Hello My Name Is: Golden Isles, Surf City, Actors and Actresses

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Actually, names might hurt me, especially if I share a name with someone on the Terrorist Watch List (Osama Bin Diamond?). The truth is that names are powerful things, and that’s why bands have to pick them carefully. You don’t want to be the guy from that band whose name consists of twelve unpronounceable characters, followed by a high-pitched squealing sound. Then again, !!! has been doing pretty well, so who am I to judge?

This week, we’ve got (pronounceable!) band name stories from Actors & Actresses, Surf City, and Golden Isles!

Actors & Actresses

Post-rock, post-punk, post office… I really only listen to bands that are post-something. Which is why it’s great to find a band like Actors & Actresses, a trio from Kansas City that boasts influences like Godspeed You Black Emperor and features a guy on drums and “media samples.” Does that make them post-post-rock… or just post-everything?

Either way (Post cereal?), they’ve got my attention. But what’s with the band name? Are these guys actually rogue Hollywood celebs?

Nay. According to guitarist Andrew Schiller: “For 3 solid years, Scott and Dave auditioned different women musicians from the area, and without fail, there was always something completely constructed about them. It was as if some board meeting of middle-aged, dubious white men with hidden pasts had compiled 8 or 9 physical traits they found pleasing or ‘sponge-worthy in young women. They would play these sort of faux-angry lyrical odes to slumping and swelling ex-boyfriends from unpleasant pasts… Nothing very interesting came out of it, despite all the planning and aesthetic details these singer/songwriter types would labor over.”

After three years with no success, the group was getting desperate. “Then this guy answered the ad,” says Schiller, “and they figured, ‘What the hell?’ Maybe local alternative DJ’s will like and promote us despite not having a mediocre female rock persona in the band. It was a gamble. They needed a different strategy for getting noticed, so they picked a name that would appear near the top of alphabetized lists, thus emulating some sort of implied importance, maybe.”


Surf City

Any band that names a song “Dickshakers Union” basically earns a Get Out of Jail Free card from me. Thankfully, I don’t think Surf City is gonna have to cash that in any time soon; the New Zealand quartet has been pushing all the right buttons with their blend of dark lo-fi pop and strangely uplifting sounds. Jonesing for a fresh mix of Animal Collective, Sonic Youth, and the Zombies? Look no further.

Now we come to the part where I ask what’s up with the band name. Hey, what’s up with the band name? Band member Davin explains:

“Our name used to be Kill Surf City, which is a Jesus and Mary Chain song. When we signed to an overseas record label we had to change our name ‘cause a couple other bands were named that. [It] was kinda lame having to change it, but I guess we’re used to it by now. Not very exciting, I know, but that’s pretty much the whole story.”

Golden Isles

I’m not gonna lie: I’m a sucker for Canadians. So much good stuff has come out of Canada, including Broken Social Scene, Destroyer, Michael J. Fox… the trend is undeniable. So Montreal sextet Golden Isles had an advantage from the start. The group started out as a bunch of friends who would jam with each other sporadically, but eventually things started to coalesce. Band member Richard Wenger explains:

“Eventually I got a gig for my solo electronic project called DataBeta. I didn’t wanna do it, so I got a bunch of my friends whom I jammed with and we played it as DataBeta.” This name worked for a while, but eventually the reality of a growing fan base forced these shoegazers to reconsider.

“We changed our name to Crystal Moustache,” Wenger explains, “after our singer Adam’s girlfriend at the time, who once held a necklace to her face and said ‘Look, crystal moustache.’ All of a sudden there was a surge of bands with the word crystal in their name (Crystal Stilts, Crystal Antlers, etc.) so we thought that it was time for a less ridiculous name.”

After a tumultuous year of trying to come up with something new, the band finally had a stroke of luck. Says Wenger: “I saw a sign when I was in Florida that said ‘Golden Isles Tennis Club’ on it and thought Golden Isles was an OK name, so we sort of just settled on it. It’s funny because now there are a bunch of ‘Golden’ bands around.”

Canadian trendsetters? Go figure.

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– Matt Diamond


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