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From Heshers to Hipsters: Musicians With Metal and Punk Pasts

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The word “reinvention” comes to mind when you consider Madonna‘s long and legendary career. The Michigan native has certainly revamped her look and sound throughout her time in the spotlight – from downtown New York City scenester to her current status as pop music royalty (with a pseudo-British accent, no less!). In the spirit of Madge, a younger legion of musicians have also reinvented themselves in the last decade or so. Noisecreep has compiled a list of hipster-leaning artists that got their careers started in the worlds of metal and punk.

Kenneth Capello

Alison Mosshart, The Kills vocalist

Rewind: From 1995 to 2000, Mosshart was the lead singer for Florida pop-punkers Discount. During their run, the group dropped three studio albums and a steady stream of 7″s and EPs.

Fast Forward: While on a European tour with Discount in 2000, Mosshart met her future partner in The Kills, guitarist Jamie Hince. She eventually moved to London and the duo signed with Domino Records for their debut album, 2003′s ‘Keep on Your Mean Side.’ The Kills released their fourth album, ‘Blood Pressures,’ last year. Mosshart is also a member of psychedelic supergroup The Dead Weather, where she shares vocal duties with Jack White of The White Stripes.

Matador Records

Wesley Eisold, Cold Cave vocalist

Rewind: Eisold was the frontman for Boston hardcore favorites Give Up the Ghost from 1998-2004. The band released two studio albums before splitting up. Give Up the Ghost played two reunion shows in late 2011, with all proceeds going to Shirts For a Cure Project, which benefits the Syrentha Savio Endowment. Eisold also recorded one album in 2006, ‘Heaven’s Pregnant Teens,’ with discordant punk outfit Some Girls.

Fast Forward: Eisold founded Cold Cave – a trio that blends elements of darkwave and synth-pop – in 2005. ‘The Simpsons‘ creator Matt Groening handpicked the group to perform at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival that he curated in 2010. Signed to indie powerhouse Matador Records, Cold Cave have released two studio albums to date.

Mom + Pop

Derek E. Miller, Sleigh Bells guitarist

Rewind: From 1998 to 2004, Miller swung his axe in influential Florida metalcore act Poison the Well. Before parting ways with the band and moving to Brooklyn, he played on their three most important albums, including 2002′s ‘Tear From the Red.’

Fast Forward: Miller co-founded noise pop duo Sleigh Bells in 2008 with vocalist Alexis Krauss. The project was an instant success, garnering glowing press write-ups from taste-making sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum. In another interesting bit of trivia, Krauss was a member of a failed teen pop group called Rubyblue before hitting hipster pay dirt. Sleigh Bells will release their sophomore album, ‘Reign of Terror,’ on Valentine’s Day.

Alex Kacha

Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell, Crocodiles guitars/vocals

Rewind: Welchez and Rowell were both members of San Diego punk outfit The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, from 2001 to 2006. Infamous in the underground for their confrontational live shows, the quintet went their separate ways after issuing a handful of releases.

Fast Forward: After The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower broke up, Welchez formed a jangle-pop combo called The Prayers, but after that project fell apart, he started Crocodiles in 2008 with Rowell. Their druggy yet melodic songwriting style has been compared to The Jesus and Mary Chain and Spacemen 3. Their most recent release is 2010′s ‘Sleep Forever.’

Small Black

Ryan Heyner, Small Black keyboardist

Rewind: Throughout the ’90s, Heyner played guitar for a Long Island melodic hardcore group called Silent Majority. Besides Heyner, other members of Silent Majority eventually found greater success in acts like Glassjaw and Bayside.

Fast Forward: Heyner’s Brooklyn-based Small Black formed in 2009, and first gained attention when music critics started including them in the chillwave invasion that was all the rage a couple of years back.


Skrillex, DJ

Rewind: Sonny Moore’s first taste of fame came in 2004 as the frontman for screamo act From First to Last. After recording two popular albums with the band, Moore quit and immersed himself in electronic music and dance culture.

Fast Forward: After leaving the Warped Tour flock behind, Moore took on the stage name Skrillex and has since become one of the leaders of the dubstep movement. In 2011, the 23-year-old was nominated for a total of five Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist.

Emily Dyan Iberra

John Baldwin Gourley, Portugal. The Man vocalist/guitarist/organ

Rewind: Gourley sang for popular Portland, Ore. quintet Anatomy of a Ghost. Their 2003 ‘Evanesce’ album helped influence an army of future emo bands. A year later, the band was over.

Fast Forward: Gourley and Anatomy of a Ghost bassist Zach Carothers began Portugal. The Man soon after their former group broke up. Now playing a wildly inventive brand of psych-rock, the band has released six critically lauded studio albums, and even landed a major label deal with Atlantic Records in 2010.

Daniel Arnold

Devon Williams, singer-songwriter

Rewind: In the late ’90s, Williams was the singer for Los Angeles punk band Osker. The group signed with Epitaph Records and went on to release two albums before biting the dust.

Fast Forward: Williams is currently enjoying a flourishing solo career on indie-pop label Slumberland Records. He also played guitar in folk/country-pop band Lavender Diamond.

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