnol and champagne.

A portrait of Kurt Cobain.

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After being quickly taken to the hospital in Rome, he stayed there for five nights. Eventually, he was released and returned to his home in Seattle. After another suicide attempt in his home, where he was found in possession of weapons, his wife organized an intervention.

Checking into Rebab Didn’t Help

The intervention didn’t go down well by the likes of Cobain, but he did agree to get help. One day he left the rehab clinic without telling anyone and completely disappeared. He was located, but there was no way he was going to go back to treatment.

Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic attend an event.

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He got a hold of a gun and shot himself after consuming a combination of valium and heroin. Once hearing the news, the band was reluctant to keep going without him, and that was the end for Nirvana.

A Tragedy Leads to Unpredicted Success

Many people argue that Nirvana’s end was the worst and best thing that ever happened to Dave Grohl. He shared that the band falling apart combined with Cobain’s suicide was among his “life’s greatest heartbreaks.”

Dave Grohl and Chris Shiflett of Foo Fighters hug onstage.

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He reflected on how Cobain was one of the best songwriters in history. However, Grohl went on to put together one of the best rock bands in modern history, The Foo Fighters. “I learned a lot of lessons in Nirvana that applied to being the singer of Foo Fighters.”

A Difficult Decision for REM

This band was together for just about 30 years and put out 15 albums as a unit. They told Rolling Stone magazine, “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished.”

A portrait of the band.

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Michael Stipe, the face of the band, also said it wasn’t easy for the band to make the decision, but that as they say, all good things must come to an end. The final decision was set with their last album in 2011, called “Collapse Into Now.”

It Got to be Too Much for Everybody

Peter Buck, the band’s guitarist, talked about the heap of problems that the band could no longer manage: “It was the money, the politics, having to meet new people 24 hours a day, not being in charge of my own decision.” For many musicians, the business is grueling.

Michael Stipe talks to the press.

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It is surrounded by constant pressure from managers and labels. At the core, the band’s favorite part was writing lyrics and making the music. When it got to the point when too much attention swayed to the business side of things, it was game over.

Sublime Would Never Be the Same

Following the pattern of numerous rock stars, Bradley Nowell passed away at the age of 28 due to a heroin overdose. They had just released a self-titled album called Sublime and were about to go on their SnoCore Tour.

A photo of the band Sublime.

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Following a wild night of festivities, Nowell was found dead in his motel room. The band was at the height of their career, but the accidental overdose ended their momentum regardless of how successful their last album with Nowell was.

People Didn’t Even Know He Died

The timing of his death was dreadful, as he had recently married Troy Dendekker, and they had a son together. Amidst leaving his family, the craziest thing about his death is that fans initially didn’t know.

A photo of Bradley Nowell performing on stage.

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There was a similar case, in which a band member of The Smashing Pumpkins had overdosed the same way. The media found them way more interesting however than Bradley Nowell from Sublime. Just as he had passed away, the band last album reached the Billboard Top 20

Remembering the Biggest American Rock Band of 1997

Nowell had grown up in a musical family, which is probably the reason he made it. His dad liked to play the guitar, putting together strum folk music, and his mom’s voice was pitch-perfect.

A photo of the young widow of Bradley Nowell holding her son.

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He would spend a dedicated amount of time with his family, including his uncle and grandfather, singing and playing music. He was incredibly talented at a young age and could pick up a song in a short time. He also created his own band when he was just 13 years old called the Hogan’s Heroes.

Something Was Always Missing

Growing up in southern California, it seemed like Nowell had a pretty good life. But his wife recalled that there was always something missing, even though he appeared to be happy most of the time. This led to his struggle with substance abuse. People remembered that he was never satisfied without using drugs.

A photo of Nowell during a concert.

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His wife felt that one of the biggest reasons behind his abuse was the Ritalin he received as a child in order to focus in school. But there was also the fact that he wanted to live the rock and roll life like other band members who were using drugs.

