Making the Brand: The 40 Greatest Band Names of All Time
Our nerd cabal separates the Whos from the Hoobastanks
Why It’s Great: The name’s gross-out level lands somewhere between the image out of 2 Girls, 1 Cup and something a Garbage Pail Kid might do (meet Barney Bathtub Shitter). It’s certainly not the first or only or grossest over-the-top band name in existence (Strangulated Beatoffs, the Cummies, and Anal Cunt come to mind), but what makes it work is its lighthearted, nonmacho feel in a sea of XXX Maniaks. (T, I, JNSQ)
From the Band: “The name is meant to be eccentric,” Morimoto says. “It was meant to make language a little more original. I was surprised to see it when I was reading a porno magazine in a Japanese convenience store called Knuckles EX. It had a gossip page. And it was like, ‘Bathtub Shitter is in fact a Japanese band, but their name literally translates to “shitting in a bathtub.” Does this make sense?’ It was so shitting funny for me.” K.G.
Why It’s Great: They’ve had to explain their name to the press more often than most — mainly because when their fans slap stickers on their bikes, folks with badges take notice. On at least three separate occasions (in Athens, Ohio, at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and in the Memphis International Airport) a bike bearing the band’s sticker has caused panic, police action, and mass evacuations. Now that’s rock’n’roll! (T, I, JNSQ) K.H.
Why It’s Great: The comically generic tone epitomizes a certain strain of feigned hippie modesty that, upon closer examination, turned out to be arrogance every damn time (watch what happens when you put the emphasis on the word “the”). In the case of the Band, that arrogance happened to be backed up by monster chops; their first three albums stand tall during an era when all the heavy-hitters were punching at weight. (T, WP, JNSQ) J.D.
Why It’s Great: Second, perhaps, to a middle finger, the idea of a black flag most accurately represents hardcore punk. And when the band flew the flag in late ’78, they effectively declared war on popular music, modern life, and America. “The name represents how we lived: without a map, with no certainty of success,” says Chuck Dukowski, the group’s bassist from 1977 to 1983. “Our existence was an affront and a threat. It’s the leftover frisson of that danger and energy that keeps the name meaningful.” (P, I)
From the Band: “The name ‘Black Flag’ makes me think of life lived on a razor’s edge,” Dukowski says. “It captured our mood, our stance, and it put us next to Black Sabbath in the record bins! It fits with the best names. I have to thank Ray Pettibon for that and for our bars logo. That was a huge part of Black Flag’s impact. Someone told me the bars is one of the most frequently tattooed images in the world. I see it everywhere now. I’ve seen joke T-shirts with the bars and the name of something crappy or something incongruous. I found it carved in the cement on the sidewalk near my house. People put it on tanks, they put it on war protest signs. It’s a great, powerful name.” K.G.
Why It’s Great: Like “Incense and Peppermints” itself, the name sums up everything dippy and crass about American corporate hippiedom, suggesting what a junior-high kid might think synesthesia was after his buddy relayed an older brother’s description of an acid trip. And, just maybe, it’s a reminder that sometimes you should listen to your record label. (P, I) K.H.