Before the new year really gets its momentum going, allow me to settle the question on how we came up with our band name if only because I’ve heard more than my share of totally inaccurate and sometimes absurd explanations as to who Sheila is and why 'Insects'?
The most common is that there really is a Sheila in the band and I only do the fronting duties in her absence. I remember I'd jokingly apologize on my concert spiels that Sheila couldn't make it but that the Insects were all present. Apparently, I didn't sound funny enough and maybe a few spectators actually believed me.
On conversations, I'd remember getting weird faces when I'd mention I was the lead vocalist for Sheila and the Insects. For a time, many thought we actually were a female-fronted act.
There was another time long ago I remember someone remembered our name wrong and referred to us as “Samantha and the Butterflies”. An interesting iteration, I thought. Just thought I’d mention it.
Another story I heard, and I’m not joking, is that Sheila is actually Ian’s closet name. Now if Ian does have one, I can assure everyone it is not Sheila. Then there’s the story that Sheila was a Fine Arts undergrad in USC who hung out with her barkada of mostly Chinese friends, “Insik” in colloquial, which morphed to Insects. Then there’s the scandalous story that Sheila was a girlfriend that we ‘shared’ within the band. A girl-pet of sorts if there ever was one. All untrue.
The real story though is really unremarkable which is why we try to avoid narrating it. Sheila is a real person and she used to hang out with the band back when we still had a different name. She’s not the type who’d impress you with her wit and grace. In fact, her enthusiastic attempts at humor were nothing less than pathetic, but we’d still be game enough to laugh, but only because we still had some tact intact. We we’re many things in the past but brutal is not one of them. Despite our behavior, she still was slow to catch on that we were actually laughing at her and not at her jokes. Anyway, one time, this Sheila made a casual reference to Blair’s fidgeting, which, unknown to her, was because at that time we were giggling about a private joke. She commented that Blair probably had insects in his shirt. A comment that amused us for its staleness. So much so that it became a sort of an inside joke that stayed with us for quite some time.
Anyway, to continue the story, our band used to be called “The End” but when another group from Manila emerged with exactly the same name, we decided to rename ourselves. So we brainstormed and after much debate, decided tentatively and not unanimously on “Toilet Ducks”. Don’t ask me to explain and I know it’s not as funny as it is tasteless. What can I say? We we’re young and unrefined. So anyway, just as we we’re raising a toast to our new name, Blair jokingly suggest the name “Sheila and the Insects”. We all laughed remembering the story behind it. Then after the hilarity of the moment ebbed, it dawned on us four – why not? So there.
Everyone hated our new name and told us so. And for those who showed a bit of tact, you could still sense they we’re laughing their guts inside. Hey, It’s not like you could blame them.
Anyway, we stuck to our name in spite of it all. Personally, I had stuck to the belief that a band name is not as important as the music that you will eventually make. I had always believed that whatever name we would have decided to use mattered less than our songs and our sound.
I trusted that our music would eventually define our name and not our name defining our music. Looking back at the years and albums past, I’m proud to say I think we’ve come to achieve that.