Viet Cong are set to change their name due to the controversy that it has sparked, but they’ll be worth following in the future, however named they choose to proceed. In a Facebook post, the band revealed that on further reflection and after discussing the name with Vietnamese fans, they would change it, as they hadn’t intended to cause anyone pain “or remind people of atrocities of the past”.
Their debut album, described in The Skinny as “a hard-boiled and unsweetened deconstruction of the submissive, errant state of alternative guitar pop”, won the Canadian group a lot of admirers on release at the start of 2015. While not breaking much new ground, the band very skilfully and seriously were able to meld various ideas from art-rock scenes such as post-punk, drone, lo-fi and no wave into a very satisfying whole.
Even better live than on record, the band toured the US and Europe throughout 2015 to promote their record, and it was due to this increased exposure that they then discovered that many fans were unhappy about the name. Two seminal post-punk bands who must rank among Viet Cong’s musical influences, Gang of Four and Joy Division, also picked names loaded with unpleasant historical connotations, also without particularly meaning anything by it. “Our band name is not our cause,” Viet Cong’s statement said, “and we are not going to fight for it. This is not what our band is about.”
Vocalist and bassist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace had originally played together in Women, who went on indefinite hiatus in 2010, and then permanently ceased in 2012 when guitarist Christopher Reimer passed away. Flegel and Wallace recruited two guitarists, Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen, and the new band self-released an EP on cassette in 2013.
The following year they were spotted at SXSW by Canadian indie label Mexican Wave, who re-released their EP on vinyl. The full album followed in January 2015, released by Jagjaguwar, the renowned US indie label who had previously released Women’s records.
Viet Cong group members
Matt Flegel (vocals, bass)
Mike Wallace (drums)
Scott Munro (guitars)
Daniel Christiansen (guitars)
Viet Cong discography
Cassette EP (2013 / 2014)
Viet Cong (2015) (The Skinny review)