This Article Originally Published April 2000

by Kenny Kerner

One of the very first things you'll want to do to help with your band's unification and bonding is to come up with an appropriate name. If possible, try to avoid naming the band after a single member—stay away from things like the Henry Rollins Band or Alvin Lee & Ten Years After. Naturally, if your band leader is running the show and writing all of the songs, you're gonna have a helluva time convincing him otherwise.

Like any other industry, some names are good and some aren't. Steer clear of names that leave you with a negative feeling. Small Change doesn't really say much for a band's hopes and aspirations, whereas They Might Be Giants leaves you with an overwhelmingly positive feeling of success. The last thing you want to do is choose a name that will allow music journalists (myself included), to rip you to shreds without having listened to your music!

Always try to choose a name that is positive and reflective of the moods and music of your band. The Rolling Stones is a perfect example of describing the members' personal lives, their music and their attitude. Mountain, a band led by the massive, three-hundred pound guitarist, Leslie West, suited the group perfectly. And Motley Crue couldn't have bought a better name. Are you starting to get the idea?

If you're a solo artist, the same rule is true. Fabrice Martindeaux can easily become Fab Martin. Max Derkerson can morph into Maxx. Do you think that the singer who left his heart in San Francisco was born Tony Bennett?

Choosing a name that is controversial can also be good, but be careful not to choose a name that gives off harmful signals. Calling your band the Nowhere Men is just asking for trouble.

If you can combine a great name with a great logo—KISS, Yes, Grateful Dead—then you've got the best of both worlds. A memorable logo helps with band identification and also serves as a handy marketing/merchandising tool.

Here's something to remember: When a band becomes famous, their name is automatically accepted—good, bad or indifferent. The Turtles, Beau Brummels, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Ultimate Spinach, the Beatles, ABBA and even Hootie & the Blowfish are all examples of less than magnificent names of acts that achieved chart success in the industry. If you start having success, people will think you're cool. And if you fail, who will even remember?

Begin the name selection process by asking each band member to compile a list of names. Spend a couple of weeks putting each individual list onto a master list. Then, at a band meeting, begin reading off the names to see if any of them strikes a chord. If nothing comes of this meeting, don't force it. Some of the most incredible names came accidentally.

Once you come up with a name you all like, live with it for a while before you go spending hundreds of dollars on flyers and business cards. Is this name really you? Does it say anything about your music? Is it easy to pronounce and to read? The point is this: You've got to live with the name of your band—you've got to be proud to see it, to say it and to write it. And that's all that really matters.

[The above was excerpted from the book "Going Pro" written by Kenny Kerner and published by Hal Leonard corporation.]


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