Until the mid-80s, this American band was one of the most influential groups that never existed. During the late 70s, against the backdrop of new wave, legions of young rockers with thin ties and excessive safety-pins were congregating under increasingly strange names that eschewed the rakishness and romance of earlier eras (for example, the Searchers, the Telstars, the Temptations, the Kinks), using everything from body parts (the Brains) to realpolitik (Gang Of Four) to establish mystique. One afternoon two rock journalists, both neighbours and columnists for competing music weeklies, saw a perfect new name for a band in a headline in the Los Angeles Times : ‘Hornets Attack Victor Mature’. The actor had been whisked off to the Encino burn centre. It is unknown whether he was still under observation several days later when both scribes faced Wednesday deadlines for their rather similar columns, both devoted to reporting the latest news in Hollywood music circles. What is known is that both reporters encountered a not uncommon problem, a surfeit of committed editorial space against a shortfall of compelling fact, and that both reporters arrived at the same solution. As many journalistic professionals know, a misstatement of fact is a gross miscarriage of the truth; a misstatement followed by a question mark is entirely legal. Thus, these resourceful members of the Fourth Estate wondered aloud: ‘Will Hornets Attack Victor Mature be the next L.A. power pop band to snare big bucks in a record deal?’ The following week, two respected industry journals both queried a heretofore disinterested collective readership about the fate of this group. A week thereafter, a rock radio newsletter not known for its exhaustive fact-checking protocols reprinted the information, sans question mark. Thus was the long and largely fruitless career of Hornets Attack Victor Mature launched, accumulating momentum and new copy lines without benefit of a single, album, video, tour or lawsuit. In 1980, Musician magazine named the band winner in both the Best Name For A New Band and Worst Name For A New Band categories. At the beginning of the 80s, a buxom centrefold in Oui magazine was quoted as loving new wave and punk, naming Hornets Attack Victor Mature alongside the Clash as among her favourites (possibly the bio was ghosted by one of our former columnists). This virtual career might have gone on indefinitely, but in the mid-80s the members of R.E.M. actually booked themselves into an Athens club under this very name.
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