After nearly two years of service with Titus Andronicus, riot grrl guitarist Amy “Andronicus” Klein left the Brooklyn-via-New Jersey group last week. She will focus on her own projects, the Patti Smith-inspired Amy Klein And The Blue Star Band and the noisy duo Hilly Eye, and her feminist activist group Permanent Wave. She will also certainly continue to post thought-provoking essays at her tumblr about feminism and modern music culture.
A dexterous player, Klein helped turn Titus Andronicus into a must-see live act, filling epics like “The Battle Of Hampton Roads” with searing crescendos. She was also a joy to watch: always banging her head, jumping about and exuding a sheer pleasure just to be onstage. (This writer can also confirm she was a joy to speak with as well, as smart and passionate as one would hope.)
Perhaps we should have seen her departure coming, because these days it seems like the universe won't let us have more than one charismatic performer per band unit. Last year mustachioed keyboardist Franz Nicolay left The Hold Steady and gun-holster enthusiast/bassist Carlos Dengler left Interpol, and shortly before that bushy-beard drummer Warren Oakes left Florida punks Against Me!
All of these musicians were animated performers who complemented, or in the case of Dengler overshadowed, their frontmen. The herky-jerk arm movements of Oakes, the natty threads and bopping presence of Nicolay and the “he’s wearing what?” appeal of Dengler were as big a part of their group's live shows as the tunes themselves. (No disrespect to the other musicians, of course. There’s no shame in focusing on your instrument and letting the frontman do their thing.)
They all left their bands for more or less the same reason as Klein; it was time to pursue new projects. Nicolay had a solo career to focus on and Oakes wanted to settle down and open a taco joint. It's not yet clear what Dengler is up to, but don't be surprised if the Crispin Glover ringer makes a go at being a character actor.
It might seem like some sort of “fan favorite curse,” that these beloved second bananas keep leaving their bands. But it probably owes more to the fact that in order to make a living at music these days, bands have to tour more and more. A solid year away from home can burn anyone out, especially a dynamic personality with multiple interests on the back-burner.
Though the live shows are somewhat less lively, all the above bands have continued on without too much detriment, as it’s not like Tom Gabel or Craig Finn are often accused of lacking enthusiasm. Titus Andronicus should be fine as well, as frontman Patrick Stickles and his civil war soldier beard are always worth showing up for. So we wish Klein luck with all her future projects. But can someone please make sure that Arcade Fire member/jumpsuit enthusiast/dude who plays the drums with his head Richard Reed Parry is still feeling creatively fulfilled?