Ten Best Indie Bands That Broke Up or Ended Too Soon

Updated on April 24, 2020
newblender profile image

I am a Librarian and Technology Manager for a public library. I've been an online writer for several years, often focusing on indie music.

It's too bad these bands broke up. Read on to see if your favorite made the list.
It's too bad these bands broke up. Read on to see if your favorite made the list.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, indie bands created sounds that influenced today's top artists. While their songs were catchy and sometimes danceable, they didn't sound like the norm on the radio. Unfortunately, many of these groundbreaking bands split up too soon, leaving a void in the music industry.

Indie Bands That Broke Up Too Soon

  • Ben Folds Five
  • Elliot Smith
  • No Knife
  • Dismemberment Plan
  • Dropsonic
  • Karate
  • Sunny Day Real Estate
  • Shiner
  • Failure
  • Codeine Velvet Club

Ben Folds Five

Origin: North Carolina, U.S.

Members: Ben Folds, Robert Sledge, Darren Jessee

Album to Start With: Ben Folds Five

Ben Folds Five formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, NC. The members were comprised of Ben Folds (piano, vocal), Darren Jessee (drums, back vocals), and Robert Sledge (bass, back vocals). Their music was infused with pop, rock, and jazz elements. It stood out in its time for not incorporating guitars in their music. The band released 4 albums: Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen, Naked Baby Photos, and The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. The band broke up in 2000 and went its separate ways. Ben Folds went on to make a name for himself as a solo artist.

The band "might" be getting back together in 2011 to release a new album.

Elliot Smith

Origin: Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska, raised primarily in Texas, and lived much of his life in Portland, Oregon, where he first gained popularity.

Members: Elliot Smith

Album to Start With: XO

Elliott Smith was a solo artist who started to release his music in 1994 in Portland, Oregon. His instrument of choice was the guitar, but he also played the piano, bass, drums, and harmonica extremely well. Smith incorporated many styles of music into his songs, but many of his songs fell into the rock and folk genres. He had a unique vocal style and used multiple vocal tracks to add depth and diversity to his music. His albums are still being released posthumously. Seven albums were released under his name, including Roman Candle, Elliott Smith, Either/Or, XO, Figure 8, From a Basement on the Hill, and New Moon. In 2003, Elliott Smith took his own life, ending his amazing career.

No Knife

Origin: San Diego, CA

Members: Chris Prescott, Ryan Ferguson

Album to Start With: Fire in the City of Automatons

No Knife formed in 1993 and was from San Diego, CA. They combined aspects of math rock, post-hardcore, and other indie rock aspects. The band consisted of Mitch Wilson (vocals and guitar), Brian Desjean (bass), Ryan Ferguson (guitar and vocals), and Ike Zaremba (drums). The band released four albums: Drunk on the Moon, Hit Man Dreams, Fire in the City of Automatons, and Riot for Romance! No Knife officially broke up in 2003. They played a few reunion shows in 2009, but they never officially got back together.

Dismemberment Plan

Origin: Washington, D.C.

Members: Travis Morrison, Jason Caddell, Eric Axelson, Steve Cummings, Joseph Easley

Album to Start With: Emergency & I

The Dismemberment Plan was formed in 1993 out of Washington D.C. They played indie rock, post-punk revival, math rock, and post-hardcore music. The band members were made up of Travis Morrison (vocals and guitar), Eric Axelson (bass), Jason Caddell (guitar), and Joe Easley (drums). The band released five LP's, including !, The Dismemberment Plan Is Terrified, Emergency & I, Change, A People's History of the Dismemberment Plan. The band eventually broke up in 2003. D-Plan has played a few reunion tours since, but have not regroup formally.


Origin: Atlanta, Georgia

Members: Brian Hunter, Dan Dixon, Darren Dodd, Dave Chase

Album to Start With: The Low Life

Dropsonic originated from Atlanta, Georgia, in 1998. They music blends elements of indie rock, math rock, soul, and post-hardcore. The band stood out for having unique guitar solos. The lineup included Dan Dixon (guitar and vocals), David Chase (bass), and Brian Hunter (drums). Dropsonic had a very full and complete sound for being just a three piece band. They released six albums over the course of their career, including Sleep With the Fishes, The Big Nothing, Belle, The Low Life, and Insects With Angel Wings. In 2011, the band went its separate ways.


