Supernova To Tommy Lee's 'New' Supernova: Hey, That's Our Name!

Trio upset by 'Rock Star' TV show's association of their name with 'washed-up metalheads.'

Bassist Art Mitchell isn't sure what to make of the upcoming second season of "Rock Star," the CBS reality-television hit that paired J.D. Fortune with a frontman-less INXS last summer.

Next month, when "Rock Star: Supernova" hits the airwaves, Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee, Voivod/ ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke will band together to find a singer for their new supergroup: Supernova (see "Jason Newsted Says Frantic Pace Of 'Rock Star: Supernova' Is 'Asking For Miracles' ").

The problem, Mitchell said, is he's been in a band with the same name for nearly 20 years.

The Orange County, California, punk trio, who are still together -- "We definitely put the spaceship in neutral, but we never called it quits," he said -- have four shows booked for July and August. In the past, they performed at two Warped Tours and released three albums, most recently 2002's Pop as a Weapon. Supernova are perhaps best-known for the tune "Chewbacca," which appeared in Kevin Smith's film "Clerks."

"It's like when you're a little kid and the bully down the street steals something from you and you don't do anything about it," Mitchell said. "But we're going to go kick some butt, dude. They probably figured we're clerks, but our drummer, Dave [Collins], is a lawyer."

Although the Web site All Music Guide lists three artists bearing that name — a Chilean rock outfit and a jazz band as well as Mitchell's group — Collins claims his group legally owns the name, and they hired attorneys to respond to CBS in the form of a cease-and-desist letter.

"You can't just waltz up and use our name," Collins said last week. "We're willing to fight for our name, our band. We have trademark rights to the name and we can prove those rights."

Two weeks ago, the members of Supernova met with the "Rock Star" producers for a face-to-face chat, and the band hopes to schedule a second sit-down this week. Neither side has taken serious legal action yet, according to Supernova's lawyer, John Mizhir. And Mizhir said it might not get to that point: "There are a lot of ways to skin a cat and resolve an issue, and maybe we can come to [a resolution] that works for everyone."

Mitchell, though, said that ultimately Supernova would like to keep its name and not be associated with a bunch of "washed-up metalheads," as that could confuse his band's fans.

"How do two bands in pretty much the same genre, with the exact same name, who're both recording, play on the same planet?" he said, adding that Supernova have been recording and hope to release new music this fall.

Supernova's members say they're not certain whether the producers of "Rock Star" researched the name, but Collins said his band isn't hard to find. A few years ago, when the Star Wars character Chewbacca was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards, the show's producers contacted the group to seek permission to use their track.

Calls to CBS for comment had not been returned at press time.