The Cranberries Fell Apart Due to a Drowning

A tragic accident happened to lead singer Dolores O’Riordan. On January 15th, 2018, she was found dead in a bathtub at hotel in London after having drowned. It was reported that she had consumed too much alcohol.

A band portrait of The Cranberries.

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At the time, the band was making new material. The album was set to be called “The End.” Although the lyrics to the songs of the new album were supposedly well written, the other band members shared that it would be the last thing they would put out.

Struggling with Her Mental Health

O’Riordan was a huge proponent for raising awareness surrounding mental health. She herself struggled with depression and anorexia because of the sexual abuse she experienced as a child. Leading up to the accident, she wasn’t in the best mental state.

The Cranberries perform on stage.

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Apparently, she was also suffering from a lot of back pain before the accident occurred. She shared her struggles: “I had anorexia, then depression, a breakdown. I knew why I hated myself. I knew why I loathed myself. I knew why I wanted to make myself disappear.”

People Spoke Out After an Incident on a Flight

On November 10th, 2014, O’Riordan was on a flight from New York when she attacked two of the airplanes’ police officers as she was being escorted of the plane upon landing. More specifically, she headbutted and spitted on the officer. Her display of assault was taken to court, where she was charged with four offenses.

O’Riordan performs on stage.

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She was said to have been suffering from bipolar disorder at the time. O’Riordan spoke out as well, saying, as she was being arrested, the officer sexually assaulted and groped her inappropriately. She later revoked these claims.

The Timing of the Accident Wasn’t a Coincidence

In addition to her struggles with mental health, the Irish singer had recently split from her husband when the attack occurred. Her mother, Eileen, shared, “She is going through a marriage separation at the moment. That’s hard for anyone.”

O’Riordan sings on stage.

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After the trial, O’Riordan felt that she was in a good headspace. She openly shared that she wanted to thank the doctors that helped her get her mental health in order and that she was excited about the new material she was releasing.

Soundgarden Didn’t Make it as Far as Expected

Under the same label, but not quite as popular as Nirvana, was the pop-rock band Soundgarden. A&M Records released a press statement saying the band fell through because they “Mutually and amicably disbanded to pursue other interests.”

Chris Cornell is performing on stage.

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As opposed to other bands at the time, there wasn’t so much surrounding their breakup other than they felt like they didn’t reach a point of success that allowed them to keep going. Some simply called it a boring breakup. At least they left the music scene with their heads held high.

Made it to the Top Only to Come Back Down

Their album Superunknown, that came out in 1994, would prove to be the best piece of music they released. The album made it five times platinum. They also created a bizarre music video for “Black Hole Sun” that became their most popular song on the album.

A band portrait of Soundgarden.

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During an interview in 2014, the lead singer Chris Cornell shared that he was going through depression when the song “Fell on Black Days” was released. There wasn’t anything tragic or difficult that had happened, he just felt like things weren’t going well, and his perspective changed.

The Band Gets Back Together

The band fell off the face of the planet, only returning over ten years later. Cornell shared, “We were sitting in a room together, all four of us for probably the first time in 14 years, and the first five minutes were a little awkward.”

Chris Cornell, Matt Cameron, Kim Thayil, and Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden attend an event.

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A little more time had gone by, and they started thinking back to the time they were a band sharing silly moments and memories. They released their sixth album called “King Animal” 15 years later, and just like that, they were back in business.

They Returned Stronger than Ever

Many ‘90’s bands have come back together years later to release music and perform reunion concerts, but rarely do they have success. This wasn’t the case for Sound Garden, who proved their last album was creative and alluring.

Soundgarden performs on stage.

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The time off gave them some perspective and the opportunity to experience music individually. Matt Cameron, the drummer, had joined Pearl Jam a year after their breakup while Ben Shepherd, who was on bass, worked with Mark Lanegan from the Screaming Trees. However, their love for being a part of the band brought them back together.

Years Later, Cornell Is Found Dead

After a full autopsy report was released with all the details, it was concluded that Chris Cornell had committed suicide at the MGM Grand in Detroit by hanging himself. A friend of Cornell’s went to his room at the hotel to check on him, and he found him unconscious on the bathroom floor.

