Welcome to the weekly SPIN.com 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: Cult fave rapper Buck 65, whose 20 Odd Years, featuring guest vocals from Islands’ Nick Thorburn, is out February 20. The quirky MC will also be playing the South By Southwest Music Festival in mid-March.
Why Buck 65: “When I left my hometown of Mt. Uniacke in Nova Scotia, Canada, I ended up dumping a lot of my personal possessions on my father,” says the rapper, whose real name is Richard Terfry. “But having all this shit in his house was driving him crazy. It was there for a decade. Finally he just snapped and said he was putting all my stuff in a truck and sending it to me and I had to pay for it whatever the cost.
“[Later] I was watching for the truck out my front window and saw an 18-wheeler pull up. I wasn’t expecting that. As I was going through all my stuff, I found a curious thing: a baseball card that I’d made of myself when I was a kid. I’d cut out a picture of myself in my Little League uniform and written fake stats on the back. I’d also autographed it Buck 65. When I found that I thought, ‘Jesus Christ that’s it! That’s where I got the name!’ When I was a kid I was into baseball and would write to the fan clubs of my favorite players and ask for autographed photos. Sometimes a player would autograph stuff using his nickname and then put their number after. I remember Gary Carter, who played for the Mets and Expos, his autograph was ‘The Kid #8.’ My dad had given me the nickname Buck, for reasons that were never entirely clear, and when I was a kid a coach had handed me a uniform with the #65 on it completely at random. I had day dreams about signing autographs, and that’s what I’d sign: Buck 65.”
Previously Rejected Names: “The first couple records I put out, it’s kinda silly and embarrassing, but they came out under the name Stinkin’ Rich. I thought that whatever name you have as a band inevitably gets shortened. So I wanted people to shorten it to Rich. But that backfired and they would shorten it to Stinkin’ instead.”
Best Band Names Ever: “Feist. I know it’s just her actual last name, but what a great name! She’s lucky. Same kind of deal for Mantronix. When I found out it was the guy’s actual last name, I couldn’t believe it. I also really like Devo and Elevator To Hell. Recently I saw a poster for a show by a band called Leon Knight and the Neon Lights. Brilliant!”
Worst Band Names Ever: “I was playing in Birmingham in the U.K. a few years ago and I was wandering around the club and saw a poster for an upcoming band called Karma Truffle. That takes the cake. I feel like I don’t even need to see them — they’ve gotta be a hippie jam band.
“I can’t really explain it, but band names with food words or things that remind me of food always bug me out. Blue Oyster Cult, Neutral Milk Hotel. I’d even lump Archers of Loaf into the category. ‘Loaf.’ That’s the dumbest word in the English language. It’s like ‘monkey’ — automatically funny. That reminds me, there used to be a band in Canada called The Rainbow Butt Monkeys. Awful! There was an old-timey band called The Bubbling Over Fire. Something about the ‘bubbling’ that makes me barf.
“It has always driven me completely nuts when people mispronounce the name ‘Rakim’ — they pronounce it ‘Raw-KEEM.’ Especially since his name is usually dropped in the context of how great people think he is. But how much of a fan can you be? Have you ever listened to any of his songs? He says his own name in most of his songs! Just listen to the man pronounce it for you! When James Murphy mispronounced it on [LCD Soundsystem’s] ‘Losing My Edge” I started screaming. Maybe he did it on purpose. But even if he did, I’m still mad at him for that.”