What makes a great band name

It’s takes you off balance when your girlfriend says, “I love you, but I hate your band names.”

It’s a tricky business naming a band. Ideally a band name is instantly memorable, easily searchable and entirely encompassing of the ethos of your music. Then, when you have a perfect you have to change it because, hey, there are already some clowns calling themselves “The Rolling Stones.”

Uniqueness is a tough criteria. Hip hop takes it one direction: how many other people are going to name themselves “Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em”? Then again, try spelling that the right way the first time. Rock bands tend to take the three random word approach (“Stone Temple Pilots”, “Neutral Milk Hotel”) but it takes some real doing to remember those off the bat. Another trend is to go for almost comically long names that are humerous/evocative. I’m thinking of “And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead”, “My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult” and (ugh) “Yo Mamma’s Big Fat Booty Band”.

Really, how bad are the names of my bands? Whereas I know that “Sexy Prime” is a math term and “Coverhogs” are people who steal the blankets during the night, they sound like names of cock-rock and cover bands (respectively).

They’ve got some good qualities, though: Short. Easy to spell. I own both the xxxxx.com and myspace.com/xxxxx names (which is more than a minor coup these days.) Searching on either gets top or near-top listings.

I asked Ryan from Yep Roc what he thought. “I don’t think that a bad name can really hurt a good band. Look at Death Cab for Cutie?” And for that matter, look at “Connor Oberst.” That name’s terrible.

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1 Comment

  1. Another approach would be picking a name that doesn’t mean anything, so that you can then fill it up with meaning yourself. I’m thinking of “Vampire Weekend”, “Of Montreal” or “Bob Dylan”.

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