How can a band disappear correctly?

This week starts an exciting month for my band, Greenfoot.  On Friday we released "Highwater", the first of four brand new singles over four weeks. We’re releasing one song per week to add some hype to the new songs, but also to help us out in a different way.

In the fall of 2007 we went though a lineup change.  Getting a new member up-to-speed is always difficult, especially when you only have a 3 piece band.  We were back in the basement for seven months getting up-to speed on all current material (essentially re-writing many of our songs), working on some new material and getting the lineup comfortable enough to play out again.  In the summer of 2007 we were finally on a roll, playing over a dozen shows and getting our name out there.  That all came to a grinding halt during the lineup change and we basically disappeared off the face of the Earth.  When we finally re-emerged in the spring of 2008, we basically were starting fresh.  We didn’t do a good job of maintaining contacts with booking agents – especially when we didn’t have anything to offer them (ability to play show). With the live music biz being what it is, many of our contacts had changed as well.  It took a lot of work to try to get part of that momentum that we had before the lineup change.

Now Greenfoot is currently on a 5 week break from rehearsing or playing any shows due to our bass player traveling, as well as our lead singer welcoming their second child into the world.  While this break was much-needed, it also has come at a time where we again had strong momentum.  We were playing a steady stream of shows, writing new material and making good progress towards our goals.  Being off the radar for 6 weeks would be another significant blow for our progress.

This time we’re trying something different, using these new songs to our advantage. Over the spring and summer we recorded these four new songs, with the typically “as soon as we get them done” release date in mind.  When we realized we were going to be out over a month, we sat on these songs for a while, with the idea that we can at release something new and have some exciting developments at a time when we’re not playing shows or rehearsing.  These songs aren’t tied to a new album, so rather than releasing these all at once, we’re putting one out each week to get people back to our web site, as well as checking out the new and songs we have posted.  Hopefully we’re now able to “disappear” correctly, with fans not realizing that there’s no one behind the curtain.

We were fortunate enough to have these songs in our back pocket, but looking back at where we were a year ago I’m wondering what we could have done differently when we disappeared.  Is there a right way to disappear, especially when it’s something as unexpected as a lineup change?  Is there anything that bands on hiatus can do to keep contacts fresh, as well as maintain interest from booking agents?  I’d be anxious to for any ideas people may have.