Owen Hart is dead. No, not the underrated professional wrestler, once known as the Blue Blazer, who plummeted to his death in front of a live audience due to an equipment malfunction. That's old news. Twelve years old, to be exact. I'm talking about the Tacoma band that's been grinding ears with their self-described "meth metal" for the last six years under the same name. After six years of playing locally with the occasional small tour, Owen Hart released their debut LP, Earth Control, last December. They quickly received more media attention, along with glowing reviews, including a 9/10 rating in Decibel. Just as they got home from their first major US tour, a letter from the Owen Hart Foundation arrived at their record label owner's doorstep. The Stranger recently spoke with vocalist Timm Trust, guitarist Tony Wolfe, and drummer Brian Skiffington about the news.
Why did your band initially call itself Owen Hart? Why did you adopt the name of a dead pro wrestler?
Timm Trust: From the beginning of the band, everyone tried to come up with ideas that I would hate. I think that was one of the main premises of the band since its inception. The original name of the band was Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart Equals the Power of Misogyny. They told me that and I was like, "You've got to be fucking kidding me. There's no way that any band, let alone a band I'm going to be in, is going to be called that. Why don't we just shorten it to Owen Hart?" And everybody's like, "Okay." So it wasn't anything we put much thought into, it's just something they did to enrage me.
Brian Skiffington: We are weird goofballs that rely solely on word association and shouting nonsense. We have always spoken in a language that literally makes no sense, but we could convince anyone we knew what we were talking about.
Tell me a bit about the cease and desist -order your record label received.
TT: We were on tour and we kept getting messages that the WWE message board was going nuts about our band name and how disrespectful it is, and how they couldn't believe someone could do that to his legacy. They didn't like that I had a song called "My Grandma's Fucking a Tranny from Alaska." About a month later, we got a letter from the [Owen] Hart Foundation, and they actually cited that song individually, saying it wasn't in good taste; it wasn't how Owen Hart would have envisioned his legacy or whatever. I didn't get to read it. I was mostly just laughing, saying, "We finally got a cease and desist order after seven years of being a band?"
BS: We got back [from tour] and our record label [Vitriol] was on board saying they wanted a second press of this, and three days later I got this really panicked phone message that said, "You've got to call me right the fuck now. We have to deal with this." What ended up happening was he sent me scans of the cease and desist order to my e-mail. It stated the name of the band, every name of every band member including first, middle, and last, and Justin from Vitriol Records.
So this will be your last show as Owen Hart?
BS: The September 10 show with Pig Destroyer is going to be the last Owen Hart show. After that, we will be a new band called Earth Control that has all the same members, all the same music—basically everything except for the name Owen Hart. But if people want to call us Owen Hart, that's fine with us.
Coming from a wrestling fan's perspective, what does it feel like to be going up against Vince McMahon and the Owen Hart family?
Tony Wolfe: It's amazing, because I know Vince McMahon has listened to Owen Hart at least once. I'm pretty stoked. That's like the pinnacle of my life. Owen Hart has impacted Vince McMahon's life in some way, shape, or form. I can die happy.
Did you ever think there would be a trademark issue?
TW: I never thought we would be big enough for anyone like that to hear it.
So, in a way, it's like you made it.
TW: Yeah! [Laughs] Plus, I'm really glad we have to change our name. It was a goofy name that stuck.
This story has been updated since its original publication.