Death From Above 1979 will now be known again as Death From Above, dropping the suffix from their band name.
Band members Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler revealed the news on MistaJam’s BBC Radio 1 show on Tuesday (June 6), premiering their new track “Freeze Me.” While they did did not actually make any formal announcement of the name change, all references to the group were noticeably absent of “1979,” which Consequence of Sound confirmed.
Although the rock duo did not say when a new album would be released, it promised it wouldn’t take 10 years. “It won’t be 10 minutes though, either,” said Grainger. The band’s last studio album, The Physical World, came out in 2014, 10 years after their You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine.
Death From Above was the outfit’s original name when it formed in the early 2000s, but due to a 2004 cease and desist letter from James Murphy’s record label Death From Above Records (which mostly goes by DFA Records now) Grainger and Keeler decided to tack on “1979” to the end — the legal minimum amount of numbers required to keep the first part of their name, according to Pitchfork.
They also penned a pretty intense statement directed to the LCD Soundsystem frontman on their website: “FUCK DFA RECORDS FUCK JAMES MURPHY WE DECLARE JIHAD ON THEM HOLY WAR ENDING IN THIER DEATH AND DISMEMBERMENT… james murphy is a selfish piece of fuck that will burn in the flames of a specially dedicated rock and roll jihad. if i had the resources i would fly a plane into his skull.”
Murphy explained his own side of the story in a 2005 interview with Pitchfork. In it, he said, “We knew about them for a long time, the name thing wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t until they signed to a major label, which wouldn’t release the record until we signed off on the name. That’s how this all came about. We knew about them for years. They were a Canadian punk rock band on a small label. Totally fine. But they had a crash course on being on a major label. I mean they’re on Vice, but Vice is Atlantic. Atlantic’s not gonna release a record by a band with the same name as another entity in music.”
In the end, the way Murphy explained it, he didn’t want to push the band off the name entirely and risk delaying their album release at the time and causing further complications but their label did insist they change it in some form.
He continued, “We just tried to make it work as well as possible. I think they seem to understand it now. If they wanna be aggro in the press, I don’t care. If that works for you, that’s funny. It’s all very Andy Kaufman to me. I’ll be your [Jerry] Lawler. I don’t really talk about it, it’s a lot more boring and corporate than it seems.”
It is not clear what has been resolved now that Death From Above would change its name back to its original form.
Listen to “Freeze Me” here.