Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of Death
Last night I was reading a review of the latest album by a group called And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Our Dead. (I am guessing that if you go to a concert by this band, the T-shirts are all size XL in order to get the name of the band on them.) And it got me to thinking about great/stupid band names I have known. I am not talking about well-known groups, particularly--some of the best names have become so familiar that we can't appreciate them anymore. For example, "Beatles" is one of the greatest musical puns ever coined, but who notices that now?
The bubblegum era gave birth to many great/stupid names, from the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the 1910 Fruitgum Company to the Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus.) Groups with rock pretensions, such as Chocolate Watchband and Lothar and the Hand People made records, too, but didn't sell so many. (Somewhere, I believe I have a single by Lothar and the Hand People.) About the same time, according to the Book of Rock Lists, there was a group called Detroit Edison White Light Company. This was not the group's original name, however. They were first going to be known as Charging Tyrannosaurus of Despair, until the drummer announced he didn't want anything to do with despair.
One reliable way to create a weird group name is to be Someone and the Something Outrageous or Catchy. For instance, one band that plays frequently around my town is called Reverend Raven and the Chain-Smokin' Altar Boys. Other representative examples of the same include Biff Hitler and the Violent Mood Swings, Jim Jones and the Kool-Aid Kids, and Big Dick and the Extenders. (My favorite band name of all time is one of these: The Only Alternative and His Other Possibilities.)
"Big Dick and the Extenders" is an example of a contemporary phenomenon--the risque/tasteless/obscene band name. You wouldn't have seen these much before the 1990s. Such names often give you a clue to a particular group's genre, depending on how risque/tasteless/obscene the name is. For instance, Buster Hymen and the Penetrators would likely be a blues band, whereas Fuck Me Suck Me Call Me Helen is more likely to be punk. The Well Hungarians may be a polka band; Well Strung, on the other hand, is almost certainly bluegrass.
Punks occasionally get carried away with their punkiness. The Do I Look Like I Give a Fucks are a bit too literal, while Electric Vomit is an example of punkers trying way too hard. Other bands from the Almost Certainly Punk File: Sucking Chest Wound, Immaculate Infection, and Grim Skunk.
Some contemporary band names take their names from celebrities: Barbara's Bush, for example, or Drew Barrymore's Dealer, or the Fat Chick from Wilson Phillips, or Kathleen Turner Overdrive. The latter represents a nice segue into the band name that plays on somebody else's band name, such as John Cougar Concentration Camp, REO Speed Dealer, or Earthpig and Fire.
Some names, like And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Our Dead, go on just a bit too long. Other examples include Gee That's A Large Beetle I Wonder If It's Poisonous, The Insult That Made a Man Out of Mac, and Nearly Died Laughing While Shaving My Butt. Better to make your point and get out in a hurry, like Lawnsmell, Schlong, or the Shit--three more for the Almost Certainly Punk file.
Many, many more examples are available at The Canonical List of Weird Band Names, an obsessive labor of love if ever there was one. Feel free to contribute your own favorites by clicking "Comments."