If you’re a fan of indie rock music, you may have heard of Neutral Milk Hotel.

This band achieved cult status in the 1990s with their unique sound and poetic lyrics.

However, after just two albums, the band disappeared from the music scene, leaving fans wondering what happened.

In this article, we’ll explore the history of Neutral Milk Hotel, their rise to fame, and what led to their sudden disappearance.

We’ll also look at what the band members have been up to since then and whether there’s any chance of a reunion.

The Birth of Neutral Milk Hotel

Neutral Milk Hotel was formed in Ruston, Louisiana in 1989 by singer-songwriter Jeff Mangum, who was joined by various musicians throughout the band’s lifespan. Initially, Neutral Milk Hotel started as a solo project for Mangum, but he eventually teamed up with members of the Elephant 6 Collective, a group of musicians who shared a love for lo-fi and psychedelic music.

Their early music and influences

Neutral Milk Hotel’s early music was heavily influenced by the Elephant 6 Collective’s DIY aesthetic and lo-fi sound. Their debut album, “On Avery Island,” was recorded on a 4-track cassette recorder and released in 1996. The album showcased Mangum’s unique blend of indie rock, folk, and psychedelic pop, and set the stage for their critically acclaimed follow-up, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.”

The recording of their debut album, ‘On Avery Island’

“On Avery Island” was recorded at the Pet Sounds Studio in Denver, Colorado, and was produced by Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo. The album features a mix of lo-fi and polished production, with songs that range from upbeat indie rock to dreamy folk ballads. Despite receiving mixed reviews upon its release, “On Avery Island” has since been recognized as a cult classic and a crucial stepping stone for Neutral Milk Hotel’s later success.

The Rise to Fame

Neutral Milk Hotel was a band formed in Ruston, Louisiana in the early 1990s. Despite their short-lived career, they left a lasting impact on the indie rock scene. One of the key factors in their rise to fame was the release of their second album, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”, in 1998. This album showcased the band’s unique sound, blending folk, punk, and psychedelic influences.

The album was a critical success, receiving high praise from music critics. It also achieved commercial success, reaching number 61 on the US Billboard 200 chart. The success of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” helped the band gain a cult following and established them as one of the most influential indie bands of the late 90s.

The sudden popularity of Neutral Milk Hotel was unexpected, and the band was not prepared for the level of attention they received. They gained a devoted fanbase that was drawn to their distinct sound and emotional lyrics. The band’s concerts were often sold out, and their fans would sing along to every word.

The Disappearance

Neutral Milk Hotel was an indie rock band that gained a cult following in the late 1990s. However, the band suddenly disappeared from the music scene in 1999, leaving many fans puzzled and disappointed.

There are several reasons behind the band’s disappearance. One of the main factors was Jeff Mangum’s retreat from the public eye. The band’s lead singer and songwriter had always been a private person, but after the success of their album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”, he became increasingly uncomfortable with the attention and scrutiny that came with fame. This led him to withdraw from the public eye and stop performing live.

Unfortunately, this decision had a significant impact on the band’s fans. Many had been eagerly awaiting new music from Neutral Milk Hotel, but instead, they were left with unanswered questions and a sense of loss. Some even speculated that the band had broken up, although this was never officially confirmed.

It is worth mentioning that the band’s disappearance only added to their mystique and cult following. Their music became even more revered by fans who felt that they had discovered something special and unique. However, the band’s sudden departure also left many fans feeling frustrated and disappointed.

On the other hand, some fans have argued that the band’s decision to disappear was a bold and admirable move. In an era where many musicians seemed more concerned with commercial success and fame, Neutral Milk Hotel’s decision to step away from the spotlight was seen as a rejection of the mainstream music industry.

What Happened to the Band Members

Neutral Milk Hotel was an American indie rock band formed in 1989. Despite only releasing two full-length albums, the band garnered a cult following and influenced many musicians in the years following their disbandment in 1999.

After the band’s breakup, the members pursued various solo projects and collaborations.

  • Jeff Mangum: Mangum largely disappeared from the public eye after Neutral Milk Hotel’s breakup. However, he has played occasional live shows and released a few solo recordings, including the critically acclaimed album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea in 1998.
  • Scott Spillane: Spillane has continued to play music with other bands, including The Gerbils and Elf Power. He has also contributed to recordings by other artists, such as Of Montreal and Vic Chesnutt.
  • Julian Koster: Koster has pursued a variety of music and art projects since Neutral Milk Hotel’s breakup. He has released solo music under the name The Music Tapes, as well as collaborated with other artists on various projects. Koster has also created a number of art installations and performances, including the annual holiday event The Orbiting Human Circus.

Despite their individual pursuits, the members of Neutral Milk Hotel have remained connected to one another and have occasionally reunited for live performances.

The Possibility of a Reunion

Neutral Milk Hotel, the indie rock band known for their unique sound and cult following, has been on an indefinite hiatus since 1999. However, rumors of a potential reunion have been circulating among fans for years. But what are the clues and hints from the band members themselves?

  • In a 2013 interview with The Guardian, frontman Jeff Mangum stated that he was open to the idea of playing music again with the band.
  • Other members, including Scott Spillane and Julian Koster, have also expressed interest in a reunion in various interviews over the years.
  • In 2018, the band reunited for a tour, which sparked even more rumors about a potential full reunion.

The reaction of fans to the possibility of a reunion has been overwhelmingly positive. Many have been eagerly anticipating the band’s return for years and would jump at the chance to see them live again.

However, the likelihood of a full Neutral Milk Hotel reunion remains uncertain. While the band has reunited for select shows, there has been no official announcement of a permanent reunion or new album. It is worth mentioning that Jeff Mangum has been known to be reclusive and unpredictable in the past, so anything is possible.

Pros of a reunion Cons of a reunion
  • Excitement and anticipation from fans
  • Potential for new music and creative growth
  • Opportunity for the band to reconnect and heal past issues
  • Potential for disappointment if the reunion does not meet expectations
  • The band may struggle to recapture their unique sound and chemistry after years apart
  • Logistical challenges in coordinating schedules and arranging a tour

Ultimately, only time will tell if Neutral Milk Hotel will reunite for good. Whether or not they do, their legacy as one of the most influential and beloved indie bands of all time is firmly cemented.


Neutral Milk Hotel may have disappeared from the music scene, but their legacy lives on.

Their unique sound and poetic lyrics continue to inspire musicians and fans alike.

While a reunion may be unlikely, fans can still enjoy the band’s music and appreciate the impact they had on the indie rock genre.

We hope this article has provided you with a comprehensive guide to what happened to Neutral Milk Hotel.

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