I like to envision The Wends, those cutie-patootie Italian grad school-looking kids, trading cease-and-desist nastygrams with Radiohead. It devolves into a tense battle for ownership of the name, The Smile. Until this unwelcome legal drama, the Italian band formerly known as Smile had been happy since 2020 to channel Michael Stipe and Peter Buck. After all, there are so many bands similar to REM, albeit not many from Turin, Italy. But now they’re in deep.
Thom Yorke’s high-falutin’ Manhattan lawyers are papering Smile until they break under the pressure of Harvard-educated trademark attorneys. They finally agree to change their name, paving the way for Yorke’s new side project. Plenipotentiaries for each band meet in a non-descript French café in Châlons-en-Champagne to sign the deal over muttered insults.
In truth, there’s not a ton of evidence for that drama in the public record, and The Wends are entirely too affable looking for confrontation. They may have just wanted to avoid being swallowed in an ocean of Google searches for Yorke’s The Smile and opted for a new moniker. Still, they continue to use the cheeky e-mail username thenameofthisbandissmile. It was also the title of their October 2020 debut and it remains the web address for their band website.
Who knows, maybe they had a dance fight.
Yes there are a lot of bands similar to REM – but listen to The Wends in this outrageous Husker Dü stomper
Much of The Wends It’s Here Where You Fall EP released last month is a straight-up tribute to Athens, Georgia. That doesn’t detract at all from the punch of lead track “What A Heart is For.” It is a jangle werewolf, half-REM and half-Bob Mould.
On other cuts, vocalist Michele Sarda seems almost to impersonate Michael Stipe. This might be a bother if the tunes weren’t so dang good.
Whither do The Wends wander from here?
We’ll let posterity decide what happened behind the scenes of the titanic struggle for the Smile trademark. Whatever the outcome, you should buy The Wends latest EP. Support a fictional legal defense fund that may or may not exist. I was on the fence about paying for the full EP, but I’m purchasing the It’s Here Where You Fall EP tonight to support the underdogs of rock!