Artist News Releases

US band Slaves announce name change

By | Published on Monday 29 June 2020


American post-hardcore band Slaves have announced that they plan to change their name. Saying that their current name was “conceived as a reference to the band’s battle with substance abuse”, they added that in selecting it they had neglected “to take ownership of its racial connotations”.

The band are currently preparing for the release of their fourth album ‘To Better Days’ – their first with new vocalist Matt McAndrew – and had apparently already discussed the possibility of a name change to accompany the new line-up, even before the most recent Black Lives Matter protests put the spotlight on racially insensitive band names.

In a statement posted on Instagram, they say: “The name ‘Slaves’ was conceived as a reference to the band’s battle with substance abuse in the past, to the idea that we become enslaved by our addictions and by our own demons. Our goal has always been to tackle these difficult subjects head on, as well as to build a community and share stories of hope to let others know that their inner demons can be defeated”.

“However”, they go on, “this definition of the name neglects to take ownership of its racial connotations. As obstinate supporters of the BLM movement, we cannot continue to tie our music and our positive message to a word associated with such negative weight and hurt”.

“‘To Better Days’ will represent the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another for the band”, they conclude. “This is something we have been planning for a while and we are excited to start unveiling new music, new name, later this year”.

The American band, obviously, share their name with UK duo Slaves, who have long faced criticism for their choice of name. In 2017, frontman Laurie Vincent defended it to Fader, saying they’d picked it because they wanted “an abrasive sounding word, like Clash”.

“Someone once wrote on our Facebook wall, ‘Nobody but African Americans have a right to use the word slaves'”, he said. “Obviously, lots of words have two meanings – if you said ‘I feel like a slave at work’ or ‘I’m a slave to the routine’, that’s not being disrespectful to the slave trade. You have to use words or you’re just going to be scared of everything. We live in a society already where people are terrified of the way they act being interpreted, and it’s just getting harder”.

With the US band changing their name, and assuming Vincent still holds that view, then that’s good news for the UK band, in that it removes any confusion between the two outfits. Although with their US namesakes dropping the moniker specifically in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, there will be increased pressure for the UK band to also come up with something new.

Slaves (US) are not the only band to change their name for racial insensitivity reasons in recent weeks. Lady Antebellum and the Dixie Chicks have also announced new names. Although in both cases with immediate effect, whereas it’s not entirely clear when Slaves will actually rebrand, given they say the original plan was to change names after the next album and they have just put a new single online that still uses Slaves. So who knows?

Anyway, watch the video for that new single from Still Slaves For Now, ‘Like I Do’, here: