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Death from Above 1979 Changes Their Name. Again.

When Sebastian Grainger and Jesse Keeler first launched their band in 2001, they chose the name Death from Above, which, you have to admit, is pretty cool. This, however, was also the name of the record label run by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. That was a problem.

Just as Verve was forced to change their name to THE Verve after a record label called Verve complained, Toronto’s DFA was advised to do the same to avoid any legal messiness.

When a cease-and-desist order was delivered, they didn’t take it well. This appeared 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.”

Seb and Jesse went to the bar, pounded back some shots, calmed down and decided to be practical. Death from Above became Death from Above 1979, a reference to Sebastian’s birth year. I think.

The amended/appended name lasted through the first life of DFA1979 (isn’t that a cool contraction?), their breakup and their reunion. But Tuesday’s release (June 6) of a new single called “Freeze Me,” there’s much anticipation for a new album. They have also made it known that they’re officially reverting back to their old name, Death from Above. All social media will remain tagged with 1979.

Why the change? No one has said anything yet. And I assume things are cool with James Murphy. Aren’t they?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “Death from Above 1979 Changes Their Name. Again.

  • I always wondered about the 1979.
    I remember seeing “Death from above” printed on the helicopters in Apocalypse Now during the famous scene descending on the beach to Wagner’s Die Valkyrie, and then noted that the movie was copyrighted in 1979. I guess I read into it a little too much!



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