Morning Benders No More: Band Switches to “POP ETC”

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

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The Morning Benders Help Beautify The Beach @ Governors Island

Saturday night The Morning Benders headlined the free Converse “Gone to Governors” concert series at The Beach on Governors Island.

Against the beautiful backdrop of the waterside beach, the quartet hit the stage after 10pm and played an easy breezy set that pleased the crowd. One special moment was when the band did a cover version of Fleetwood Mac’s awesome song “Dreams.”

See video:

Some photos from the gig:

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Asian Updates: Morning Benders and “The Other Asian” on Glee

I know Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is over, but that doesn’t mean the updates on some Asians who are representing needs to end.

Some notable news:

The Morning Benders have released two exclusive non-LP tracks: a stream of ‘Go Grab A Stranger’ and a free mp3 download “Cold War (Wallpaper. Remix),” both of which are available on their official website.

Also, something super exciting: The Morning Benders will be doing a FREE SHOW with Freelance Whales on June 19th at Governors Island as part of Converse’s kick ass “Gone to Governors” live music series on The Beach. Other folks participating in the free concert series include Yeasayer (June 5), She & Him (July 4), and Neon Indian (August 14).
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The Morning Benders’ “Big Echo” Swelled and Soared at MHOW

The last time I saw The Morning Benders was just under two years ago when they opened up for the Kooks when I wrote this review:

Openers The Morning Benders seemed like a perfect match in terms of the demographic of the audience. Comprised of four innocuous looking young men with perfectly poppy tunes, the Berkley quartet were probably loving all of the supportive whooping coming from the audience. However, after the show the lead singer caused a giant clusterfuck along the exit path as little ewoks huddled around him asking him to sign their CDs and chit-chatting with him. Gasped one girl to the other, “Ohmigod, it IS HIM!

Some things have changed since then: while The Morning Benders still hold on to their pop roots, they’ve graduated into a grand choral sound full of harmonizing vocals and reverberating guitar distortion. You can’t help but wonder how much of that change has to do with Grizzly Bear’s bassist/producer Chris Taylor, who lent his talents to the production of TMB’s newest LP, Big Echo. But no matter what the origin for the shift in the band’s sound, there’s no denying that the result is stellar.

This is a face any Asian grandmother would love!

The Morning Benders have successfully synthesized the rarely occurring combination of making music that appeals to both geeky music nerds and 16-year-old girls. But what’s most unusual is that unlike so many other groups in the geeky music nerd/16-year-old girl cross section (MGMT, LCD Soundsystem, Beyonce [ironically]), TMBs don’t rely on tons of synthesizers and dancey hooks to reel in their audience.

Instead they lean on their innocent baby faces and mild manners retain their core group of fans who fell for the pop pedigree sounds of their first album, while letting their new sound captivate a more mature, less estrogen-fueled fan base who got a taste of them while opening up for Grizzly Bear and Ra Ra Riot.

PHOTOS: The Morning Benders @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

They also tap into an underutilized marketing tool in indie rock — the power of the Asians. Everyone knows that little Asian girls love indie rock music (take a look at the front row of the makeup of any poppy British band and tell me I’m wrong), and now they finally have their very own set of dreamy Asian-mom-approved guys to pine over. But what about the white dude on the drums? It’s A-OK my friends, the internetz tell me that just like white people like Asian girls, Asians girls like white dudes.

Time to add the Chu brothers and Tim Or to the great pantheon of other Asian dude rockers — like James Iha and… uh… that Asian guy from N.E.R.D.?????
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The Kooks Play a Lovefest at the Hellhole Known as Terminal 5

Last night The Kooks played to a quite young and enthusiastic crowd at Terminal 5. As per usual, the Kooks performed their songs with stylish precision–doling out each song in such a perfect manner that if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that they were pulling a Milli Vanilli on us all.

Luke Pritchard, look into my eyes…and give me Blue Steel.

During the time I was waiting for the band to go on, I remained amused and entertained by making some observations about the first few rows of the crowd:

1. Teenage girls L-O-V-E The Kooks. Seriously, if I was a 16 year old Anglophile female living in the suburbs, yet somehow managing to have great taste in music, I too would be in love with at least one of the members of the Kooks. OK, I’m not even 16 years old any more and I am still probably in love with one of the members of the Kooks. (Try to guess which one.)

2. Boys love the Kooks equally, but will not admit it. So right behind the hold steady of female fans lined up and down the front row was a solid string of MALE fans in the second row. I swear to you, first row = all girls, second row = all dudes. Which made me think two things: A. Sausage-swingers love the Kooks as well and B. Guys at Kooks shows are at least nice enough to let little girls stand in front of them instead of being the obnoxiously TALL GUY in the first row. (All you dudes who have ever stood in front of my during my youth at Coldplay and Travis shows, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I BET YOU ARE STILL ALONE BECAUSE NO GIRL LIKES A GUY WHO STANDS IN FRONT OF SHORT GIRLS AT SHOWS.) Err.. sorry.
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