Welcome to the weekly SPIN.com feature “Name That Band” inwhich we get the inside stories behind the mysterious monikers of some ofour favorite artists. (See past episodes of Name That Band! here.)
This week: North Carolina Metal maniacs Valient Thorr, whose Stranger is out September 14. Plus: an MP3 from the band!
Why Valient Thorr: “Around Easter 2000 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I was home one day watching a Discovery Channel show called Beyond Bizarre,” says singer Valient Himself. “The episode had a segment about a dude back in 1957 named Valiant Thor who supposedly came to Earth from the planet Venus. Another part of the same episode was about these snake charmers who drank the poison from snakes. That was a eureka moment. I was like, ‘That’ll be the background for the band! We’re from space and I’ll drink poison from snakes and we’ve come to save rock and roll.’ Before all this, though, our bass player Nitewolf and I had been in another band called Lo-Fi Conspiracy. On all the posters and fliers for that band, Nitewolf used the same clip art image, which was a silhouette of a sweetly coiffed dude with a mustache and a beard. So, fast forward three years and I’m looking up books by a guy named Dr. Frank E. Stranges, who’d written about Valiant Thor. I find that he’d written a book called The Mystery Man of Darkness #666 in 1965 or so. The cover of the book was the exact same image that Nitewolf had used for Lo-Fi Conspiracy. After I saw that, I knew we were on the right path. But we didn’t want to get in any legal trouble over the Valiant Thor name so we added an ‘e’ to make it Valient-that way it also has the word ‘alien’ in there-and added an extra ‘r’ for rock’n’roll to Thorr. I quit my day job as a school teacher within a few days of us changing our name.”
Previously Rejected Names: “At one time we were gonna call it Steve Perry’s Experimental Beard. Then we were gonna shorten that to Steve Perry’s Beard. And then we got into the idea of having a name that would look cool if it were written in a scary heavy metal font-the kind with lots of jagged edges that you can barely read. We’d gotten it down to two: Reporter and Analysis. I still think Analysis would look sick in a metal font.”
Best Band Names Ever: “Destroyer, that’s such a good name. A couple other rad band names are Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Born Against.”
Worst Band Name Ever: “Hootie and the Blowfish is probably the worst ever. Dream Theater is terrible name. How about Bring Me the Horizon? Bring me a thesaurus! Or some of the Warped Tour band names like Cute Is What We Aim For. I think Vampire Weekend is a stupid name. And there’s one more that’s way worse. They were like the SPIN flavor of the month a few years ago: Panic! At The Disco.
Bonus Download Track: “Future Humans,” the closing song on the band’s upcoming Stranger, due out September 14 on Volcom.
About the Song: “‘Future Humans’ is a paranoid story about a society overrun with hypochondriacs who’ll do anything to look better and feel better,” explains Valient Himself, “so the companies keep selling them meds until finally they start breeding clones for new parts. Then there’s a backlash of people who think that the clones should live their own lives but we should breed using their perfected DNA. So the song is simultaneously a critique of big drug companies, humanity’s own vanity, and equal rights. Got that?”
We do! Enjoy.
LISTEN: Valient Thorr, "Future Humans" (DOWNLOAD MP3)