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Sunday, March 29, 2009

alan cross blogs about band names

From the best music geek out there, Alan Cross' official blog.

If you have ever formed a band, you’ll know that one of the first things you have to do is also the most tortuous. I’m talking about finding a name for your group.

Getting the right name is unbelievably important. Think about what’s at stake.

First, you have to get everyone in your group to agree on a name. That’s easier said than done. But let’s say you can do that. This is where the real fun starts.

Your name has to somehow embody what your band is all about. it has to fit somehow with the music you make; it has to work with the image you want to convey; it can hint at what you sound like, where you’re from, your background, your beliefs and values, your politics, your influences and even your dreams and aspirations.

In other words, it has to convey everything you are and hope to be in no more than a few words. And until you become worldwide superstars, you’ll use your name to convey all this information to complete strangers in a very crowded place.

From a marketing point of view, your name has to lend itself to good graphic design. I mean, you want a cool logo, right? And we all know how important logos are.

And finally, it has to be unique. One band per name. If someone else already has dibs on the name you chose, too bad for you. You gotta start again or risk legal action. “Hey–you stole our name! We’re gonna sue!” It happens–and it happens a lot.

Bottom line is that finding the right name for your band is one of the most difficult creative exercises you and your mates will ever tackle. But it’s gotta be done.

There are great names—Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Nine Inch Nails—and there are not-so-great names. The Beatles was a play on “beetles” (as in the bugs) plus “crickets” (Buddy Holly’s band—and more bugs) and the beat poetry/beatnik scene of the late 1950s. Still, it seemed to work for them, right?

This week’s Friday Challenge was to come up with a list of the goofiest band names in the world. We wanted to hear from you about actual touring and recording bands who have ridiculous handles—but that intentional or otherwise.

In addition to what we had on the radio show today (Dayglo Abortions, Minus the Bear, The Floor is Made of Lava—see the show notes for details), here’s what you suggested.

1. Chocolate Bunnies from Hell: Long-serving band from Winnipeg,
2. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: Really. What were you smoking?
3. Pop Will Eat Itself: This is a twofer. Their name comes from an NME review about a band called Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine.
4. Revolting Cocks and One Thousand Homo DJs: Both side projects of Ministry’s Al Jourgensn. Need I say more?
5. Lard: A Jello Biafra thing he did outside the Dead Kennedys)
6. Rainbow Butt Monkeys: CChanging their name to “Finger 11” did wonders for their career, didn’t it?
7. …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead: Remember to include those all-important points of ellipses at the beginning. They drive iTunes crazy.
8. Toad the Wet Sprocket: Yes, it’s from a Monty Python skit, but it’s still dumb.
9. The Brian Jonestown Massacre: A poor taste pun. I still like it, though.
10. Black Moth Super Rainbow: Apparently, they used to exist in