At Rice University, I met Greg Pearse in my music history class. Greg lived on the north end of Houston and rode into town with his father every day. The two of us hung out in the practice rooms in the early mornings before classes.
One day, Greg walked into the room, flung himself down on the couch, and said, "All I want is euthanasia." I told him that that had to be the title of a song, and that we had to write that song and put together a punk band to play it. Greg agreed, and we started working on "All I Want is Euthanasia" and its companion song, "I Want to Die in Agony."
Greg had two Korg synthesizers that the two of us could play, and he had a friend who played drums. Once we had a few songs written, we started advertising for a bass player. We found Dave Collins, who for some reason we called "Death," gave ourselves the name "Youth in Asia for Sick Puns," and got ready to rehearse, but our drummer died in a car accident before I even met him. We found another drummer who rehearsed with us once but then transferred to another school. (And all this was before the movie of Spinal Tap! Should we sue Rob Reiner?)
One day when we were coming up particularly dry on song ideas, Greg started talking about stage names. Greg and some friends had had a bogus cult in high school physics class called "Dr. Ul" (from some permutation of the right-hand or left-hand rule: "Down Right Up Left"). Greg decided he would go by the name of the cult's deity, Ul.
In going through some old papers stuffed in drawers, my mom had recently found the birth announcement of a cousin who goes by his middle name, Courtney, listing his first name as R (no period, just R). He was going to be Robert III, but his dad died in a motorcycle accident before he was born, so his mother decided not to name him Robert.
I'm a fan of Peter Hammill, so I was thinking about one-letter names. Hammill had taken on a persona named M on two albums earlier, and he had just adopted another one-letter name for his latest album, Enter K. I told Greg that I couldn't be R because I had a cousin named R. He told me I'd just have to be Not R, and it stuck.
Youth in Asia for Sick Puns had a few more rehearsals, and we had two guitarists play with us at times: Kirk Hughes (known at some times as Spurkspews and at others as The Kirkhughes) and Billy Gilbert (known as Billy). Somehow a recording of "Don't Do the Elephant Man" from one of our practice sessions found its way onto the radio station at Texas A&M! But we never played out at all.
After I left for the summer, Ul and Death gave up on finding a new drummer and made some taped drum tracks using the two Korgs, Dave's Beocord and Tascam tape decks, and a friend's computer, naming the entire contraption B.O. Korg. They played a few gigs over the summer under a new name, Aad Noys. We played a couple more times over the next year but concentrated more on recording what we'd written. By the time we all left Rice, we had put together a cassette of eight songs, an introduction, and four interludes. We had planned to call it Mental Bloc Party but, because we never finished recording our theme songs, I named it Erastos at the Party That Never Was.
A couple years later, I found myself in a new band playing a few of the Aad Noys songs plus one that Greg had written later for Dave and Billy, "Fat Men With Beards." We searched a long time for a name, rejecting such choices as "Molten Glass Enigmas" and "Pajama Party Accidents," and I had never even mentioned Not R when our guitarist came up with the one we finally chose: "Not You."
-- Glenn Knickerbocker, much too late at night
Every once in a while I stumble on some new significance to "Not R":