Failure is an Alternative Rock/grunge band from Los Angeles, founded in 1990 by Ken Andrews and Greg Edwards. While they never got much media attention, Failure earned praise from both critics and peers for their unique, deeply introspective take on grunge music. Because of how many musicians spoke highly of them (including A Perfect Circle's Billy Howerdel, Faith No More's Billy Gould and Dean DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots), Failure are also known as "your favorite band's favorite band".
Failure's sound is often compared to that of Nirvana, however, it's more melodic and elaborate compared to the latter's raw approach, leaning more into alternative rock or even Space Rock territory. A lot of songs feature distortion-heavy guitar hooks backed by thick, overdriven basslines: Andrews and Edwards are both skilled at bass and guitar, so in the studio they switch roles on different songs. The lyrics, mostly written by Ken Andrews, are characterized by use of unusual metaphors and recurring themes of isolation, dreams and drug use.
The band's two core members, Andrews and Edwards, started out as a duo playing L.A. clubs until they got a record deal with Slash Records, added drummer Robert Gauss to the lineup and began recording their debut album, Comfort. Though the record was engineered by none other than Steve Albini, the band were not satisfied with the final mix, their ideas clashing with Albini's minimal production. For the recording of the next album, Andrews requested more control over production, and the result of this was 1994's Magnified - the record which helped establish Failure's signature style for years to come, as well as the one that got them widespread recognition among fellow musicians, including tool, with members of whom Ken and Greg would work on a one-off cover project Replicants in 1995. The band's third release, 1996's Fantastic Planet, a concept album of sorts that dealt with heroin abuse and had a more "spacey" sound, with feedback manipulation and a bit of keyboards, only solidified Failure's place in the history of 90's music and became their most popular record.
After playing Lollapalooza 1997, Failure disbanded the same year due to personal differences. Ken Andrews started working solo under the moniker ON, also continuing his work as a professional sound engineer, while Edwards formed the shoegazing band Autolux. However, in 2013 Failure announced their reunion with the original Andrews-Edwards-Scott lineup and went back into the studio to record a comeback album. The Heart Is A Monster, which came out in 2015, was praised by fans and critics for retaining the trademark sound, while adding new elements to the formula.
- Ken Andrews - Lead vocals, guitar, bass (1990-1997, 2013-now)
- Greg Edwards - Guitar, bass, keyboards, backing vocals (1990-1997, 2013-now)
- Kellii Scott - Drums, percussion (1993-1997, 2013-now)
- 1992 - Comfort
- 1994 - Magnified
- 1996 - Fantastic Planet
- 2004 - Golden note
- 2006 - Essentials note
- 2014 - Tree Of Stars note
- 2015 - The Heart Is A Monster
- 2018 - In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind
Tropes used by Failure:
- Alternative Rock
- Ambiguous Disorder: Leo from the song of the same name, who finds it "hard to relate to you or anyone" and feels pursued even when he's just going to his car.
- Call-Back: The Heart Is A Monster has the same kind of numbered "Segue" tracks as Fantastic Planet and is implied to be a sequel to it.
- The Tree Of Stars EP is named after a lyric in "Another Space Song", a track off Fantastic Planet.
- Concept Album: Fantastic Planet tells (although somewhat loosely) a story of a heroin addict and the way his life is slowly coming apart.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: One possible interpretation of "Pillowhead".
- Fading into the Next Song: "Moth" -> "Frogs".
- Fair Weather Friend: "Empty Friend" is about a shallow person who is only there to get high with you.
- Grunge: Despite coming significantly after Grunge came into vogue, they're not considered Post-Grunge due to their rejection of commercial elements.
- Love Is a Drug: The themes of obsession and addiction are intertwined on Fantastic Planet, especially in "Stuck On You".
- Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Lyrics about drug addiction, insanity, death and depression means they average a 7-9.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally a 6, sometimes going to a low 7.
- Overworked Sleep: A particularly dark version in "Wonderful Life", where a female commuter is so tired she falls asleep at the wheel and presumably crashes and dies.
- Sanity Slippage Song: "Moth" and "Frogs", put back-to-back on Magnified. "Moth" seems to be about someone who suspects he might be going insane and does not talk to other people for the fear of showing it. In "Frogs" he is already on his way to a mental institution.
- Self-Deprecation: It's right there in the name of the band.
- Shout-Out: "Solaris" is a big one to the book of the same name by Stanisław Lem and the movie based on it.
- Siamese Twin Songs: "Wonderful Life" ends with a drum break that cues in the next song, "Undone".
- Space Rock: One of the most notable bands to do so in the 90's, mixing it with Grunge, Post-Hardcore and a tinge of Alternative Metal.
- The Something Song: "Another Space Song".
- Surreal Horror: All over the place, particularly on the tracks Moths and Frogs.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Downplayed. The band makes heavy use of bizarre metaphors and phrasing, but their lyrics are still generally understandable and tell a cohesive narrative.