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Everything Everybody Says is a Band Name

My unquiet mind is forever trying to uncover band names in everyday conversation. A few years ago, I began interrupting people mid-sentence to hold up my hands in the shape of a copyright symbol — the right hand forms the “C” while the left creates the suggestion of the circle around it — and then shout “Copyright 2014 Chris Henson Band Names!”

Soon, every conversation went like this:

Someone: “Have you seen the photo on James Brown’s driver’s license? It’s hysteri—”

Me: [holding up copyright sign] “‘James Brown’s Driver’s License’ Copyright 2014 Chris Henson Band Names!”

What can I say? I’m an idiot. And I have ADD. But you must admit, that’s not the worst band name.

In 2015, I decided to make it Facebook official. I created the Chris Henson Band Names group on Facebook and invited a lot of my friends to join. About 250 people signed up right away. Within a day or two, about 150 of them bailed completely. It’s not for everyone. But the remaining core group is, if I say so myself, a battalion of remarkable creative collaborators that keep me in stitches and force me to up my overall creative game, thanks to the fun but fierce competition.

It’s all about the inspiration, which can come from anywhere. A Russian diplomat gets attacked with a harmless green liquid and thirty seconds later someone posts “Green Liquid.” Or it can come from everyday life, like “Shrub Cluster,” presumably the result of a cluster of shrubs my friend Rik encountered. You might see a weirdly named product on a store shelf or a regrettably spelled warning sign, snap a pic and post it. That’s where “Dump Cake” and “Women & Elevators” and “Subtle Butt” came from.

Tom is an expert at figuring out alternate word groupings that sound like ordinary things. “Ovary Acted,” for instance. Which then led Stephen to post “Over Redacted.” Then, “Lab Oratory.” How about the unlikely “Nevertheless, Sheep Are Cysted?” I mean…

Other times it could simply be the combination of a couple of phrases that becomes a new band. For instance, after hearing about the various wars on things (Christmas, drugs, the poor, the rich, etc.) and then hearing a tune by a favorite songwriter, group member Wiley posted “The War on Zevon.” This was so brilliant that I posted it again a couple of months later thinking it was my own idea.

This happens fairly often, which is to be expected when the Facebook group receives between ten and twenty band name ideas each day. Some of them are the silly mashing together of random words like “Meat Pancake” or “Toaster Cycle.” Others were apparently posted when we were thirteen years old and are both hilarious and unrepeatable.

You’ll also see a lot of real band names, but combined. Like “Widespread Panic! At the Disco” which led to an avalanche of ideas. Behold!

The Guess Hoodoo Gurus / Traffic Jam / Collective Soul Coughing / ELO Speedwagon / Thelonius Monkees / Bachman Turner Overdrive-by Truckers

You get the idea.

Every once and a while, though: GENIUS! One afternoon I was alerted that Marty — always a great source of band names — had added a new one. I clicked the notification and discovered my new unabashed favorite band name so far. Simple, familiar, a triple entendre that works on so many levels. He had posted:

“Red Löbster Cult.”

That is what Chris Henson Band Names is all about. You’re welcome, planet earth. It’s all in a day’s fun for the men and women of Chris Henson Band Names, and is in fact not far from the creative process we often go through as advertising professionals.

Although not as crass, mostly, when our team is tasked to create a completely original name for a new company, product or brand, there are stark similarities to the band name game. Double and even triple entendre phrases. Mashups of common descriptive terms of the product that sit well together. And sometimes it’s the simplest of combinations that drives the most impact, like Shrub Cluster, but better and more corporate.

Creativity in naming is a lot of trial and error. Sharing the task with friends and colleagues, in the right atmosphere, can mean collaboration gold! So, the next time you’re naming a product or concepting a website URL, advertisement tag line, or brand name, consider it a group exercise. The results may surprise you.

Here are some more of my favorite band names. If you’re starting a band, remember, these are copyrighted. By me holding my hands in a funny way.

Hanoi Montana / Francis Scott Off-Key / Betty White Death Hoax / Anti-Smoking Gun / Frozen Trucker / Two Chucks Down (after Chucks Berry and Barris died) / The Walking Debt / Joy Stealing Robots / The Alabastards / Snoop Blog / Coquettish Helvetica / Deep Pocket Chopra / Hold My Beard / The Pie Holers  / Slogan’s Run / Polyester Horror / Procol Harumph / Taking a Trip to Short Pump and the Unflattering Euphemisms / The Used Condos / Late Night Teenage Door Slam / The Don’t-Be Brothers / Build-A-Bare Naked Lady / NRBBQ

Topics: Blog, Agency Life