What dOEs that mEan? PrE Elm TrEasOn PrEhistOric BObby Band Names.
by Bobby Steel
Most fans of the band know that the Elm Treason name was concocted on a lazy January Sunday afternoon when I decided to play “Anagrams” with our last names.
However, one of our die-hard fans asked the question “What were some band names we had prior to our joining together to form Elm Treason?”
A very intriguing question. I’m happy to say I have some intriguing answers.
What were these names? How were these names created? Perhaps through the use of intoxicants? Spinning bottle games? Dictionary searches? Ouija Boards? The 8 ball?
No, none of that. (no comment on the intoxicants).
So here’s some Bobby band names and the sordid details of their origins.
I formed my first band when I was 13 years old with some neighborhood friends. It was called Ambience. Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly how that name came about. I remember bouncing names off some of the lads at school. One of the names I liked was “The Mind’s Eye” . I thought it reflected the prog rock/metal nature of the music. My friends’ responses were “meh”. I think the problem was it looked good on paper but didn’t quite roll off the tongue so smoothly. With the members of the band, “Ambience” was the consensus – a nice, atmospheric, versatile name. But for me, it made me think of background restaurant music. We took a vote and unfortunately , I was outnumbered. We kept that name for about a decade. Then, when the band changed personnel, so did the name. We were recording an album in the studio and we still had no band name. While we were playing live laying down drum tracks, our engineer shouted from the control room through our headphones “Hey, fellas! How about ‘Presence’ instead of ‘Ambience?’ ” The lads were big Zeppelin fans, so the name stuck. But for me, ironically, the name “Presence” had no presence. But again, majority prevailed. Sigh.
Fast forward a few years… I had just left a Rush tribute band and had taken the bass player with me. It was an abduction in which he willfully cooperated. We formed a prog/metal band with ex-members of “Ambience” along with a female vocalist I met while auditioning for metal band in Queens. I played with them briefly until the band broke up. After numerous attempts at trying to settle on a band name, my bassist suggested we name the band “Steel”. He thought it was an obvious choice since that was a great name for a loud, raucous, heavy music band. I protested saying I didn’t want the band named after me – something about an ego thing. But it was agreed that it was cool name. I happened to be blessed with a great stage name (thanks Dad), and that was that.
That same year, I had started experimenting with translating our heavier songs into the acoustic realm. That led to full-blown acoustic rock song composing. In fact, the band members liked it so much, they wanted to form another band as an avenue for this acoustic rock stuff. We agreed we would also need another name so our fans wouldn’t get confused. However, boggling our fans minds proved to be unavoidable. During a break from a lengthy jam/writing session in the studio, I happened to be reading a newspaper called the Village Voice. In the classified section, I saw an ad for a lost dog. It was described as a Black Teacup Yorkie. A few beers later, that became the band name. We actually booked a show in Geenwich Village in which Black Teacup Yorkie opened up for Steel! The look on the booking agent and the club owner’s face when we showed up for the gig was priceless. At least we had the crowd to go with us. Or was it two crowds?
A few years down the road, I formed a new band with some folks I met through an ad I put in the Village Voice classified section. I invited and old college buddy to join in order to contribute his brilliant talents. This band was a combination of world-music , trip-hop and rock. Very psychedelic stuff. In my mind, I was just experimenting with sticking Western and Non-western music in my brain blender just to see what would come out. I didn’t intend it to be so trippy, but when Dead Heads started showing up at our shows in droves and laid out blankets on the floor of the club and started meditating, it was official. We were psychedelic. I have a lot of great memories from that time. Some vivid. Others obscured in a haze of the herb.
That band name was “Isko Suno.” The name originated from a discussion I was having with my friend (from a band called The Humans) behind the counter of the music store where I worked. My Indian friend, Sunny, had stopped by for a visit on a Saturday afternoon. Dan (my friend) and I were playing band-name tennis—bouncing ideas off our mental rackets (making quite a racket)– when i said “How about ‘Listen To This?'” Dan’s ears perked up and turned to Sunny and asked in curiosity “How do you say that in Hindi?’ “Isko Suno.” And Bingo, a band name was born. That band name was a great conversation piece for fans and clubbers with quizzical looks upon the mention of it. “Isko Suno” (in a sardonic chortle) What does that mean” ? “Listen to This” Silence. “Oh , that’s pretty cool”
And that brings us up to the next band I think a few might have heard. Elm Treason. Andy and I had recorded something over the summer of 2010 under the name Cap Tango, which we explained quite humorously in a little video we created has sophomoric, disgusting origins,. A change was warranted. So Bobby took pen to paper. Which brings us full circle .
Most fans of the band know that the Elm Treason name was concocted on a lazy January Sunday afternoon when I decided to play “Anagrams” with our last names….
E PLURIBUS ULMUS