The 5th Dimension: Great Band, Shit Name

Music is all about the sound. Agreed. However, there are some more superficially stylistic choices that an artist must take into careful consideration before setting off into the wide world of the music business, and one of these difficult choices is, “what shall we call ourselves?” Get it wrong and you will have a stigma attached to your name forever (Hoobastank, Test Icicles, !!!) but get it right, and you might just become a byword for cultural and artistic distinction. Of course, there are a few bands that have gone on to succeed and create amazing music under the guise of a truly terrible name and to those few, we salute you! Here are our five favourite bands, who excel musically, regardless of their exceptionally awful name.

1. Pavement – “Heresy”, I hear you cry! But if we take a step back now, remove our rose-tinted peepers and actually think about it for one second. Pavement were part of a very special American indie movement, one that’s influence can be seen, quite widespread, today. Heroes for the slacker generation in the MTV era. But, Pavement? Seriously? As far as a name goes, Sonic Youth is the perfect embodiment of this era. Pavement isn’t. But we love you all the same!

2. The Band – Wow. Talk about boring! How can a band full of such virtuoso brilliance and imagination completely copout when it comes to giving themselves a name? Bob Dylan’s greatest ever backing band, Rock And Roll Hall of Famers and genuinely universally admired for their contribution to Americana, ladies and gentlemen I give you The Band. It only sounds good retrospectively, doesn’t it!

3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Named after a Japanese documentary about bikers, Godspeed You! Black Emperor (don’t forget that superfluous exclamation mark in the middle) are one of the most sonically progressive bands that you’re likely to hear live. But you really should have called yourself Explosions In The Sky, shouldn’t you? They have now set a standard for ostentatiously demanding music with “oh-so-knowingly-cool” monikers.

4. …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead – This band name ticks several bad boxes. The needless ellipses at the beginning, the reference to murder and genocide and, of course, being horrendously overlong. …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead are a kings of post-hardcore progressive rock (their 2002 album Source Tags & Codes is a classic) and have been so since the mid-90s. It’s a wonder that they have been going for so long, as I can only imagine how many fans have given up recommending them to friends halfway through saying their name.

5. Yes – Pioneers of prog-rock? Yes. Shit name? Yes. Yes. Yes.

13 thoughts on “The 5th Dimension: Great Band, Shit Name”

  1. JackOlchawski

    I think Godspeed have a great band name!

  2. CMcCulloch

    I reckon The Beatles could be up here or would that be worthy of treason?

  3. TomJowett

    @CMcCulloch I think that still warrants a hanging in this country

  4. MattChapman

    @JackOlchawski Godspeed was/is a great name, also you forgot to mention that they moved the ‘!’ fairly inconsistently – adds to the charm.

  5. NickySeagulls

    I think Yes is a great name;
    A. “what are you listening to?”
    B. “Yes”
    A. “What? I asked you a question”
    B. “No, Yes!”

  6. NickySeagulls

    Also, how about Chk Chk Chk or !!! – kinda hard to tell your mum what you’re listening to

  7. TomJowett

    @NickySeagulls Bad name, bad band. Not the stated criteria for this article, Nickers.

  8. andrewjskatz

    Sorry to be pedantic, but it’s “…and you will know us by the trail of dead”: so not *quite* as long as you said, but still a crap name though.

    I could also do without Holy Fuck and Fuck Buttons, even though they are both great bands. It’s difficult to recommend them to people without some sort of negative connotation slipping in, and they are unlikely ever to play Radio1.

  9. TomJowett

    @andrewjskatz Pedanticism well noted fellow muso! Same must also be said of Fucked Up then!

  10. TomJowett

    @JackOlchawski This is the choice getting the most flack. Regret? Never!

  11. CMcCulloch

    What about ‘Girls’? Its very unimaginative name and means its an absolute task trying to search for their music; but still great music.

  12. andrewjskatz

    @TomJowett @andrewjskatz I don’t really know much about Fucked Up. I don’t know much about Anal Cunt either, but from the tiny amount I do know, I’m quite gratified that their name makes it less likely I’ll stumble across them in my day to day life.

  13. JackOlchawski

    @andrewjskatz @TomJowett I won’t hear a bad word about Fucked Up! But yes, you’re completely right, it just makes people think they’re an idiot band, when they’re one of the smartest aggressive bands around. Kind of a really good name once you get to know them, starts to make sense, but does them no good for new listeners I reckon.