Personality Crisis

What defines a band? It’s a tough question. One work colleague of mine said that a band should change its name if they change lead singer, but AC/DC and Iron Maiden both hit their stride after their original singers departed. How long does a single line-up have to be together before any change is unthinkable? How far do the musicians define a band’s sound? And if a band changes direction, should they still use the same name just because they are the same musicians? Pantera and Deep Purple both made their names after changing style, but Status Quo had some success as a psychedelic pop band before turning to three-chord boogie. At one extreme, Joy Division had an agreement to change their name with the line-up, and would have changed name even if it had been Stephen Morris who departed first, not Ian Curtis. At the other extreme, Dr Feelgood has continued without a single member of the original line-up since Lee Brilleaux died. If a band name is the name of a brand, it carries the weight of customers’ expectations. If you buy an album or see a show, what is it you expect to see and hear when you pay money for a given band? Obviously, this has been on my mind over the past year, so you may as well know my thinking where Harlequin’s Kiss is concerned.

It wasn’t a question until recently, and I’m not sure how it became a question. It just seems like, for the space of about a month, whenever we were booking a room at Robannas Studios, Rob Hoffman (the owner) would ask us, “Are you still keeping the name?” This went on across November and December after we took Matt on. I’m sure Rob didn’t ask us this when we were playing with Kev…

It is certainly true that André did a lot to define our sound when he joined us. His riffs are behind the songs that defined us to our audience, and even two of the blues songs that Ed and I laid the groundwork on were given their final form by André. At the same time, Harlequin’s Kiss existed for over a year before we started working with André, and our career with André and Andy amounts to only nine gigs over two years. In fact, you’ve probably not heard the original Harlequin’s Kiss – the only people who have were the Lamp Tavern’s Monday night regulars from 2010.

So if there ever was a question over our name, it was one of sound. How much have we changed by replacing a single Ibanez with twin Gibson SGs? While I didn’t lose sleep over it, I had a nagging doubt. That is, until Matt sent me demo’s of two new riffs a few weeks ago – all my doubts vanished when I heard them. Trust me, we are still Harlequin’s Kiss and we still play the same brand of catchy rock ‘n’ roll.

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~ by Scary Rob on 23 February, 2015.

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