Why Viet Cong Addresses The Past To Move Into The Future

8 January 2016 | 1:00 pm | Evan Young

"I'm excited to get a new name honestly. It's like we get a rebirth, a chance to do things differently."

A couple of things stand out when listening to Canadian noise punks Viet Cong, regardless of whether you've already been acquainted. The first is their sound: an industrial cataclysm, conveyed with exhilarating instrumental dexterity and the urgency of impending catastrophe. The second is the rhetoric of resistance and ruin imbued within it. It's dark and dynamic, though searing through tracks titled Death and Bunker Buster, perhaps not wholly unsurprising. The third of course, is that all this comes from a band sharing a name with the desecrating militia who fought the United States and South Vietnamese through the Vietnam War. But not for much longer — sustained backlash is leading the group to change it.

"We were never invested in the name Viet Cong — it just sounded loud and came up when we needed a name." 

"Recently we've been billing ourselves as 'formerly known as Viet Cong', so people know we're serious about changing the name. We now realise it's the right thing to do out of respect," guitarist Scott Munro concedes. He and the band are approaching the end of a relentless 2015 — a year which has seen the four-piece release their critically acclaimed self-titled debut LP, and play over a staggering 130 shows. "There have been times this year where it's been pretty hard and stressful," Munro says. "But the scrutiny has been positive on our relationships with each other. As a band, we've stuck together really well through it all."

Since the group's inception, their appellative appropriation has seen shows cancelled and flooded with protestors ("sometimes up to a couple of hundred per gig," Munro says), also impeding their capacity to acquire various international visas. While this conflict and transgression all sounds very punk, Munro maintains the group didn't mean any disrespect and profoundly regret all it has caused.

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"We just want to make music and play it to people," he says. "We obviously didn't think the name through — but we've definitely been thinking about the new one a lot more. We were never invested in the name Viet Cong — it just sounded loud and came up when we needed a name. The Vietnam War was horrible, and now after some really positive interactions with protestors and the Vietnamese community, we're more aware of its terrible atrocities. I'm excited to get a new name honestly. It's like we get a rebirth, a chance to do things differently. We've actually made a suggestion box at shows to help — it's hilarious and awesome seeing what people think we should call ourselves."

But the band "formerly known as Viet Cong" remain focused on touring, which includes their first ever Australian shows, incidentally, the last for which they'll employ their old moniker. Whatever we'll be calling the group years from now, Munro asserts the decision will have been their call, and theirs alone.

"In the last few days actually, we've become a lot closer to choosing," Munro reveals, though he stops short at providing The Music the hot exclusive. "We're not against choosing an offensive new name, it's just we can't defend this one. If it was something we were doing for the right reasons and could stand up for, we wouldn't care if people were upset. We won't be bullied. If the next name is offensive, we're going to make sure we can, at the very least, stand up for it."