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Bad names for bands

March 11, 2011
Jim Anderson

Sometimes I try to think up awful names for bands.

It's harder, I'm convinced, to come up with bad names than good ones.

In the '80s, a couple of bands named Ratt and Poison thrived in similar circles. No one gave it a thought.

And we have been numb since.

The lineup for this summer's Graspop festival in Belgium includes Heaven Shall Burn, Bullet for My Valentine, Cradle of Filth and Sweet 'N Salty Mix.

Right, I made that last one up. Thought it might scare you.

Near as I can tell, the only musician to have a moniker rejected was Prince. He began substituting an unintelligible symbol for his name. So people called him "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince."

Otherwise, we're dutiful as circus animals. When Ke$ha started spelling her name with a dollar sign, everyone complied, even the Wall Street Journal. It's enough to make $teve Job$ jealous.

Deer hunters are well-suited to come up with bad names for bands. A hunter is gifted with time and inspiration. To wit:

- Squirrel in a Hurry.

- Bow and Sparrow.

- No Stinkin' Horns.

- Man My Gut Aches.

When I mentioned the topic of this column to Kevin Fraker of the local band Next Myle, he offered, "Cross Canadian Ragweed." I looked it up and learned that Cross Canadian Ragweed is a group out of Texas. Well, of course.

I still like: Got Ketchup On My Sorels.

The true test of a bad name, I believe, is this: A young man is chatting with a young lady. He tells her that he's a band member and, mildly impressed, she asks, "What's the name of your band?"

And he says, "The Tupperware Specials."

Are you seeing it now? How difficult it is to come up with a bad name?

Flash quiz: Three quick, plausible names. The Faucets. The Plausibles. The Sheet Metal Screws.

Turns out there is a band called the Faucets, out of New Zealand. They play gothic/jungle/trance. They have 114 friends on myspace.

Also, the Leaky Faucets Band is a bluegrass group from Dripping Springs, Texas. For a gig at Patsy's Cowgirl Cafe in Austin, they said: "Be there or be SQUARE!!!"

Dude, where's my straw hat.

The Beatles, arguably, are the greatest band, and may or may not have the greatest name.

I'll say this. You could tuck yourself in a cave for a hundred years and never come up with a better insect pun. It wasn't always that way. Some of the early names for the lads assembled around John Lennon were the Quarry Men and Johnny and the Moondogs.

My favorite name for a modern band is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Grace Potter, on its own, is blase, and the Nocturnals is nearly cheesy. Together, though, it's kind of ooh-la-la.

A local band with a good, dry title was Community Service. I think they were from Felch. I liked their name, but never made it out to see them. Perhaps if they had gotten into some gothic/jungle/trance/a little more cowbell ... .

When I'm ambitious, I try to think up bad names for girl bands. For some reason, a lot of them include the word "hairy." When I arrived at the Hairy Potters, I pretty much quit.

Apparently, no bands are named the Plausibles. There's a Los Angeles outfit named Tony Waters & the Plausibles. Their genre is electronica/experimental/other. They have 37 friends on myspace and no upcoming shows. Which is odd. After a tough day, most everyone unwinds to "other."

The Plausible Horse Brigade (or the artists formerly known as Nemisto) are based in the U.K. They have 15 friends on myspace and no upcoming shows.

Guys, really, ever hear of facebook?

Degenerate as the globe may be, I suppose it's always possible to come up with awful names simply by being gross. Careful, pilgrims. Stray too far and the Iowa band Slipknot will accost you and tap your brain waves. (Seriously, it was on Huckabee.)

Anyway, if you're thinking of building a home recording studio, sheet metal screws come in a variety of sizes.

As for the next great insect-named band? Ants on the Ground, sorry to say, has already been taken. A hunter must have beaten us to it.

Jim Anderson's e-mail address is



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