Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band: Better With Franco-Prussian War?

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

When Rocks Off was a small child we built a volcano as a History Fair project, and we promise it was better than the one you built. First off, we spent hours making sure it was a pretty damn convincing model of Mt. St. Helens. Second, we covered the slopes in Monsters in My Pocket and Battle Beasts - both native to Washington state - so that when the eruption finally happened, their endless, bloody war would be wiped from the slopes of the holy mountain by the wrath of a vengeful god!

We got a "B."

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band is a rock group from Seattle that got it start doing public service announcements. The humor and music in these got them signed to Dead Oceans last year, and they've touring ever since.

Their music is a mixed medley of straight rock, prog-rock and indie-rock that is often jarring, but damn effective at infesting the part of your brain that works like an iPod for all that.

But the name of the band was what caught our eye. Could it be that there were other volcanic war enthusiasts out there as well?

"The band was named by Marshall, the drummer, who at the time was 12," says vocalist Benjamin Verdoes. "He just blurted it out in the car one day. People have commented that it represents two types of disasters - a natural one and a man-made one. I like that, but the name is arbitrary."

Well, there's nothing Rocks Off likes better than having the most basic premise of this article proven and re-proven. But shirley there is a deeper connection between the images of nature's fury and war occurring simultaneously that appealed to the band. [Ed note: Please stop calling me Shirley.] What if we poured vinegar and baking soda down their throats?

Hell, let's throw in some Pop Rocks and soda for good measure.

"If the band were to erupt, it would result in a catastrophic chain reaction, where most life as we know it would be annihilated," said Verdoes.

The most loaded word in the band's name is "Vietnam," a word and a war that continues to resonate even with people born long after the cease-fire. Honestly, we're surprised a record label like Dead Oceans didn't make them change it. Maybe a less controversial conflict could be substituted.

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"I would replace Vietnam with the Franco-Prussian War," offers Verdoes. "So it would be Mt. St. Helens Franco-Prussian War Band. It would alienate even more people, and we would no longer get tagged on Vietnamese travel Web sites."

See, now that's so much better.

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band plays tonight at Fitzgerald's with Portugal the Man and Chief.

Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.

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