Before They Were Weirdos
by Dan Weiss | September 28, 2013
It's a familiar yet still somewhat rare story: MGMT were still a baby band when they got a handful of legitimate hit songs on the radio, and then realized they didn't want to be that kind of band at all. They've since spent two albums distancing themselves from any kind of "pop" music -- and they seem to like it that way, even though their label might not. Radiohead and Wilco once saw themselves in a similar position -- with a fluke radio hit ("Creep") and a straight-up country-rock career, respectively -- that didn't quite satisfy their thirst for exploration. Ironically, both bands reached their commercial, not just critical, apex once they started following their muse. The tradition can be traced back to Talk Talk's early New Wave hits and jazzy aftermath, or to Ministry, who popularized industrial's collision into metal after beginning as a moody synth-pop band, or even further to Pink Floyd, who began as a much straighter psych-pop act when Syd Barrett was briefly at the helm. Here's a musical scrapbook of some of rock's most adventurous tinkerers before things got weird.