When Anthrax Doesn't Rule

You'd never expect heavy-metal fans to thrash to a band called Basket Full of Puppies, but that's what metal legend Anthrax toys with renaming itself on its Web site.

It's part of the band's public statement of regret for the suddenly "uncool" name it has found itself saddled with.

"In the 20 years we've been known as 'Anthrax,' we never thought the day would come that our name would actually mean what it really means," the group's members wrote on their Web site, www.anthrax.com. "Before the tragedy of September 11th the only thing scary about Anthrax was our bad hair in the 80's and the Fistful Of Metal album cover."

The members of the New York-based band, which will still be called Anthrax, addressed the unhappy coincidence of its name in light of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the subsequent fears of biological warfare. Past album names included such titles as Spreading the Disease and The Threat Is Real.

Earlier this month, a Florida man died and two others were hospitalized in what appears to be a deliberate release of genetically modified Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes the disease for which the band named itself 20 years ago. Authorities are uncertain if there is any connection between the Florida case and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Normally found in livestock, anthrax can be transmitted to humans in spore form. If inhaled, as in the Florida cases, it causes flu-like symptoms and sometimes breathing difficulties and shock. In its fatal form, it causes lesions in the lungs and brain.

"When I learned about anthrax in my senior year biology class, I thought the name sounded 'metal,'" the band's statement read. "'Anthrax' sounded cool, aggressive, and nobody knew what it was. Until a few years ago most people thought we'd made it up. Even our album Spreading the Disease was just a play on the name. We were spreading our music to the masses."

The wistfully humorous statement, which apologized for being funny, went on to explain why the band wouldn't be changing its name, despite the suddenly unfunny associations.

"Most people associated the name Anthrax with the band, not the germ. Now in the wake of those events, our name symbolizes fear, paranoia and death. Suddenly our name is not so cool," the statement read. "We don't want to change the name of the band, not because it would be a pain in the ass, but because we hope that no further negative events will happen and it won't be necessary. We hope and pray that this problem goes away quietly and we all grow old and fat together."

The Web site will be posting links and information related to helping the Florida victims and preventing anthrax. And the statement ended with a simple request from the band:

 "PS- If an Anthrax member gets Anthrax, call Alanis Morrisette. That would be ironic. Don't you think?"