The change comes after a year of vehement backlash from individuals and communities that condemned the Viet Cong moniker as insensitive, racist and appropriative. Such views were given a voice by artists like Hooded Fang's April Aliermo, who penned a piece titled "Not Yours to Play With: Why Viet Cong's Name Offends" for Exclaim! last September. Additionally, the Calgary band were met with a flurry of protests and even show cancellations as a result of the name.
The group made their full-length debut with 2015's Viet Cong, which was shortlisted for last year's Polaris Music Prize. After the outcry, they announced plans to change their name — though the offending name continued to appear on festival bookings as recently as last month.
Now, they will be embarking on a new string of tour dates under the name Preoccupations, during which they'll preview new material. The upcoming dates include Canadian stops at Ottawa Bluesfest on July 9 and at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall on October 8. Their rebranded social media accounts are also promising a new album in 2016.
The four-piece have released a statement regarding the switch, reiterating an apology and conceding that they are "happy to change it and move on and focus on our music." The full message reads:
After finishing our latest record and taking some time off, we are excited to announce that we will be performing and recording as "Preoccupations" going forward. We will be previewing new material from a forthcoming record in a series of festivals and shows in North America and Europe in the coming months. We apologize to those who were adversely affected by our former band name. This was never anticipated nor our intent. We are artists and not politicians, we understand that the name reflected pain to some individuals and we are happy to change it and move on and focus on our music. Thanks to all our friends and fans. See you all soon.
The reinvention hasn't totally silenced critics, though. Some have interpreted the new name as a jab at people who previously spoke out against the name Viet Cong, while others have noted that Preoccupations might have some nasty connotations of its own.
hmm why do i feel like this is more than a subtle jab at people who were PREOCCUPIED with their previous racist name https://t.co/iYhmdlvfDD— meredith graves (@gravesmeredith) April 21, 2016
In the days PRE Vietcong, there was an OCCUPATION by the French. And you're a Canadian band, eh? 🤔 https://t.co/4voAJXYUnj— Chris Weingarten (@1000TimesYes) April 21, 2016
Below, find the band's upcoming tour dates.
05/28 George, WA - Sasquatch Festival
06/13 Brooklyn, NY - Baby's All Right
06/27 Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands - Best Kept Secret Festival
06/18 Brussels, Belgium - Out Loud, Beurschouwburg
06/22 London, England - Shacklewell Arms
06/23 London, England - Old Blue Last
06/28 Paris, France - Olympic Cafe
06/30 Berlin, Germany - Urban Spree
07/02 Tullamore, Ireland - Castle Palooza
07/09 Ottawa, ON - Ottawa Bluesfest
08/27 Los Angeles, CA - FYF Fest
10/08 Toronto, ON - Danforth Music Hall