July 31, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

THESE GUNS FOR HIRE Guns N’ Roses may soon be shooting more than blanks. Singer Axl Rose, the sole remaining original Gunner, has at last put together a semi-stable lineup for the long-dormant group, which now includes former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson, Vandals drummer Josh Freese, and ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck. A source close to Rose says the new material the quartet is working up is indeed “techno influenced”—hard as that may be to believe with die-hard punkers Stinson and Freese on board—but still “sounds like Guns N’ Roses.” No word yet on when we can actually expect a new GN’R album, but, says the source, Axl and the boys (who are currently rehearsing in Woodland Hills, Calif.) will be entering the studio to begin laying down tracks “imminently.”—Tom Sinclair

TRICKS OF THE TRADEMARK Looking for a band name? Well, if you think it might be funny to reference some oddball relic like, say, REO Speedwagon, think again. As punk-rockers REO Speedealer and Furious George recently found out, not all trademark holders are amused by such friendly tweaking. Speedealer, an obscure punk band from Texas, were recently forced to drop the REO from their moniker after lawyers for the ‘Wagon threatened legal action, while Furious George, an obscure punk band from New York, are facing a legal challenge from Houghton-Mifflin, the company that publishes the Curious George children’s books. (Furious are fighting Curious to keep their name.) Says Furious’ George Tabb: “They’re claiming that we might confuse little kids, that they’ll think it’s a live Curious George show instead of Furious George. Like kids are going to go out at midnight to a punk-rock club. And obviously the letter F is different from the letter C. They want to take the letter F? Well, uck them.” Not that band names aren’t sometimes genuinely confusing. A wise judge recently ruled that punkabilly band the Amazing Royal Crowns had to change their name because it too closely resembled that of swingers the Royal Crown Revue. Good thing: Telling the two outfits apart was, well, a royal pain.—Rob Brunner

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