Following several years of controversy, the band Viet Cong have officially changed their name to Preoccupations.
“We apologize to those who were adversely affected by our former band name. This was never anticipated nor our intent,” they wrote in a statement Thursday. “We are artists and not politicians, we understand that the name reflected pain to some individuals and we are happy to change it and move on and focus on our music.”
Since forming in 2012, the Canadian post punk group has faced heavy public criticism for their name choice, which takes its title from the violent Vietnamese War rebellion known for enslaving, torturing, and killing thousands of civilians.
The quartet initially announced the switch last September, several months after Ohio’s Oberlin College canceled their March performance due to the problematic nature of their name. “Art and music are about creative expression. However, our band name is not our cause, and we are not going to fight for it,” they said in a statement at the time. “We are a band who want to make music and play our music for our fans. We are not here to cause pain or remind people of atrocities of the past.”
The band’s frontman, Matt Flegel, also sat down with Pitchfork to discuss the news. He emphasized that the moniker was not intentionally offensive, but that they were simply unaware of the history behind it. “We were pretty naive, and pretty ignorant on the subject,” he said. “We know a lot more now. If we knew what we know now then we would definitely not call the band that.”
Flegel explained that personally speaking with Vietnamese people and war refugees helped propel the decision. “It’s really helpful to have a face-to-face conversation with another human being that has family, or has been directly affected by something, rather than just hearsay on the internet,” he said.
The newly anointed Preoccupations have also announced a series of summer tour dates, including stops at festivals like FYF and Sasquatch. View those below.
May 28 – Sasquatch Festival – George, WA
June 13 – Baby’s All Right – Brooklyn, NY
June 17 – Best Kept Secret Festival – Hilvarenbeek, NL
June 18 – Out Loud, Beursschouwburg – Brussels, BE
June 22 – Shacklewell Arms – London, UK
June 23 – Old Blue Last – London, UK
June 28- Olympic Cafe – Paris, FR
June 30- Urban Spree – Berlin, GER
July 2 – Castle Palooza – Tullamore, IE
July 9 – Ottawa Blues Festival – Ottawa, ONT
Aug. 27- FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 8 – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON