Friday, March 29, 2013

Dartboard Aggressional

This article by Luke 'Twin Falls' HOW DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL STOLE MY IDENTITY: A Cautionary Tale For Bands is a thoroughly dispiriting episode conveyed with considerable wit and humility. Put briefly, an established Emo artist chose the name Twin Falls for his new project, didn't check that the name has been used by someone else for five years (or judging the artist to be obscure compared to his towering status as Emo-auteur nonpareil, didn't care), and when the five-year-old Twin Falls tried to contact him he found himself talking to lawyers rather than discussing it like adults. Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional had been using the name for three months when Luke Stidson got in touch, and rather than consider another name, Carrabba's management sicced their legal rottweillers onto him who kicked off proceedings by disputing whether Stidson had really been using the name for five years, as his gigs and releases would attest.

While Carrabba never communicated with Stidson directly but via his management and lawyers, given that his team stated that “Chris Carrabba and band intend to keep using the name” it seems safe to assume that Carrabba was notified of this saga and made this decision. Carrabba may have the money to bully Stidson into surrendering, but given Stidson has already released three Eps and a debut album, no amount of litigation will prevent confusion. In this scenario it would be in the interest of all parties for the three-month-old Twin Falls to just come up with a different name.

But instead Carrabba's team displayed an arrogant and brattish mentality; one that would rather see all parties lose out, themselves included, than to see a perceived rival benefit. Such pride and tin ears reminded me of the Saudi prince who complained that the Forbes Rich List erroneously placed him 26th richest person in the world; a man so wealthy that he can't find anything better to do with his time than attempt to rig his way higher up the list.

"Of the 1,426 billionaires on our list, not one - not even the vainglorious Donald Trump - goes to greater measure to try to affect his or her ranking," the magazine claimed. "This is how he wants the world to judge his success or his stature," an anonymous source was quoted as saying.

Carrabba would rather create confusion for promoters and fans than compromise his dazzling artistic vision, which in this instance consists of naming his band after a town. Now this is an area where I don't think it would be arrogant to say that I have considerable experience. You might even say I'm an expert. And I can confidently state that it didn't require much artistic vision and I'd be hard pushed to convince anyone that it did. I found a town and named myself after it. What genius of process! What elegance of poise! Quiver in the palpable waves of Blakean prowess.
So Mister Carrabba, please consider this: changing your name now will not affect the artistic impact of your music. People don't care that much about band names but they do care about turning up to the wrong gigs and buying the wrong albums. And the big rich guy bullying the little guy – I'm no style guru but I'm pretty sure that's not a good look for a sensitive singer-songwriter. Swallow your pride and change the name.
Update: Carrabba has announced that he is changing the name of his new band to Twin Forks. He's done the decent thing, but still something doesn't sit right. Was it finally a matter of conscience or merely one of public relations? If influential names like DJ Tom Robinson hadn't tweeted 'shame on you Chris Carrabba' would he have started caring? But the biggest mystery of all is why he changed the name to Twin Forks. Why not come up with something completely original, rather than something that could be misheard, and will always be associated with this sorry saga? It makes it look like a reluctant move, still trying to lay claim to the name will being forced to abandon it; grouchy, passive agressive. Or maybe that was simply the best he could come up with. Actually, if you listen to his music and lyrics that seems entirely plausible.

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