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It's interesting where bands find their names...


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Weird band names

by Phil Houseal
April 20, 2011

When I was a teenager back in Wellman, Iowa, every time I drove up 8th Avenue to visit my friend Ricky Fuhr, I passed a rural mailbox marked boldly with the owner’s name “Ida Bull.” Now dear old Ida was undoubtedly a pillar of the community, but Rick always thought her name would make a great name for a heavy metal rock band.

He would mimic the announcer in a packed arena - “And now, please welcome... (dramatic pause)... IDA BULL!!!” - followed by simulated crowd roar.

It was funny to me because I always imagined a sweet old woman in a floral house frock and slippers shuffling out on stage, setting down her cup of tea and picking up a Gibson Flying V guitar.

Anyway... that got me to thinking about a challenge every musician faces before designing the poster for their first gig: What do we name this band? That’s no easy task. You want the name to instantly capture the nuance and power of your unique talents you are about to unleash on your adoring public, while being memorable and clever.

So - to research how other musicians have approached this task - I typed “weird band names” into the search bar. Like any fringe, esoteric, unnecessary topic these days, 108,000 responses popped up. Herewith, my favorites...

Some aspiring musicians pulled their names from popular advertising:
The Advil Monkeys
4 Out of 5 Doctors
Cap'n Crunch and the Cereal Killers

Food inspired some, which makes sense since musicians starting a band are usually starving:
A Box of Fish with Tartar Sauce
Half Man, Half Biscuit
Hey Look Lettuce!
Ice Cream Headache
Tastes Like Chicken
The Yams from Outer Space
The Tortillas You Wanted
Turkey Makes Me Sleepy

Some hungry singers injected an international flair:
Fromage d'Amour

Some got philosophical about food:
If Pigs Could Talk Would You Still Eat Them

(Remember, these are real names of real bands)

Some were indiscriminate:
Here, Eat This!

Others, discriminate:
Gee That's A Large Beetle I Wonder If It's Poisonous

And then there is thirst:
Free Beer
I’ve heard that one before... the theory being you’d always turn out an enthusiastic crowd with that phrase on the marquee.

Pop culture celebrities seem to find their way into band names:
Mary Tyler Morphine
Norman Bates and the Shower Heads
Shirley Temple of Doom
The Veronica Cartwrights
Cindy Brady's Lisp
Vic Tayback and the Violent Payback
He's Dead Jim

(I love that one for its parenthetical reference to the 60s TV show Star Trek)
The Hugh Beaumont Experience
That last one is only funny if you know Hugh Beaumont was the actor who played the Beav’s dad. And that’s only funny if you know the Beav was the kid on the TV show Leave It To Beaver. Which, when you think about it, is a really weird name for a TV show, especially in the 1950s.

Some bands were - as was Ricky with Ida Bull - inspired by the random names of those around them.
My Friend Kevin
Ned's Atomic Dustbin
A Band Named Bob

Some are just random:
Congratulations on Your Decision to Become A Pilot
Hello I'm A Truck
Here Are the Facts You Requested
Jiggle the Handle

Some are autobiographical - some disturbingly so:
Icky Boyfriends
The Kids Who Never Learned To Color Inside the Lines
Grandpa's Become a Fungus
Once I Killed a Gopher With a Stick
Results of Inbreeding

Some descriptive:
Not Drowning, Waving

Then there are the bad pun bands:
Poultry in Motion
Frank Snotra

I dunno. I think you’d tire of these after, oh, about the third time you said them.

Raise your hand if you agree the following would have been a better name for the Plastic Ono Band:
Seven Minutes of Screaming

And who wouldn’t want to listen to Shoot the Mime?

I know they were popular and successful, but I never embraced The Band as a band name. It struck me either as elitist, or that they just gave up trying to think of a name. On the other hand, you gotta love the minimalist feel of The The.

The Total Population of China - apparently a very large ensemble.

The Vast Void of Empty Nothingness - apparently a rather small group.

Some creative types cast their eyes to history for inspiration:
When People Were Shorter and Lived By the Water

Some just dig through their underwear drawer:
Big White Undies
Are These My Pants?

I was in one band that could have answered this question:
Who Carries the Organ?

Willie Nelson Mandela
Wonder what style of music they play? That’s a question you needn’t ask of Beerbellied Scum From Central Bucks County.

And the one I wish I’d thought of:
James, What Are We Gonna Call Our Band?

We even had a guy named James.