Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Supernova: a Rock 'n Roll David vs. Goliath story

OK, so most of us are all too aware of the obnoxious CBS TV show RockStar, which helped the corpse-fucking surviving members of INXS find a new singer. Being married and a good sport, I watched, like, only 10 minutes of the show, just because my wife liked it. Anyway, CBS is at it again, with a new configuration. Although rumor buzz slated Van Halen to be looking for a new lead singer (#4, for those of you counting at home), this ended up being just that: a rumour. The current show is going to be Tommy Lee, Dave Navarro, Gilby Clarke, Jason Newsted, and the lead singer to be decided during the course of the show. Innocuous enough so far, right? So you're all wondering, "Murph, if you find all of this so obnoxious (which I do), why is it taking up precious column inches on your blog? "

Simple enough; the "band" is calling themselves Supernova.

One huge problem, one monstrous fly in the ointment: there already IS a band named Supernova. I know that 99% of potential readers of this blog have seen the movie Clerks, and can remember the song "Chewbacca" which played in the background of the discussion on independent contractors being blown up on the still-being-completed Death Star at the end of Jedi. Yeah, that's the band Supernova. I own their first album which came out after their Clerks soundtrack appearance; it's called Ages 3 and Up, has a funny song on it called "Oreo" ("Pass the milk, man!"), and was on the Amphetamine Reptile label (distributed at the time by Atlantic). They released another release on AmRep, and another one for Sympathy For The Recording Industry. The kicker? THEY'RE STILL TOGETHER!!! There's no way on God's green earth that CBS should be allowed to steamroller them out of existence, just because they goofed and forgot to check to see if another band existed under that name before naming their obnoxious supergroup with that moniker (no Lewinsky jokes).

But that seems to be the position that Supernova finds themselves in right now. The band released this press release in April:

Supernova defends itself against corporate copycats

COSTA MESA, April 24, 2006 It's kind of like if that 1980s Top 40 nightmare Rick Astley was performing around town under the name The Jimi Hendrix Experience. A living block of has-been cheese trading on the name of a legitimate talent.

That's where the 1990s pop/punk trio Supernova find themselves these days as they spar with CBS and Mark Burnett over the use of the band's name. Seems the next round of the show "Rock Star" is searching for a singer to front a new band that the corporate suits want to call appallingly enough Supernova.

Of course the problem here is that there is only one Supernova, the one founded in 1989 in Costa Mesa, California, by band members Dave Collins, Art Mitchell and Hayden Thais (replaced in 1994 by Jodey Lawrence). This is the Supernova that released Ages 3 & Up on Atlantic Records in 1995, played the original Warped Tour in summer of 1995, did Warped again in 1999, and toured with the Buzzcocks, Boss Hog, Presidents of the USA and several other top acts. The Supernova that recorded the song "Chewbacca" for Kevin Smith's indie classic "Clerks." Yes, the very same band touring California throughout May with stops in Santa Cruz, Costa Mesa, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Ventura.

Recordwise, since 1995s Ages 3 & Up, the band has gone on to release Rocks in 1998 on Amphetamine Reptile Records and Pop as a Weapon in 2002 through the Sympathy for the Record Industry label.

While the fight hasn't yet resulted in legal action, Supernova's attorneys have issued cease and desist letters to CBS and Burnett's production company, detailing the band's history and rights to its name. In return, the CBS/Burnett crew have flipped the real Supernova the royal corporate bird and ostensibly laid claim to the band's name.

The proposed "Rock Star" group includes Motley Crue drummer and amateur yachtsman, Tommy Lee, and fill-in musicians, Jason Newsted of Metallica, and Gilby Clarke of Guns 'n' Roses. Apparently Paris Hilton wasn't free.

There have even been comments on various forums across the Internet that the TV show's backers knew there might be trouble brewing over the band's name. In fact, in a story about the show on MTV's website, writer Chris Harris wrote " ... The Rock Star camp could end up running into some legal trouble down the line over the supergroup's name. Back in the early 1990s, a poppy punk trio called Supernova emerged from California's Orange County."

So as the real Supernova plays its May tour dates, it'll continue the battle over the right to its own name. What a thing to have to battle over, the fight to keep your hard-earned band's name from being sullied by the spectacle that is reality television.

It'd be something like waking up hungover in a Tijuana alley, naked, bloody, your wallet and ID missing and a long ugly line of stitches on your belly from where persons unknown shanghaied one of your kidneys.
I mean, I probably wasn't gonna waste my time with the show to begin with, but now I have more reason to hate the show. Although I do think it'll be funny as hell if CBS realizes that they were wrong, and have to overdub an alternate name over the name "Supernova" every time one of those chumps says the word. They should call it SuperBozo; that way, their lips will at least approximate the word, even though the lousy overdub will sound almost as horrible as the TV-show band most likely will.

Here's another article about what's going on...


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