impaled gail, lynched lyndon

3/28/07

So, our band is trying to come up with a name. We have a show in about three weeks, and lots of ideas have been thrown out, many of which sound great for about fifteen seconds, and then are met with the postmodern monosyllabic “meh.” It’s getting tiring, because none of them truly hit the ball out of the park, and I’m as much to blame as anybody. I always used to get some freshman city desk editor to write the headline for my newspaper columns because I hated doing it so much, and this requires the same skill set.

Here’s the big problem: words are so evocative that almost any seemingly-innocuous name can alarm the hairs on the back of your neck. On Tuesday, after overhearing a lady describing her two Jack Russell terriers at a magazine rack, I thought “Broken Coat” would be a great band name. One day later, however, I realized it sounded like a lonely emo high school group.

And so we look to our childhood for names that made us feel good when we were six, but they’re all copyrighted, and besides, pretty much every geological layer of our nostalgia has been ruined by excessive digging. I blame the internet for ruining our memories. Talking about the minutiae of our pasts – “hey, do you remember…” – used to be so divine, but now, it’s all on YouTube and there are entire websites devoted to shit like Spirographs and Spokey Dokes.

I beseeched my band to find a name from our youth “that hasn’t been through the ironic meatgrinder,” and for about five minutes, they wanted to name the band Ironic Meatgrinder.

I miss the unspoken, occasional memories that flash out from our childhood. I loved it when we would sit on the porch at the Purple House and talk about bands we loved and toys we played with. There was an “undiscovered country” about those memories, and it allowed us personal access and a shared history. Now all of that crap is plastered everywhere, about two clicks away from a Google search term.

I can’t talk about my childhood anymore without being paralyzingly self-conscious. Nostalgia only works when it’s tenuously out of reach. And it’s hell on band names.

0 thoughts on “impaled gail, lynched lyndon

  1. Beth

    The part about “Ironic Meatgrinder” had me laughing my head off. I also loved “meh”–I had to say it aloud a few times because I’d never seen that monosyllable spelled out, and you hit it perfectly.

    Reply
  2. emma

    My favorite childhood toy was my Mrs. Beasley doll – the same one Buffy had on Family Affair. It’s a little too girly for a band name though.
    One of my favorite band names from a childhood memory was Veruca Salt.

    Reply
  3. Mom

    From your childhood? How far back?
    EZbake?
    But alas, even that version with the copyright-avoiding initials has been co-opted a dozen times. ThinkGeek, for example has this.
    http://urlizer.com/00/2096/
    Actually, I think some band names are too coy or pretentious or self-consciously iconoclastic. The good names are usually single words or text-message code-like. Nirvana, XTC, Yes, The Polce, (articles don’t count) et al. The single-word names get the whole moniker thing out of the way and you can get straight to the music.
    Good luck!

    Reply
  4. kent

    From Captain Kangaroo: Bunny Rabbit. It takes a certain sort of genius to look at a rabbit hand puppet, and name it something so redundantly obvious. Then if you watch the show, it becomes so much that character’s name that you have to stop and think that it’s not just a name, it’s a description. And more than that it’s redundantly over-specified.

    Reply
  5. Chris M

    Broken Coat reminded me of what a co-worker (she was a flight attendant and so was I) once said to describe her messy hair, “I’ve got a busted wig.” Never heard anyone else use the expression.
    I think Busted Wig would be a great name for a band.

    Reply
  6. The other Lee

    here’s a hopefully not stupid question, what kind of music will the band be playing? Because as you noted words are powerful and yes “Broken Coat” does sound like an emo band.
    Of course you could go for the “huh” factor and have something just out there. Maybe the “Cute and Fuzzy (or Fluffy) Bunnies” or “Berserker Penguins” or something 50’s hokey retro/faux gospel “The Williams Brothers Band”
    Personally I would probably go with something from the comics pages. Maybe “The Spaghetti Incident” (if that hasn’t been taken) or “Weirdo’s from another planet” from Calvin and Hobbes. I would suggest “The Icy Black Hand of Death Club” which was the original name of the G.R.O.S.S Club but it’s already taken I believe.

    Reply
  7. CL

    How about the Citiots? I’m just waiting for you to mention that New York Mag article this week, written by one of your kinda neighbors. ;)

    Reply
  8. Cris

    Wasn’t the term “coastopia” created on this blog? Seems like a catchy band name to me, but then I have no creative flair when it comes to such things.
    I totally agree with Mom that single words (not counting articles) work best for band names. Just my opinion.

    Reply
  9. Anne D.

