We all remember how chocolate bar Raider suddenly woke up one morning as Twix. But it’s not only products that rebrand. Bands do it too, and it’s more common than you might think. A new name can often mean a new beginning, regardless of whether the change was forced or a conscious decision. We talk to four Belgian bands who’ve had to change their moniker for one reason or the other, from Ghent-based DJ duo The Glimmers and noise-surf-postpunk New Bleeders to Brussels-based beatmakers MonkeyRobot and experimental indie rock newcomers BRNS.

The Glimmers, formerly known as The Glimmer Twins

Photography Veerle Frissen

Why did you decide to change your name?

We started DJing in 1986/87 as Mo and Benoeli and became residents at the Fuse in the 90s where we played every Saturday. At one point, we started playing on Fridays too, but it was a different kind of music; more Leftfield stuff, UK trip-hop, early breakbeat, some drum ‘n’ bass. But when people heard our DJ names they expected house music, so whenever we did more experimental stuff, like at the chill-out rooms at the big techno parties of the time, we played under a different name: The Glimmer Twins, which over time became our main moniker. At first we had no idea that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards used the name when they worked as producers. In the beginning we weren’t too worried, because we did something completely different as DJs. But when people in the UK became interested in us, it started to be a problem, especially when it came to releasing tracks on compilation albums in the UK. Record companies were scared of being brought to court by the Rolling Stones. So we had no choice but to change our name – again.

Did it feel like a new beginning for you?

Not really. Only in 1996 when we changed to The Glimmer Twins, because we changed our music at the same time. Afterwards our sound stayed the same. Now we always play as The Glimmers.

How did you choose your names? What inspired you?

The Glimmer Twins was Peter Decuypere‘s idea, he’s the founder of the Fuse and I Love Techno. We loved it from the start, it was perfect. The Glimmers kind of evolved naturally – it was the audience who came up with it. Before we realised we had to change the name, people were already saying ‘The Glimmers are coming’.

Was it difficult to communicate the name change? Have you ever regretted it?

When we released an album in 2004 under the new name the press made it very clear that we had a new name. If it’s done properly, it can be a very good thing for a band to change their name. You need good connections and good management. It has more advantages than disadvantages. For example, you get a lot of press because people want to know why you’ve changed your name. It’s probably more difficult for real bands than for DJs. Just look at Dire Straits: they now tour without Mark Knopfler as The Straits.

www.glimmertwins.com

New Bleeders, formerly Vegas!

Why did you decide to change your name?

We had our first name, Vegas! For about three years. Then we found out that another band, also from Brussels but with a different style, had the same name. It created quite a few problems: like once we played in Botanique and our namesakes used the opportunity to sell their merchandising at our concert, can you believe it? We tried to rip their merchandise t-shirts apart! That’s when we decided it was time to change our name. The other band was with a label that was too powerful, so we didn’t want to fight them. There were some other reasons too: Vegas! was not easy to find in search engines because the word is too common. And too many bands have the same name. In the Pukkelpop lineup guide we were described as a Greek hip hop band, for example!

Did it feel like a new beginning for you?

Definitely, for all four of us. There was a new vibe, a new energy. We were very enthusiastic and had a new drive that we hadn’t expected. We experimented more with our music because we weren’t thinking anymore about ‘Is this a Vegas! song’? ‘Does it suit us?’ We were free to be whatever we wanted to, psychedelic, minimal, anything. We still feel this vibe now and we’ve became much more adventurous. We also play quieter pieces now, and we even sometimes add a saxophone, which would not have been possible with Vegas!

How did you choose the names? What inspired you?

Vegas! just had a nice ring to it and it was easy to remember. It sounded good and didn’t have a special meaning. When we decided to change our name, it took us a few months to find the right one. First we thought of using the title of our EP, Midnight Machine, to keep a link to our previous work. But then we had a meeting with the people from the club where we were resident artists and they weren’t too enthusiastic about it. We had a look at our song titles and somehow ‘New Bleeders’ stood out.

Was it difficult to communicate the name change? Have you ever regretted it?

