It’s usually a good idea to call your band something people can pronounce, spell and remember. Several thousand double-takes and “Huhs?” later, it’s time to shed some syllables and get a little more phonetic about things in the Attempt camp. We’re called Shelter Dogs now. It’s the same musicians — me, John, Bob and Daniel — the same instrumentation and the same sound. The only thing that’s changed is that now, we have a better band name.
I started writing “THE TYLER TRUDEAU ATTEMPT” on cassette tapes of my songs when I was about 15 years old, because I was usually the only person who played on them, the songs were more personal than what I was doing at the time with a punk band, and I was an outrageously awkward and self-effacing kid. And around the time the first full-band lineup of the Attempt formed, I was playing a lot of solo gigs around New Haven — people knew who I was, and although it might sound kind of far-fetched now, people accepted the Tyler Trudeau Attempt name without so much as a wince. What I hadn’t accounted for is that you can do something like that in a city where everyone with any given interest knows everyone else with that interest, everyone reads the same two newspapers, and every geographical point is accessible within 15-20 minutes. Everywhere else, you get some weird looks (and in our case, slots on a lot of singer-songwriter bills where we were obviously mismatched), and after a while, you have to wonder whether you or everyone else is the one with a problem. Plus, I reached a point where it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to name a band after myself. I mean, seriously, who am I? I write lyrics from mostly a first-person perspective, but if anything, they’re songs for the listener, not just for me. It’s your party, not mine.
The name “Shelter Dogs” was… in the air for a while. The phrase kept popping up, or the idea of actual dogs from an actual animal shelter. Oftentimes, when a phrase keeps echoing back to me, I think, “I should figure out how to sing that, because it would make the basis of a good chorus.” But this time, I thought, “… I think that’s our band.” Attempt songs have always been about being on the outside of what all fortunate people have, about trying to find something resembling “home,” or at least trying to get out of where you currently are. And anyway, it’s America in 2013. We’re all basically mutts in this country by now. I just mentioned how this band isn’t about me. Maybe this band is only partially about this band. Maybe, in one way or another, we’re all Shelter Dogs, y’know?
I started road-testing the name “Shelter Dogs” before the holidays. You kind of have to, right? It’s like if you start seeing someone, but it’s still super-informal, and you’re at a party one night, flying solo, when you decide to refer to them in conversation as “my boyfriend/girlfriend.” Sometimes just saying that makes you think, “Yeeeaaaaaahhhh,” and sometimes it makes you think, “My god, I’ve made a horrible mistake.” Strangers asked me, “So what’s your band called?,” and I said, “Shelter Dogs.” It felt really good. I talked to John, Bob and Daniel about changing the band’s name. It turns out all of us had been craving something a little more streamlined in the syllable zone. We’re all cool with this thing. Shelter Dogs.
Hiatus is over. We’ll be gigging again starting in March. See you soon, okay?