A portrait of Chris Cornell.

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Soundgarden was in the middle of a tour when the tragedy occurred and came as a shock to his wife and family. Many musical peers shared their condolences and sorrows regarding his death. “Incredibly talented. Incredibly young. Incredibly missed,” said Jimmy Page.

The Verve Took Their Time Breaking Up

Labeled one of the most significant bands in Britain’s history, the Verve broke up three times before officially calling it quits. Things, however, are not always as they appear. Regardless of their well-executed performance at the T in the Park music festival, Richard Ashcroft (the band’s lead) quit the band.

The Verve poses for a band portrait.

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They got back together in 1997, when they would take the music scene by storm. They came out with “Urban Hymns,” which was considered their best-selling album. Who could forget the hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” which escalated them back to the top?

Too Much Partying to Focus on the Band

The second album was so successful that they were nominated for a Grammy, but maybe that wasn’t enough. This time, it seems that tensions in the band ran high again, and perhaps guitarist Nick McCabe’s excessive partying distracted him from focusing on the music.

The Verve performs on stage.

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There were rumors flying around that one of the reasons the band broke up yet again was because Ashcroft began working on a solo album. However, this wasn’t the true reason for the breakup, and they said their choice followed what they called “impossible circumstances.”

Third Times’ a Charm

Leading up to the third reunion, it seemed Ashcroft and McCabe’s relationship wasn’t the best. Ashcroft hated McCabe’s drinking, and regardless of getting his act together, they didn’t truly get along. They got back together in 2007 only split up yet again in 2009.

The Verve during a live performance.

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Someone who was supposedly well acquainted with the band mentioned that Nick McCabe and Simon Jones (pianist and bass player) didn’t see Ashcroft’s intentions as pure sharing, “They think Richard [Ashcroft] was just using the reunion as a vehicle to get his solo career on track.”

Richard Ashcroft Opens Up About the Final Split

Years later, the Verve’s lead singer shared why silence followed the band’s last hurrah. For him, the band falling apart for the last time wasn’t overwhelming. He said he had always given his best to the band and would have continued if possible.

Ashcroft poses for the press.

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He shared that the reason he has kept quiet about the ordeal is that he wanted the rumors and publicity to die down: “If I’m attempting to make myself the saint in this, that would be wrong… I don’t want to say, ‘here we go, this is what I was dealing with.’”

No Hope for the Future

Ashcroft did share that he doesn’t want to talk poorly about his previous band members. He recalled that everything they were dealing with internally consisted of real emotions and not simple irrationality. Dishing out details would cause damage to the reputation of the band.

Ashcroft attends an event.

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Ashcroft did try to reach out to McCabe to discuss a performance for the band’s 20th anniversary of their album” Urban Humns.” He ended up speaking to his wife, but nothing came out of it as he never called him back.

The Verve and the Rolling Stones Battle It Out

” Bitter Sweet Symphony” was a hit that helped the Verve re-emerge, but it also perpetuated a dispute over royalties with The Rolling Stones. BBC gathered comments by Ashcroft, who said that the Rolling Stones handed over the publishing rights to the song years later.

A still from the music video.

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Ashcroft wrote the lyrics to the song, but the instrumental part of the song paralleled that of the Stones’ song, “The Last Time.” The Verve did receive legal access to take a few notes from the melody, but they were later sued by the Stones manager, Allen Klein, for copying them.

A Whole Lot of Drama for Hole

Hole was certainly a ‘90s band to remember. Not only did they make great music, but the lead singer, Courtney Love, was married to Kurt Cobain. Behind the music, things were certainly complicated for the band, whose members all experienced various tragedies.

Hole performs on stage.

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The band officially broke up on May 23rd, 2002. Eric Erlandson, the guitarist for the band, shared, “I will always treasure the time we played together.” Both understood that they made amazing music together, but timing compelled them to move on.

Love Dealt with Too Many Lawsuits

Hole had an ongoing lawsuit with Universal that made it difficult for the band to find a new record company to make music with. Two years earlier, Love decided that she was leaving their record label, Geffen, and put the band’s music out on the internet.

