Pop Talk: What’s in a name? The importance of your moniker

Leeds band Pulled Apart by Horses
Leeds band Pulled Apart by Horses
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So let’s talk about the importance of your bands name.

Wait! Come back! Before you storm off, I would like to state that I am fully aware that I am about to embark on a serious column about band names, when I am in a band called “The Pigeon Detectives”. The irony is pretty blatant. But what the heck, I’m going for it anyway, assuming that, in the spirit of Christmas, you’ll cut me some slack. Are you still with me? Great stuff…

Over the years, I have come across some eclectically named local bands on the Leeds scene. These have ranged from the short and sweet (Duels, The Cribs, Alt J), the long and odd (Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames, Monster Killed By Laser, Pulled Apart By Horses) and the just plain scary (Head Wound).

I suppose the question really is this: Is your band name important? Will your name choice in the long run, affect the trajectory of your bands career? Well there were certainly people both in the music industry and on the local music scene that formed negative initial impressions of my band, based on the fact they thought we had a “silly” name. There were also many people who loved the name right from the off and found it intriguing and wanted to see what a band called “The Pigeon Detectives” would be like on stage. The Marmite nature of our name has always been fine by us and in the long run didn’t affect the success we achieved.

I can understand the importance of a first impression (it’s safe to say that having seen a poster for the band “Head Wound”, I was pretty sure they wouldn’t be my cup of tea). It is of course, however, ultimately down to the quality of the band that determines the level of success that they achieve. To use perhaps the ultimate example, The Beatles at the beginning of their career faced derision when it came to their name. Ten years of the greatest pop music ever made later and The Beatles was never questioned in terms of being a dodgy name again. In fact, I’m pretty sure if you look up the word “Band” in the dictionary, it simply says “The Beatles”.

I’m not saying my bands life wouldn’t have been slightly easier initially if we’d had been called “The Fonzies”, or something equally cool, but if you’re a good band it doesn’t matter all that much. Just make sure you write good songs. A rose by any other name…

Leeds-bound Paul Weller

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