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By Dusty Ray, Esteemed Satirist, Musical Anthropologist and Certified Tonsil Examiner
What’s in a name? Is it a signifier of identity? Or is it merely an arbitrary organization of meaningless symbols arranged in such a way as to suggest an identity? These questions have nagged humanity for centuries. Names have been used to describe everything from dairy products to planets; from human beings to the subject of this article: “musical bands.”
A “musical band” is a group of people or persons who have felt a calling towards the creation and arrangement of a facet of human expression called the “song.” The motivation to create a song comes from a vast and expansive palette of influences: Throughout the years, “songs” have been created because of love, loss, hope, psychotropic drugs, pets, various vegetables, outer space, cheeseburgers, alcohol, dads, moms and elevators (and moms in elevators). But a song can only express so much about a “musical band” – what hits home first is the name that a given group decides to call themselves.
You might have a “musical band” (or music software and internet access), and you might be wondering how to come up with a fitting moniker. Here are seven simple things to remember when naming your “musical group.”
1. Make sure that your chosen name fits the style of music you play. Satan’s Toothbrush is not an ideal name for a folk group any more than Rocky Mountain Sunrise is a fitting name for a black metal band (though the inherent irony cannot be denied its hipness).
2. Take a popular celebrity or movie and alter their name or title just enough so as to avoid copyright infringement. Here are a few examples: Celine Dijon, The Morgan Freechilds, Planet of the Crepes, The Tokyo Drifters, EraserTed.
3. If you have paid any attention to current “musical groups” that have recently appeared or become popular, you might recognize a formula that guarantees your hipness as an act: Use the color black somewhere in your name. Simply follow the presented template, and you are sure to gain a loyal, yet apathetic following of moustache-donned, ironic-T-shirt clad fans. It’s simple: The Black (insert plural noun here).
4. Going the route of random, nonsensical names also greatly increases your hipness factor by revealing your sense of irony as well as your deeper artistic awareness of the ambiguity of labeling. Here are a few examples (keep in mind that the author has randomly pulled these from his [insert inappropriate body part here], and therefore they are his intellectual property, so hands off!): Slop Jockey, Glasgow Coma, Spray Tan Victim, Moose Unit, Tony Mitchell and the Hate Crimes, Candyland Fatwa, Free Tacos and Beer (this one will greatly increase your audience turnout), The Chunk Brothers/Sisters (note that the members of your act do not necessarily need to be related to have the word brothers or sisters in the title), etc.
5. You might be involved in a “musical band” that solely plays, or “covers” the songs of a previously existing “musical band.” This type of act is called a “tribute band.” When naming your “tribute band,” keep in mind that it is as easy as lifting a song title from the band whose songs you are playing. Be careful and don’t think too hard about naming your “tribute band” – you don’t want to squander the final remaining shreds of creativity, dignity and artistic integrity left in your soul. The following are examples of famously covered bands with corresponding possible “tribute band” names:
• A Led Zeppelin tribute might be called “The Heavenly Stairways.”
• A band that solely covers Rush songs might go by “2112: A Prog Odyssey.”
• A Grateful Dead tribute act could be called “Grateful Dead Cover Band # 4,263.”
• A band that plays Pink Floyd-esque renditions of Star Wars theme music might be called “Mooning the Dark Side.”
• A tribute act of The Eagles could take the name “The Unlistenables.”
6. Follow some simple literary rules when naming your “musical band.” Don’t use too many syllables, as this can become a strain on “I heard of them first” conversations. Utilize alliteration sparingly; after all, nobody actually likes tongue twisters. Keep self-aggrandizement at the forefront – that means be esoteric in naming your group – or at least make it seem like you’re being esoteric.
7. If you started the band and currently a) write most of the songs and b) hog the spotlight with a whimsical arrogance, simply use the following template when naming your band: (Your name) and the (plural noun).
Remember, imagine your “musical band” as a business/institution, and treat naming it as such. You wouldn’t name a restaurant “Griller’s Poison Shack,” and you would avoid naming a hospital “Our Lady of Malpractice,” so steer clear of names like Tone Deaf or Bad Taste when naming your “musical band.” Your name is your selling point: Make sure it leaves a pleasant (and perhaps somewhat salty) taste in listeners’ ears.