Encore! Best Second Acts


While you’re still stuck trying to beat The Strokes “Reptilia” on Guitar Hero 3, some of your favorite artists are following up their critically acclaimed bands with another critically acclaimed band. Some people just ooze talent, and such is the case for all of the musicians on this list who followed up their already successful first acts with an even better second one.


Launched as a singer-songwriter project in the same year Alexisonfire released Watch Out!, singer/guitarist Dallas Green’s City & Colour originally existed as an outlet for solo acoustic material. After rearing a successful premiere full-length in 2005 (it was certified platinum the next year), when Alexisonfire released Crisis in 2006, critics were surprised Green’s vocals weren’t more prominent. Compounded with fellow AOF guitarist/singer Wade MacNeil’s invitation to front the successful UK hardcore act Gallows, Green’s decision to depart the group to focus on City and Colour was instrumental in Alexisonfire’s 2011 dissolve, but the band is currently in the midst of a string of reunion concerts. City & Colour’s fifth studio album, If I Should Go Before You, is due Oct. 9 via Dine Alone.



Josh Tilman joined Fleet Foxes on drums just a little too late to land on the group’s self-titled debut, but he did stick around long enough to be a part of their universally renowned critical success, Helplessness Blues. Still, Tilman announced that he had left Fleet Foxes in the new year, and on April 30, 2012, he released his debut full length as Father John Misty, recorded the previous spring. Distancing himself from the self-described “sad-wizard, Dungeons and Dragons music” of the solo recordings previously released under his own name, with FJM, Tilman has made a point of highlighting a sense of humour he previously only surprised himself with onstage.



Following the dissolve of the widely celebrated but briefly lived DC hardcore act Minor Threat, Ian MacKaye fronted Embrace and the Evens, but with Guy Picciotto, Joe Lally, and Brendan Canty, he created one of the most influential artistic and ideological forces operating in indie music: Fugazi.



Following the death of Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl went on to helm the Foo Fighters. Originally a one-man project, with the exception of a guest guitar spot, Grohl personally wrote and recorded the entirety of the Foo Fighters’ self-titled debut, but the project developed into a proper band before its release. Spanning eight albums, the band’s discography has sold 12 million copies in the US alone.



After introducing the world to riot grrrl from the front of feminist punk band Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hanna experimented with electronic sampling and lo-fi in an independent project titled Julie Ruin (not to be confused with The Julie Ruin, the project Hanna presently performs in alongside Kathi Wilcox, also of Bikini Kill). Connecting with Johanna Fateman and Sadie Benning to create a live band for the project, the three eventually formed the fantastic electroclash act Le Tigre. Active 1998-2011, their singles have been featured prominently in popular films and television, and the band logged work with Yoko Ono and Christina Aguilera.



When Ian Curtis committed suicide, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Bernard Sumner made good on their pact. Joy Division was over, but the band would carry on as New Order. With Sumner taking on lead vocal duties, they also recruited keyboardist/guitarist Gillian Gilbert to help complete their sound. Combining the post-punk of their former project with electronic dance music, they created another one of the most influential rock groups of all time. New Order regularly includes a Joy Division tribute set at the end of their concerts, and following Peter Hook’s departure from the band in 2007, on Sept. 25 they will release their first album without the bassist, Music Complete.



Begun as the casual synth-pop side project from Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello, and Rilo Kelly’s Jenny Lewis, the Postal Service came to stand on its own feet, and the group’s 2003 full-length Give Up eventually became the best selling LP in Sub Pop’s catalogue, and when they reformed in 2013 to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, they filled arenas.


(Photo by Ben Houdijk via Flickr)