15 greatest supergroups across rock, punk, and metal
The idea of our favorite artists getting together in a room and hanging out is one thing. But when they then find that musical itch needing scratching and wind up collaborating on something more than a one-off track, well, then it’s music to our ears.
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From one-off albums to career-defining projects, the term supergroup has always indicated some level of pedigree. While the results don’t always speak for themselves, more often than not, the coming together of acts and artists of either similar — or entirely differing — genres leads to a Frankenstein’s monster-meets-Michelangelo’s David result — it maybe shouldn’t work, but you’ve never heard anything so beautiful in your life. Below we've put together some of the best and brightest projects that we've been graced with.
Box Car Racer
The first and potentially most adored blink-182 offshoot, Box Car Racer were born out of the friction of Tom DeLonge’s love for post-hardcore against the mainstream pop-punk success of blink. Getting Travis Barker on board, as well as David Kennedy, the sounds they brought were emotionally aggrandizing, with every dark, angst-ridden track a careful compilation of fury and seriousness — a world away from songs about first dates and rock shows. On their 2002 self-titled — and only — album, fans were also introduced to the pouting, furrowed-brow thinking that would inevitably surface on blink-182’s Untitled and beyond.
If you don’t succumb to the sound of three of their generation's finest songwriters, then you’re made of stronger stuff than most. Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker each have their own way of excavating and hollowing out emotions, ready for us to step inside and wear them like warm sweaters. With their debut album as boygenius, the defiantly titled the record, finally coming into the world, the trio, who are sounding stronger than ever, are indeed greater than the sum of their parts.
With the gusto and pow of a superhero squad, L.S. Dunes formed from the open spaces between glances across festival sites and occasional tour crossovers. The might of My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero, Thursday’s Tucker Rule and Tim Payne, Circa Survive’s Anthony Green, and Coheed and Cambria's Travis Stever fine-tunes their home groups into the sound of a bunch of friends finally getting to jam and relishing in this fact. And with their 2022 debut album, Past Lives, they served up a delicious slab of searing post-hardcore to boot.
The Postal Service
Indie-electronica found its benchmark with the combination of Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard and producer Jimmy Tamborello. Alongside Jenny Lewis’ vocals adding a lighter texture, the Postal Service paved way for a new generation of graceful synth-pop acts with their debut album, Give Up, which still ignites a fever at the mere mention of their name. With news that the Postal Service are touring alongside Death Cab For Cutie — and Gibbard pulling a double shift each night — 2023 is set to be the year indie lovers eat.
Truly, Travis Barker is deserving of his own list of projects because the man seemingly does not sleep. But Transplants are one of his projects that properly signaled just where punk and rock would be heading a few years down the line. A no-holds-barred punk-rap collision, imbued by Rob Aston's brutally vocalized portrayal of LA street life, along with Tim Armstrong of Rancid’s melodies, Transplants managed to make songs about death and broken friendship equal parts enticing and thrilling.
Not the first supergroup to emerge from the early ’90s grunge scene, but certainly one that had one of the largest impacts — an easy feat given the meteoric sound Audioslave conjured. Between Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell and three Rage Against The Machine members, the force that erupted from the glitching intro to “Cochise” was all the proof the world needed that the sound of rock in the new millennium wasn’t going anywhere.
The Damned Things
Another group that embody the definition of super. Between Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley, Anthrax’s Scott Ian, Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley, and Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano, they collided together to make a sturdy rock sound that jars between frantic and frenetic to focused and driven. With nearly a decade between 2010’s Ironiclast and 2019’s High Crimes, and the magic staying the same, the Damned Things proved that some musical kinships are just right.
The idea of Pete Wentz and Bebe Rexha collaborating in 2023 doesn’t seem overly absurd given the former's trajectory with his band, but back in 2010, it was an unexpected move into electro-pop from the Fall Out Boy bassist. “Club Called Heaven” held tinges of buoyant electro-swing, while across their only EP, Use Your Disillusion, they encroached on EDM's in-your-face approach. Looking back now, Black Cards certainly feel like a time capsule, and while it may be a lesser-known Fall Out Boy affiliate project, the duo certainly captured what the late 2010s would encompass with its genre-defying moves.
Killer Be Killed
It should come as no surprise that when three of heavy metal’s most punishing vocalists get together, the results would be as cocked and loaded as Killer Be Killed. Sepultura/Soulfly’s Max Cavalera, Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, and Mastodon’s Troy Sanders, along with Mars Volta’s Dave Elitch (who only appears on their first record), crafted barbarous metal that didn’t look to reinvent the wheel but instead stand atop it, screaming at the top of their lungs.
Them Crooked Vultures
Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and John Paul Jones walk into a room. A ludicrous notion, but that is indeed Them Crooked Vultures. A blues-driven, wild beast of a project, between the frankly ludicrous rhythm section made from Grohl’s pulverizing drums and the ferocious bass from the former Led Zeppelin member, and Homme’s towering, swaggering, rock attitude, the trio are the embodiment of cool, with the sizzling "Mind Eraser No Chaser" cutting the most direct, posturing sound that still sears over a decade later.
Production mastermind Danger Mouse is no stranger to collaboration. But his outing with the Shins' James Mercer has proven to be an ongoing one that still sparkles in its melodious twilight. Relishing in a luxurious wealth of indie-pop, retro and otherwise, the long-standing relationship as Broken Bells has lasted through three albums, each developing in complexity, including last year’s Into The Blue, which proved some talent matchups can be more than a one-and-done situation.
The Dead Weather
The wicked, twisted world of the Dead Weather came from the mind of one Jack White, but it was brought to life with the help of the Kills’ Alison Mossheart, Queens of The Stone Age’s Dean Fertitia, and general bass-for-hire Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, the Greenhornes). Completely isolated in a black-and-white world, it’s a bit kooky, a bit strange, but the snarl is as vicious as the hypnotizing dance they lure you in with.
Temple of the Dog
The legacy of grunge had barely begun when Temple of The Dog surfaced. All bark and bite, the ode to late Mother Love Bone frontman Andrew Wood put together by Chris Cornell, with the rest of the band — and a little help from a certain Eddie Vedder — not only created a momentous occasion but led to the remaining members becoming Pearl Jam. Their one and only outing was a glorious exploration of the hard-rocking lineup's ability to punctuate the deepest emotions into expansive sounds. Still resonating over two decades later, particularly in the wake of Cornell's untimely passing, Temple of the Dog remain a burning, mythos-laden grail.
Prophets of Rage
Kindred spirits, the combining of Rage Against The Machine with Public Enemy just made sense. Embodying their title, Prophets of Rage surfaced from the revolutionary underground wanting to kick some action into gear during the tumultuous election year of 2016. Across their smattering of releases, including one self-titled album, they stuck true to this mission statement. Their tracks, including "Unfuck The World" and "Strength In Numbers," each bore its own searing endorsement of a rock 'n' roll riot.
Better Oblivion Community Center
Another entry for Phoebe Bridgers, this time with the acoustic-emo poster boy Conor Oberst. The duo's project under the moniker Better Oblivion Community Center toyed with the pair's penchant for lyrical narratives amid acoustic-driven canvases. The self-titled album came as a loose concept around the titular wellness center, a point driven home by single "Dylan Thomas" as the pair yearned to not end up tragic like the poet. It all felt too good to be true, but delivering on every promise, the project stands tall among each artist’s impressive output.