A R T I C L E
How Unique is your Band Name?
by Ian Duggan
Finding a band name that is unique can be a tricky thing. A quick check on the internet can confirm that seemingly the most obscure and clever names have already been taken. One ex-Hamilton musician, after finding a number of bands had names similar to his ‘Radio Over Moscow', changed the name of his indie-electronic project recently to the more unique moniker 'Anecdata'. I decided to search for the names of a number of currently or recently active Hamilton bands on Facebook, to see if there were other bands in the world with the same names as ours. Names were treated as equal if the only difference was the presence or absence of a ‘The’ at the front of the name.
Unique is Glass Shards (although there are several ‘Shards of Glass’), there are no other bands called Sora Shima or Ancient Tapes, and Dick Dynamite has no doppelgangers. Interestingly, neither does Radio Over Moscow, despite the name change, though there are a number of Radio Moscows! But there were a number of match-ups to be found.
Rumpus Room has five bands sharing its name, although all but one of these goes by ‘The Rumpus Room’. The other ‘Rumpus Room’ sensu stricto is rather close to home, however. They are described as “a (sic) energetic wedding covers band available in the Auckland region and beyond”.
Hamilton punk band Contenders had the most shared moniker, with 21 other bands on Facebook calling themselves either ‘Contenders’ (3) or ‘The Contenders’ (18). These included a variety of genres. Straight ‘Contenders’ include a German cover band, and an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) producer from Florida. ‘The Contenders’, on the other hand, includes bands describing themselves as “original melodic alt-rock on the Space Coast” (Florida) and “an angsty pop punk band from the seedy outskirts of Pittsburgh”, while one in the UK describes themselves as “an eclectic mix from Punk to Funk, Rock and Soul”. Interestingly, one of their ‘Contenders’ namesakes is a ‘Pretenders’ tribute band from California.
Next to top, HUP favourites ‘The Scones’ had seven other bands on Facebook appearing as ‘The Scones’ (4) or simply ‘Scones’ (3). While ours pronounce their name to rhyme with ‘con’ rather than ‘cone’, it was unclear from the other bands’ descriptions how they articulate theirs. Interestingly, however, three additional bands use the ‘Rolling Scones’ as a name, which only works with the ‘cone’ sound; this joke seems to be particularly funny in Scandinavian countries. Surprisingly, only one of these appears to actually be a Rolling Stones tribute band.
Even our biggest of exports are not immune to double-ups, with a rock n' roll band called ‘Los Datsuns’ hailing from Chihuahua in the north of Mexico. Honourable mentions must also go to Ghosts of Electricity (2 shares) and Inchworm (2; including one from Tokyo). Grok, now based in the UK, also have two; this includes a French heavy metal band, while I have not included in the count ‘Grok Enrol & The Nu-Thing’, self-described as “Yorkshire-based masher-upperers of Psyche, Dub, Metal, Prog, Punk and Electronica”.
So why might having an original name matter? Firstly, having an original name might hinder how easy it is for potential fans to find your band on social media. Aspirations are also important. For example, making it big, or trying to go international, can lead to either an enforced name change if another band has already laid claim your name, or even litigation.