Ten ways to come up with a kickass band name

Categories: Lists

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Motörhead, umlaut intended.

Many musicians insist that one of the most difficult parts of creating a successful band is finding just the right name. Truth is, naming a band is easy. No matter what spirit an outfit hopes to evoke with its handle, there's a vast history of tradition and iconography waiting behind nearly every stylistic or thematic choice. Here's a handy guide to finding the perfect name for the band that's going to change the world as soon as it settles on the perfect name.

See also:
- Flashlights is now FLASH/LIGHTS
- Thee Dang Dangs talk raw music and their strange band name
- What does Google think of your band name?

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Eric Gruneisen
Thee Oh Sees at the Gothic Theatre.

10. Change 'the' to 'thee'
Thee Oh Sees are doing it. Thee Goblins are doing it. Heck, even Denver's own Thee Dang Dangs are doing it. Heading up a group's name with the archaic "Thee" instead of that boring ol' "The" is a time-honored rock and/or roll tradition. Japanese garage-rockers Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, their name largely a mispronunciation of The Damned's Machine Gun Etiquette, stuck a 'Thee' at the beginning and went to town. They were also probably nodding to their heroes, British garage group Thee Headcoats, who themselves may have been paying homage to the '60s band Thee Midniters. Whatever its origins, this is a move that says, "We emphasize the mundane, we embrace the mistakes and we don't take ourselves too seriously. Except for we kinda do, 'cause we're nodding to some real music geekery here."

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Tom Murphy
Tame Impala at the Bluebird.

9. Reference the majesty of nature
Not unlike the way we pave over natural wonders then name suburban subdivisions after them, an animal band name says, "We're paying tribute to nature, even though we don't ever really hang out in it or see it anymore." Let's face it: It's mostly urban dwellers who are naming themselves after bears and trees. Think: Grizzly Bear, Frog Eyes, Tame Impala, Wye Oak, Deerhunter, Deerhoof, Deer Tick, White Fang, Red Fang, Black Tusk. As our cities grow and we plunge further down the rabbit hole of technology, our mushy human brains fight to hold on to some subconscious connection to the natural world whence we came. What else would explain that ironic revival of T-shirts emblazoned with howling wolves and majestic sea turtles?

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Brandon Marshall
Blink-182 at Comfort Dental Amphitheatre (now Fiddler's Green).

8. Throw in a number
Sometimes the one perfect word that effortlessly captures a band's unique magic isn't quite enough. Maybe it's already taken by another group, or maybe it's too insignificant to really stand out on its own. Either way, why not throw in a number? Take that little nugget of a word and simply add an arbitrary string of digits. If this strategy seems similar to choosing an AOL screen name, that's because it is! It's exactly the same! Some complete masterpieces of numerical naming include Eve 6, Matchbox 20, Demolition 23, Sum 41, Prefuse 73, Blink 182 and Isotope 217 -- each a more inspiring example than the last.


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7 comments
DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter


                           Dönkey Hötay 666 !


David Kotzebue
David Kotzebue

I hate musicians in uniform who haven't earned their stripes.

John Dalby
John Dalby

The fact that "Wild Stallyns", which was a fictional band in the "Bill and Ted" movie thing means the author of this article doesn't know anything about what he is writing about. Westword, you should be ashamed by this article. Bad research = bad story. BOO!!!

Todd Divel
Todd Divel

well.... Motorhead already took the best band name ever.

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