What’s in a name

I’ve always been fascinated and entertained by clever, funny or weird band names. Clearly it’s a challenge for any musician or group to find the perfect moniker, that name that sets them apart and captures a sense of what they are about. Or maybe just got chosen in a moment of drunken / stoned madness and stuck.

I grew up listening to the likes of Pink Floyd and Bowie and one of my first LP purchases was Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, so perhaps it’s no surprise I developed an ear for good music and interesting names.

The seventies brought the cultural explosion of punk and a plethora of weird, memorable or slightly offensive names. Sex seemed to feature quite a bit: The Sex Pistols, The Vibrators, The Slits, et al.

We also had irony and strangeness, with bands like Joy Division, Stiff Little Fingers and the unforgettable Throbbing Gristle.

The eighties gave us Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and The The (a personal fave) while the nineties seemed thinner pickings – Inspiral Carpets, The Stone Roses – maybe I’m forgetting a few good examples. That period is a bit of a blank for some reason..

Getting a bit more up to date, a quick scan of the NME‘s best albums of 2016 yields a few good names that are new to me: The Lemon Twigs, Car Seat Headrest and the rather wonderful Let’s Eat Grandma, surely inspired by that plea for good grammar meme that has been circulating online for a while.

I found a wonderful collection of memorable band names online via Sam Hochberg and I picked a few stand-outs from his list:

He’s Dead Jim
Above Average Weight Band
The Ass Baboons of Venus
The Band Formerly Known As Sausage
Disappointed Parents
Elvis Hitler
God’s Girlfriend
Hornets Attack Victor Mature
Jehovah’s Witness Protection Program
Saturated Fat
Screaming Brocolli
Shirley Temple of Doom
Ultimate Spinach

Check out the full list here, but be warned some of the names may be considered rather tasteless, crude or offensive and are not suitable for those of a sensitive disposition.

What are your favourite band names?
© Copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.
Picture via nationalgeographic.com

12 thoughts on “What’s in a name

  1. I always wanted to start a band called “The Fashionable Melancholy.” (Surprisingly, I’m not even making this up.) I was hampered by having (extremely) limited guitar-playing ability, no songs, and nobody else who wanted to be in my band, which was presumably why I was melancholy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Maybe a bit off topic, but not really, I hope. A tradition for long distance hikers is to receive a Trail Name. (Imagine if agents and groupies and other bands got to pick names)

    Usually Trail Names come from a distinctive personality trait, the know-it-alls become Google, or Wikipedia, the hikers that had close encounters with bears or snakes became “Smokey” or “Rattler.” That kind of thing.

    Anyway, your post reminded me that we sure work hard to come up with unique labels to identify ourselves, but it’s often everybody else that benefits. (we get to have a laugh at the group that calls themselves The Ass Baboons of Venus. but its not going to make me buy their album.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s so very human to play with language in these ways and nicknames are a good example. Growing up my dad would often refer to me and my two brothers randomly as Bill, Fred or George, rather than our actual names. I’m not sure if he was teasing or just incredibly forgetful…

      Liked by 1 person

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