Late Bloomers: Bands Who Broke Later In Their Career

Roger Daltrey famously proclaimed, “I hope I die before I get old!"

Rock and roll tradition applauds excess and celebrates the dead. It has long been a very small percentage that have survived relevance past their 30th birthday, but there have been some notable exceptions that didn’t break until later: Debbie Harry, Leonard Cohen, Peaches, Sharon Jones, Sheryl Crow.

Take a moment to dial down your millennial expectations, there is time.


James Murphy is often checked off as one of the most influential names in the music in the last 15-years. He released his first album when he was 35-years-old and reflected on performing among the youngsters in a 2010 interview with Pitchfork: “You’re also part of a machine that’s set up to really whip your teenage ego into a frenzy. On the one hand, that’s awesome, because you’re kind of immune to it. But on the other hand it’s not as much fun. It’s like being an adult at an amusement park designed for kids. I’m like, ‘I can’t fit on any of these rides.'”


Frontman Matt Berninger fled his advertising job while in his thirties to form The National. He told The Telegraph in United Kingdom: “I was well into my thirties and I was creative director at a new-media company, dating a Swedish girl and flying to Stockholm on weekends. I was doing well. But, once I entertained the thought that maybe I wouldn’t ever have to go and sit in conference rooms with Mastercard to discuss web ads again, I couldn’t shake it. I think we were all prepared to fail, but, if we hadn’t chased it then, we would have regretted it for the rest of our lives.” Oh, and would you look at that – they’ll be headlining Field Trip 2016.


Craig Finn’s The Hold Steady earned reputation for being the best bar band in America to opening for the Rolling Stones. Before they were The Hold Steady, the Minnesota boys performed under the name: Lifter Puller. Finn remembers: “Our first tour — there were more stray dogs in the parking lot than there were members of the audience in the bar.”


Like The National and The Hold Steady, Spoon were slugging it out in the nineties before they traded in noise punk for accessible pop experiments. When they dropped their debut album in 1996, nearly 6-years before “The Way We Get By”, frontman Britt Daniel was at odds, as he recalled in an interview with The Guardian: “The disappointment was that all these people had built up our expectations. Being in a band was all I wanted to do.” Then the review aggregator Metacritic ranked them as the “Top Overall Artist of the Decade” in 2009, based on the string of critical accolades and commercially successful albums. Never give up on your dreams, kids.


The Screaming Eagle of Soul’s story is well-known. In 1996, he was discovered while performing in local Brooklyn clubs after many years spent on the streets, hitchhiking across the country, working odd jobs. His voice draws references to stylings of the funk and soul music of the Stax era, think Otis Redding and James Brown. You can bear witness to his energized live performance at Field Trip 2016.
(Photo courtesy of The Hold Steady via Facebook.)