What's in a (band) name?

Band names. There are so many things that you can do with them - unless you're a solo performer (in which case it's perfectly acceptable to perform under your own name, less so to choice a naff alias). Your band name should be a mission statement, reflection of your style or attitude, or something similarly memorable. It helps to have the following attributes:

  1. Brevity. You want to be able to fit your band name on even the smallest poster, so calling yourselves 'The Fantastic Inflatable Mr Onion and His Party Posse' is probably not going to do it. Sorry, skippy, it's not the Sixties anymore.
  2. Impact. You want to be able to be memorable, ideally without being too confrontational (unless you don't mind explaining to your mum's friends that you play in a band called Anal Cunt). By the way, it probably helps if you're able to print your band name in a font that can be read by anyone. Your average Black Metal band insists on using a font called Angry Bracken, which is okay by itself but if you're on a gig poster with five other acts, all with spiky writing, it seems unfortunate to have to ask someone which collection of pointy letters pertains to which band. But I digress...
  3. Under NO circumstances include the following words in your band name: 'Funk', 'Blueshammer', 'Soul', 'Hillbilly', 'Swamp', 'Jive', 'Explosion', or 'Boogie'.
  4. Are you the main singer/songwriter/lead guitarist/manager? Good. Do everyone a favour and DON'T NAME YOUR BAND 'THE [Your name] BAND'. You don't need any more credit for putting a band together. Put your ego away and let the band name speak for itself.

Let me provide a bit of personal context: I've had a bunch of bands, and at no point have I felt the need to put my name front and centre (with one exception). Yes, I'm an introvert, but my point stands. Amongst my band names:

  • The Lamingtons (a joke, and yet one of the more fun ones)
  • Highly Unlikely (entirely accurate)
  • Prion (the rogue proton which causes Mad Cow Disease. Funnier to me than anyone I had to explain it to)
  • Chimaera Six (because there were six of us and we had a range of styles, again requiring more explanation than it was worth)
  • LCD (note: NOT LCD Soundsystem, which would have gotten us in a spot of legal bother, but Lowest Common Denominator. On reflection, I shouldn't have even tried with this one)
  • Sophie and the Realistic Expectations (named for our singer, and taking the piss out of the usual Motown suspects like Martha and the Vandellas and Diana Ross and the Supremes. We didn't want to get people's hopes up too high)
  • Captain Pete and the Portholes (okay, to be fair: I didn't name this band, I was merely an accomplice, and had we played more than one gig I would have insisted on a name change)
  • The Skanky Bitch Review (my covers band from working at McDonald's. Yes, we were really called that, and we only played one gig. Thankfully.)

So, if I have a particular weakness in band names, it's that I tend to over-think. But what can one do when so many of the good names are taken? The Rolling Stones is perhaps the perfect rock'n'roll name for the perfect rock'n'roll band.

My latest band name is Neverwoz, which comes from a lyric from a Loudon Wainwright III song:

If the day off doesn't get you, then the bad reviewer does
At least you've been a has-been, and not just a never-was

...a little bit of whimsy and self-mocking pity that stuck with me for over ten years before I decided to do something with it. I knew it would be my new project when I told a former girlfriend about my idea for a new band name. "What will you call it?" she asked. "Neverwoz" I replied. "That's really stupid!" she said. Fortunately, she was a horrible human being and I am confident in finding the right answer to most things 180 degrees from her view.

Neverwoz is catchy, short, part of a mission statement '...the greatest band that Neverwoz!' and has the added bonus of being vague enough to cover a range of emotions, with a smidgen of cynicism and despair. Just the way I like it.