    Think along the lines of “OK Go” — great band name, IMO. (Also, great band, again IMO… they’re smart and they rock. They are WAY more than a treadmill video, especially if you can see them in concert, live.) Can you conjure any simple phrases like that?
    How about an Internet abbrevation or acronym? Like: YMMV. (maybe too hard to say) FWIW. (ditto) BRB (Be Right Back– that phrase alone is kind of cool). FTF, or Face to Face. I dunno!
    I actually like the name “Purple House.” Maybe too evocative of Prince, though… heh heh.
    I know: “Coastopia”! Instantly recognizable to many. :-)

    Reply
  10. Andy

    I go through somewhat of the same process when I try to name my fantasy football team each year. For band names, I always try to think about what it will sound like when you are introduced on stage (i.e. – “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome __________!!!”) Here are my votes:
    Death By Jart (building on Curtis)
    Meh
    Coastopia (I really like that suggestion!)
    ENS5 (or however many people are in your band: “Ian’s 5” – get it?)
    Wednesday’s Child
    The Bounce (not sure why I like this)
    Secondary Break (UNC basketball reference)
    Zipper Shoe (remember Kangaroo shoes?)

    Reply
  11. Anne D.

    Oo, what Curtis said: the Jarts.
    Or: Daddo and the Jarts (very retro sounding)
    This is much more fun than doing year-end budget projections for my actual job.

    Reply
  12. Sean M

    “The Lucy Bug” popped into my head for some reason…but maybe too specific to you and non-inclusive for the rest of the band? Also sounds kind of like a disease (aw, man, I got a case of The Lucy Bug…”, but one that everyone would be lucky to catch.
    OK, need coffee now. Ooo, new band name — The Grande Drips.

    Reply
  13. Bud

    If you want to draw a crowd, I think the name “Free Beer” should do the trick. Might lead to some frustrated fans, but it would be interesting….

    Reply
  14. noj

    i’ve been holding on to this name for a side project, but i’ll give it to you if you want it:
    The Minibeasts
    “Quite literally, a ‘minibeast’ is simply a small animal. Spiders, snails, slugs, beetles, centipedes, worms, earwigs, caterpillars……these are just a few well-known examples of the thousands and thousands of types of ‘creepy-crawlies’ that exist all over the world. Officially, minibeasts are called invertebrates which are animals without a backbone, and these are the most numerous type of animal in the world”

    Reply
  15. killian

    Daddo and the Jarts gets a vote from me. . . and Coastopia!!
    Ironic Meatgrinder sounds like a vegetarian group. . .
    What kind of music DO you play?

    Reply
  16. eric g.

    Out of all of the suggestions, I like anything involving “Jart” and I also think Andy’s “Secondary Break” is brilliant. Also, can we send the word “meh” back where it came from? It’s almost as annoying as the poster child for modern defeatism “it is what it is.” I searched for the derivation of “meh” one evening after seeing it on Ian’s nephew Lucas’ blog, and several sources traced its origin to none other than Lisa Simpson!

    Reply
  17. Annie

    I don’t think this will ever make it past this page, Ian, but how about “My Orange Huffy”?
    Another long shot: “The ScrumplyumptiousSnuggleSofnessBearz”!
    Truly, “Daddo and the Jarts” is pure genius.
    See you in LESS than a week!!!

    Reply
  18. xuxE

    sucked right in, DANG! ok, here goes:
    lunchbox
    the grown men
    the gigolos (spelling?)
    cheeky bastards
    fun dip
    boones farm
    goonies
    gremlins
    1983
    the underpants
    smelly underpants
    the underoos
    batman vs. dracula
    the wondertwins
    land of the lost
    candy for breakfast
    beatopia
    bowling for dollars
    big brothers
    suckfest
    the devil’s spawn
    go fish
    tv dinners
    salisbury steak
    cafeteria bullies
    drama club
    band number 3
    california roll
    the avocados
    MANGO!
    just add water
    ramen kings
    bloody fools
    peanut butter sandwich

    Reply
  19. Greg T

    We The Feeble (WTF) – or any other name that gives you WTF as an acronym
    Stupidity Kills
    Mother’s Little Helper
    Lonesome Drone (I have no idea why that popped into my mind but I kinda like the images it conjures)
    Brilliant
    Flagrant Foul
    Hoop & Harm
    JanglePop
    Too Loud
    Jackie Manuel
    Bozoette Mary
    LFMD
    Pete & Pete (you could get Iggy Pop & Michael Stipe to do cameos like on the show)
    Schoolhouse Rock
    At 13 I created the name Xanthus based on the mythical sound – the band never quite formed around the name.
    I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was a real name for a Greek river and last year was shocked to see a band with that name. That’s a whole lotta monkeys typing.
    Speaking of which, how ’bout Ghost Chimp, M.D. (GCMD)?
    Some names have been used that I like…
    KMFDM (later changed to MDFMK – brilliant!)
    Mother’s Finest (their logo was MF in a supermanesque sheild)
    This IS much ore interesting than my regular job, too bad it doesn’t pay and I’m not any good at it :)

