Coming up with a band name is a pretty serious matter. If you make it big, that name’s something that’s probably gonna stick with you for quite a while. So if you decide to name yourselves after a celebrity’s hairstyle in a film (or anything else of similarly bizarre fashion), be prepared to face the consequences.
A couple of years ago, I came across a little Seattle-based band called Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, supporting Lily Allen at her House Of Blues show in Boston. “What’s with their name?”, I thought. “And what the hell are they wearing?” “What the fuck are they singing about? Sideways ponytails and beard grooming? Why do they like to sing about hair so much?” “Who ARE they??”
A few months later (as a young budding music journo), I set up one of my very first band interviews with the fivesome right before their gig at NYC’s Santos Party House (owned by the famed party king, Andrew WK). You can watch the video interview here, although I should warn you – it was my first crack at video interviewing, and at my shoddy Final Cut Pro editing. It’s pretty awful, to be honest. Here's a snap I took of the original crew back in the day. Admittedly, they look way cooler now...
Around that same time, these newbies who had met in high school had just been signed to Warner Records, and they were eager to kick off their career with a major label. But things change.
Since then, they’ve swapped a drummer, left the major (in favour of local Seattle indie lable Turnout, so they could have a more personal involvement in all of the big decisions), and gave up the infectiously corny band name, freshly dubbing themselves Brite Futures (one of about 350 different names they came up with).
Last week, I returned to NYC to see what’s new in the world of Brite Futures, and caught a few of their showcase gigs at the CMJ Music Festival. It’s safe to say that the name isn’t the only thing that’s changed.
Lead vocalist Shaun Libman compared his band’s decision to change the name to an absurdly named baby. “It’s like giving your kid a weird name, then realising it’s crazy. So you have to change it when it’s like three years old,” he explained.
So in many ways, the band had to reinvent themselves and start over completely. Their lyrical content has matured a bit (no longer do they focus their tunes on facial hair or perving on a naked person through a window), their promo videos are a bit less in-your-face barfs of colour (try watching this one below without needing to grab a pair of shades) and they dress rather conservatively now (considering they used to bring a massive trunk of ridiculous costumes on tour with them).
Despite the fact that two years ago the band played the main room at Santos Party House, and this year at CMJ, they were the very first act in its small basement, things are looking pretty bright (excuse the pun) for them. They made it once, and they’ll likely do it again. So what if their music is some of the cheesiest bubblegum pop of today? It's fun, and that's just the way we like it.