"We now recognise that our original intent doesn't change the fact that the name Slaves is an issue."
British punk rock outfit Soft Play, previously known as Slaves, has changed the band name after facing years of controversy due to historical connotations that didn't acknowledge the humanity of enslaved people.
The duo, frontman and drummer Isaac Holman and multi-instrumentalist/backing singer Laurie Vincent, chose the name back in 2012. They were looking for an abrasive word, like The Clash. Vincent told Fader Magazine in 2015, "We just liked the word. We weren't trying to provoke."
The group had been on hiatus since 2018 and announced their return to music over the weekend. Beginning their statement on Instagram, the band wished to address "something important" before getting to their comeback.
"When we called our band Slaves, it was intended solely as a reference to the grind of day to day life. As younger men, we responded to criticism of the name from a place of fear and defensiveness," the two wrote. They added, "Feeling backed into a corner, our own pride caused us to fight for a name we weren't even sure we wanted anymore. It felt at times as if our band name had defined us and we were scared of what might happen if we changed it.
"However, we now recognise that our original intent doesn't change the fact that the name Slaves is an issue," the band asserted. "In this day and age we believe it is very important that people change and make improvements no matter how far down the line they are. The name doesn't represent who we are as people or what our music stands for any longer. We want to sincerely apologise to anyone we've offended."
While the duo know that fans will have differing opinions on their decision to move forward with a new band name, they urged for a reminder of the community spirit punk rock music entails: "Our music is for anyone and everyone."
The duo ended the post by revealing their new band name: "With that being said, we are very happy to be back together again and are excited for what the future holds. Our new name is SOFT PLAY!
"Love Laurie and Isaac".
Soft Play released their debut album, Are You Satisfied?, in 2015. The record peaked at #8 on the UK Albums Chart and was followed by Take Control in 2016 and 2018's Acts Of Fear And Love. Welcome back, Soft Play!
Read the full band statement below.