When Gwen Stefani took a leave of absence from her position at the front of No Doubt, no one was surprised. Whether she asked for it or not, she was always the focus for fans who appreciated her style as much as her singing or stage presence.
Frontwomen have a long history of taking time off from their bands to record on their own: Stevie Nicks famously didn’t even tell her bandmates (including then boyfriend Mick Fleetwood) she was writing her own album; Kim Deal‘s side project, The Breeders, is a successful band with her sister, Kelley, that she works on in her off-time from the Pixies; and when Sleater-Kinney took time off, drummer Janet Weiss drummed for her duo, Quasi.
Nina Persson‘s voice is extremely recognizable due to the hit song “Lovefool” her band The Cardigans lent to the Baz Luhrmann reworking of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Since the 1990s, The Cardigans have maintained a steady career of album releases, and Persson has recorded on her own as A Camp. She released the first album under the moniker in 2001 and has recently announced there will be a follow-up this fall. The album is said to be inspired by “’60s girl pop and ’80s punk,” so expect an edgier Persson with more guitar.
Native Korean Rock is the odd new name of Karen O‘s side project. The eccentric leader of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs has assembled what she refers to as “a motley crew of NYC natives” to play with her. A couple of songs have been released to the band’s new MySpace with not much else known so far. (So mysterious, Karen O.)
Last March, Tegan Quin announced she had been working on material with Hunter Burgan, bassist of the punk band AFI. So far, the project is unnamed, but it’s interesting that this is only one other thing Tegan is working on sans Sara, as she’s also recorded solo for an Augusten Burroughs‘ audio album as well as a song with Against Me!
Musicians are having fun playing around, and we reap the benefits (though sometimes there can be some major missteps). At the end of the day, artists can choose to return to what works or continue working overtime. If it’s good, I don’t mind buying double the albums.