Most of what follows, unfortunately, happened.
Date: 3 or 4 years after we began.
Venue: Local club/Online/Phone.
Crowd: The plaintiffs, mostly.
This particular tale of band drudgery and misery concerns an altercation with another punk band, the subject of which was our band’s name. Now here’s the tricky part. For reasons detailed in our first post Welcome to Our World, names have been changed. So what follows is an approximation.
First, forgive us. We’ve been in each others’ company for weeks without a formal introduction. Hi. We’re The Underdogs. Come in and stay a while. Rest your weary bones by the fire. Try the veal.
Now, to the crux of the altercation. The Underdogs, whilst not the most challengingly long name, does include 4 syllables. Which for a genre predicated on brevity, is simply too much for some punks to handle. What can I say? True punks push boundaries. Take that, society.
As a result of this unnaturally lengthy name, we were advertised by someone we’ll call Well-Meaning But Lazy Promoter as ‘The Dogs’. After some initial concern, the gig was actually very well attended. Almost too well.
After the gig, we found out why.
“Who the hell are you guys? You’re not The Dogs.” A disarmingly disgruntled crowd member yelled at us after the gig.
“No, we’re The Underdogs. I think there was a mix up with the posters. People here tend to call us that in conversation, but we always advertise with the full name.” I explained.
“We travelled from Oxford to see you.”
“Why?” Jake chimes in. Ever the member exuding the most self-confidence.
“We thought you were The Dogs.”
At this point Nicky would’ve chimed in with a joke about canine anatomy, but thankfully he was in the green room relieving a fire extinguisher of its contents (which is a tale for another time).
After doing our best to clear up the misunderstanding and apologising on behalf of Well-Meaning But Lazy Promoter to the justifiably grumpy fans of The Dogs, we went our separate ways. Crisis averted.
No. We are The Underdogs. We exist in a state of perpetual crisis.
A week later, a message board post was brought to my attention, which in turn I shared with the band. The post detailed, with a vocabulary as varied and flowery as Jake’s, the author’s somewhat negative opinion of our band and how most importantly, we had stolen their band name.
The post was titled ‘The Undershit Dogfuck’. Moreover, it was written by none other than The Dogs.
“They should’ve put ‘shit’ last, instead of ‘fuck’.” Jake, not unreasonably, observes. “Amateurs.”
At this point in our existence, we were 3 or 4 years old as a band. Which in punk years is about 117. As such, I was long in the dentures enough to know that I should behave in a calm manner. Serenity begets serenity.
“I’m gonna call them dickheads.” I mutter as I begin to type. My fragile sense of self worth shatters at the merest hint of criticism, but levelling hate at my brothers brings forth the red mist. And significantly reduces verbosity.
Ritchie rightly intervenes and takes point at the keyboard. What ensues is a very calmly explained position that follows pretty much this reasoning.
1 – We were not aware The Dogs existed, so any similarity is accidental. For that we apologise.
2 – That said, the names are notably different. Confusion was only down to one Well-Meaning But Lazy Promoter and for that we apologise.
3 – We are a tiny band playing tiny shows in and around our hometown. We have a long way to walk before we tread on The Dogs’ toes.
4 – There were two Nirvanas.
Ritchie excels when the situation calls for a grown up. The two factions agree to an uneasy truce.
But not long after, whilst idling at home, I receive a call.
“Hey, is this Graham? We’d love to book your band for a show. Just checking, is your band still called Thunderdogshit?” The caller hangs up. Jake, at least, was much happier with the relative quality of the pun.
The moral of the story? Research your band name. Or at the very least, have some really great puns ready for an argument.
Photo by State Library of NSW via Flickr.