The Constellations are Dead. Rest In Peace. And A New Album? But how?

Posted on September 12, 2011

It was 2001 or so and I had been recording a whole lot of music, what a surprise.  I was fixing to release a thing or two, but I needed a name.  Bad.  It’s a strange phenomenon, in fact, this rock and rolling naming business.  Technology is such that a single person (like, say, me) can record an entire album all by his/her lonesome.  Drums.  Guitars.  Bass.  Synth horns.  Fifty layers of chanting.  Everything.  If you composed a sonnet, or did a grand painting you would say “this is by me”.  But for whatever reason when it comes to music it just feels weird to release things under your own name.  Rather, we invent names to release music under.  I think this comes from wanting to appear to be a band, as it makes you look like you have more friends, and bands are still more legitimate seeming in the eyes of much of the music listening public.  Bands are cool.  Lone gunmen are dangerous, self-indulgent noodlers.  Plus: releasing things as a fake band allows you to pull an excellent self-aggrandizing bait and switch.  Behold:

“Oh you’re in The Smoking Ponies?” asks curious opposite sex fan (nevermind the fact that they’re totally faking and have never listened to your album and never will).

“Yes!” dramatic pause “actually, I am The Smoking Ponies”.  Cue swooning.  Wow!

But selecting a name is hard.  God is it hard.  There are so many traps to fall into, and so many stupid names you must avoid.  Put an expletive in it to show you don’t care?  Add punctuation to be precocious?  Make it really long to annoy everyone?  Make it a pun so that everyone will eventually hate you, including yourself?  Pitfalls all around.  I laboured in my mind for a long time.  Every bike ride and trip to the grocery store I was running through nouns like a machine.  Finally I landed on something that I was really happy with:  The Constellations.

As far as I was concerned it was perfect.  Generic.  Inexact.  Interesting.  Flexible.  And sort of evocative of the great band names: The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Cure, The Smiths, et cetera.  The (thing).  Perfect.  I was in my glory.  I went about releasing albums.  Lots of albums.

Fast forward many years and I decided to dip my toe into the digital pool; I submitted my frightening album Night Terrors to iTunes.  I got a nice review from an English music blog (thanks again fellows!) and sold a handful of copies.  It was a nice run.  The modern age is a wondrous thing.  But then out of the blue I received a troubling and disturbing letter from a fellow named Elliot A. Resnick, Esquire.  For real!

As it turns out someone else had the same great idea for a band name that I had, albeit they were years late to the party.  Yes, there is another band called The Constellations, hailing from Atlanta.  Visual proof:

Thieves, you've stolen everything from me

I didn’t stand a chance.  My band features zero afros, zero beards, zero babes, and absolutely no black & white promo photography.  The ref should have declared it a TKO before I even stepped in the ring.  But I’m scrappy.

The letter from Mr. Esquire informed me that his client Elijah Jones owns the rights to the name The Constellations in the good old USA.  Uh oh.  I had no clue.  Party’s over.  However!  I did a little research and found that his trademark claim did not extend to our harsh northern shores.  Stalemate.  I got the tunes taken down from iTunes post haste, and sent the following response back to the lawyer, which I figured you folks might find amusing.  It’s a little long, but it’s worth it:

The best legal advice money could never buy

And?  I never got any sort of response to my excellent ideas!  What a drag.  First they barge into my house and trash the place, and then they don’t even return my thoughtful Christmas card?  Your mothers are very disappointed in you, fellows.

Loyal fans, if ever you meet these monsters please make them aware of how thoroughly they crushed my spirit, hopes, and dreams.

I have thus retired the Constellations moniker.  Goodbye old friend.  We had a great 10 year run, with 23 releases!  Not bad.  Nonetheless, you will be missed.  It’s not all doom and gloom, though, since I myself am not dead (huzzah).  In fact, I have just completed a new album, to be released under a hot new name!  Curious?  I will post the cover art very soon, but you can start getting excited now.

Posted in: Music, Shenanigans