    Reply
  20. Brian

    In High Point, I was in a band called Ground Control. I always hated the name.
    I wanted to name it “Bugspot Wallpaper” which was what my father called the hideous wallcovering in our kitchen.
    Brian from the Spanish House

    Reply
  21. Anne D.

    I’m back for more. Who needs a coffee break when we can name bands?–
    Elements of Style
    The Royal We (or: The Editorial We)
    (the next 3 are all candy names; I’m in dire need of an afternoon snack…)
    Big Hunk Candy Bar
    Blow Pops
    Mr. Goodbar
    (more food:) Hotdish (see Wiki)
    And, one more time: Daddo and the Jarts (had to vote twice)

    Reply
  22. Drake

    Can’t resist throwing in some of my thoughts…
    Traipsing Memories
    Banana Fana Fo
    rEGAL sHITSTORM
    Happy Go Sucky
    Fat Guy Horde
    Pretty Sneaky Sis
    Gumbutt
    Rowena Fuller’s Back Waxer
    Selected Hilarity (nah – over used)
    ========
    If you use any of these I want free tickes to a show. ;)

    Reply
  23. ken

    I was in a band in H.S. that I named Rubber Husbands and I’m still pretty proud of naming (and still retain the rights to). For the record, a ‘rubber husband’ is one of those rubber discs that one uses to open stubborn jars.
    Of the more recent names I’ve contemplated:
    You Got It!
    Visqueen
    Fogboy (a band I was in was named this for a week)
    Dust Jacket (kinda close to broken coat tho)
    Galley Slaves
    Smorgasbord
    Blumpie (has sexual connotations)
    I want a thank-you credit on your first recording and guest list privileges when you come to Chicago if you use any of mine. ;)

    Reply
  24. stakin

    I’m with Grumphries. I think “The Old Sours” though.
    Haha.
    Crook’s was awesome, by the way.
    Thanks again
    Another name to think of:
    The Old Wells
    I don’t know how many of the other people in your band have UNC connections but I’ve also always thought the Dean Smiths would be a good band name. Or the Dead Kryzewskis or however you spell it.
    There is a band that plays in Columbus, Ohio every Friday night before the Ohio State-Michigan game called the Dead Schembechlers and they all dress like Woody Hayes. I find it hilarious.
    But I know it’s sorta uncool for some “serious” band people to make those kind of references, I’ve always enjoyed it.
    Of course, I’m the guy who wrote a song called “Jordan is the Boy”
    back when Magic and Bird kept getting the NBA MVP award instead of him.

    Reply
  25. Ian

    Jesus Christ, you people are good. I didn’t even ask for band names, and now I have a ton to take to the guys (and girl). Two of you came up with names of bands I’ve already been in:
    Williams Bros. (me and Sean)
    Purple House (me, Matt McM and Noj)
    Keep ’em coming if you have them!

    Reply
  26. Carolyn

    Daddo and the Jarts is pure brilliance. Anything with Jarts, actually.
    Purple House was my first kneejerk thought, but all things Jarts trump anything else.
    PS. I have been reading your blog for a few years after stumbling upon it while doing another search. I recognized you at the Fox commissary last spring and emailed you, remember? Turns out I worked with a friend of yours in the mobile fiasco… Ellen. Since then I think I have spotted you at Starbucks on Beverly a couple of times. Its like you are a type of “under the radar” famous. Weird, huh.

    Reply
  27. I lurk to avoid googlers

    The Lurkers
    La Maison Rose
    GlobalCoolers
    Equal Temperament
    The Quartertones
    3 Drams Later
    Bach Spawn (BaxxxSpawn)
    Multiple Stops
    Invert This
    Supertonic
    Coastopia Quartet

    Reply
  28. kent

    Any band name, search for it on myspace before getting serious about it.
    “Stretch Armstrong” is/was a Utah Ska band. They, in fact, played at the bowling alley near Klea’s house. I miss 870 E 700 N.
    Given your rufous hirsuteness, a good South Park reference would be to call yourselves the Soulless Gingers.

