The 25 Most Ridiculous Band Names in Rock History
Here's a scenario: You start a rock band, which you just happen to name after spending several hours huffing paint and drinking bleach. You spend a few years playing small clubs until you're discovered by a major label and start selling a lot of records. And suddenly you realize that the stupid name you thought up when you were huffing all that paint is going to follow you around for the rest of your life.
Here are the 25 bands who, regardless of their own musical quality, have the stupidest names on record.
These band names aren't as laugh-out-loud idiotic as some of the others we'll get to-in fact, several of our staff admitted that Porno for Pyros was actually a pretty cool name. They're ridiculous in the sense that the more you think about them, the more they make no sense whatsoever.
Porno for Pyros
The story: Former Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell came up with the name while watching coverage of the LA riots on television. Presumably while jacking off.
Why it's ridiculous: Pornography for pyromaniacs is, for all intents and purposes, regular pornography. Sure, there are maybe a few crazy people out there getting sexual pleasure from watching videos of people setting fires-but your garden variety pyromaniac isn't renting College Slut Matches & Gasoline Party VII. He's out burning down the neighborhood Costco. It turns out they just really like burning stuff.
The story: Lead singer Chad Kroeger was having trouble coming up with a name, and so approached his brother, who worked at a Starbucks. Coffee was $1.95, which meant every customer who paid two bucks got-waiiiit for it-a nickel back. (It was either that or We're Sorry About the Homeless Man Shooting Up in the Bathroom.)
Why it's ridiculous: Asking cashiers at franchise coffee shops for career advice can only end in tragedy. (Kroeger suffered similar woes after getting a Wal-Mart greeter to do his taxes for him, resulting in the repossession of his house.) If you walk up to the cashier behind a Starbucks counter and, instead of ordering a Tall Sumatran, ask them to name your shitty band, odds are you're going to get something giving-people-change-for-coffee-based.
23. The Alan Parsons Project
The story: Founder Alan Parsons started a "project" with other "project administration personnel" to "drill down" on this whole "music" thing he'd heard so much about. So he named it that.
Why it's ridiculous: It's one thing to just name your band after yourself, like ego cases Dave Matthews and Ben Folds did. But once you've made the choice to be lazy, you're not allowed to get all clever with it afterwards. Besides, it makes the band sound like the sort of after-school activity all the kids who didn't make the basketball team got stuck with. "Today, class, we're going to build Alan Parsons... from common household items!"
These next entries earn their place on the list for the sheer lack of thought the bands later admitted they gave to their names. If the bands had spent any less time coming up with something, they would have ended up calling themselves The Band Name.
22. Stone Temple Pilots
The story: One of the band members thought the logo on the STP car treatment spray bottles was cool. So yes, in case you were wondering: a lot of thought went into this.
Why it's ridiculous: Most of the band members seemed to think titling songs "Kitchenware & Candy Bars" and getting addicted to heroin was a fantastic idea, too. Evidence suggests they might not be the guys to turn to for well-reasoned decisions. The mental image of four guys flying around ancient Aztec temples matches up better with a psychedelic rock band, not a bunch of cock-rockers penning songs like "Meatplow" and "Sex-Type Thing."
21. Matchbox 20
The story: Explanations range from the name being the title of a song from an earlier band to the band's drummer seeing the word "matchbox" and the number 20 on a guy's shirt in a restaurant. Either way, shut the fuck up, Rob Thomas.
Why it's ridiculous: If you're going to pick a band name that doesn't mean shit, there's an unspoken rule it should at least sound cool (Soundgarden, etc). Matchbox 20 manages a triple play of mediocrity: It's incomprehensible, it's boring and it's not even very original, given how many other generic bands showed up at the same time as matchbox with "word-number" combos (Blink-182, Sum 41, 13 Engines, Seven Mary Three, etc.).
20. Smashing Pumpkins
The story: More of a cautionary tale than anything else, bandmates Billy Corgan and co. reportedly dashed the name off quickly so they could get on with their lives, not realizing they'd be fielding lame pumpkin-based jokes about it for the rest of their lives.
