By Benjamin Leatherman
The members of the newly re-christened What Laura Says.
As Clubs Editor for Phoenix New Times, one of my main duties is compiling listings of upcoming gigs by local bands and musicians for the paper’s music section and concert calendar. And as of late, I’ve noticed something unusual when inputting show info for local indie pop group What Laura Says Thinks and Feels.
Namely, they’ve dropped the “Thinks and Feels” part of their name.
What gives? I spoke with bassist Mitch Freedom who says the change, which took place over the summer, happened for a couple of different reasons, the main one being the memorability of the band’s name.
“We went to SXSW this year and had some awesome feedback, but the one negative bit of feedback we also got from fans and [music] industry people was that people had a hard time remembering the name because it was too many words for them to grasp,” Freedom says. “Our response was kinda, ‘What does it matter what the band name is?’, but their retort was, ‘If people can’t remember the band name, it deters them from keeping up with you.’ Music fans can have bad cases of A.D.D. sometimes.”
Freedom added that he and the other members of the band were initially reluctant to change the name. But a desire to “get our name out in the mainstream as much as possible” for the release of their new album on North Carolina indie label Terpsikhore Collective helped change their minds. As a result, he says, they condensed it down to the “shorthand name” they’d already been using in blog posts on their Web site and MySpace page.
“It’s always been more about the music than some silly name that was just a joke to begin with,” Freedom says.
One compromise was also to title their new disc, which is a remastered re-release of the band’s debut album, as Thinks and Feels. Currently, the album (which was released in August) is being distributed to stores across the country. Freedom says they’re also considering restoring the band’s full name sometime in the future once they’ve “gotten out more into the mainstream.”
“It’s not set in stone or anything,” he says, “But we’re definitely thinking about doing it.”
New name for a new album.
Freedom also wanted to make it clear that the band didn’t bend to pressure from their label, and that the name is the only thing that’s changed with the band.
“It might seem like the record label’s trying to change us from top to bottom, but that’s just not the case,” he says.
What Laura Says hasn’t been the only indie group to alter its long and unusual-sounding name recently, as Denver’s experimental rock quintet Fear Before the March of Flames and Seattle synth-poppers Say Hi to Your Mom dropped the latter portion of their respective monikers earlier this year.
Oddly enough, both bands have Valley gigs during the next week. Fear Before is set to perform at the Sets in Tempe on Saturday, October 11; while Say Hi is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, October 15, at the Rhythm Room.
What Laura Says will take the stage at Modified Arts on Wednesday, October 8, at Modified Arts. Doors open at 8 p.m. with Yellow Minute and Physics of Meaning opening the show.