Going off the grid is a relative term. When Bob Dylan and the Band recorded The Basement Tapes they tucked themselves away in Woodstock, New York, but that’s far different than Kate Bush, who followed up her acclaimed live shows in London by moving to the edge of a cliff in rural England and hiding from the press for 35 years.
Still, Kate Bush is a good example of an artist who makes something for herself more than anyone. And while she’s lightly back in the public eye following a stint of shows last year, she would still much rather keep to herself. The artists in the gallery above are much the same.
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Like Syd Barrett before her, Kate Bush is Britain’s quintessential reclusive genius. But rather than losing herself in drugs and moving back in with her parents, Kate Bush vanished before she ever really exploded. She needed to have control over everything, which when paired with a crippling fear of flying made touring difficult, and by Hounds of Love she’d built a private studio space to work at her own pace and on her own terms. She keeps her personal life to herself, only reappearing occasionally, as if to prove she’s as healthy and eccentric as ever. Last year, she re-emerged to perform a 22-night residency in London, the tickets for which sold out in minutes. Hopefully we’ll see her again; if not, she’s been quietly releasing albums ever since her shift to the background.
The Lewis story is an odd one. He released L’Amour in 1983 and then… vanished. Rumours spread once Light in the Attic chased him down for a re-release. Before figuring out he was an Alberta-based stockbroker, the stories went that he was a con artist, an actor or even an alien. The label were so determined to find him, in fact, that they played all royalties from the reissue in escrow until they could track him down. When they finally did last summer, they found him hanging outside a coffee shop and learned that Lewis, real name Randall Wulff, was absolutely indifferent to his newfound buzz.
It’s likely that it’s been a while since you’ve heard anything from Staind’s Aaron Lewis, doubly so if you’re not into country music, which he’s dived headfirst into in recent years. And there’s a reason for that: While Staind’s popularity certainly fizzled out, Lewis seemed to have taken that as a sign to buy into his rural roots. Born to hippies and reportedly raised in a forestial cabin, he’s since gone full Libertarian, living in the outskirts of Massachusetts, where he spends his days hunting, fishing and whining about the government. If those “Not My President” shirts came in camouflage, we’d expect he’d buy the lot. Oh, and he had his own show for a while.
Jack White’s former bandmate, rumoured sister but actual ex-wife wasted no time diving into the private life once the White Stripes broke-up, and we haven’t heard from her since. While Jack White regularly pulls out old classics for fan-service, Meg remains in the shadows, and last year he told Rolling Stone that he "doesn't think anyone talks to Meg." "She's always been a hermit," he said, adding that he had to drive to visit her if he wanted to catch-up during their band days.
Success became a burden for original Smashing Pumpkins bassist D’arcy Gretzky, who left the band after 1999’s Machina to pursue acting. Things had soured before then, though, as Wretzky had begun a quick descent into drugs, a habit that took hold of her quickly and firmly. She spent her few years away from the band off the grid, popping up only when arrested and reportedly living on a farm in Michigan, which is corroborated by a bizarre incident in 2011 that saw her charged for "failing to control her horses." 16 years later, she has yet to receive a single acting credit.
Wolves in the Throne Room distinguished themselves early in the post-Weakling cascadian black metal scene they effectively pioneered with fairy tales about them living together in the depths of a Washington forest. And it turns out that was mostly true: At least initially, Nathan and Aaron Weaver lived acres away from their nearest neighbours in the Pacific Northwest in a cabin that struggled to get cell service.