What’s in a band name?

Wither the long-lost art of naming your band. Here at Quite Great we get hundreds of new artists coming to us every year and their inventiveness in coming up with unique and original monikers never ceases to amaze. For eager new audiences, marketing teams and media outlets, it might well be the first impression your band gives, even ahead of what you sound like. A flash of inspiration scribbled on the back of a beer mat may well follow you for the rest of your career, so it’s worth making absolutely certain you look at it from every angle (the name, not the beer mat).

It seems as if you must constantly look ever-further backwards in order to feel genuinely dazzled by the inventiveness of fresh-faced musicians giving their musical child a name: Iron Butterfly; Strawberry Alarm Clock; Black Sabbath; The Flaming Lips – all striking names with endless potential for accompanying visual imagery and differing connotations, but all formed in a previous century.

It should be said, it is not absolutely vital that your band name is the work of a genius. It is a constant mystery how the most influential pop band of all-time got away with calling themselves The Beatles. The Beat…les. Do you see? Appalling. As far as I’m aware, they didn’t even exploit the six-legged creatures to emphasise the magnificent play on words. Only slightly better is The Rolling Stones; any suggestion that the relevant phrase proves accurate is somewhat scuppered by the fact that Keith Richards has indeed gathered some moss. They triumphed against odds which they only endeavoured to create for themselves. So what makes a good band name?
1. Something memorable: My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult might sound archly clever but it’s less impressive if half the world is misspelling or it forgetting half the title.

2. Something visual: You might already have doodled the band logo you hope will be replicated by millions of fans in six months on their pencil cases, but remember that anything too complex will likely be dismissed as being too clever for your own good. Most people could manage the Two-Tone bloke and Led Zeppelin’s four symbols, but devising a logo for your black metal band which looks like a spyrograph has gone on a killing spree is going to bewilder many people who can’t even read it, as well as making you a mortal enemy of graphic designers worldwide.

3. Something record store-friendly: As physical records continue to go from strength to strength, take a minute to consider how this might look in the racks. Giving yourselves a name with a definite article has worked for a million bands but be aware that some new recruit will always feel the need to file you under T for The (The The being the exception to this rule). Again, don’t try and be too clever. A Certain Ratio fall foul of being in either A, C or R, depending on who is working that day; Ben Folds Five risks being in either B or F. On the other side of the coin, ZZ Top rule the roost over one of the easiest places to locate in-store.

4. Something pronounceable: thinking of playing Madison Square Garden one day? Think of the crushing feeling inside as you’re announced on-stage as exclamation mark, exclamation mark, exclamation mark? (!!! or Chk Chk Chk) or Alex is on Fire rather than Alexis-on-fire? All that hard work and now a lifetime of ridicule.

Luckily, we live in a world where all is not lost. Here are a few new artists who have gone out of their way to get noticed before you’ve even heard a single note:

Pink Milk – Visual and intriguing. There’s obviously been quite some thought gone into this, yet is it really going to be pastel gooey loveliness? (clue – no)

Pablo & the Appleheads – C’mon, who doesn’t want to hear something featuring Appleheads? What kind of a cold-hearted wretch are you?

Feline & Strange – Is it two people? Is it one very unusual person? Does it describe the artist or the music? The questions don’t stop there – the only way to find out is to listen.

For more musical insights, check out our blogs at quitegreat.co.uk


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