Why would an aspiring rock band want to take its name from an Anglo-Dutch manufacturer of food and detergents. 'It was a kind of joke,' says Ted Garcia, 24, guitarist and frontman of Unilever. 'And, besides, we quite liked the sound of it.' Garcia, together with singer Neil Forrester and guitarist Danny Alexander, all recent graduates of Oxford's Wadham College (or 'leavers of university', as Garcia observes), are currently playing clubs in London and making quite a name for themselves - albeit a rather unorthodox one. Their music, variously described as 'techno-grunge', 'industrial' or, in the words of Melody Maker, just 'very strange', has brought them a loyal following but as yet no record deal. It has also failed so far to bring them to the attention of their corporate namesake - and not for want of trying.
Last year Unilever, the band, collectively payed homage to Unilever, the company, with a visit to its Blackfriars headquarters. 'We were thrown out,' says Garcia. 'I think we looked too scruffy.' They have also approached it for sponsorship but to no avail.
The company, meanwhile, claims never to have heard of them but, to the band's relief, it isn't considering legal action.
'We haven't any objection to them using the name as long as they don't give the impression that they represent us in any way,' says a spokesman. 'Not that there's much danger of that,' he adds. And as to the possibility of any financial support: 'No, we haven't yet considered sponsoring this sort of art.'.