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What’s in a name?
In this article we explore some of the best ways to get band name inspiration. We look at great band names from the past (and a few not so great ones too). Your band name should in some way hold the soul of your band. If it doesn’t feel right then it’s not. It’s something you have to own, you have to be proud of. More than that, it’s your brand, not just your band.
10 Top Tips for Naming your Band
1.Make it Original
Unless you’re a tribute band be you. You have your own sound, you have your own music, you should have name that says something about the kind of music you play, abut the kind of people you are.
2. Keep it Short
People have pretty rubbish memories in general. A long name, no matter how fun it is, is likely to be forgotten. One of my favourite bands at the moment is Rainbow Kitten Surprise. They’re an alternative/Indie band. Despite having such an implausibly lovable name it took me weeks before i could get it right, thinking ‘colourful kittens’, ‘rainbow surprise’ or any number of variations on their name. My friends still refer to them to me as ‘that band you like’.
Something that plays upon current trends is likely going to no longer be trendy after a fairly short period of time. You don’t want to be looking at your name in a few years regretting it.
4. Be Google Friendly
By this i don’t necessarily easy to Google. Rather make sure that when you do google it weird, gross or otherwise remarkably unrelated things don’t show up. You don’t want t play a gig, have new fans go home and try and find out about you on the internet, only to accidentally search for porn.
5. Think about your Genre
What is your genre, is it acoustic folk, or heavy metal? The band Megadeath for example, would have difficulties if they produced country music, the name would be incredibly misleading. You want to pick a name that reflects the feeling, and soul of the music your produce.
6. Think About Names
I know that’s why you’re here. But I mean consider using, if not your name, then something like it. Bruno Mars for example (a.ka. Peter Gene Hernandez) chose this catchy name, and tricked us into believing it was his actual name. ‘Bruno’ was his nickname and he combined that with Mars because he is ‘out of this world’, his words. But also think Lorde, Taylor Swift, Chet Faker, Elton John.
If your name is a bit John Smith, think about your band, can you combine your names perhaps. ABBA, the classic Swedish pop band is an acronym of all the band members and it’s catchy. It’s short, easy to spell, fun to say. Fleetwood Mac is another example. A clever combination of band member names.
7. Your Bands Interests
Think about the interests of your band members. What’s something what stands out, a slightly odd obsession that someone has. Perhaps someone really likes peppermints – this is where the band The White Stripes got their name. The band The Beards, for example, have an obsession with beards. Would utilizing this interest work for your genre, would it be original, and importantly would it be timeless. You don’t want to be looking back at your name in a couple of years regretting your choice.
People love Animals the plethora of cute cat videos covering the Internet is testament to this fact. Another testament to this fact is the vast number of bands with animals in their names. For example: The Monkees, Animals, Arctic Monkeys, Gorillaz, Glass Animals, Snoop Dogg, Alien Ant Farm, and Eagles to name just a few. Everyone of these uses an animal, but for each of them they use the animals differently, the animal reflects something about the bands music. The Monkees for example, they have a broad range of music, from psychedelic pop to folk/rock-ballads. Their music has an upbeat element to it that relates to the connotations implicit with the personification of Monkeys. The Eagles, a rock and roll band, selected an animal that was the very symbol of freedom in an era where rock and roll was all about rebellion, it was about breaking the mold, and yes, being free.
Another thing to remember is to try and be more creative, a little more original and descriptive that just The (Animal). This has been done a lot already. For example, ‘Bright Eyed Giraffes’ is a much more interesting name than ‘The Giraffes’.
9. Favourites Songs
Another popular tactic used by people is to think about songs they like. Songs with catchy names or great turns of phrase in the lyrics that might make good band names. One thing to remember with this though is to not choose a song that has heavily influenced your music. Doing that makes your name sound less original, and almost as if you are copying another band.
Radiohead for example is named after a song by Talking Heads. Panic! At the Disco is named after lyrics from The Smiths.
One last thing to avoid though is naming your band after songs from The Beatles or The Smiths. It’s been overdone and with their music so well known, it can be easily recognized. You would have much more luck with smaller less well-known bands that you like, but aren’t necessarily of the same genre as you.
10. Object, Nature, Place, Event
Pretty much anything can turn into a good band name. Thinking about where you come from, the roots of your music, or even the place of your first gig might give you a few ideas to start off with. New York Dolls, for example. A simple place name paired with ‘Dolls’. The use of Dolls is actually in direct opposite to their music style, implying a much more poppy style aimed at younger girls. This then is an ironic use of the word, which is catchy and memorable.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, is an example of a band taking an item, A chili pepper and making it more interesting with descriptive language. The name suggests their music is hot stuff. Its easy to remember, catchy, perhaps a bit long though.
Check Domain Name Availability
Once you settle on a name you are going to want to claim the web domain for it. Here you’ll be able to promote your selves, your music, and list all your tour dates. This is a crucial part of building the bands brand.
