An underground punk band has fallen foul of record label EMI in a trademark dispute over the title of its first album. London-based act The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing have been forced to re-title the release, Now That’s What I Call Steampunk Volume One, because of its striking similarities to the name of EMI’s leading pop-compilation series Now That’s What I Call Music. The band is now planning to sell out the limited remaining stocks of its debut under its original title, before re-releasing it with a fresh one.
Fronted by stand-up comedian Andrew O’Neill, the band – whose name comes from a famous piece of London graffiti thought to have been daubed by Jack the Ripper – are standard bearers of the cult club movement ‘Steampunk’, which combines punk styling with Victoriana: think frock coats, top hats and hoop dresses blended with spray-painted vests, ripped jeans and industrial goggles. Legal action began on 27 January, when EMI served a cease-and-desist letter indicating that it would pursue full legal action if the album were not re-titled by a set deadline.
In a 28 January posting on its Facebook page, the band admitted it had made an oversight in its original title choice. ‘Er… for unexpected legal reasons we should probably have seen coming we may have to rename our first album. Any suggestions? Also it's currently not on sale on iTunes while we sort it out.’ The call for alternative titles quickly yielded a band favourite – The Steampunk Album That Cannot Be Named For Legal Reasons – which will go out on all future pressings. Later that day, as a consolation to fans, the band posted: ‘It does mean the first pressing on the record will be a collector's item!’
The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing also engaged in some self-mockery over the Victorian themes and influences that are set to feature on their second album, alongside a voiceover from Sylvester McCoy, who from 1987 to 1989 played the lead role in Doctor Who. In a later posting, the band said: ‘We're fully expecting to be sued by the members of the Whig party and the estates of Earl Grey, Prince Albert, Joseph Bazalgette, HP Lovecraft, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and the resurrected spirit of [1980s Doctor Who producer] John Nathan-Turner.’
It is unlikely that the second album’s title – This May Be The Reason Why The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing Cannot Be Killed By Conventional Weapons – has occurred in any previous context.
Cease-and-desist action lays blame on cult punk act for imitating EMI compilation albums