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What's In A Name? 

Band name do's and don'ts. Well ... just don'ts.

So you've got a new band. You've got a solid lineup. You've got a set's worth of songs. You've got everything but a name. At last count, there were more than 2.3 million bands in America. (Or something like that, hell, I don't know. Anyway, it's a lot.) And most of you don't know it, but you could be seriously hampering your potential for exposure simply by not having given enough thought to what you should call yourselves. Some bands have names that make people think they'll break up tomorrow. Names with "creative" spelling that promoters and fans (and show-listing compilers, hint hint) can't get right on flyers and Google searches. Names that bands in every other city in the country are also using. We've seen more than enough to make us suppose we've seen it all. So let us help by humbly offering the following red flags with regard to not just what you call yourselves, but the fulcrum upon which the public's perception of you hinges.

Don't Make It A Joke
Calling your band Thurston Howell The Turd sounds like a hilarious idea when you're sitting around the bong and everybody's already mercilessly mocked all your sincere ideas. Right now, you might think you're only going to play one or two gigs at parties or opening for a friend's group. But bands have a way of snowballing. If you have a great first show, somebody's gonna come up and ask you to play a show they're booking. If there's a band on that bill from another city and they like you, they might ask you to do a couple of out-of-town shows with them. By then, you won't want to change the name because people are starting to know who you are. And before you know it, Carson Daly's asking you where you happened to come up with a name like Fozzle McNutty & The Scatmunchers.

Glaring Exception: The Sheryl Cro-Mags
You're never going to come up with anything even nearly that good.

Don't Use One Of Your Favorite Bands' Song Titles
Lifting a short, particularly evocative phrase from a treasured book is one thing. Appropriating a poignant, semi-obscure swatch of lyrics from a venerable songwriter is pushing it a bit, but those with artsy verve can pull it off. Taking a song title and applying it to your project, however, is wrong in more ways than we actually have room to list here. We'll just state the obvious: Dude, you guys could be the greatest punk-blues act in the history of music, but if you're called Wish You Were Here, as far as the entire world knows, you're a freakin' Pink Floyd tribute band.

Glaring Exception: Tribute Bands
Well, duh.

Don't Use One Of Your Own Song Titles
Seriously, it happens more often than you think. Maybe it's the result of a subconscious desire to have one's own theme music. Who knows? Always a bad idea, though. And while we're on the subject, don't ever reverse the whole rigmarole and name a song after your band, either.

Glaring Exception: Night Ranger
Untouchable.

Don't Go With The First Thing You See Lying Around
Most young, diehard music fans do almost all of their digging for new-band info on the Web. Have you ever plugged "Spigot" or even "Spigot band" into a search engine? Nobody's gonna wade through 14,000 sites on home improvement looking for mention of your group. Sure, Nail is a great name, but you have to make it easy for new fans to find you. If you're really stuck on simple, everyday images, you can try doubling them up to create an interesting juxtaposition -- Drywall Holiday, Canister Bag -- but the likelihood of triggering Involuntary Emo Association Syndrome, or IEAS, rises exponentially. So does the possibility of coming up with some truly shitty names.

Glaring Exception: Bands That Practice In Really Weird Places
It all depends on what's lying around, really. Speculum? Gramophone? Hell, yeah.

Don't Paint Yourself Into A Corner

Nobody has ever said to a friend, "Hey, have you seen Corpserapist recently? They're not really death metal anymore -- it's more of a jam-band thing."

Glaring Exception: Vanilla Ice
Change doesn't necessarily denote improvement.

Don't Go Over Four Words
This one's more a suggestion than a steadfast rule, but in most cases, the shorter and punchier, the better. I'm not saying Fiona Apple would still be around if her second album's title had been composed of four words instead of, like, 70. I'm just saying that Godspeed! You Black Emperor is kind of pushing the edge of what fits comfortably in one's mouth, and Where Fear and Weapons Meet is, er, just plain dumb.

Glaring Exception: Names That Shorten Well
Trail of Dead. SCOTS. Coincidence? Don't be thick.

Don't Add A "The" And An "S" To Any Old One-Syllable Noun
Because all of the good ones are taken. Because you're not sure you're ready to be burdened with the responsibility of "a look." Because none of your instruments were made before The Matrix, much less the 70s. Because on you, ironically self-conscious sincerely unselfconscious cool comes off as needy. But mostly because no matter how good you were, there'd always be one thing missing -- and that one thing would be a time machine set for the year 2000.

Glaring Exception: Foreigners
That's it. Foreigners.

Don't Use An Online Band-Name Generator
You know, those cheesy Websites (like http://bandnamemaker.shapebyforce.com) that kick out ridiculous monikers at random. They didn't put a "For Entertainment Purposes Only" disclaimer up only because they thought it was obvious, people.

Glaring Exception: The Golden Coyotes
Now I just need the musicians. Thank you, Internet.

Don't Agree That It Should Just Be Your Lead Guitarist's Last Name
One band pulled it off. ONE BAND. Compared to the literally thousands of groups dumb or submissive enough to follow suit. Some enjoyed fleeting notoriety, most never made it past their local bar scene, and all of them are now completely and utterly forgotten. You're almost certainly getting guitar lessons from a victim of woefully hyperbolic confidence.

Glaring Exception: Oh, come on
Then again, it is about time somebody stepped up.

Don't Include A Day Of The Week In Any ContextJust don't. And as a matter of fact, months are off-limits too.

Glaring Exception: None

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