Picking a band name can be pretty hard. You have to be able to pick a name that is memorable, represents your brand, is catchy, and most importantly, is pleasing to both band members and fans alike. Sure, there are some weird band names out there, but at the end of the day, the fact that you remember them pretty much means that the name achieved its intended goal.
With the former lead singer of Brissie faves The Cairos returning under a new guise as Zefereli to make awesome pop music and play a run of shows this weekend, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the bands who have slightly odd names, and even stranger stories behind them.
When Alistar Richardson was looking for a name for his solo project after leaving beloved Brisbane group The Cairos, he was after a name that was not only meaningful, but also managed to represent the music he was making. As a result, he took inspiration from a rather innocent place.
“When we were kids Dad used to tell us these stories and Zefereli the flying blue dog was always a protagonist in the stories, someone who would always save the day, and the name just sorta sat there for years and I never really thought of it,” Richardson once explained. “Dad then bought this blue dog to put on a shelf in the kitchen and I saw it one day, and it really meant something.”
“So rather than just making a band name up that means nothing [I decided on] the idea of having a childhood connection, and the idea of being young and free and having an imagination.” When you look at it like that, Zefereli suddenly becomes a pretty adorable name.
That imagination runs through the band’s music too, with new LP All Players Played Well making for one of the year’s most impressive slices of experimental pop, which they’re touring around Queensland and Victoria over the coming weekends as they wrap up their national co-headline tour with indie champs Letters To Lions.
Sometimes, the best band name can be borne from necessity rather than inspiration. Such is the case for Brisbane’s Cub Sport, who initially formed under the name of Cub Scouts a few years ago.
Following a cease and desist letter from Scouts Australia, which stated that their name conflicted with the registered Cub Scout trademark, the band were forced to think of something else that was suitable. After removing one letter, and changing two others, Cub Scouts suddenly became Cub Sport, and they’ve been unstoppable ever since.
Oliver Perry is one Aussie musician who has been unfairly treated by the media in recent years thanks to his ‘dumb’ sounding name. However, by all accounts, this is exactly what this Castlemaine muso was aiming for, choosing to create a disconnect between band names and the music created under that name.
When we asked about his unusual name several years back, D.D. Dumbo claimed it was inspired in part by the Grimpoteuthis, or ‘Dumbo Octopus’, named so because of its ear-like fins that give it a resemblance to Dumbo the Elephant. As for the repeated Ds? The rather shy singer attributed them to an occasional nervous stammer.
Savage Garden were undoubtedly one of the most famous Aussie bands of the ’90s. Despite only releasing two studio albums, the duo managed to sell 23 million records, and won an unprecendented ten ARIA awards at the 1997 awards ceremony. Needless to say, they were a big deal.
However, many have wondered where the band’s name came from. As it turns out, its origins lie in a quote in an Anne Rice novel. If you’re wondering who Anne Rice is, she’s a gothic fiction author known for works such as Interview With The Vampire and Queen Of The Damned. A little bit more intriguing than naming your band The Da Vinci Code, we’re sure.
Little Birdy were everywhere in the Aussie music scene in the 2000s. With an array of hits behind them such as ‘Beautiful To Me’, ‘Come On, Come On’, and ‘Relapse’, the band managed to capture the hearts of music fans all over the country with their relatively wholesome and catchy tunes.
However, the group’s genuine, straightforward nature is in direct contrast to the kookiness of America’s Ween, whose 1992 track ‘Little Birdy’ served as inspiration for our Aussie group’s name.
The Living End
A pretty good source of band names comes from outdated slang, or so we’ve been told. This seemed to appeal to Melbourne muso Chris Cheney when he watched the film Rock Around The Clock and chose a new band name based upon a saying from the movie.
“It’s an old ’50s term, meaning ‘far out’, ‘the greatest’,” Cheney once explained. We were still into the whole ’50s thing, but we wanted a neutral name, one that didn’t suggest any one style of music.” Whatever the case, the name stuck, and The Living End became one of the most beloved Aussie acts of all time.
Empire Of The Sun
Long before they were world-beating musicians thanks to Empire Of The Sun, Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore were members of The Sleepy Jackson and Pnau, respectively. Following a chance meeting, the pair began to collaborate, suddenly finding that they had a knack for making surprisingly upbeat music that had chart potential.
But what about a name? Well serving as a perfect juxtaposition for their musical style, Steele and Littlemore turned to Steven Spielberg’s epic 1987 war film Empire Of The Sun for inspiration. The rest, they say, is history.
Like Empire Of The Sun before them, Luca Brasi found themselves turning to the world of film for naming inspiration. Taking their name from a character in The Godfather, the Tasmanian group soon found a name that managed to fit their brutal, yet melodic sound.
Considering that the unforgiving character they took their name from was portrayed in the film by an ex-wrestler and ex-mafia bodyguard, we’re pleased to say that these Tasmanian punks are nowhere near as intimidating or menacing as their namesake.
Hunters & Collectors
Hunters & Collectors set themselves apart from the rest of the rock bands in the early 1980s. In addition to their driving, pub-rock style of music, they managed to mix in a more avant-garde style of art-funk, and post-punk that would usually be found in the record collection of Nick Cave, rather than frontman Mark Seymour.
Staying close to their influences, the group lifted their name from the German krautrock group band Can, whose experimental style was a direct influence on the early days of the group.
30 Odd Foot Of Grunt
When you’re a movie star, it would make sense to pick a pretty nonsensical band name to hide your high-profile status, right? Well, if you’ve ever wondered where the heck Russell Crowe got his band name from, that’s basically your answer. Following a start in the world of music as ‘Rus le Roq’, Crowe soon found himself in a band with the rather forgettable name of Roman Antix, proving Crowe is a fortune teller who foretold of his future role in Gladiator.
The band soon found themselves using the kooky name of 30 Odd Foot Of Grunt, apparently named for the total height of the band’s members and their tendency to rock out. By the mid ’00s, the band had kept their ‘TOFOG’ initialism, but had changed their name to The Ordinary Fear Of God. Sadly, it didn’t keep quite the same level of confusion behind it, and the band slowly faded away.
Zefereli & Letters To Lions Australian tour
Friday, December 15th
Nightquarter, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday, December 16th
Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Friday, December 22nd
Baha Tacos, Rye, VIC
Saturday, December 23rd
Gasometer Upstairs, Melbourne, VIC