It’s difficult and takes an enormous amount of work, but we were aware of that. We also did a promotion video to communicate it – with a lot of blood! We were a bit afraid we would lose our fan base, that’s why we tweeted a lot, posted things on Facebook and Myspace constantly, and sent out emails. We don’t regret the name change for a second, though. I highly recommend it, actually, for bands who feel stuck. You get a carte blanche, in a way, and can completely start over. A few hardcore fans hated the new name and complained it sounded like a metal band, but they got used to it, too.

New Bleeders have just released their debut self-titled full-length album on 9th March.

MonkeyRobot, formerly InfinitSkills

Photography Toon Aerts

Why did you decide to change your name?

We started in 2001 under the moniker InfinitSkills when there were still three of us, and did a lot more hip-hop productions. At one point, we parted ways with one of the members due to different visions. We were going in different directions musically. So we started a new chapter as a duo, which was the main reason for the name change. At the same time, we wanted to get out of our niche that was restricted to 95 bpm and old-school elements. We wanted to widen our horizons and started doing more uptempo tracks with broken beats.

Did it feel like a new beginning for you?

Completely. Apart from the evolution of our sound, we also started playing live sets. Before that, we had spent most of our time in the studio. With our new name came a whole new experience. Now we produce to perform. But we didn’t change completely, it was much more a natural evolution. We got older and interested in different styles. Changing our name was necessary, in a way, because we were stuck with the image of the hip-hop guys. But we just want to make the music we want and not be limited by categorisation. We were able to have a fresh start.

Was it difficult to communicate the name change? Have you ever regretted it?

InfiniteSkills were not that huge, so we weren’t that concerned. It required some work, yes, and it took several months to spread the new name. But it’s like a brand, we already had a solid basis and people caught on really easily. We had a good marketing strategy and a lot of supporting people around us who pushed our new name. We had to push it every day: On the internet, on national radio…

How did you choose your names? What inspired you?

Our first name stems from a classic hip-hop record by Gang Starr called ‘Above the Clouds’. “Infinite skills create miracles”, they sang. When we decided to change our name, we started by making a list of different ideas. But in the end, we were inspired by a random video on the internet where scientists attached robotic arms to monkeys. That’s how we came up with MonkeyRobot. We like it because it’s short, powerful, it embodies an aspect of irony and it just sounds cool.

www.monkeyrobot.eu

BRNS, formerly Brains

Photography Grégoire Pleynet

Why did you decide to change your name?

We only had our first band name for four months. We changed it, even though we had won the Verdur Rock contest under that name, and had made contacts with a lot of people as Brains. But it was just impossible when it came to visibility on the internet. There were too many others with the same name, and the word ‘brains’ is so common that you need to go through endless google search results to finally get to our website.

How did you choose your names? What inspired you?

One night we were watching zombie movie ‘The Return of the Living Dead’. Everyone was just walking around saying ‘Brains, Brains, Braaaains’. At the beginning we thought about calling ourselves ‘Braaains’, with three a’s. When we realised that we had to change our name we got the idea to do the same as MGMT or MSTRKRFT. It’s something that many bands have done, it’s not original. But it’s so has-been that we found it funny and so we changed to BRNS. We didn’t want a complete change because we were already attached to our name. This way, we found a way to optimise it for search engine searches while keeping the same pronunciation.

Did it feel like a new beginning for you?

No, not really. Musically, it was a continuation. But it did mark a bit of an important point because we made the change during the summer holidays and when we started playing again in September, it kind of felt like a new beginning. That was the point we really launched ourselves and became more serious. It gave us a new push.

Was it difficult to communicate the name change? Have you ever regretted it?

It’s not that difficult. Some bands even change their name with each album. It was much more important to be easily findable on the internet. When it takes someone three hours to look us up, and they come across countless metal groups first, it’s not very practical. Although the mystery around us might have helped a bit, too. But all in all we don’t regret the change, it was the right thing to do.

BRNS play Brussels (Magasin 4) on 8th April
They will release their debut EP in May 2012