Earlier this month, the dance-pop devotees of Starfucker announced they are sloughing off their divisive band name and selecting a new one from the pool of fan suggestions sent to firstname.lastname@example.org before October 1. Of course, pop music history is rich with name changes both seamlessly successful and infamously ill-advised, and Starfucker are far from the first local band to go down this tortuous path, as the following testimonials from Portland acts who have been rechristened can attest.
"We're changing our name because it just doesn't make sense anymore. We never thought Starfucker would make it as far as it has, and never had any expectations of success. At this point we need to be able to either put more into music, or just stop doing it so we can get nine-to-five jobs to pay our rent. Right now we're in this Bardo where we don't quite make a living off music, but we put so much energy into it that we can't put any time into a real job either. We just need to get serious about one or the other. The name has been a problem for us in a lot of ways. We've missed out on opening slots with bands we really like, and we hope to tour Europe soon, where there is already a Starfucker. Someone booked us once thinking we were the European Starfucker." (Answered collectively by the band)
Blitzen Trapper (formerly Garmonbozia)
"Eric [Earley] decided to change the name for aesthetic reasons. No one could pronounce/remember 'Garmonbozia.' In those days we gave no thought to 'fanbase' or brand recognition, so alienating people was never a concern, although it's probably true that the meager following we had disappeared with the change... I think of Garmonbozia as the experimental/pupa stage of Blitzen Trapper." (Answered by Marty Marquis)
White Hinterland (formerly Casey Dienel)
"My main motivation was that many who go by their given names are singer/songwriters and I didn't feel like one. At the time, a lot of my work could easily fit into that category, but I knew that wouldn't be the case forever. Singer/songwriters (in my mind) are the storytellers, the folksingers, the people who carry on the venerable tradition of popular song. But I've never felt an obligation to adhere to that tradition... instead of highlighting a persona, I wanted to train the focus firmly on my work and my music. Especially as a female artist, I felt this was an important distinction to make, as the roles dispensed among us can be so narrow." (Answered by Casey Dienel)
The Joggers (formerly Stateside)
"Although 'Joggers' is a shitty name, 'Stateside' was worse. We discovered another band from Tennessee with the same name... may have even exchanged a few emails with them, but decided very quickly we were happy to let them keep it." (Answered by Ben Whitesides)
Grey Anne (formerly Per Se)
"In the first place, 'Per Se' was a name that I took as a solo musician, prior to forming my own band. I assumed a band-like moniker so that I could recruit other musicians more easily, asking them to 'play with Per Se,' rather than asking them to 'join the Anne Adams band.'
"But at a certain point, when I was in fact reverting back to my solo state, and I was writing all the blogs and doing all the interviews and writing the songs, and the project was really representative of my voice, I decided to take ownership of that development, name-wise, and name it something that sounded more like one girl, 'cause that's what it had become.
"A friend once told me, 'Don't name your dog anything that you don't want to hear yourself say 100 times a day.' I guess the same is true for your band." (Answered by Anne Adams)