One of my new favorite games to play is “that’s my indie band.” It’s kind of like “that’s what she said,” but less dirty. Here’s how you play: anytime anyone says a combination of words that don’t seem to go together you say, “___ is my new indie band.” For example, last week I was standing in Union Square near the now-deceased Virgin Megastore waiting for a friend. When he called looking for me, I was like, “I’m by the Virgin that’s under construction.” And he said, “Virgin Under Construction is my new band name.” Then we laughed for a while. And then we ate some hamburgers.
Anyway, this is a super fun game, I promise. And if you’re really bored, you can even take it a step farther and create whole personas for your bands, with nicknames, albums, and song titles. I’m currently a member of The Snow Ponies, and my alter-ego is Jasmine Sparkleberry. Our first album is called Needles in the Sand. First single: “Seasonal Muffintop.” And no, I have no musical ability. Just a lot of free time, apparently.
I realize that poking fun at indie band names on a site largely devoted to indie music is a tad crass. But come on. The other day I was looking up music from, um,”The Vampire Diaries,” when I stumbled across the band We Were Promised Jet Packs. The music was great: soaring melodies, lovely folksy voices, blah, blah. To be honest, I had a hard time paying attention to anything but the name. Jet Packs? Seriously? As far as I’m concerned, if you name your band after the assurance of futuristic flight equipment you’re pretty much fair game.
What blows my mind is how so many different bands have similarly absurd trains of thought. After listening to both Margo & The Nuclear So and So’s and Florence + The Machine in the same day, my friend declared that Nerdy Girl And The Technical Thing is now her new band name. And look at all the lupine-inspired bands: Wolfmother, Wolf Parade, Sea Wolf. Or for the more arboreally inclined: The Wooden Birds, The Wooden Sky, Woodpigeon. I’m personally a big fan of declarative and imperative band names: Clap You Hands Say Yeah, I’m from Barcelona, and I Would Set Myself on Fire For You. Whoa Emo. Check out this list of the worst band names of ’07 for a total round up (and fair warning, there is a category called “Rape.” Which is about 100 kinds of disturbing). My favorite? Happy Mother’s Day, I can’t read.
Not only do indie band names make a fun game, they also serve some practical functions. Specifically when it comes to indie band name generators. Anytime I need to name a party on Facebook, I just head over to Cool’eh magazine for some inspiration. This is how my last Halloween party got named Satanic Shakedown Explosion. I’ve also generated (and kind of fallen in love with): Cobalt and the Beholder, Wine? and Chinese Slack Water. Which, actually, are all pretty awesome band names. And may already be playing in Brooklyn somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that indie band names become any less ridiculous. I just want to make sure everyone is gaining maximum enjoyment from this indie practice. So next time you’re hanging out and someone says something like, “this room is full of flashlights and underpants.” Just say, “Flashlights And Underpants is my new indie band name.” Because where would the world be without unnecessarily long, mildly offensive, absurdist band names? A sad, sad, place, that’s where.
Rachel Carter has an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in Girl Zone magazine and The Faster Times. She is currently living in New York and working on a young adult novel about ghosts. Visit her Pop Culture Blog.