Does every adolescent go through a “decorate your notebooks with your favorite band names” phase? I know I sure did. And it went deeper than that for me. When classmates were going to parties and drinking beer, I went to slumber parties with close friends who had a similar infatuation with band names, logos and drawing. And it didn’t matter if they were real or made-up. We’d sit around for hours with our drawing pads recreating logos for groups like Dokken and Winger, and (it goes without saying) the winged “VH” logo for Van Halen. Likewise we’d design logos for our made-up bands too, with cheesy names like Equinox and Felony and Swift Kik and Problem Child.
Fast forward to 2020. Somehow my fascination with band names has followed me. For at least a decade, probably more, we’ve been playing The Band Name Game in our house, an exercise I use to drive my family crazy.
Every now and then, someone on TV, and in rarer cases, someone in the room, will utter a phrase that has the magical quality of a band name… a rhythmic delivery, uncommon combination of words, obscure pop culture reference or mental imagery. The challenge is training your ears and brain to work together to acknowledge the magnetic utterance in real time. When it happens in our house, I’m usually the first to recognize it and I respond by first repeating the phrase, then saying “that would be a great name for band.” That is usually followed by my teenager’s exasperated “Awwww, Dad!” with an eye roll, because nothing is uncooler than a Dad who thinks he’s clever.
My kid’s embarrassment notwithstanding, I have been keeping a list. For six years. I’ve actually been taking notice of potential band names for a lot longer than that, but for the last six years I’ve been diligently writing them down, a list which is now at nearly 50 names. I sifted through them recently and I’ve selected what I believe are 11 of the best.
You decide. If you were suddenly discovered as the next big thing on YouTube, would any of these be a great name for your band?
Sirens This Morning
This name was inspired by a summer thunderstorm that caused the civil defense sirens to go off one morning and my groggy acknowledgment, “Sirens this morning…” mumbled to my wife on my way to the kitchen to get coffee, struck me as a good name for a band.
I saw someone mention “Desert Weddings” as a band name on Twitter and I thought it was better if you drop the second ‘s’ to make it singular. What kind of band would Desert Wedding be? Southern Rock? Country Rock like the Eagles?
Smirkin’ Judas is an expression used by Bette Davis in 1964’s Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte and it struck me as a great name for a boogie-woogie strut and swagger band ala Aerosmith. However, if you drop the apostrophe at the end of “Smirkin,” I think it could double as a made-up stagename for an individual artist, like Alice Cooper or Bob Dylan or The Weeknd.
Steam Candy Factory
There was actually a place in my town nearly a century ago known as the “Steam Candy Factory.” Need I say more? What a great name for a band. Also, whatever steam candy is, I want all of it in my mouth.
There are a lot of names on this list but this one is in the top 5 for me. I love the simplicity of the phrase “The Late.” It’s only seven letters and it says so much. Originally I thought of this as a band name due to the press’ tendency to refer to the dearly departed as “the late Eugene Johnson,” or “the late author,” etc… Saying “We are The Late” is the same as saying “We are the dead,” and that’s edgy and cool, I think. Upon further reflection, it could also refer to people who don’t show up on time, and for me it conjures images of a sporty logo ala “Late Night with David Letterman” before he left NBC.
This is my favorite name on the list for what must be a country or southern rock band, right? Out in The Badlands, there’s a place called Burning Hills Amphitheatre and this name was inspired by it. Imagine shouting into a microphone “We are Burning Hills. Thank you, Cleveland. GOOD NIGHT!”
Forgetting Minnesota seems like the title of the Coen Brothers’ classic Raising Arizona… like it’s a statement about a person. “I dated this girl named Minnesota once, but she wrecked my motorcycle and ran off with my Uncle Delroy.”
Sounds like she’s a girl best forgotten.
Jiggle the Handle
I remember a band called Jiggle the Handle coming through town years ago and playing the local clubs. Are they still together? If not, here’s your chance to steal their name with a phrase every person in the developed world has uttered at one time or another.
This is not necessarily an uncommon phrase but imagine the possibilities. You could advertise your gigs with “Going to see that other band tonight? Don’t. It’s not Rocket Science.“
Depending on the Weather
This name strikes me as a two-piece acoustic group, a guy on piano and a girl sitting on a barstool with her guitar performing original Adult Contemporary songs with a few Richard Marx and Natalie Merchant and Adele cover songs thrown-in.
I should say, there was a time when I would come up with these and then go check to make sure nobody had taken that name already, but I stopped doing that after the first dozen, so there is a possibility someone has claimed these names since then. If they haven’t, you have my permission to steal one of these (as long as your hire me to design your marketing/album art). Nothing would thrill me like finding out someone thought my band name was good enough to steal. 🙂
What do you think? Would you use one of these for your band?