Produced by

What's In A Name?

Monday, April 11, 2011

In the age of a far-reaching internet and high-stakes trademark disputes, new band titles have become notoriously difficult to come by. But does that excuse handles like “Babe Rainbow,” “Wakey! Wakey!” or “Ham Sandwich”? Chris Richards of the Washington Post joins us to discuss whether we have reached the new nadir of names. (P.S. Don’t even bother Googling it- The New Nadir is already taken.) Plus, linguistics professor Michael Adams of Indiana University gives us a lesson in onomastics, or the study of proper names.


Michael Adams and Chris Richards

Comments [62]

Marta from Texas

Medical terms ... A Palpable Thrill, Decerebrate Posturing, Frank Dysentery, Bloody Viscera, Incompatible With Life, Hollow Viscus Injury, The Myoclonic Jerks ... just get out your Harrison's or Tintinalli's, plug in, rave on

Apr. 19 2011 10:12 AM
Kate in New York

To the producers of Soundcheck: I think that if you have reverted to doing a segment on this subject it suggests you need to some fresh thinking about your programming. Or perhaps it's a sign that you've tapped out on the whole topic of bands, especially those that need a brand -- instead of a distinctive and winning sound -- in order to be recognized.

The world of music is HUGE and with the exception of bands, most musicians use their own names and focus more on the music than this topic, which I frankly think is vapid.

Apr. 12 2011 04:00 PM
bashie from new york city

Does the addition of females and multicultural
musicians effect the names that bands have? Maybe this is effecting the way the group thinks?

Apr. 11 2011 10:34 PM
Liz from New Jersey

I don't care a lot about band names, what I hate is stupid spellings. Like using "y" instead of "i" or backwards letters. That seems really lame and forced. I see it more in hip hop than other places but it really is not genre specific.

But hands down, the worst band name EVER is Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel. There is no #2 that is even close. Of course, I will never forget the band's name but I also never ever wanted to listen to them or purchase their albums.

Apr. 11 2011 03:27 PM
Charlie Roberts from Highlands, NJ

I think that The Beatles actually outgrew their name. It was fine for the early "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" stuff but it almost didn't fit on later releases such and Sgt. Pepper's . . .

Apr. 11 2011 02:48 PM

Dreadful name: Toad the Wet Sprocket.

Never listened to them, never will.

Apr. 11 2011 02:41 PM
rich k from UCNJ

You're missing a major part of band naming - shout outs to their influences. Beatles = Crickets. Rolling Stones = Muddy Waters and the blues. The Doors - Aldous Huxley.
Or irony - Joy Division - dark, minor modality music and a reference to Nazi forced prostitution.
That being said, one of my favorite unknowns was Thick Pigeon.

Apr. 11 2011 02:40 PM

I've always hated the name Death Cab for Cutie and that's half the reason I don't listen to them (also I think they're pretty boring).

Apr. 11 2011 02:40 PM
Charlie Roberts from Highlands, NJ

Does anybody know the story behind that band name Death Cab For Cutie?

Apr. 11 2011 02:39 PM

Who is the artist and song of the "fiiififonana banana" song in the interlude?

Apr. 11 2011 02:38 PM
Charlie Roberts from Highlands, NJ

The Name Game . . . let's do Chuck!!!

Apr. 11 2011 02:37 PM
art525 from partk slope

I hate names that are sentences like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or You Shall Know Us Whatever. THere was a good one years and years ago that I loved- John do you remember When People Were Smaller and Lived by The Water. Best names though are ones that have a good meaning. The Eurythmics, Joy Division, Duran Duran. I also love Talking Heads and Bush Tetras. And I do think that Depeche Mode was a good name.

Apr. 11 2011 02:37 PM
tom from hudson valley

FYI, "Painted Betty" is a euphemism for bleached p****c hair, according to one of the band's members

Apr. 11 2011 02:35 PM
Fluffy Mother from NYC

We're proud of our band name - Fist of Kindness. We had to take the project seriously.

Apr. 11 2011 02:35 PM

I hate it when they make their band name unsearchable. Sure, it's probably supposed to be funny and counter-cultural in some post-modern way like that French philosopher who had the covers of his book made out of sandpaper so it corrodes the other books next to it on the shelf but... that's not good marketing for music! There was some disco band from Brooklyn (of course...) called "Escort" which as you can imagine is pretty sketchy to search for...I'm like come on man I want to buy your music but you're not making it easy here...

Apr. 11 2011 02:35 PM
lunah from philly

can we at least all agree that the worst band names are the ones w/an indie movie as their namesake. i'm looking at you "me, you, and everyone we know."

Apr. 11 2011 02:33 PM
susy from Manhattan

I actually heard Talking To Animals at The Middle East a long time ago. They were GREAT and the vocalist was incredible. I never forgot her voice. : )

Apr. 11 2011 02:33 PM


We were promised Jet Packs

Apr. 11 2011 02:33 PM
Gary from NYC

Thanks for the ideas. Now I can't decide between "Bear Ghost Moon " or "Ghost Moon Bear" for that sure fire hit name!

Apr. 11 2011 02:31 PM
Carter from Red Hook

Like films, a good name can perk your interest. I was in several bands in the 80's that drew various sized crowds I'm sure that were based on the name alone: Elvis's Wig, George take out the endless Wood, The Boiling Raisins and Reek of Success to name a few

Apr. 11 2011 02:31 PM
Jay F.

The artist formerly known as Prince...
and his symbol!

Apr. 11 2011 02:30 PM
Jared from Paterson, nj

Whats up with these

Your Skull, My Closet,

Built to Spill,

Star F*&^er

Apr. 11 2011 02:30 PM
Alex from NJ from Parsippany

Cake cover band name: Icing

Apr. 11 2011 02:30 PM
Andy Cahn from Forest Hills

Some band names seem to be created to be part of an eventual sentence.

For example, I just read an obituary of a musician who "played guitar with Reckless Abandon."

Apr. 11 2011 02:30 PM
Alex from NJ from Parsippany

Cake cover band name: Icing

Apr. 11 2011 02:29 PM

I like ornate names like Godspeed! You Black Emperor and ...And You Will Know Them By the Trail of the Dead. But I couldn't care less about their music; they don't sound to me like their names suggest.

Timbuk 3 is the stupidest name I can think of off the top of my head.

Throbbing Gristle always made me crack up!

Apr. 11 2011 02:27 PM
Dingbats from Manhattan

After four years playing out, my band is finally getting set to release a record. We're still arguing over the band name.

Apr. 11 2011 02:26 PM
J Why from Beacon, NY

Seriously? The Silver Rolling Stones?!? You know, it was The Silver Beatles originally also. I think the Gold Bear era has nothing on 1962.

Apr. 11 2011 02:25 PM

COP OUT!!!!! Saying there are no more good pairing of names for bands is like complaining that there aren't enough notes. Group-think strikes again

Apr. 11 2011 02:25 PM
a g from n j

maybe this will spur a resurgence in jazz eponymous named groups...then again nah..

Apr. 11 2011 02:25 PM
Ken from Soho

But if the band name were "Cake" as just suggested, someone might say that this band is crummy.

Apr. 11 2011 02:25 PM
12-String Frank from Staten Island, NY

Even in prog-rock there are band names. For instance, there's a modern prog band called It Bites. You hear that names and don't really think progressive rock. It sounds (to me) like something else. Now if you had a name Retinal Spyglass-- that sounds like a name for a prog group.

Bands also like colors: Pink Floyd, Green Day, Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Blue Aeroplanes, Blurple (Staten Island duo), Red Kross, etc. Are there any colors not in use right now? I thought about the name Copper Dusk for my own group.

Apr. 11 2011 02:24 PM
Federico from Nutley NJ

What about No Te Va Gustar, which literally means You Are Not Gonna Like It.
This is a band from Uruguay that came up around 1993-94 and could not come up with an original name. Despite the name they have been really successful in South America and they will be here in NYC on July 8th.

Apr. 11 2011 02:22 PM
Rick Elmont from Jersey City

I think many of these names (Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.) are symptomatic of the hipster ironic humor movement.

Apr. 11 2011 02:21 PM
Troy from Carroll Gardens

Oh, and, best band, worst name: Archers of Loaf.

Apr. 11 2011 02:21 PM
Tinker from NYC

3 Teens Kill 4 No Motive

Apr. 11 2011 02:20 PM

could "ham sandwich" be a Mama Cass reference?

Apr. 11 2011 02:20 PM
Troy from Brooklyn

Was it really the 'Silver Rolling Stones'? I've heard that the Beatles were the Silver Beatles. Was that a trend or is our host confused? (Or am I confused?)

Apr. 11 2011 02:19 PM
Daniel Georges

Great band, but unlike their music, the forlorn name: "Hank Dogs"

Apr. 11 2011 02:19 PM
Jane from New Jersey

Dave Barry used to suggest band names all the time. Maybe he consults.

Apr. 11 2011 02:19 PM
Marissa from Manhattan

It's not just bands - people are running out of names for almost any type of organization - architects have this problem too - "Studio (insert letter-or-single-syllable here)", "Three Letter Moniker (HOK, DLR, HDR, BLT, EEK, TVS)", "Last Name + Partners", etc.

Apr. 11 2011 02:19 PM
Phil from Brooklyn

I just want to point out that it seemed like the "bear" bands started around 5-6 years ago with Grizzly Bear. It should be noted that the lead of Grizzly Bear, Ed Droste, is a gay man, and the word "Bear" has significant meaning in gay culture. Droste has even said in interview (BUTT magazine, and it's in the collected interviews for the BUTT book) that "Grizzly Bear" originated from his ex-boyfriend who, I believe, was considered a gay bear--rather, a hirsute gay man.

Apr. 11 2011 02:19 PM

could "ham sandwich" be a Mama Cass reference?

Apr. 11 2011 02:18 PM
Greg from NYC

I have an imaginary band called, "Grandma's Bathwater." I text friends to let them know who has joined the band, who they will be warming up for, etc. Don't ask.

Apr. 11 2011 02:18 PM
Mistercarguy from lost in NJ

Hmm, I seem to recall wasting time at work one day "googling" band names and finding gems like Afghanistan Banana Stand and New Squids on the Dock. I guess bad band names will always be with us...

Apr. 11 2011 02:17 PM
mark from NJ

I thought Ham Sandwich was a Cass Elliot tribute band ... or it should be.

Apr. 11 2011 02:16 PM
Az from Old bridge, nj

Sorry to say this but The Beatles? The Doors?? The 60's was no better than today.

Apr. 11 2011 02:14 PM
Marcie Colleen from Jersey City

I can't say it is a new low. Remember "Strawberry Alarm Clock" and the "Electric Prunes". Phew!
And when I was in college in the mid 90's there was a band in upstate NY called "Free Beer and Chicken"! It was a ploy to get people to their gigs...hungry college kids. Love it!

Apr. 11 2011 02:14 PM
Charlie Roberts from Highlands, NJ

It's not that the band names are bad . . . it's that the BANDS are bad. There should be a national moratorium on the creation of new bands or . . . at least . . . a license would be required to purchase a guitar, write a "song" . . . and, let alone, attempt to sing.

I think we've heard it all!

Apr. 11 2011 02:13 PM
Troy from Carroll Gardens

I have a personal abhorrence for any band name that involves food. Totally disgusting trend. I want to think of ham sandwiches when I listen to a nice little pop group? No. I do not.

Apr. 11 2011 02:13 PM
a g from n j

what correlation if any, is there between the people who choose a name for a band,and the pecking order of that person within the band itself. do leaders usually choose the name ? and, what about the resonance of a particlar name, and its influence on the bands material.

Apr. 11 2011 02:12 PM
KP from NJ

Bow Wow Wow
Flock of Seagulls
Duran Duran
Depeche Mode
Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark

I could go on, but it seems like there have always been silly band names. However, the band can make a silly name acceptable....The Who....The E Street Band

Apr. 11 2011 02:12 PM
Ken from Soho

Need another name? How about the Blitherin' Idiots?

Apr. 11 2011 02:12 PM
Tuf Pak from Crown Heights

Band names have always been terrible, we've just grown to love them.

Look, the Beatles was a bad pun... The Lovin' Spoonful is just gross, and Pearl Jam is equally gross, but stupider sounding.

But does that effect my love of the Lovin' Spoonful? Love the band, love the foolish name.

Apr. 11 2011 02:12 PM
Tim from From Rockland

I still like "John Cougar Concentration Camp" from a few years back. Best. Name. Ever.

Apr. 11 2011 02:12 PM
Tim From Rockland

I still like "John Cougar Concentration Camp" from a few years back. Best. Name. Ever.

Apr. 11 2011 02:11 PM
David from West Hempstead

I blame Panic! at the Disco.

Apr. 11 2011 02:10 PM
Jay F.

In retrospect... what do you consider a good band name?
In all fairness they've aways been fairly poor.

Apr. 11 2011 02:10 PM
Lenny from NYC

Owning Google!

You have to own your name on google, as soon as you start using the name, it should appear as the #1 result. One way is to come up with something legible, but nonsensical.

This was my experience with Tribrix (prn. Try-bricks), which I founded in 2007. There were almost no google results for that term, so it was my term for the taking.

Apr. 11 2011 02:05 PM
12-String Frank from Staten Island, NY

How did Rush get its name? Here's a idea:

Mom: C'mon Geddy! It's time to go to school. You'll be late.

Geddy: Mom, I'm trying to think of a name for the band. Alex and I can't think of anything good.

Mom: I don't care about that. The bus is here. C'mon Geddy. Rush!

Geddy: Mom! What did you say?

Mom: I said RUSH!

Geddy: Mom, you're a genius!

And the rest is rock & roll history.

Apr. 11 2011 01:59 PM
Craig Elkins from Los Angeles

Huffamoose - Interscope band from late 90s

Apr. 11 2011 12:29 PM
Elwood D. Pennypacker from Brooklyn

The lack of creativity in band names today is appalling. The worst has to be the use of simple words - there are bands simply called MEN, Women, and Girls. Also harkening back to your f-word segment a few weeks ago, there are too many bands using that device as well.

As for the preponderance of animal bands, especially Bear, Wolf, Deer, and Eagle, I say this: Just because you dress like a lumberjack and have a beard and want your band to connotate the woods, you live in a Brooklyn and the only thing we have that are woodland creatures are raccoons and the occasional possum. Sorry.

Black Raccoon, coming to a venue near you soon.

Apr. 11 2011 11:21 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.