    Reply
  29. xuxE

    ok, you asked for it…!
    more, more, more
    anatomically correct
    devil dogs
    sleaze y sneakers
    chuck y cheeze
    love and lust
    lampshade hats
    piss and moan
    cheap tacos
    friend or foe
    irresistable geek
    pain killers
    free drugs
    ponzi
    bass heads
    rubber baby buggy bumpers
    shag rug pirates
    graffitti (spelling?)
    yeah, right
    gnip gnop
    the what
    the doomed
    wankers from the great beyond
    the dealbreakers
    paris hilton (would do wonders for your itunes rank)
    fluffernutter
    mr. peanut
    deep shit
    steal this band
    the afterparty

    Reply
  30. GFWD

    I was going to be the 12th poster, but I used a banned word (the game of Texas and Hold ‘Em), so my additions are late:
    Here were my suggestions but I got blocked.
    1. BUCKET OF BONES (both an homage to Billy AND a description of your band of old geezers getting together to rock and you can market the band with little dancing chicken bones like the Grateful Dead, or outlines of chicken drumsticks like the PEACE fish you see on the backs of cars.)
    Following in Andy’s footsteps with the basketball references:
    2. BOX AND ONE
    3. BLUE TEAM
    4. 12th MAN
    5. BEYOND THE ARC
    6. DOUBLE DOWN (Both a basketball and Blackjack term)
    7. DINGLEBERRY (self-explanatory)
    8. MOOKIE BLAYLOCK (Pearl Jam’s first name choice)

    Reply
  31. LFMD

    Daddo and the Jarts has my vote!
    How about the Celextastics? Effexorama? SSRIs R Us?
    Nah. . . . me neither.

    Reply
  32. flaco

    single malt me
    extant thread
    the whitfield unit
    cephalofunk
    nartzeezee
    chalkpack
    foursquare english
    fiveply anacrucis
    yoam deam niros
    yuppers
    elf pensif

    Reply
  33. jje

    Since earlier today I had a Pottery Barn Kids stockboy ask me, “So did you ever think you’d get this great [Carolina] education and end up a homemaker?”…please let my poor SAHM-addled brain play, too.
    Perusing a site of toys from the ’70s…
    Firetron Superball
    Don’t Spill the Beans
    The Farbs
    Fuzzy Wuzzy Soap
    Giggle Stick
    Growin’ Up Skipper
    The Honey Hill Bunch
    Magic Growing Rocks
    Major Matt Mason
    The Micronauts
    Patches McGee
    Peachy And Her Puppets
    Ready Ranger
    Romper Stompers
    Sea Monkeys
    Shift Kickers
    Skip-It
    Slip ‘n’ Slide
    Smash Up Derby
    Space Hopper
    The Weeble Wobbles
    Wham-O Super Stuff
    Schwinn Stingray
    Grover

    Reply
  34. Annie

    I can’t believe I’m posting 1 hour before heading to the airport with much still to pack, but I felt compelled to say: There was a Chapel Hill band called Grover! It was Angie Carlson’s band. I think Andy Ware played bass for them…
    Daddo and the Jarts! Daddo and the Jarts!

    Reply
  35. jje

    So Grover is taken, eh? Poo.
    Going back to The Street:
    Aloysius Snuffleupagus
    Forgetful Jones
    Guy Smiley
    The Amazing Mumford
    Same Sound Brown
    Slimey the Worm
    The TwiddleBugs
    Journey to Ernie
    Yip-Yips
    That’s it. Connor and I are starting our own band. We already have instruments and, uh, a very unique sound.
    http://www.drtoy.com/2005_1/2005_1_003.php

    Reply
  36. jje

    Great googily moogily – Guy Smiley and Forgetful Jones are both existing bands.
    Slimey the Worm does not appear to be taken, however.

    Reply
  37. CL

    Name it after that kid who wrote his name in your barn, Henry Haywood or whatever it was. Except, that will give you the “jethro tull” problem of everyone thinking your band is just a guy.

    Reply
  38. Just Andrew

    I’m late to the party, a couple more for the fire:
    I remember an old National Geographic special which featured this strange mountain goat that didn’t possess the fight or flight reaction, the show mostly consisted of scientists sneaking up on them and saying ‘boo’ – the goats would freeze and fall over – hilarious.
    anyways, I always liked ‘Fight or Flight Reaction’ as a band name.
    howzabout Wisdom Sooth
    or in honor of the Veldt, you could be the fjords
    or in honor of Ghumphries old band, Dillon Epee
    The Inner Child Proof Caps

    Reply
  39. oliver

    Knowing almost nothing about the band or the music is all but crippling, but I like “The Jarts.” For some reason “The Pantaloons” comes to mind.

    Reply

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