So your band is starting to not sound like crap and your friends
are asking you to play at so-and-so’s birthday party. It’s time to
unify your posse of noise pollution with a singular name. But you
better take some time to generate a memorable and distinctive band
name before you tattoo something stupid on yourself.
“Sometimes bands seem to go out of their way to give themselves
a horrible name,” said Karl Alvarez, ALL bassist and Fort Collins
native. “The Bad Yodelers, for example, that was a band I played
for with a terrible name.”
After 22 years in the music business, Alvarez, 50, has seen
countless bands come and go, and he knows the importance of having
a solid band name.
“We got the name ALL after our drummer Bill was off on a fishing
trip with a friend and they hit this round of mackerel,” Alvarez
said. “They were in this tiny canoe and Bill was reeling in fish
faster than his buddy could bring them into the boat. He caught so
many fish that it started swamping the boat so his buddy was
telling him ‘no more’ and Bill said, ‘No … ALL … We’re going
for all.’ They came home with their fishing story and we all
thought that it made a great name.”
Other groups have similar stories of their name’s origin.
“Our whole band was in Tibet trying to find ourselves
spiritually,” said Justin Duran, vocalist of A-Void. “One night, we
were in this little bar, drinking sake, and this drunk old man came
and sat with us. He was blind and had this long white beard, so he
was really intense looking. We started talking with him and he told
us that he had a prophecy for us. He leaned in and said, ‘Good
fortune lies ahead, but avoid the bad acid.’ We all thought it was
hilarious and decided to adopt ‘avoid’ as our name.”
Many bands are formed through high school friendships and the
group members get to experience growing up together.
“The band 98 Mute got their name because they were friends as
kids,” Alvarez said. “When they were teens, they would try to watch
channel 98, which was the porn channel, at their parent’s house.
They had to mute the volume so they wouldn’t get caught.”
Every band has to have its humble beginnings. Before there are
groupies and personal recording studios, there is jamming in the
parent’s garage for drunken friends and dealing with disgruntled
family members and neighbors.
The band Less Than Jake obtained its name because of a similar
The band used to practice at a parent’s house but would
continuously have to stop because the noise would upset the
family’s spoiled pet dog named Jake, according to Alvarez.
“We’re less than Jake around here,” the band would say, and its
name was born, Alvarez said.
Proper selection of a quality band name has more importance than
just having cool looking T-shirts and a cool logo on the side of
the band’s van. It also plays an important role in helping
listeners to retain a memory of the band and encourages them to
come and see a performance or buy an album.
“A unique name helps you stand out from all the other bands out
there,” said Chris Shellenberg, former guitarist of Suburbia’s
Finest. “If you have a name that separates you, people are more
likely to come see your show.”
So don’t be lazy through the naming process, because when the
band breaks up after a fight occurred when the drummer slept with
the bassist’s girlfriend, and the band falls apart, that perfect
band name will still remain for all time.