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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Band Name Game!

posted by on June 24 at 13:15 PM

Q: What do these bands have in common?

The Descending Teeth
Rupert Smooth and the Sandwiches
Spandrel Addict
The Chiffon Robots

A: They don’t exist … not yet. Each tasty little moniker up there was randomly generated by way of a secret Surrealist recipe I concocted a few years ago under the influence of Andre Breton and a few bottles of porter. I’ve been known to impose this game on friends whenever uncomfortable silences threaten to derail an evening out. I call it “The Band Name Game”. Ooh! Not bad. Yes, I’m a writer too.

Official Rules for “The Band Name Game” after this brief pause for station identification…..

Instructions for “The Band Name Game”

1. Blueprint: Pick a “syntactic framework.” You’ll need to decide what parts of speech your new band name will contain (in much the same way that Mad Libs ask for nouns and adjectives, etc.) and you’ll want to make sure it’s grammatically coherent (if such a thing interests you). I usually begin by deconstructing a real band’s name as an example for new players: Joy Division is “Adjective - Noun”*; Buddy Holly and the Crickets is “Proper Noun - Noun [and the] Plural Nouns” (obviously I’m taking liberties with the second word, but it’s more fun this way); Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death is … well, forget it. Also, it’s best to avoid single word titles like “Wire,” unless you’re lonely and up for a game of solitaire.

2. Assignment: Determine how many words will be in your band’s name and assign each one to a single person until you have run out of parts of speech. If you’re using “Adjective - Noun” then only two people get to play in any one round, which is okay—the game goes by quickly. If your new band name requires one or more articles or prepositions to fill it out, just add them later, wherever needed.

3. Generation: Time to generate some content. Tell everyone to summon a random word, but to keep it silent until all players are ready. Be snappy about this step. Whatever first comes to mind, grab it and hold on … it’s the Surrealist way.

4. Revelation: In the proper order, everyone now reveals their treasured little word, adding the articles and prepositions where needed. Voila! You have named your new band. Hello “Crooked Eyeballs!” Hello “Chaz Bastard and the Croissants!” Hello “The Primary Defibrillators!” Time to book a tour! Or go another round….

5. (Optional) Discursion: Discuss with your drinking companions what sort of music your new band will play. Who ARE the Spandrel Addicts, anyway? A harmonious admixture of Zappa, Englebert Humperdink, and Daniel Johnston? Yes, that sounds right.

If anyone bothers to give this game a whirl, post your favorite results below. If not, don’t worry … my victory is a moral one.

*UPDATE: Actually, Joy Division is a compound noun, isn’t it? So … “Noun - Noun”? Reading Pinker’s The Language Instinct shocked me into this realization. Yes, SHOCKED.

RSS icon Comments


Rupert Smooth and the Sandwitches is actually pretty great. I feel like they should open for James Pants.

Posted by k | June 24, 2008 2:46 PM

Is there anything more interminable than being around band members who are trying to think up a band name?

When everything and anything is considered to see if it has some cosmic underlying meaning that will perfectly represent everything that this group is "about" (without trying too hard, of course)...

Every moment of every day becomes an endless game of free association...even going to the store to get groceries means that suddenly the entire inventory of the store is up for consideration...

2 Percent Milk?
Corn Syrup?
Hydrogenated Oil?

...and now, Darby, you want to make this process a game?

This is how bad ideas like karaoke get started, you know.

Posted by pgreyy | June 25, 2008 1:37 PM

Fortunately this game was designed to reverse the normally dull arc of a band's development. Now one can generate a solid name first ... if it's tolerable, invent a genre and start gigging. Boom. T-shirt sales guaranteed. Otherwise, just keep drinking.

Posted by Darby McDevitt | June 25, 2008 3:14 PM

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