I have recently been toying around with the idea of becoming a musician. Living with a boy who lives and breathes music and music production kind of lends itself to wanting to join in- so I want to get a drum kit, learn to play it, and start playing gigs. I’ve already got two projects lined up (without me having purchased a kit yet), but, what the shit do we call ourselves?
The problem with naming a band is that it has to be perfect. You want it to represent your sound and/or attitude, while at the same time being easy to remember. And original. You’ll always have your fashion-trend band names- like the late 2000’s names with a colour in it, or were pulled straight out of a wildlife encyclopedia, as a friend of mine so eloquently put it- that sum up a sound and whatever is left of an attitude, but only because there are already a billion other just like it.
A small thing I’ve noticed happening around Melbourne at the moment is family references- but these are only good if they’re kind of weird. Children Collide is pretty tame- it does the job, but meh… but then you have bands called Drunk Mums, or Daddy Daughter Day, that sounds so deliciously on point with that vaguely aggressive style of punk/garage that permeates the Melbourne pub scene.
I spoke to some musical friends of mine about their experiences with naming bands. Who knows, maybe I’ll be inspired enough to choose something other than a name of a Joy Division track for my sparse and broody post-punk project.
Steve Hughes (Injured Ninja, Usurper of Modern Medicine)
Steve: Hmm not really sure, they usually get born from drug induced jam sessions. I know we liked Injured Ninja because of the alliteration and we were watching ninja scroll on acid I think. Usurper of modern medicine- I used to call my solo stuff Usurpers, then it became a band so I made it non plural – and I think it was a dig at meds in general. Music= the best anti depressant you can get, and you don’t need a prescription
Tahlia: What about the impact of the names on the music? Is it there or not?
Steve: Yeah there kind of is, not that it really should matter but I think it does totally create an attitude for how your music should sound, mostly in a subconcious way I guess. I’ve heard people say that if you have the name then that’s all you need. In some ways I think that’s true.
Once we named ourselves Injured Ninja we started making more fucked up stuff.
It’s a label for your sound and it will create an expectation to a new listener – so I guess you always have to be conscious of that to some degree.
Then again, if the name is vague enough I guess the name will just become representative of the sound as the band develops. We always come up with ridiculously stupid band names for the sake of it, and you always imagine how they would sound right away.
Samantha Wass (Institute Polaire, Jack on Fire, Chimneys)
Sam: Well the only band I’ve named myself is my new band It’s called Chimneys. I pretty much just knew I had to come up with a name for the band before the gig… Any time there was anything on television or in the paper or in something i read or saw it crossed my mind and I wondered if it’d be a good band name or not. So that was pretty much it. Eventually I was watching Mary Poppins and then I was like “hmmm, Chimneys” and checked it wasn’t used already
Tahlia: What about the names of your other bands, do you know the stories?
Sam: Institut Polaire was named after the ship – it’s a ship that is used for marine research around the north and south poles. It docks in Tasmania and Erik saw it there one day when he was visiting family and liked it. Jack On Fire is the name of a Gun Club song that we all like but I think Ben always wanted to call a band that.
A secret source about up and coming dance pop act Amy Meredith, who recently signed to Sony :
Apparently the lead singer had an ex called Amy Meredith, and she cheated on him with one of his best friend. So as revenge, he decided to call his band Amy Meredith, the logic behind it being that so whenever anyone asked why he had called it that he could tell them the story and the world would know she was a slut.
But when he told Sony that when they signed them, they were like “Aah no, you can’t say that story in interviews”, so he kinda shot himself in the foot because he just made her famous by association.
Richard Ingham (Mink Mussel Creek, Taco Leg, Whalehammer, Wind Waker, Water Temple)
Richard: My newest band is called Water Temple. That was a funny one, because the old band that all three of us were in is called Wind Waker which is a Zelda reference. Then Wil said we should call ourselves ‘water level’ because all games have a water level, then I jokingly said ‘water temple’ because it’s a Zelda reference and it stuck. And then there is Taco Leg which is named after a fictional venereal disease.
Tahlia: Hahahaha, whut? Richard: Yeah, Andrew got it from some zine from some place from the 80’s or something.
Tahlia: Weird, but totally fitting. Did that come before or after the music?
Richard: Before. He asked me at a party to join his band ‘Taco Leg’ when I was wasted. Oh, and there was this thrash band called puke rainbow I had a while back, we chose it because it was a really dumb name.
Tahlia: What about your thoughts on the role of a band name?
Richard: It matters to other people way more than the people in the band. Like I will probably avoid a band that sounds like it’ll be a shitty/generic indie band but I have no problem playing in bands with awful names.
Tahlia: I hear that. Awful band names imply less seriousness.
Richard: This is true.
Tahlia: Puke Rainbow is brilliant.
Richard: And totally not serious, you’re on the money.
Tahlia: I think Pissed Jeans is one of the best band names ever. I’ve never listened to them, but I love the name.
Richard: Yeah I always liked that name, same with the Homostupids. Taco Leg played with this thrash band in Florida called ‘Volcanic Slut’ and they were one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.
Tahlia: Hahahaha, wow. Any other amazing bits you can think of?
Richard: Whalehammer. Just the best name ever.
Tahlia: How did that one happen? “What’s the heaviest sounding thing ever?”
Richard: Probably. One I unfortunately didn’t have a part in creating.
Tahlia: I miss Whalehammer.
Richard: Me too.