Courtney Love performs on stage.

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This led Universal Music Group, Geffen’s parent company, to file a lawsuit against the singer. Apparently, she had violated her contract, which mentioned the band needed to make five more albums under the record company.

A “Seven Year Statute” Removed Her Obligation

A California law saved Love from having to honor the contract’s terms. This law is what stirred all the commotion with record labels and forced the band to fall apart. Throughout their years together, the band had replaced several of the band members, including Kristen Pfaff.

A photo of Kristen Pfaff.

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Two months after the album “Live Through This” came out, including the hits “Doll Parts” and “Asking for It,” Pfaff was found dead in her apartment in Seattle as a result of a heroin overdose.

Sonic Youth Experienced a Different Kind of Breakup

Combining business and pleasure doesn’t always work out, especially in the music industry. This was the reality for the Sonic Youth as guitarists and singers Kim Gordon and guitarist Thurston Moore, divorced in 2011. They were married for a long time; 27 years to be exact.

A band portrait of Sonic Youth.

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The cause for the divorce was the supposed affair Moore had with a book editor named Eva Prinz, who he had been working with for an extended period. Gordon shared her perspective regarding the split: “…. the rock star showboating he was doing onstage got under my skin.”

Moore Wanted the Band to Keep Going

Their final show took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but Moore didn’t truly believe it would be the end for the band. He shared that it’s odd he is portrayed as the main reason for the band breaking up, even though he didn’t want it to happen.

A picture of Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon.

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However, a messy divorce is hard enough. The fact that the couple is also part of a famous band makes it that much more complicated. Moore admitted that he would write songs after the band split which would resemble their traditional sound.

Forever Cherishing His Love for the Band

“Sonic Youth was a bond that existed between the four of us. I have a tattoo that says ‘SONIC LIFE’, and it’s something that defined me forever,” shared Moore after he was asked about the band breaking up.

Thurston Moore speaks on stage.

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Even though he would like to work with the original band members again, he kept busy recording with Paul Epworth in 2016. He didn’t leave music behind as he has released two solo albums in addition to putting together another band called Chelsea Light Moving.

The Reading Festival Fiasco – The Stone Roses

The first breakup came about because of an embarrassing performance the band put on at the Reading Festival in 1996. There were a couple of factors that contributed to the poor performance. First, Reni (drummer) and John Squire (guitarist/songwriter) had left the band.

The Stone Roses during a press conference at the festival.

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Secondly, the performance at the festival left audiences in total shock. Lead singer Ian Brown sang totally off-key as he pranced around the stage. The band was also headlining the festival, and people certainly noticed since it took them out of the music scene two months later.

They Simply Had Bad Luck

The band had just finished a performance in Glasgow when Brown shared that it was the end. “Don’t be sad it’s over, be happy that it happened,” he said to the crowd at Hampden Park.

A photo of Ian Brown.

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Even Oasis’s Noel Gallagher commented on the potential the band had: “The Roses could have been bigger than the Beatles.” Apparently, they ran into trouble with their manager that stole money behind their back that they needed to pay for legal disputes.

Pavement Wasn’t Sturdy Enough

For this band, it looked like formalities weren’t necessary when it came to communicating the official breakup. Stephen Malkmus, the leader of the band, wasn’t sure why it wasn’t admitted that the band was over.

A photo of Stephen Malkmus.

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“Maybe he hadn’t figured out how to say it the right way,” he shared. Malkmus did hint at what he felt during his time with the band during a public portrayal on stage. He handcuffed himself on stage to show his agony.

Kannberg Shutdown the Rumors of Rivalry

Background chatter revealed that the two founders of the band, Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg, were in some sort of rivalry, but that wasn’t the truth. Simply put, Malkmus continued his personal journey with his own work.

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Kannberg also took on a solo career but has been noted to work with the band Preston School of Industry. Malkmus shared that the timing was perfect for the band to call it quits. It had been ten years, and they felt the vibe was simply not there anymore.