What’s in a band name, anyways?

Toronto hard rockers Ape have made it their New Year’s Resolution to go after A Primitive Evolution, a local band that goes by the acronym A.P.E. Presumably, they don’t  have the cash to pull a Satriani and serve them at their next public performance.  So they’ve decided to post on every message board they can think of — and maybe tear down a concert poster or two.

Within the somewhat limited thinking of the heavy rock/metal world, it’s not uncommon for two groups to come up with the same moniker.  There’s only so many names ending in ‘er’ and ‘or’ that haven’t already been taken by a thrash metal band in Brazil.  And it’s always a bummer when you name your band after your favourite strain of weed, only to disover that it’s been taken by a jazz fusion outfit in L.A. that doesn’t smoke pot.  (Happened to Sea of Green, although I can’t find any links to the trumpet-playing band these days…)

Local hardcore punks Murdersquad didn’t drop the T.O. from their name until it was obvious that the Dismember/Entombed side project was no longer active.  And back in the 80’s, a metal band from San Antonio, Texas, was forced to add S.A. to its name since they didn’t have the record-label support of their L.A. counterparts.  (That would be Slayer, in case you were wondering…)  But what happens when two bands from the same city share the same handle?

According to Ape, their requests that A.P.E. drop the acronym have gone ignored.  Usually, Toronto bands are more accommodating.  Upon his return to the scene with 2008’s Metal Manifesto, 80’s thrash icon Piledriver added The Exalted to his name, saying there were other bands named Piledriver out there.  (And yet a search on Metal Archives only turns up his original outfit.  Hmm…)  When a stoner/doom outfit named OTIS signed to Hypnotic in the mid-90’s, they added “Sons of” to their handle to avoid confusion with an American group.  (Their original moniker has since been stolen by a Dutch hardcore band.  Go figure…)  Then again, neither The Exalted Primitive Evolution nor Sons of a Primitive Evolution has the same ring to it.  I actually quite like the latter, except that it turns their acronym into S.O.A.P.E.

Speaking of Sons, OTIS drummer Ryan Aubin fronts a killer side-project that used to be known as Fullton’s Point, until he discovered that not one, but two British bands had the same name, minus an ‘l’.  Aubin changed his outfit’s name to LOA, which isn’t an acronym; it’s been capitalized in true OTIS fashion.  He’s got some local Life of Agony fans scratching their heads, but the Canadian LOA has yet to really get its music out to the befuddled masses.

As for Ape and A.P.E., the only solution I see is to have a Crossroads-style battle for the naming rights, laying it all on the line in a gig reminiscent of 1984’s Slayer vs. Slayer concert in San Antonio–but with the winner taking sole possession of the name.  Hold it at the Bovine, Lee’s, or a neutral venue, but as an owner of both Ape records, my money’s on the band without the periods.

Then again, is the name Ape really worth fighting for, in the first place?  I could open the dictionary to any random page and find a better band name–even by bypassing all words ending in ‘er’!



P.S.: Tune into Smokin’ Green tonite for a Shrinebuilder Special, Pt. 1.  I’ll be playing the first two tracks from the EP, along with the music of  doom metal bass god Al Cisneros.  Be sure to catch me at 1 am at 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV, or www.ckln.fm on yer computer!

Seahawks/Stamps/Flames/Zags/Jays/Raptors fan and lifelong metal head with a beer gut and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Reviewer/blogger (Yon Senior Doomsayer) for Hellbound.ca.