Stereotypes song in A Dog’s Journey; the relaunch of Angels & Airwaves; and Glory: Iron Butterfly/Beat Farmers/Bratz supergroup reunion
Jay Allen Sanford noon, May 16
RIYL: Kathleen Hanna, Diana Death, P.J. Sparkles, Soft Lions, Boy King
Inception: San Diego, 2011
Influences: Lene Lovich, Karen O, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Le Tigre, Bikini Kill, L7
After playing their first gig in May 2012 at the Whistle Stop, their debut CD 1 was released that August.
“I was hoping to do something like this, where I just sing, and Dustin approached me out of the blue,” says Liscomb. Drummer Adam Eidson was playing with Of Sons and Ghosts, which had a gig with Old Tiger. Eidson saw Dustin Lothspeich of Old Tiger wielding a flying V and asked him, “Do you ever get wild with that thing? Like, turn it up to 11 and rock out?” Due to the proximity of neighbors and the volume “11” entails, there had been no rocking out.
The remedy for that was Adam’s rehearsal space. According to Liscomb, “They had a whirlwind bromance. They wrote a bunch of tunes in December. At the end of the month Dustin hit me up because the riffs wouldn’t work with his vocals.”
She received a couple of tracks and penned lyrics for them. “I just got to do whatever I wanted with them. I had never written before without having an instrument in my hand, having control over the parts, and knowing how they fit together, and it’s a very different way to write. Sometimes Dustin will write a part and think that he’s written a verse and I’ll say, ‘Wait, that’s the chorus.’”
The debut disc was recorded in their practice space, Superior Sound in Kearny Mesa. Lothspeich mixed it and a friend of a friend mastered it. Everything was recorded live. Citing early Black Keys and Zeppelin as influences, vocally, Liscomb feeds off Billie Holiday and the Kills.
Before their debut show, the band needed a name. “Dustin kept wanting names with Gang in it...it was decision time, and I got in a car accident ’cause I slammed on my brakes for a bunny. The bunny was fine, and Bunny Gang was born.”
The band name, however, became contentious in late September 2012, when Lothspeich posted on Facebook “Received my very first Cease & Desist letter for Bunny Gang yesterday. Apparently some a##hole in Flogging Molly wants our name for himself.”
The letter sent by a law firm on behalf of Flogging Molly bassist Nathen Maxwell reads, in part, “Your unauthorized use [of the name Bunny Gang] not only creates a likelihood of confusion but also directly infringes upon and diminishes the reputation, goodwill, commercial recognition and valuable intellectual property and publicity rights...our client has been publicly and continuously using the [trade]mark since February 2009 establishing uncontestable protections, as well as achieving secondary meaning distinction as a provider of unique entertainment services.”
White Rabbit, the debut album from Nathen Maxwell and the Original Bunny Gang (the group’s initial name), was released in September 2009, though he did not file his application for the trademark and service mark for “Bunny Gang” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office until August 28, 2012.
Lothspeich’s Bunny Gang — which includes Megan Liscomb (Owl Eyes) and Adam Eidson (Of Sons and Ghosts) — released their debut album on September 4, 2012. “We’re not just gonna give him our band name because he thinks he’s entitled to it,” Lothspeich told the Reader. “Sorry, bud, we’ve been Bunny Gang since day one, and we’re not going anywhere.”
Lothspeich says he’d never heard of Maxwell’s group until the cease-and-desist letter, nor has he ever met or spoken to Maxwell. “This guy’s band has been ‘Nathen Maxwell and the Original Bunny Gang’ for the last three years. We come along and start releasing proper music...a month ago, [and] he decides to drop his entire name and only go by ‘Bunny Gang’...and trademark those words. Coincidence? We think not. Notice he’s not trying to trademark ‘Nathen Maxwell and the Original Bunny Gang.’ He’s trying to take our name for himself — after the fact.”
“Our initial reaction was to just comply with their demands and change our name,” says Lothspeich. “But, after consulting with our own legal counsel, we quickly realized that we actually have the upper hand and a very solid course of action against him if it comes to a court case...what they’re doing is trying to steal another band’s identity by using legal intimidation...that’s probably the main reason he never bothered to reach out to us personally about it. He knows he’s in the wrong.”
At least temporarily, Lothspeich’s Bunny Gang changed its name to Boy King. “Well, we responded to their lawyer and basically said we could fight it in court, or they could settle with us and pony up some cash for our expenses for changing the name. However, we haven’t heard back from them...we haven’t officially announced anything on our Bunny Gang Facebook, and we’re still leaving all that stuff up so their lawyers and all those folks can see it’s there, but we don't really know what’s going to happen, if anything, at this point.”
Megan Liscomb launched a new aka in 2017, P.J. Sparkles, a lo-fi dream pop recording project. Her debut Sparkles album Neon dropped in early 2018, recorded at Earthling Studios with Mike Kamoo, who also played drums and cello.