Five Classic Bands Who Need New Names

Photo by Jack Gorman
"Queen" + Adam Lambert
As we often talk about here on Rocks Off, band names are important. They're a brand for your merry group of music-playing ladies and gentlemen, but problems can arise when the brand ends up superseding important things like quality.

There are a few bands running around today either in shambles due to the deaths of important members, or just embarrassing themselves while thriving off past glories. It's about time they just did away with the name, because they're only shells of what their brand used to represent. Here are five we'd like to see change their names immediately, if at all possible.

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The 10 Dirtiest Band Names We Could Find

Photo by Igor Mukhin via Wiki
Pussy Riot
These days it doesn't matter much what you name your band, because Bandcamp doesn't have any silly content standards for you to worry about. That's nice for punk and metal, because those dudes love to name their bands after completely sick shit. And they wonder why they have a reputation for being disagreeable...

It was different back in the day though, when the PMRC standards were still in place and you could hardly get away with having a curse word on your albums without Walmart refusing to sell it. That makes it all the more fun to look at bands whose names would have made Tipper Gore have a heart attack.

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Nine Bands Named After Songs by Other Bands

Photo by Mark C. Austin
We here at Rocks Off spend a lot of time thinking about band names. It's one of the most important things about a band, because it's the face of your brand. After all, a metal band is not going to get off the ground if it's named after a My Little Pony character. Once upon a time, you were doomed to failure if your name was too offensive to be sold in stores.

So once again we turn to the inspiration behind band names, and take a look at some who decided to name themselves after their favorite songs by other bands. After all, if it was a badass song, there's no reason it can't be a badass band too.

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10 Acts Who Changed Their Names Mid-Career

Houston band Young Mammals, formerly known as the Dimes.
When picking a band name, you have to be damn sure you want to be called that for the rest of your career. Sure, calling yourself "Ass Face" sounds funny now, but when you're 40 and still touring under it because it's the only name anyone knows you by, you won't be laughing anymore.

You also have to make sure nobody else is using the name, which is easier than ever now thanks to Google. It didn't use to be that simple, as legal threats led to a lot of name changes right as bands started taking off.

These ten bands made their new names work for them, but let them serve as cautionary tales of how important it is to think your band name over carefully and never let lawyers get you down.

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5 Billion and Counting: Music For Stars to Die By

It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

At first pass, 5 Billion and Counting is the sort of band I would plant my stompy boots firmly apart on the ground and urinate upon with one fist in the air while shouting, "Noooooooo Brooooooo!" And yeah, their approach does come across like much of the douche-rock that I remember as a blur of wrestling entrance themes from the early '00s.

If you are willing to commit to them, though, you run across some really ingenious lyrics and themes. It's political, granted, which is another strike against the band, but there is also a honesty to the band. Not to mention a tendency to pull off some interesting vocal approaches in tunes like "1%" and "Roll Call." You remember how Saliva was terrible, but "Ladies and Gentlemen" still kicked ass no matter what angle you looked at it? That's 5B&C, but much, much better.

In fact, something like "Police Sate Nation" can be called downright clever. It's like Jello Biafra was fronting Rage Against the Machine or something, and even has vaguely operatic shades in terms of how it tells a story. If you like it loud, you'll like 5B&C. I did.

But that name...

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Music's Five Dumbest Pseudonyms

Photo by Marc Brubaker
2 Chainz
Have you ever wanted to change your name? I'm going to guess that almost all of us have at some point wanted to go by some cooler moniker, unless your given name was something like "Max Power," a name that sounds good in your ear. I'm going to also guess that whatever pseudonym you came up with as a kid ultimately ended up sounding pretty dumb later on in life.

That's what makes these five famous pseudonyms musicians have gone by all the more baffling. Why on earth would a grown adult call themselves something so dumb? To be fair, most didn't stick with them, but they'll never really live them down in my eyes.

For the purposes of convenience, I mostly decided to ignore black metal here. That list would go on for days.

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Letters to Voltron: None of That Vehicle Crap

It's a well-known fact that most band names are gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're looking hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

Every man has his Questing Beast, his White Whale, his Sephiroth if you will. For me and my quest to spread wide the names of Houston bands and lick my way to the center, it has always been Letters to Voltron. I've been sending these cats emails for years trying to learn the truth behind so awesome a name and nada. Today, though, we get dangerous.

If you haven't heard Letters to Voltron, then you are missing out. It's like... how can I put this? Imagine if every second-rate, coked-up joker you knew from your club days was also a brilliant metal musician. That's Letters to Voltron, all cackling hyped-up snide remarks and pseudo-philosophy delivered with a kind of garage-thrash that feels like a punch to the head. How can you not love a band that calls a song "All Your Dreams Will Come True (When You're Dead)?" They're like the Billy Nayer Show on crank. I love it.

That name, though...

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FLCON FCKER: Because Obscenity Should Be Symmetrical

It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

You know what I love the best about Houston lately? We have all these really excellent electronica bands that are just byte-fucking our heads at every turn. Bang Bangz, BLSHS, and now another all-caps, vowel-impaired act in FLCON FCKER (pronounced "falcon fucker"). I haven't gotten a chance to see the man we'll for the rest of the article refer to Two F live yet, which is a shame because he's got a rockin'-ass bird costume to go with his rockin'-ass music.

It's more pulse-driven than the siren ambient works of our more female-centric groups, and doesn't appear to use vocals in any major capacity that I can tell. Nonetheless it manages to tell a story amidst the melodic modem noises. Imagine if instead of trees and animals the world was made of machinery. Two F's music would be the pagan nature sounds of that metal world. It's like a William Gibson picnic soundtrack. I'm digging it.

But that name...

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Cosmic Bug Loaf: The Death of William Shatner Via Spiders

It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here on Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

At my day job I have a coworker who makes fun of me because I like what he calls "primitive minimalist" music. By that he means that doesn't see the appeal in a band like the Legendary Pink Dots which is mostly droning weirdness that can't decide on jazz or pop so does both while making exactly no sense at all.

Cosmic Bug Loaf reminds me of that... at least if LPD had Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar. It's a bluesy psychedelic explosion that shows off some tremendous skill on the strings but really gets going by invading your mind like a fever dream. Take a song like "Springwell," which is equal parts hard blues jam and caterwauling call to the elder gods. You fall through the haze they produce, going mad all the way. I bet someone gets murdered to this band one day. It just feels like that's going to happen.

But that name...

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Woozyhelmet Takes Two Years to Answer an Email About Their Name

It a well-known fact that most band names are gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

Two years ago, when I started punching band names in the vowels until they coughed up their lunch origins, I was immediately smitten with a band called Woozyhelmet from right here in Houston. See, it's a throwaway line from the 1992 movie Toys starring Robin Williams, which in addition to being one of my favorite movies of all time is also the most underrated Christmas movie ever.

In it, Williams' runs a toy factory that is being taken over by his uncle in hopes of turning into a miniature war-machine producer. In the name of innocence and whimsy, Williams fights back in a battle between good and evil that is heartwarming and truly extraordinary. Along the way, he invents a rollercoaster simulator that his robotic sister calls a Woozy Helmet.

I was so excited to find another fan of the film that I immediately fired off an email for this column to Jay Blazek Crossley. Then silence. Nothing. I have ignored everything the band has done since then out of a misplaced nerd-rage. It's petty, I know, but Toys fans are so hard to find I felt like I'd been left at the altar or something.

Then yesterday...

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