Though it initially looked like the post-punk group Viet Cong was simply going to shrug off the controversy of its band name with a Wayne’s World 2 joke in Portland and a bag of goodies in Los Angeles, the Calgary-based quartet has now issued a formal statement in response to the recent criticism it has received for insensitivity.
Speaking more towards the overall fallout rather than the specific incident of Oberlin College canceling the band’s upcoming show, the statement reads:
Our band, Viet Cong, has existed for a little over three years now. When we named ourselves, we were naive about the history of a war in a country we knew very little about. We now better understand the weight behind the words Viet Cong. While we don’t take any concerns about the name lightly, we feel it is important to let you know that we never meant to trivialize the atrocities or violence that occurred on both sides of the Vietnam War. We never intended for our name to be provocative or hurtful.
We truly appreciate the seriousness of the feedback we’ve received, and we will continue to be open to listening to issues and concerns from all perspectives.
With love from the band Viet Cong.
Originally published March 17, 1:41 p.m.
Updated: September 21, 12:15 p.m.: Months after the initial (and somewhat delayed) controversy surrounding Viet Cong’s name, the Calgary group has announced that it will change its name. Citing the desire to “just…return to playing music, which is the only thing we (kinda) know how to do,” the artists formerly known as Viet Cong have not settled on a new name to replace the old, but say that they will fulfill their upcoming tour dates regardless.
You can read the band’s full statement below.
Our band lives to play music. We don’t particularly like doing press, most of us are fairly private people and we have social media for the band only reluctantly. Most of us generally don’t follow online criticism. Over the last year we have essentially lived our lives in a tour van and in music venues, playing over 130 shows. In that time we’ve met many amazing people and had many great conversations with people in person.
Over this time we’ve been listening, talking and having lots of valuable conversations with the members of the Vietnamese community about the name. Through this dialogue and hearing about what the name means to so many people, we have decided we will be changing the name of our band.
Art and music are about creative expression. However, our band name is not our cause, and we are not going to fight for it. This is not what our band is about.
There are many individuals more eloquent than us who have recently had a lot to say about the topic of the name and our appropriation of the name Viet Cong. For more insights into the arguments we encourage you to read some of these. We are a band who want to make music and play our music for our fans. We are not here to cause pain or remind people of atrocities of the past.
The truth is, we’ve been planning to change the band name for the next record for months; it has not been an easy decision by any means. We are a band of four people with four individual voices; this debate has been long and difficult for us and it took time for everyone to settle on a plan of action.
We don’t know what the new name of our band will be, and we owe it to our fans to honour the concerts we have booked. We rushed into our last band name decision, we don’t plan to rush into this one, but know that will be rolling out a new name as soon as we agree upon one.
We realize this won’t satisfy everyone, but that’s certainly not the goal of this band. We never expected this kind of attention in the first place and just want to return to playing music, which is the only thing we (kinda) know how to do.
We’ve had an incredible amount of support from fans, and we have to thank everyone who has said supportive words to us as we struggle with this. As always, we welcome people talking to us in person.
– Matt, Mike, Monty & Danny.
(via The FADER)
Read our Breaking feature with Viet Cong.