How to name your band – Spoiler, there are no rules to this thing.

Foo Fighters, The Beatles, Post Malone, Atreyu, The Postal Service, Barenaked Ladies, Alvin and the Chipmunks… Okay, maybe not the last one. 

The name of the blog is how to name your band, but the truth is, there are no rules to this thing. The Foo Fighters doesn’t make any sense, and somehow it totally works.

Actually, with the exception of the last one and The Postal Service, none of these names make any sense. Let me point out the obvious here and say that a bands name has the same value of your own name, Steve. If your name were Kevin instead of Steve, it really wouldn’t make a lot of difference to you or anyone else. Now, let’s say your name was Mary as a boy, that would probably suck. Still, ultimately we dictate the value of a name.

I’ve set the field perfectly with that killer example (I wish I were really that confident). Now, let’s liken this to band names. If you are a metal band, you probably don’t want to be named The Temptations. It just feels kind of off. I use the Temptations instead of following through my first urge of calling it “Mary had a little band” or something ironic. This is what is interesting about band names and what makes it different from a person’s name.

  • Sometimes irony works when naming a band. I have seen too many groups struggle far too long with naming a band, and then pick something super (subjectively) lame.
  • I’m going to make the first rule of thumb, don’t over think it. If it sounds good, it is probably good.
What about… HELLO?
Oh I like that! But I feel like I’ve heard it before.

Do you know the reason Stone Temple Pilots picked that name? They just like the way that STP looked. That’s it, there’s no reason behind it. They were very big! I remember I was talking with a label (disclaimer, it was a very small label, we have another name for this… its called a scam) they didn’t like the name of the band (Winchester) they asked us to come together and decide on a new band name. We went through a lot of names… I mean A LOT of names! I didn’t love most of them, I know this was because I was thinking way too hard about the whole thing. Eventually, we got back to the label, and they picked three names for us to choose between. They were all something I wouldn’t be proud of being called. We countered with “What about naming it, Dean Nelson? Just keeping us underneath the name of the artist?” They responded that they didn’t like that sound of the name. It’s my name, I mean that is my name! When we asked them why they didn’t like it, they said: “We knew a Dean who worked here, he wasn’t very nice.”

Even now as I write this three years after that conversation, I put the palm of my hand to my face.

It doesn’t matter! If a no can be as simple as “I once knew someone with your name.” Then what’s the point of painfully going over all the options? No, what is crucial is picking something that YOU are proud to be called. You can name your band Speed Dog the Fluff Buttand if you are happy to be called that, then that’s all that matters!

Fun spellings can be cool, but don’t go too crazy. Have you ever met someone named Dafydd? I have, it’s confusing as shit. You want to call the group something that you love, but that is also easily accessible. If your band member has a hard time pronouncing or remembering the name, I won’t pick it.

  • Not everyone will love the band name you pick, its ok!
  • Band names with that start with “The” seem to become popular every other decade. Isn’t that weird and kind of funny?
  • Sometimes it helps to combine two words that shouldn’t go together and make a new word. Coldplay, Radiohead, Redhill. These things shouldn’t work, but they do. It has a nice flow to them.
  • Don’t be afraid to give it the old test run before you try it out for real. Go play a few open mic nights under that name and see if you like the way it sounds over the PA system.
The owner’s name is actually Pete.

I’m not sure why “The Jakes” doesn’t work, it just doesn’t. I can assume that it is because it puts a different image in my head versus “Young the Giant” both of these are made up of words. But one seems to grab my attention and the other sounds like your older brother’s Garageband that played at NXNW (a sad rip-off of the famous concert series in Austin) So, if you can find something that has a little mystery to it, meaning a series of words that have a nice flow and are intriguing. I would recommend going with them. Just remember, if The Jakes never became Young the Giant, they would still probably be killing it right now. Don’t overthink it.

  • I believe this is true of life – We go wrong when we start worrying about what other people will think or say. It’s okay if they don’t like it.

In the music industry, at every level, you will be criticized for how you sing, how you play, what you look like… You need to have some thick skin if you want to make this a full-time thing. It’s ok to have your mind changed by someone. It’s ok to try and fail and come back the next week and fail again, and again. That is part of life, and it’s the only way you improve. You will not grow if it stays locked in your mind. I heard this quote recently, I’ll do my best to paraphrase it.

“I tell my kids, what is the difference between a hero and a coward? No difference. Only what you do. They both feel the same. They both fear dying and getting hurt. The man who is a coward refuses to face up to what he’s got to face. The hero is more, and he fights those feelings off, and he does what he has to do. But they both feel the same, the hero and the coward.”

You subconsciously ask yourself every single day, every single time you’re faced with a decision, are you a hero or a coward?

I feel that bands get caught up in the process of naming themselves because they are afraid of being themselves. Maybe it is in sound, or style, and that manifest in naming the group. It’s just easier to point out to that one because it should be an easy (ish) decision.

What does it mean to be yourself? To be unapologetically yourself? First, we must ask ourselves what makes you, you? Is it your name? No. Is it your face? Well, that will change with age, and what if you wear makeup? Which face is yours? I could be wrong, I have been before… but I feel that the essence of you rests within the values and beliefs you have. That never say die attitude, that devotion to the tenderest of all emotion, love. That devotion to music, to your craft. That is you. And it will stay here after you are long gone. This isn’t about the notes in a song, or the name of a band, or even your name. You have stepped into a room and instantly felt connected with another person, that’s because you see them, not their name, not where they came from. You just know them. This is what drives a fool back to love, the promise of a soulmate or partner. You are made up of the values and beliefs, the style and words, the prose or flow, that right hand and the way it moves, the density of it, that’s what fires that neuron and tells you to run. You will continue to collect information, and it will shift your belief here and there, but that acceptance of change is what makes you unapologetically you. I promise that if you focus on that, you will quickly find a band name, you will feel fulfilled after the shows. You will find peace.

Ok, so this went from guidelines to naming the band to a philosophy lesson, If you ask me, it’s all connected.

To go against everything I’ve said above and now play the devil’s advocate, have you ever noticed that almost everyone you meet with a particular name sucks? I have the hardest time with people named Aaron, I don’t know why It’s a mystery that will forever elude me. Think of a name that multiple people have had that you really don’t like. Post it down below or message me! I love hearing that stuff, I think it’s amusing.

Learn how Kenny Loggins saved my life in this post

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