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How They Became… Mastodon


Welcome to the weekly feature “Name That Band!” in which we get the inside stories behind the mysterious monikers of some of our favorite artists. (See past episodes of Name That Band! here.)

This week: metal maestros Mastodon, who kick off a spring tour April 16.

Why Mastodon: “We were sitting around at my apartment putting our little brains together,” recalls guitarist Bill Kelliher, “when [guitarist-singer] Brent [Hinds] looked at the Bantha skull tattoo on my arm — that’s a symbol that you can see on Boba Fett’s arm in The Empire Strikes Back — and he said, ‘What’s the name of that creature that’s like a prehistoric elephant?’ I replied, ‘A Mastodon?’ We all looked at each other and said, ‘That’s it, that’s the name.’ We knew right then and there.”

Previously Rejected Names: “We had a list of a lot of names. Let’s see, we had Abra Cadaver, Everyday I’m Dead, Savage Hamper, Rabid Taxi, and Fishy Joe and the Pickles.”

Best Band Names Ever: “The Jesus Lizard is cool — a reptile that walks on water. Neurosis is a great name for a band, too. High on Fire, Slayer, Motorhead, and Metallica are probably the greatest names in metal.”

Worst Band Name Ever: “Our keyboardist [Rich Morris] was in this great band but they had a really bad name. As good as they were, I think that worked against them. They were called Cream Abdul Babbar. You have to be creative and really name your band something that defines who you are, like a glimpse of what’s in the package.”