Why it's ridiculous: According to a November 1993 Washington Post interview with bass player D'arcy Wretzky, even the band thinks Smashing Pumpkins "is a stupid name, a dumb bad joke and a bad idea," which should tell you something. These days, they claim the name doesn't even have anything to do with pummeling squash fruit, in that "smashing" was meant to imply "great" (as in the British slang), like that somehow makes it less stupid. It'd be like accidentally crapping yourself on a bus, then telling everyone it's okay, because you meant to: Nobody cares why you did it, Shitty Pants.
19. Def Leppard
The story: Singer Joe Elliott thought of the name Deaf Leopard while he was in school (presumably while failing something). The spelling was later changed so the band didn't become confused with punk bands (who are known for their flawless spelling).
Why it's ridiculous: Putting aside '80s metal bands' fascination with animals for a minute (White Tiger, Whitesnake, Great White, Jackyl, Ratt) unless you're a Mozart-level talent, there's simply no excuse for including a word in your band's name that means you can't hear sounds. You might as well just call yourself Terrible Music and save people the energy of mocking you.
The story: Eager for a cool-sounding metal band name, Blackie Lawless, Rik Fox, Randy Piper and Tony Richards decided to take the word "wasp," then for no reason punctuate the shit out of it.
Why it's ridiculous: When not naming themselves after animals, insects, or something misspelled, metal bands love acronyms. However, unlike KISS (which at least purportedly means "Knights In Satan's Service") or H.I.M. ("His Infernal Majesty"), the best that Lawless has been able to come up over the years is "We Ain't Sure, Pal." (This is probably better than "White Anglo-Saxon Protestants," but only slightly.) Worse, looking at W.A.S.P. song titles like "L.O.V.E. Machine" and "9.5.- N.A.S.T.Y." you start to suspect they might not even know what an acronym is, and just think punctuating stuff looks badass.
17. Puddle of Mudd
The story: The 1993 Missouri River flood left the band's practice space a muddy mess, which led them to this name-instead of the far better one, Missouri River Flood.
Why it's ridiculous: Not only do we get an extra "d" for no reason (these guys are the anti-Staind), we also have the privilege of getting an altogether unnecessary word. No, it couldn't just be Mudd Puddle. We definitely need that extra "of." Just like when you're ordering lunch and will sometimes get a sandwich of tuna with chips of potato. Bonus ridiculousness: This band name would actually work perfectly as the name for a bohemian coffee shop where a girl in an orange tank top with a brown bandana on her head asks if you want an organic wheat muffin.
16. Of Montreal
The story: Frontman Kevin Barnes has told many conflicting stories about where this Athens, Ga. band got their name, but the one that seems to have gained acceptance is that he was dating a girl from Montreal and it didn't work out.
Why it's ridiculous: What's the word for those people who change their explanation for something 100 times before settling on an excuse that sounds vaguely implausible? Oh, that's right, liars! Barnes named his band Of Montreal because he wanted people to think his band was from Montreal. He knew just as well as everyone else that if your group is from Montreal, you can record yourself taking a poop on a xylophone and Pitchfork will give it a sparkling review. Meanwhile, the last time a great band came out of Athens, Michael Stipe still thought he was straight. But why not just name the band "We're from Montreal" then, and get it over with? Oh right, because Barnes wanted to make it extraordinarily difficult for fans to use his band's name in a sentence:
Of Montreal Fan: Ever heard of Of Montreal? I'm a fan of Of Montreal. In my book there's nobody above Of Montreal.
Hot Indie Chick: You're hooked on phonics, aren't you?
There's really just no defending these. These band names don't even have the excuse of laziness to fall back on. Sadly, the people involved probably thought about it a great deal. They just weren't very good at thinking.
15. Goo Goo Dolls
The story: The band found the name in an issue of True Detective Magazine after a club owner balked at their original name, the Sex Maggots.
Why it's ridiculous: Say it out loud. There's your reason. But not only does the name sound like something an infant would gargle while bursting forth out of the birth canal, it doesn't come anywhere near to complimenting the band's sound (neither does the Sex Maggots, for that matter). Sure it might have seemed like an ironic name back when you guys were young and confident that you'd always rock the fuck out, but now you're on adult contemporary radio, and your name reminds people of the gurgling mess in the back seat that brought their youth to an abrupt end. ROCK!
14. The The
The story: A British act decided to come up with a band name even more ironically detached than the Band, just to make Robbie Robertson feel like an asshole.