Origin: Boston, MA

Members: Geoff Farina, Gavin McCarthy, Jeff Goddard, Eamonn Witt

Album to Start With: In Place of Real Insight

Karate formed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1993. The band improvised music, often creating a strange mix of indie rock, punk, blues, jazz, and post-rock. Its members include Geoff Farina (guitar and vocals), Eamonn Vitt (guitar), Gavin McCarthy (drums), Jeff Goddard (bass). Karate released seven studio albums, including Karate, In Place of Real Insight, The Bed Is in the Ocean, Unsolved, Some Boot, Pockets and 595. As a result of hearing damage, Farina disbanded the group in 2005.

Sunny Day Real Estate

Origin: Seattle, Washington

Members: Dan Hoerner, William Goldsmith, Nate Mendel, Jeremy Enigk, Jeff Palmer, Joe Skyward

Album to Start With: Diary

Sunny Day Real Estate is from Seattle, Washington. They formed in 1992. They changed their sound throughout the years, but it was comprised of alternative rock, emo, indie rock, and progressive rock. They were one of the first bands in the '90s to be classified as emo. The band was made up of Dan Hoerner (guitar and vocals), William Goldsmith (drums), Nate Mendel (bass), and Jeremy Enigk (guitar). The band released four albums, including Diary, Sunny Day Real Estate, How It Feels to Be Something On, and The Rising Tide. In 1996, Goldsmith and Mendel joined the band Foo Fighters. With new members filling in, Sunny Day disbanded in 2001. They have done a few reunion shows since then.


Origin: Kansas City, Missouri

Members: Allen Epley, Paul Malinowski, Jason Gerken, Josh Newton, Jeff Brown, Tim Dow, Joel Hamilton, Shawn Sherrill

Album to Start With: The Egg

Shiner formed in 1992 in Kansas City, MO. The band's sound blended indie rock, post-hardcore, and math rock. The band was made up of Allen Epley (guitar and vocals), Paul Malinowski (bass), Josh Newton (guitar), and Jason Gerken (drums). The band released four studio albums, including Splay, Lula Divinia, Starless, and The Egg. The band went their separate ways in late 2002.


Origin: Los Angeles, California

Members: Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards, Kellii Scott, Robert Gauss, Troy Van Leeuwen, John Dargahi

Album to Start With: Fantastic Planet

Failure was an indie rock band from Los Angeles, CA. They formed in 1990, creating a sound that mixed alternative rock, indie rock, space rock, alternative metal, and post-grunge. They released five full-length albums, including, Comfort, Magnified, Fantastic Planet, Golden, Essentials. The band broke up in 1997.

Codeine Velvet Club

Origin: Glasgow, Scotland

Members: Jon Lawler and Lou Hickey

Album to Start With: Codeine Velvet Club

Codeine Velvet Club formed in 2008 in Glasgow, Scotland. The music stylings are a mixture of Alternative rock, Baroque pop, Cabaret. The band's main members are Lou Hickey (vocals) and Jon Lawler (guitar and vocals). Jon Lawler is famous for his former band The Fratellis. This was a short-lived band. They had a short run and came out with one self-titled album, Codeine Velvet Club. In 2010, the band split up. Both members decided to pursue solo careers.


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    • Jon Peterz profile image

      Jon Peterz 

      8 years ago from California

      Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar were band mates In Uncle Tupelo. They pretty much invented the whole "Alt-Country" genre. Their finest album in my opinion was their last, 1993's "Anodyne". Gorgeous, my short words here can't do it justice. Check it out.

    • newblender profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Milwaukee

      I like Wilco a lot. I did not know about tweedy's early projects. I'll have to give it a listen.

    • Jon Peterz profile image

      Jon Peterz 

      8 years ago from California

      Great Hub. That Elliot Smith song I've heard before but never knew who did it. I'll have to dig into his stuff a bit more. What about Uncle Tupelo? I've been listening to them a lot this year. Kind of discovered Son Volt and Wilco (Farrar and Tweedy) and worked my way backwords. Love the album "Anodyne". Peace.

    • newblender profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Milwaukee

      Thanks! Those bands really influenced what I listen to today!!

    • Dorian Bodnariuc profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 

      8 years ago from Kanata, Ontario, Canada

      I liked your hub, it's very informative, I didn't know almost any of those bands.


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