Sometimes finding out the origin of your favorite band names can make you love them even more — sometimes less. Here are seven band name origination stories to give you plenty of small talk options for your next social gathering.
The Killers – Their name came from a fictitious band (name seen on the drum kit) in New Order’s video for the song “Crystal.” I assumed it was from Hemingway’s short story of the same name, but at least it’s a creative name origin. My love for The Killers is still in check.
Neon Trees – Tyler Glenn (lead singer) and his friends hung out at a Southern CA In-N-Out Burger joint with neon palm tree decorations. Apparently, he and his friends joked about how Neon Palm Trees would make a great pop 80s band name. Fast forward a few years later and with the drop of ‘palm’ the band’s name was born. When the guys found out later that Branden Campbell’s (lead bassist) dad had actually constructed those same neon palm trees, the name felt less random and more providential. I’d say it seems meant to be.
Coldplay – Originally named Starfish, Coldplay was taken from a band who no longer wanted the name. The other band found the name to be a downer. Side note: Mylo Xyloto means absolutely nothing. On both counts, there’s a serious lack of creativity. Kind of disappointing, huh?
The Beatles – While some disagree about The Beatles name origin, one story seems to stick. It has been said that contemporary bands like The Crickets spawned The Beatles name, which was spun from beetles to beatles using the root word “beat” — you know, as in keep the beat? Not bad. Not great. But all bad names were on the simpler side in those days, right?
Cage the Elephant – Here’s an interesting story. In Knoxville, TN, the band was socializing outside after a show. A man who seemed mentally unstable came toward the group, and they all jetted for the car. They all made it except for Matthew Shultz (lead singer). The mentally hazy man made his way to Shultz, threw his arms around him, and said repeatedly, “You have to cage the elephant.” A band name was born. I like it.
Arcade Fire – This eclectic band definitely has an interesting tale behind its name. Win Butler (lead singer) says he was beat up by a high school kid at the age of 12. The bully used to talk about how an arcade burned down killing several children. Kind of creepy, but would you expect any less?
Modest Mouse – I can always get behind a band name originating in literature. Lead singer Issac Brock says he chose the name when he was fifteen years old after reading “The Mark on the Wall,” a short story by Virginia Woolf. The lengthy sentence from which the name came is, “I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises.” Well, done, Brock. Well done.
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