Why it's ridiculous: A band name this overtly meta is bound to either leave most people reenacting an annoying version of the Abbott and Costello routine or presuming you have a stutter. It also displays a level of pretentiousness that triggers an innate defense mechanism in most human beings to avoid your smug little dipshit band at all costs. (It's also not terribly smart to choose a name guaranteed to make it impossible for people to Google you.)
13. Mr. Mister
The story: The band's name references a record by another band called the Weather Report, which had the line "Mister Fister" in it.
Why it's ridiculous: Mr. Mister manages a one-two punch of mediocrity: They've plagiarized an idea another band had, then changed it around just enough to obliterate all the wit and substance from the idea. We're not suggesting the band still wouldn't be on this list if it'd gone with Mister Fister instead. But at least that sounds like the kind of dumb, filthy joke you and your friends might come up with. Mr. Mister sounds like the kind of joke a five-year-old would tell to one of his toys.
12. The Mr. T Experience
The story: The members saw Mr. T on television and thought, for some reason, it would be funny to name their band after him.
Why it's ridiculous: If they'd turned on the TV a few seconds earlier in the credits, would they have called themselves the George Peppard Explosion? Besides, you're just inviting your audience to focus on whichever dumb-assed B-grade celebrity you named your band after instead of on your dumb-assed, B-grade music. People going to your concerts hoping for a dose of jibba-jabba and fool-pitying are only going to leave heartbroken. (Kathleen Turner Overdrive had this same problem.)
11. Panic! At the Disco
The story: Named after the Smiths song, "Panic," which includes a line about a disco burning down. Note that this offers no explanation whatsoever for the exclamation mark/typo.
Why it's ridiculous: Much like their contemporaries in the whine-rock genre, the title utterly fails at being either cute or intelligent, and is instead simply annoying. At least Fall Out Boy is a Simpsons reference. A bad and obvious one, sure, but that has to earn you a little mileage. Panic! At the Disco makes us imagine a bunch of effeminate guys running around a dance floor freaking out because they ran out of eyeliner.
10. Limp Bizkit
The story: Rumor has it that the name comes from the title of the masturbation game, "limp biscuit," in which a group of, no doubt, highly intelligent scholars stand around a biscuit and masturbate onto it. The last guy to ejaculate has to eat it. So in a metaphorical way, the American public has been losing this game every time Limp Bizkit released an album.
Why it's ridiculous: Following the naming convention of its mentor band Korn, Limp Bizkit intentionally misspelled their band name, because that's phat with the kids. Fred Durst was apparently operating under the impression that naming his band after a game in which a bunch of lonely white teenagers stand around jacking off in front of each other was just a little too intellectually haughty, and decided to "dumb it down a little" for us proles. Oh, and it's pretty much never a good idea to describe your hard rock band as "limp." (See Def Leppard.)
The story: A group of British "anarchists" with strong political opinions needed a band name that resonated with the passion of their views, and so picked a gibberish word that means nothing.
Why it's ridiculous: Rage Against the Machine might be a little trite for a band name, but at least it gets the point across: Its members are furious with society for vague reasons you'll need to purchase the album to discover. U2's name doesn't mean anything overtly political, but Bono makes up for it by writing lots of preachy songs about world peace and running around U.N. conferences pretending to be the President of Earth. Chumbawamba, meanwhile, has a retarded name, and their only political statement to date is 'Tubthumping,' which takes the controversial stance that it's incredibly fun to get shitfaced.
8. Enuff Z'nuff
The story: Founding member Chip Z'nuff's name rhymed with "enough." And so a legacy of reason was born.
Why it's ridiculous: We're not even convinced this one needs explaining. We've got misspelling, an unnecessary apostrophe, a name that implies impatience with the band itself, a horribly stupid origin story and a guy whose name is Chip Z'Nuff. Plus it rhymes. All kidding aside, how do you come up with something that stupid and not get stopped by loved ones?
Okay, these are just awful.
7. Mott the Hoople
The story: When the band regrouped in the late 1960s, their new manager changed their name from Silence to Mott the Hoople, after a novel of the same name about a circus freak.