You can easily use our domain name checker which appears on the results page of our Name Generator. Simply type in your band name and it will tell you whether your domain is available or not.
You will also want to check whether or not you can get hold of the social media handles for your band. Ideally you want to make your domain and social media handles all the same to make it easier to find you online and promote yourselves across multiple channels.
Rock Band Name Analysis
Pretty Girls Make Graves
Pretty Girls Make Graves is named after a song by The Smiths called, you guessed it ‘Pretty Girls Make Graves’. The bands music though is very different to The Smiths.
Named after Talking Heads song ‘Radio Head’. Again, the two bands have very different sounds and styles. The name works well for Radiohead, short interesting and music related.
Another classic band that took their name from a song. The Rolling Stones found the origin of there name from a Muddy Waters song called ‘Rollin’ Stone’. For a rock and roll band this name works well using a synonym for rock in their name.
With shrieking vocals, and crunching guitar solos, the name Iron Maiden is quite suiting. It comes from the name of the medieval torture device, and Iron Maiden. The name suits the style of music, it wouldn’t work for anything other than a heavy metal band.
Barrett, one of the founding members came up with the name Pink Floyd when they realized their previous name Tea Set was taken by another bad playing at the same gig as them. The name is derived from the names of two blues artists Barrett had in his record collection, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The name is short, catchy, and fits the branding of the band very well.
Cool Band Names
Rainbow Kitten Surprise
By combining three random words, Rainbow Kitten Surprise show that anything can be a band name. The ‘Rainbow Kitten’ alludes to the up beat style of their music and surprise alludes to the much deeper, and darker meaning behind some of their songs.
Young the Giant
This is an interesting name to think about, they took the new name after their lead singer left the band. The band themselves said it has no specific meaning, but the felt it accurately sums them up currently. Young implies a sense of immaturity to the music that is belied by the fact. The Giant suggests they are aiming to be big. The name has feeling behind it, sounds good, is catchy and easy to say.
Cage the Elephant
This is an interesting name. According to Matt Schultz, the lead singer, it originated when a man approached them after the show and kept repeating “You have to cage the elephant”. The name works well for an indie rock band with some interesting connotations. Plus it’s catchy, easy to remember and adheres to the animal rule.
Interestingly Bastille does indeed take its name from Bastille Day which is july 14th. The reason behind it is this is Dan Smith’s birthday.
The White Stripes
The White Stripes played around with a number of name ideas, like ‘Bazooka’, before eventually settling on The White Stripes. The name derives from Meg’s favorite candy, peppermints with red and white stripes. It also relates to the then married couples surname, White.
Band Name Ideas
- A Side of Time: Derived from lyrics by the Kaiser Chiefs song ‘Oh My God’. A Side of Time sounds like a band that plays interesting soothing lyric led music.
- Smoking Guns: This band name relates to song lyrics from the Bloc Party song Banquet. It makes you think of Guns ‘n’ Roses and that kind of rock with intense guitar solos and intense personality.
- Panda Hat: This name is fun, short and easy to remember. People love Pandas. The music should reflect some of the upbeat nature of the name, bt could curiously explore darker issues through their more upbeat style – much like Rainbow Kitten Surprise.
- Bright Giraffe: Another fun name short and easy to remember. However, it could be a little too silly, you would want the idea and connotations of the word giraffe to fit with the genre and style of your music.
- London Jesters: This is location based named. The use of the name jesters injects originality and fun into the band name. It could also be interpreted as using the connotations that apply to jester, the idea that clowns and jesters are sad.
- Unholy Warriors: – Based on a song title by Jacob Banks, Unholy War. This would make a good name for a indie rock band.
- Shallow Dignity: Based on Lyrics from Manic Street Preachers, this name suggests a band with a pared down electric sound.
- Handsome Hobos: The alliteration makes this name easy to remember. However, the use of the word hobo has negative connotations and might restrict the genre of the band.
- Rising Tides: This name relates to current events surround rising sea levels and the impact of humans on the world. The music would be politically savvy. The name itself is interesting, referring to the aphorism ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’.
What to do if your Name is Already Taken
If your band name is already taken you have a few options. The simplest is to simply choose a name which isn’t already taken.
There are a few reasons why you would do this, not least of which is to avoid any confusion with fans, and even with venues. If people mistake you for your same named counterpart you could end up losing gigs to them by accident.
If he band is signed to a label, they will have registered a trademark for their band name, which means legally you cannot use that name. If they aren’t signed to a label, then it’s worth checking whether or not they have registered the trademark. If they haven’t the name is (technically) fair game. I still wouldn’t use the same name if the other band are within a similar location.
If you’re going back to the drawing board, begin by drawing up ll the reasons you liked the name you chose. Was it fun, weird, catchy, or simply feel right for the genre and style of your music. Explore variations of the name. For example, these three bands, The Animals, The Glass Animals, and The Glass Caves all have similar names, variations of the same, and all are good names. Explore these new ideas and come up with a list of your new favorites. Finally, check if these are available.