Out of complete random curiosity today I googled to see what was going on with everyone’s favorite almost all-asian band from New York (via California), The Morning Benders and to my surprise they’ve changed their name to POP ETC.
Why the name change? According to a message posted on March 25, 2012 on the old Morning Benders website by front-man Chris Chu, the original name was chosen in haste — but the band discovered a hidden meaning to their name while touring in Europe for the first time in 2010:
Fast forward to 2010, many a dive bar, school quad, house party, county fair, pizza parlor later. We had just released Big Echo, and for the first time we were preparing for a world tour. We had toured a fair amount leading up to Big Echo, but never overseas, so when it came time to tour the UK and Europe we were quite excited. The touring went well, and we had an amazing time, but also something happened that we hadn’t anticipated. As soon as we had landed in London people started asking us about our band name. “What does ‘Bender’ mean to you?” people would ask. “Are you seriously called ‘The Morning Benders’ ?” was a common question. For those of you reading from America, you may still be confused. Well, it turns out that the word ‘bender’ in the UK and many parts of Europe is a slang term for ‘homosexual.’ We were told our band name was the equivalent of ‘The Morning Fags’ in America. We had been called The Morning Benders for 5 years, and we were just finding this out now? It was shocking. And quite sad, to say the least. We had spent those years touring night and day, championing our name everywhere we could, only to find out that the name had an alternate meaning- one that made us look hateful, or at best, ignorant.
Now that the band are readying to release their newest album on June 12th, they felt it an opportune time to change their name for the following reasons:
1. We simply cannot go on using a name that is demeaning to the gay community. The reason we are making music is to reach and unite as many different kinds of people as possible, and the idea that our name may be hateful towards anyone makes us sick.
2. In the UK and many parts of Europe the name has simply become too distracting. The MUSIC has always been our number one focus, and we want to present that to people in as pure a way as possible
You can check out some new tracks from POP ETC via their free mix tape, available on their new website, http://popetcetera.com/. The sound is definitely more hip-hop and R&B influenced with a dash of late 80’s slow jam cheeziness (breathy whispers circa New Kids on the Block, I’m looking at you), but still retains the extremely catchy poppiness that is the band’s signature.
In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Chu describes his rediscovery and new appreciation of the “well-crafted music” of beloved bands from his childhood (Boyz II Men, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper), and the new sound is definitely a result of that.
Take a listen: