I realize that weird band names have been around since the psychedelic 60s. (Three Dog Night, Moby Grape, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, etc.) But you have to admit, the names have gotten longer and more unwieldy as the internet has allowed bands to search for available names – or to make sure no one else is copping their name. Now we have band names that are complete sentences: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, for example, or I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness. (I actually think that’s a pretty cool name, but still – if it’s a complete sentence, is it a name?)
There was a band back in the 70s called It’s A Beautiful Day, which is obviously also a complete sentence, so this too is not brand new. But there are lots of band names you could string together and they’d make a plausible paragraph instead of a list of, say, animals. (“I love you, but I’ve chosen darkness. And you will know us by the trail of dead.” Sounds like the beginning of one of those Twilight films.)
Part of the problem is a kind of one-upmanship (I can outdo your weird band name), but part is just that a lot of the best names are taken. And you know who else has that problem? The horse racing industry.
If you have a thoroughbred, you can’t just name it whatever you want. You may be sure the name Secretariat will fit your young colt to a T, but the Jockey Club, which registers all thoroughbreds, won’t allow it. Any horse who has won a major race has his/her name retired. No horse will ever be called Man O War again. Just like no band will ever be called The Beatles. Even a bad horse gets exclusive use of his or her name for a couple of years after retiring. One of the greatest horses of the 1980s, Easy Goer, was actually the second horse with that name – the first Easy Goer was completely undistinguished, and his name became available for later use.
If you check the Jockey Club’s American Stud Book you will find 445,000 “protected” names – names you cannot use for your horse.
But you can use any of them for your band. Secretariat? Hey, I checked on MySpace and didn't find a band with that name, so go for it! Even easier, the Jockey Club releases about 40,000 names each month on its website for re-use. This month’s names include Ace Cat, A Boy Named Splash, Adagio Sky, and Acts of Valor – and that’s just from the first page of A’s. (True, horse owners have also resorted to terrible names, but they’re limited to 18 characters so at least it won’t take you as long to say the name as it does to hear the song.)
So all you unnamed bands out there – get thee to the Jockey Club’s Interactive Registry and steal yourself a great band name today!
Ok then, smartypants - what’s your solution to the band-name problem? Leave a comment.