Why it's ridiculous: First of all, we don't know anyone who's ever read, or even heard of the novel. We asked a professor of mid-20th century circus freak literature if he'd read it, and he punched us in the stomach for making up such a stupid sounding novel. Also, calling anything Mott the Hoople basically begs one to enquire what the hell a Hoople is, for which of course there's no good answer. It's basically the band name version of the joke that goes "You've got some updoc on your shoulder!" Only when the person replies, "What's up, doc?" you say, "I have no idea, something about a circus freak."
The story: In an interview, here's what the band's vocalist, Doug Robb, had to say about the name: "It's really cool, it's one of those old high school inside-joke words that didn't really mean anything."
Why it's ridiculous: Actually, Doug Robb, it's not really cool. If you're going to name your band after a high school inside-joke word that doesn't mean anything, why not use a word that doesn't sound like something you'd shout if you had to wear a helmet all the time and liked to chase after rabbits? Also, you might want to avoid names that manage to suggest, in some way, that your hoobas stink like shit.
5. Toad the Wet Sprocket
The story: The band named themselves after a comment in an Eric Idle monologue on a Monty Python album. This, then, is the musical equivalent of the A/V club nerds who recited the "Knights Who Say Nee" sketch over and over.
Why it's ridiculous: Look, just because your band's name is intentionally ridiculous doesn't mean it doesn't count. It's like wearing a Care Bears T-shirt ironically. Yes, you know it's a joke, but at the end of the day, you're a grown man, you're wearing a Care Bears shirt and, we're sorry, you need to be ashamed of yourself. In the same vein, you can talk all you want about the cred naming your band after a Python gag gets you, but it doesn't change the words, or how stupid they sound. Now, Owl Stretching Time: There's a name for a band.
4. Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts
Story: There are competing origin stories for the name of Russell Crowe's band, neither of which anyone but writers of Worst Band Name Lists care about. Since we fall into that category, here's the one that sounds most plausible to us: Russell Crowe added up the collective height of the band members and then came up with the word that most closely approximated his nuanced vocal stylings.
Why it's ridiculous: In Crowe's excitement over coming up with a gimmicky band name that suggests he can't sing, and in his band mates excitement to agree with that name lest he pummel them with whatever household object was nearest at hand, the boys apparently forgot to make Foot plural. Also, you'd think a guy who lives on a secluded all-male ranch and is constantly dodging gay rumors would have come up with something that sounds a little less like a gay porno.
3. Hootie and the Blowfish
The story: The band is named for two of singer Darius Rucker's college choir friends, nicknamed "Hootie" and "the Blowfish" because one looked like an owl and the other like a blowfish. Interesting note: That choir was named Darius the Black Guy & The Two Ugliest Dudes on Campus.
Why it's ridiculous: In a word: "hootie." In four: "hootie," "and," "the" and "blowfish." We now know from scientific studies performed in 1998 at Cambridge that there isn't a single aspect of Hootie and the Blowfish's name that doesn't invite you, the listener, on a subconscious simian level, to punch each of them in the face until they agree to change it.
2. Archers of Loaf
The story: Because the band members apparently wanted to spend every single interview talking about their name, they came up with the stupidest one they could think of.
Why it's ridiculous: Because it's clearly just the result of opening the dictionary two times and using the first word one of the guys pointed to. Unfortunately, one of the words happens to be "loaf," as in "meat" or "pinching a." Also, here's a hint, fellas: If you go out of your way to give yourselves a dumb name, reporters aren't going to ignore it. They're going to ask you about it. And then you'll have to tell the story about how Mike put on a blindfold and pointed at the middle of page 67 in Webster's every day for the rest of your lives.
The story: aka Chk-Chk-Chk. In the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, the clicks in the Bushmen's native language were represented with exclamation marks in the subtitles. The band thought that was cool, apparently, and named themselves three clicks. (This also makes the second band that's completely unsearchable by Google.)
Why it's ridiculous: "Hey, Nic Offer, lead singer of the three-exclamation-mark band whose name I can't even begin to pronounce, even after I heard them masturbating all over you on NPR, why did you name your band three exclamation marks?"
"Have you seen the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy?"
"Oh. Well, then I really can't explain it."
(A Coke bottle descends from the sky and hits Offer on the head, sending him on an amazing journey of discovery.)
Read more of Matt's ramblings and participate in discussions all about his band, Live Lobster Special, on The MW Blog.