5 Billion and Counting: Music For Stars to Die By

It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

At first pass, 5 Billion and Counting is the sort of band I would plant my stompy boots firmly apart on the ground and urinate upon with one fist in the air while shouting, "Noooooooo Brooooooo!" And yeah, their approach does come across like much of the douche-rock that I remember as a blur of wrestling entrance themes from the early '00s.

If you are willing to commit to them, though, you run across some really ingenious lyrics and themes. It's political, granted, which is another strike against the band, but there is also a honesty to the band. Not to mention a tendency to pull off some interesting vocal approaches in tunes like "1%" and "Roll Call." You remember how Saliva was terrible, but "Ladies and Gentlemen" still kicked ass no matter what angle you looked at it? That's 5B&C, but much, much better.

In fact, something like "Police Sate Nation" can be called downright clever. It's like Jello Biafra was fronting Rage Against the Machine or something, and even has vaguely operatic shades in terms of how it tells a story. If you like it loud, you'll like 5B&C. I did.

But that name...

5 Billion and Counting? What the hell does that even mean? It's like a passive aggressive we are the world thing isn't it? Trying to remind us that humans are a giant brotherhood or something, probably, and with a vague finger-shaking about overpopulation to boot. I for one don't like having some rock act play biological doomsday clock on me, so I reached out to drummer Grant Bugg for an answer.

"The name 5 Billion and Counting was established by the founding guitar player Hector Delgado," he says via email. "The name to us is as simple as this... The sun is a star and like all stars, will someday die. Scholars estimate the sun is approximately 5 billion years old and believe the life span is about 10 billion years, putting us at 5 billion and counting. The reason we chose this as the name is the sun is the giver of all life, and that's the way we feel about music."

Story continues on the next page.

That's actually pretty interesting. Poetic even. Scientifically, it's all pretty accurate as well. Of course, we don't actually have 5 billion years on Earth left. That source of all life and light will kill us long before it finally dies its own death.

1.1 billion years from now the heat of the expanding sun will dry out our atmosphere, and that will probably kill us very dead. If we manage to survive that, in 3 billion years or so our galaxy collides with Andromeda, and an untold number of planets and entire solar systems will be destroyed. Even if we escape that, the oceans will boil in another 500 millions years after the collision.

So yes, Bugg's analogy is moving, I'll grant you, but the whole source of all life thing is also the source of all death, and we can only hope that we develop Tardises within the next billion years if we don't want to be hear when the sun starts letting itself go.

Oh well, at least we've got the tunes to go with the heat-death.

FINAL DEFINITION 5 Billion and Counting (n) 1. The approximate length of time until the end of the Sun. 2. Political hard rock. 3. A failure to set the cosmic alarm clock early enough.

5 Billion and Counting plays Saturday, September 7 at Acadia with Carrion Sun, Born & Raised, The Black 13, and The Hero Must Die.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.


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