As someone great once said, what’s in a name? Apparently, a hell of a lot if you’re in a band and about to name it. There are thousands of bands today that are trying to make it, and a major chunk of them can probably play better than your band. So what can you do to set yourself apart from the crowd, to make your band stand out from the rest? The easiest way is by naming your band something that sounds cool/memorable/funny/disgusting.
People today have really short attention spans and don’t have enough time to check out your music if your band’s name is something uninteresting or generic. Nobody is going to check out your band if it’s named Black Violence. So here are a few general rules/guidelines that you could keep in mind while naming your band.
One: Never use abstract references. It’s ok to use movie/TV series references, but only if the movie/show in question is popular. So naming your band something like Spock’s Beard is fine. But do not expect people to understand/remember your band name if it’s from a cult 1980s series that only lasted one season and was watched by nobody.
Two: Never use black in the title. Of all the colours, black is the most overused in band names. You could put any word after the word Black and there will already be a band with that name. Especially in metal, there is an abundance of bands which have the word Black in their name. For example: Black Veil Brides, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Dahlia Murder, Black Crowes, Black Flag, The Black Keys, Black Label Society. Black Sabbath get a pass because they were the first to use it. And because they’re Black Sabbath.
Three: Naming your band after food. It is a wonder that Limp Bizkit got so famous. With a name like that, logically they shouldn’t have. However, it seems as if inculcating food in your band name is a good way to make your band famous. For Example: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, Cream, The Cranberries, Blue Oyster Cult, Cake, Pearl Jam. So if someone in your band comes up with “Melting Guacamole,” you should maybe seriously consider it instead of tossing the idea aside.
Four: Naming it something obvious. Unless you’re a pioneer and your band invented metal, please don’t name your band The Metallers or some other such variant. So if you’re a blues band, something like “The Blues Circus” is a complete no-no. Be a little creative and think outside the box. Again, Metallica get a pass because they were highly influential in the development of thrash metal and because they’re Metallica.
Five: Going for irony. The use of irony and sarcasm in a band name is a good idea. However, you have to take care to not be too obvious or too subtle. It’s a fine line and there’s not much of a difference between a good and a bad ironic band name. So if you’re an indie band named “Black Black,” that’s too much. Some bands that seem to have used this formula well are Portugal. The Man, Com Truise, Happy Mondays, Joy Division and The Dear Hunter.
Six: Use of the name of a firearm. The Sex Pistols started it. Guns N’Roses popularized it. Velvet Revolver just copied Gun N’Roses. There is no other band name that has the name of a firearm in it that works. So if you were planning to go ahead and call your band The Uber Uzis, please don’t.
Seven: Use of random words. This is a fairly successful and stress free technique to pick a band name: Write down a bunch of words on different pieces of paper, fold them, shuffle them and then pick two or three pieces of paper and marvel at the result. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus were named this way. So something like Kinshasa Cowboy Shoe could actually work.
Eight: Offensive and use of cuss words. If you want to get really notorious really fast, the easiest way to do so is by naming your something provocative and/or using swear words. There is no quicker way to becoming famous than by creating a huge controversy. For example: N.W.A, Marilyn Manson, Dead Kennedy’s, Hitler Youth and many, MANY more.
There you have it. These are just basic guidelines and obviously if you have enough skills and hard work, you will get a break regardless of what your band is named. But having an advantage never hurts.
FDRMX Eyes: The Hourglass Cats is an Arizona-Based band. Here is their latest music video for “Be That Way.”