A person never knows what can be found at a second-hand store. I was perusing the bookshelves at a local charity shop recently and came across an interesting paperback, “The Band Name Book.” Its pages contained just what one would expect in a volume with that title, a list of thousands of rock music group names. The original retail price was $29.95. I picked it up for a mere 99 cents.
The book was published in 2008, so most likely there are many more monikers that have been added in the past decade, but I still recognized a number of them. There are also numerous suggestions for names that had not been claimed at the time of publishing. The list is in semi-alphabetical order and set up by categories. It is also vibrantly illustrated and, quite honestly, visually fun. Allow me to share some of the contents. Remember, these are actual groups, or at least existed at some point in history.
We begin, as does the book, with a few “say what?” names: Ookla the Mok, Kajagoogoo and Jamiroquai. I had never heard of these. But you might be familiar with Chumbawamba, Oingo Boingo, Wang Chung and Mungo Jerry, a band that gave us the 1970 seasonal standard, “In the Summertime.” The publication offers a place of origin and a brief note on each name. Interestingly, for example, this particular group took its moniker from no less than a T.S. Eliot character in “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” Mungojerrie. Of course, Eliot’s collection of poems was made into a musical you might be familiar with called “Cats.” I understand it did okay on Broadway. Other feline-related titles have included Curiosity Killed the Cat, The Deadcats, Cattywompus, Cats on XTC, Cat Butt and, perhaps the cleverest, Ten Gallon Cats.
Not to be outdone in the house pet realm, dogs appear to be the inspiration for a number of group names. There are Dogs D’Amour, Dogbones, Cold Dog Soup, Dogliveroil (sounds tasty), the instructional Dogs Die in Hot Cars, Dogbreath, TVforDogs, Pitbull Daycare, Poi Dog Pondering, The Korgis and, my personal favorite, Mozart Rottweiler & the Sinister Undertones, which was offered by Bones Don’t Float Records.
Other animal names, besides the famous 1960s ensemble The Animals, Billy Goat out of Kansas City, Shower with Goats, Anger of the Lamb, Ten Ton Chicken (that’s a lot of nuggets), Dick Duck and the Dorks, Bald Knob Chicken Snatchers, Pig Farmers of the Apocalypse, Technology Versus Horse, Gov’t Mule, The Cow Trippers, Two Cow Garage, Killer Flamingos, Penguins with Shotguns, Rabbits on Trampolines, Screemin’ Cheetah Wheelies and the inexplicable Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds. Fans of 1990s music will likely remember Hootie and the Blowfish. Lead singer Darius Rucker has carved out a niche recently in country music, I believe. Other aquatic names include Things Found in Sharks, The Northern Pikes, Beer for Dolphins, Inflatable Boy Clams, the Ominous Seapods and New Squids on the Dock (clever).
Insects have created quite a buzz and have inspired groups like Back Widow, The Pink Spiders, Scorpion Wind, the Soul Mites, The Twistin’ Tarantulas, Red Ant Army, Bedbugs and Weevil Knievel. Surprisingly, I did not see a group named The Mosquitos, but I guess they would suck anyway.
While the aggressiveness of and familiarity with animals might make some sort of sense, at least occasionally plants are also part of the band name scene. Consider Fever Tree, The Bamboo Steamers (with their album, “Miss You Like an Eyeball”), The Axe That Chopped the Cherry Tree, Soul Cactus, The Trimmed Hedges, Brady Bunch Lawnmower Massacre and, in an apparent homage to “Stairway to Heaven,” Bustle in Your Hedgerow.
Some band names must have been born of hunger pangs, including All You Can Eat Buffet, I Spit on Your Gravy, The Disco Biscuits, The Rolling Scones, Bad Dream Good Breakfast, Evil Weiner, Spam Allstars, Rat Salad, Bruised Apple, Hectic Watermelon, Agent Orange, Barbecue Bob & the Spare Ribs, Goober and the Peas, Eggplant Danceoff!, Pudding Attack, Beverley Beer Bellys and Big Al & the Kaholics.
Band monikers can also come from what we know best, our bodies. Take, for example, Finger Eleven, The Nerves, Bad Brains and as featured on the album “Loud, Fast and Aging Rapidly,” Iron Prostate. There are also The Bad Livers, Lynyrd’s Innards, Ovarian Trolley, Skeletonbreath and Chubby Nuthin’ & the Bones.
Keying on negative human emotions, we have Absolute Grief, The Sad Lives of the Hollywood Lovers, Absolute Misery, Joyful Sorrow, Atragedyinprogress, Tragedy Ann, Agony Face and A Band Called Pain. On a happier note: The Giggles, Ready for the World, Happy the Man, The Happiest Guys in the World, Blissful Intentions, Hooray! For Everything and the oddly specific Ashley Said Yes!
A focus on the family brings us Red Aunts, Mother Hips, Gay Dad, Uncle Tupelo and My White Bread Mom. We have Backyard Babies, Zuckerbaby, The Cribs, Every Mother’s Son, Gutter Twins, No Way Sis, Radar Brothers, Flying Burrito Brothers and Brother Voodoo.
Love, of course, can be both positive and negative. Therefore: Good Men Gone Bad, The Useless Playboys, Love Spirals Downward, Romeo Void, Icky Boyfriends, Carbon Dating Services, Trailer Park Casanovas, I’m with Cupid, The Considerate Lovers and an added group, Love & Mathematics.
I could go on for days, believe me. But, I think by now you get the picture, so I will close with a few miscellaneous favorites: Car Full of Midgets, Camarojuana, Arsonists Get All the Girls, Fahrenheit 451, Malice in Wonderland, Trashcan Sinatras, Gocart Mozart, The Al Roker Death Cult Wind Ensemble, Starving for Gravity, Star Death and the White Dwarfs, Spaceman Bill and the Groovy Gravy, Invaders from Sears, Abandon Kansas (from Wichita), A Day in Attica (from Lawrence) and Norman Bates & the Showerheads (from “Psycho”).