Music fans are brilliant.
Less brilliant, however, are ridiculous ignorant fanboys who like and support a band only as long as that band is adhering to a preconceived set of rules and styles which is appealing to that particular person’s sense of ‘what this band is like’. (Please note: the difference between ‘fan’ and ‘fanboy’ needs to be made very clear. Fans are great. They care, and they want the band to succeed no matter what. Fanboys, on the other hand, don’t really care. They’re the kind of people who say things like ‘I liked their early stuff’ and ‘I was into them before they got big, they’ve sold out now’ - and worse, they mean it. Or rather, they think they mean it. Really they’re just into whatever sounds like it’s most cutting-edge at any given moment and they’ll move on as soon as a band plays a show anywhere bigger than a pub’s basement.)
And so, to business. Recently, a few bands in the punk/hardcore genre have changed their names, resulting in a veritable tropical storm of online verbal abuse from out-and-out fanboys. Whether or not these changes were for the better, or are going to stick, is irrelevant. I’m going to discuss three bands in particular: these are Code Orange (formerly Code Orange Kids), Warm Thoughts (formerly Dad Punchers) and Self Defense Family (formerly End Of A Year, End Of A Year Self Defense Family, Self Defense Music and Self Defense, which they still sometimes use for live shows).
When Code Orange changed their name back in June, it was to a barrage of nasty, unnecessary comments on Twitter and other social media platforms, largely based around awful fanboys not being able to cope with dropping one word out of a band name. To those people I say this: it doesn’t matter. Code Orange dropped the ‘Kids’ part from their name because, simply, they’re not kids anymore. All four members are now over 21 (so, you know, ADULTS) and therefore legitimately are no longer classed as kids. However, this does not necessitate a stream of verbal abuse. It’s up to them what their band name is. Fans might prefer the old name, or the new one, but if they’re real fans, they’ll care about the music over and above everything else. If you’re calling yourself a fan, but you can’t get past a very, very slight name change, you’ve got to question how much of a fan you really were in the first place. Are the band members still talented? Yes. Do they still make cutting-edge, forward-thinking hardcore which pushes boundaries? Yes. So, why does it matter if their name changes slightly? What possible difference could this make to your life? (‘Oh, but it’s gonna fuck up my iTunes list, I’ll have to re-name everything…’) Shut up. SHUT UP. No one cares about your iTunes list and your incessant need to categorise everything to within an inch of it’s life. If you’re freaking out over one word of a band’s name you seriously need to discuss with yourself whether you should be allowed to even listen to their music.
Last week, Elliott Babin of what was California bummer-punk rock band Dad Punchers announced that after careful consideration, the band was changing its name to Warm Thoughts. Cue instant, horrific uproar. Logging on to Twitter, I honestly thought someone had fucking died, such was the outpouring of emotional blackmail and ridiculous abuse levelled at the poor man for a simple name change. Whether the name change signals a slight change in direction for the band, or whether they just got sick of over-protective parents looking at a record with DAD PUNCHERS written on the sleeve and hastily covering little Johnny’s eyes while hustling him away from the punk section and muttering ill-informed opinions about the youth of today remains to be seen, but again, there’s no need for this awful abuse. I will just as happily sport a tee with Warm Thoughts written on it as I currently happily sport my Dad Punchers one. I see no need for this outrage. Most brilliant in the ‘shut up, your opinion is not important’ stakes was this gem on Twitter.
Seriously. A fucking petition? Grow up. I’m sure Babin is going to lose so much sleep over the fact that you don’t like his new band name. Who knows - maybe they’ll write a song about it.
Lastly, we come to Self Defense Family. I’m kind of loath to include them in this article, because although they have changed their name several times, and continue to use different variations on said names at live shows, frontman Patrick Kindlon so profoundly and openly does not give a fuck about anyone’s opinion that I’m pretty sure people have just stopped trying to bait him. Let him do what he wants. He’s still cooler than you.
To conclude: guys, please stop. Just stop. Bands come and go, and names and directions change, and none of this will directly ruin your life. The only reason fanboys get so pissed off about this stuff is that it might mean they don’t have the most up to date band merchandise, and therefore might not be seen as ‘cool’ by their (probably equally pretentious and generally offensive) friends. If you’re worried about looking cool at a punk show, you’re listening to the wrong thing. No one looks cool at a punk show. The reason bands don’t consult the public before they do stuff like this is because, as much as their fans matter, they know their real fans will still love them whatever they’re called. And if they’re not real fans, they probably didn’t matter in the first place.
A final note: yes, I know some of the above links still refer to the bands under their old names. Sue me. Again, this doesn't matter.