There’s nothing more exciting than when you find out your two favourite artists are joining forces in a new band. This happens a lot in music — creative sparks fly between like-minded artists on tour or some other fortunate circumstance. Keep reading to check out some of the best and lesser known indie music side projects.
Jeff Tweedy of Wilco
Project: Loose Fur
Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche joined Wilco collaborator Jim O’Rourke to create Loose Fur, a trio that first began in May 2000. Over their seven year run, Loose Fur released two albums and is credited with influencing Wilco’s fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
James Mercer and Danger Mouse
Project: Broken Bells
In 2009, The Shins’ lead singer and guitarist James Mercer joined forces with Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, to create Broken Bells. Although the group is a duo, the two artists are often joined by The Shins’ drummer Jon Sortland and Dan Elkan during live performances. Broken Bells has released two studio albums and one EP, and are still currently active to this day.
Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys
Project: The Last Shadow Puppets
The Last Shadow Puppets are an English supergroup comprised of Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), Miles Kane (The Rascals), James Ford, and Zach Dawes. After forming in 2007, the group released their first album The Age of the Understatement in 2008, took a hiatus, and came back in 2016 with Everything You’ve Come to Expect. TLSP are nestled within the genre of baroque pop, which combines elements of rock n roll with classical music.
Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear
Project: Department of Eagles
Rossen combines folk and electronica in his side project collaboration with Fred Nicolaus. The two form the duo Department of Eagles, which started out as two roommates messing around and transitioned to a more serious note in 2000.
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver
Project: Volcano Choir
Volcano Choir initially began as a collaboration between Vernon and members of the Wisconsin music ensemble Collections of Colonies of Bees. The band formed in 2005 and is currently still together.
Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse
Project: Ugly Casanova
Ugly Casanova hasn’t released new music since 2010, however, rumours of the band getting back together have surfaced in and out over the years. This group was originally a side project started by the members of Modest Mouse in order to regain some control over their music while still being under a major label — or at least, that is how the story goes. Whether it’s true or not is a mystery.
Jack White and Alison Mosshart
Project: The Dead Weather
The Dead Weather is a supergroup composed of members Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Jack White (The White Stripes and The Raconteurs), Dean Fertita (QOTSA), and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs and City and Colour). The band was formed in 2009 in Nashville and have since released three studio albums and one live album, and are currently ongoing.
Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade
Project: Sunset Rubdown
Sunset Rubdown initially began as a solo project for Wolf Parade’s Spencer Krug, in which Krug released his album Snake’s Got a Leg in 2005. In 2006, Sunset Rubdown grew to include Pony Up!’s Camilla Wynne Ingr, Magic Weapon’s Jordan Robson-Cramer, and Michael Doerksen. The group originated in Montreal and was active until 2009. Krug keeps busy with several other side projects, including Swan Lake, Frog Eyes, Fifths of Seven, and Moonface.
Project: Operators and Divine Fits
Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner keeps himself busy with multiple side projects. Boeckner is currently involved in bands Operators and Divine Fits, the former being a project he started in 2014 and the latter being a band that he formed with Spoon’s Britt Daniel.
My Morning Jacket Meets Bright Eyes
Project: Monsters of Folk
Monsters of Folk is a rock supergroup formed by Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes), Will Johnson, and M. Ward. The band was born in 2004 when its members toured together with their own separate bands and solo careers. After collaborating both on and off stage throughout much of the tour, the five musicians realized that they meshed well together and decided to turn their sparks into a new band.
Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio
Ezra Koenig isn’t the only member of Vampire Weekend that embarked on his own journey. Outside of being the bassist for Vampire Weekend, Chris Baio is also known by his DJ name “Baio.” The artist, who DJs as Baio during Vampire Weekend’s off time, has two solo albums and an EP under his belt.
Michael Shuman of Queens of the Stone Age
Project: Jubilee and Wires on Fire
QOTSA bassist Michael Shuman is quite the versatile musician. In 2008, the musician co-founded and co-fronted California band Jubilee with Nine Inch Nail’s Aaron North. After the band’s short run, Shuman moved on to play bass for Wires on Fire, which is currently ongoing.
Rostam Batmanglij and Wes Miles
You may recognize Rostam Batmanglij by his numerous lineup of projects, whether it be producing albums and movie soundtracks or performing in Vampire Weekend and Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam. On top of all the work his does already, Batmanglij also has a band with Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles called Discovery. The group, which is still ongoing, first started in the summer of 2005 when Miles and Batmanglij began recording together.
Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox
Project: Atlas Sound
In his solo career, Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox goes by the name Atlas Sound, which is a name that he’s used for his own music since he was a child. 2008’s Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel marked the beginning of Cox’s solo career as Atlas Sound, which he continues to this day.
Sheepdogs Sibling Spinoff
Brothers Ewan and Shamus Currie of Sheepdogs separated themselves from the rest of the pack to deliver a side project band fittingly called BROS. The two began working together in 2014 after moving to Toronto from Saskatoon, and although Sheepdogs is still a thing, BROS have been actively touring and making music since.
Sarah Neufeld and Richard Perry of Arcade Fire
Project: Bell Orchestre
Bell Orchestre is kind of a supergroup of indie artists. The instrumental group is comprised of Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld and Richard Perry, as well as Little Scream’s Kaveh Nabatian, Mike Feuerstack (Snailhouse), Stefan Schneider (the Luyas), and Pietro Amato (the Luyas).
Project: Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton
Metric’s Emily Haines is one of many members of Broken Social Scene, but the artist has released music under the moniker Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. The project began in 2006 and continued into 2007, and remained fairly dormant since. However, the artist has recently revived the moniker, with news of her upcoming album Choir of the Mind.