What’s In a Band Name by The Grin

How to Name Your Band by Francis ‘The Grin’ Gray

Iron Maiden was inspired by the spiked coffin in the worst days of the inquisition. Kiss were said to be “Knights in Satan Service”. Cannibal or Cannabis Corpse.  An Alice in Chains cover band later known to be Godsmack and Lars Ulrich, who stole Metallica from a friend and suggested he use Metal Mania instead. The first impression can be essential, even when it comes to band names. If I could take you a step further, consider two adjacent tattoo shops. One has a rather bland, mundane sign while the other shows the potential of great art but still modest enough to show the business side. Which shop would you chose?.

I remember having to trick a friend of mine into listening to bands I knew he would like, but never gave the chance because he was under the impression that the a bad name implied low quality music. When it comes to successful bands with bad names, Korn would be one of the first bands that come to mind. Perhaps it was their short, ludicrous and easy to remember name that helped them achieve fame. I don’t know, I just bought the album like everyone else. One still has to wonder, how do bands come up with them?

The last band I was in agreed that we would take our time and come up with a name we all can stand behind. Finding such a combination of words that no one else has used, can be more difficult then expected. It took us three months (more or less) of texting back and around different definitions, with variations, trying to be as original as possible. I brought to everyone’s attention, “From the Fringes”, which is what we used. I feel the explanation of the name attracts attention the band when work, thought and even sometimes research becomes apart of the bands lore. While the music can be heard by one person, they tell their friends about the wicked sounding band they saw at the bar, but they can’t remember the name. Something random at the time reminded me of a book I read in high school. The Chrysalids  by John Wyndham is a story about a post-apocalyptic society that lives closer to the bible and casts out any child born with “blasphemies”, were cast out into the fringes. Now, if the same single person was aware how the band came to that name, they would also have that extra information, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to think, they would spread the word of not only a good book but also the name of a good band.

There are bands with less creative names and I place no attack on Rush, Tool or Queen. Being the legends they are and in the decade they live(d) in, they will never need to justify anything to anyone. However, if I could bring to your attention to “The Undark”… This is a name of my own invention to playfully criticize allot of bands out there, who use the same prefixes and adjectives. The Adicts, The Beatles, and The Forsaken. Undying, Unearth, and Unleashed. Dark Angel, Dark Avenger, Dark Castle, Dark Embrace, Dark Empire, Dark Funeral, Dark Lunacy, Darkthrone, Dark Tranquility, Darkest Era, Darkest Hour, and of course, The Darkness. With that vividly brought into…. light (pun intended), I will pull from my personal archive of names for anyone to consider. Baobhan Sith is a rarely known Scottish vampiric fairy with it’s own interesting legend. Semiramis was one who became Queen of Babylon, and is said to have quite the sex scandal, I feel both would fit well with gothic themed band. If you think it fits with your sound then feel free. Malacoda, who is the leader of the Malebranche is from Dante Alighieri’s “The Inferno”. “The Soul of Nero”, is both an allusion and ripping off Shakespeare in the same go and Fata Morgana seems to have been in use, but you can still sway your progressive style over it.

Final Summation: I feel that a band should place work and carful consideration when choosing their name, because it could make or break an image. There are many people who will still give your band a chance, but why take any unnecessary risk?

Comment below on the best and worst name you have ever heard. For me the best, out of the risk of sounding bias, a local band in my area has chose the name “Sonorous Odium”. As for the worst? “Gay for Johnny Depp”.

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Filed Under: FeaturedCommentary / Editorials

About the Author: Started playing bass at 15. It was Danko Jones who inspired me to play at all, and in a small town I couldn't be picky on what I can get my hands on, so I bought a squire with pride. Obtained a B.C. Rich guitar months later. Moved to the city at 17. At 19 joined my first metal band as a bassist which ended at 20. Joined a bass heavy rock band, which I loved being in whole heartily. I now wait to venture into a new project. For the time being though, I am exploring my abilities as a writer.

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