Published Aug 16, 2011Next week indie rock fans will get the chance to pick up Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks' new Beck-produced album, Mirror Traffic. While it's a fine title, to be sure, if lawyers hadn't stepped in, the disc could have paid tribute to one of the Sunset Strip's most famed metal bands, L.A. Guns.
As Pitchfork reports, an email exchange between Malkmus, Silver Jews' David Berman and a team of lawyers reveals that the album name suggested by Berman, L.A. Guns, stirred up quite a bit of controversy. The generally hilarious chain can be seen on Berman's blog, and sees the team bandying about fears of reprisal from the L.A. outfit over use of the name.
Malkmus's initial reaction to the suggestion ("La Guns!! I like it !!!") may have steered the songwriter in that direction, but the legal team pointed to Aerosmith dealing with a similar situation with a band called Pump after releasing an album of the same name in the late '80s. The oddest part of the argument is that L.A. Guns are more famous than Malkmus, even at this stage in their career, and people might get confused and expect a hard-riffin' rock record.
"The theoretical possibility of regular confusion (sometimes called 'forward confusion') cannot be discounted, since the L.A. Guns are an established group, certainly more famous than SM's album and quite possibly more famous than SM himself," one lawyer wrote. "So, without taking into account additional facts, it's conceivable that a consumer might buy SM's album entitled 'LA Guns' while mistakenly believing it's an album by L.A. Guns."
As hilarious as the metal-tinged title would have been, the ordeal became too much for Malkmus. Even if they went with alternate spellings, like L.A. Gunz, Malkmus just didn't think it was "worth the headache."
Berman felt similarly, adding that it could have opened up a world of hurt on Malkmus and co., considering Pavement's hair metal-bashing anthem "Cut Your Hair," among other things.
"I don't want anybody to get hurt. I can just see the two factions healing their schism and coming after you with both barrels blazin," Berman wrote. "These headbangers are angry and vindictive. They've been looking for revenge since '92 and let's face it -- you weren't far from the scene of the crime."
As previously reported, Mirror Traffic comes out August 23 on Matador.