One of the fun parts of being in a band (they used to be called groups) was deciding on a band name. Some of the names I noticed overseas included The Dead Cuts, The Missing Cats, My Girl the River, Cubic Jazz, The Goat Roper Rodeo Band, and 24 Fighting Camels.
Looking back, some of the more notable bands that I’ve been involved with here in Australia include The Zoiks!, Snatch, Darling O’Shea, Le Brat; and a friend was in one called Love Mum And The Urgent Ringmes. Two other clever ones are The Well Hungarians, and Show Us Shiraz.
A dear old friend of mine in Sydney was having a ‘name change meeting’ with his band one night. The hours dragged on, the pizza had gone, the mood was becoming emotional and no decision was in sight. Someone said, ‘Why don’t we just leave it as it is?’ Yep, new name – As It Is.
One of the things I’ve noticed over the years (gee I seem to say that alot!), is how band names have lost the ‘The’. In the 60s many band names started with ‘The’…. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds etc. Then the ‘The’ became uncool. The Yardbirds became Led Zeppelin for example. Imagine, if you will, how some of the current bands would look with ‘The’ as a name prefix: The Peripheries, The Animals as Leaders, ‘The Radio Heads. Let’s go back even further: The Cold Chisels, The Midnight Oils, The Aerosmiths, The Deep Purples. I recall a band called The The. They would become The The Thes.
Band name-changing parties were a highly anticipated event. They were usually organised as an ‘important band meeting’ but were structured around pizzas, beer, and much like reality shows nowadays – alliances. The alliances usually went like this:
- If the singer was female – then singer / lead guitarist
- If the singer was female and attached – then singer / partner – if the partner was a band member then that was a really strong alliance. If the partner was an ‘outsider’ then she had a real battle on her hands to get votes
- Male singer / guitarist / keyboard player – a particularly strong alliance especially if one or more of the players were long-standing members of the group
- The two weakest alliances were always new member / loneliest member; and drummer / bass player… unless one of them owned a van!
The evening would start well enough with everyone (or most) agreeing that yes, or maybe, the name of the band had to be changed. Alternatives would then be presented by the various alliances. With no previous agreement being made regarding majority votes, or any of that sensible stuff, the only obvious way of making a name change (or not, or maybe) was through unanimous decision.
The next stage of the evening would see the various alliances ridiculing any name suggestions made by their opponents, while robustly claiming that their own idea was the best. Subtle alterations or alternatives would be suggested but all would be shouted down. As the evening wore on, and the pizzas began to take effect, the band name suggestions would become more and more nonsensical, eventually reaching the point where even the uttering of (THE) WORLD’S GREATEST BAND NAME would pass by unnoticed.
The evening would end with one or all of the following voting outcomes:
- The female singer / partner split up
- The female signer / guitarist quit and form a new band with the new / old name – big problem.
- Male singer / guitarist / keyboard player all quit and form a new band with the new / old band name. The problem here (as with the first scenario) is if the band is doing originals, who’s writing the songs?
- The newest members leave – no real problem here.
- The bass player / drummer quit – no real problem here (apart from that van!)
- The band splits!
For the last 18 years my band, with various line ups and truly gifted and talented musicians, has been called INDABA. After a unanimous decision last weekend, this band is now called The Thundamentalists… and there wasn’t a pizza in sight!