Looking to name your new band, but finding it difficult to come up with something catchy and memorable? Here’s a simple solution: spin a globe, and stop it with your finger. It doesn’t matter where it lands or whether you’re from there. Do you think Of Montreal is from Montreal? Do you think Architecture in Helsinki has ever seen any actual architecture in Helsinki?
I’m not even sure Jets to Brazil ever toured anywhere in South America. Prove me wrong.
It doesn’t matter that there are no Swedish girls in Garaotas Suecas (they’re Brazilian) and no Brazilian girls in Brazilian Girls (they’re American) — these names are not easily forgotten. Of course, the glut of location-based band names is rapidly increasing, so if you wish to name your band after places like, I don’t know…Butte*, or Hawaii*, or the North Pole*…get on it before these names are taken.
(*Please note: I named these three places off the top of my head, and then did a Google search for each one. Butte, Hawaii, and North Pole are all names of bands. There is no way you’re ever going to find a place that hasn’t had a band named after it. Sorry.)
Bands Named After Cities
Boston is indeed from Boston, and their debut album, Boston, is the best-selling debut record in the United States, selling more than 17 million copies. The album also contains the riff that Nirvana turned inside-out, upside-down on “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Like Boston, Chicago hails from the town for which they are named. The band formed in the late ’60s, and became the leading US singles charting group during the 1970s.
France is nowhere near Phoenix, Arizona, but this Versailles-based band apparently is a big fan of the American Southwest. Or they’re named after the flaming mythological bird. Both are good guesses.
Baton Rouge actually hailed from Pearl River, Louisiana, a town that is actually closer to New Orleans than to Baton Rouge. And the band’s dick-swinging glam metal sound was closer to that of Ratt or Dokken than to the Dixieland jazz and blues that put Louisiana on the map.
Surprisingly, this band formed in Sweden in 2010, not in Texas in 1984, as their name and image might suggest.
Tucson-based Calexico named themselves after the US-Mexico border town. Both the band’s name and sound are meant to evoke images of the Southwest — and their second album, 1998’s The Black Light, is a concept album about the desert of Arizona and northern Mexico.
Beirut, ostensibly named after the Lebanese city, began as a solo project of Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Zach Condon. The band once released an album of Balkan folk with a Serbian-language title (Gulag Orkestar), album art featuring a photo found in a library in Leipzig, Germany, and featuring a song called “Postcards from Italy.” Condon’s geography is all over the damn place.
This Scottish band named after the town where Jesus played and romped as a carefree little boy performed the 1976 version of “Love Hurts” that you heard a million times in those Gatorade commercials. The band is still performing to this day; in fact, Nazareth have been playing for more than 45 years now.
Reykjavik! are from Reykjavik, Iceland! According to their Facebook pages, they have been “proudly promoting homosexuality since 2003!” The band members are Geiri! Gummi! Kristján! Haukur! Bóas! And Valdi! They like exclamation points!
Columbus, Ohio is the hometown of Defiance, Ohio. But you have to admit, “Defiance” has a better ring to it than “Columbus.”
Founded in 1978 in Los Angeles, Berlin scored one of the biggest hits in the ’80s when they wrote the song “Take My Breath Away” for the Tom Cruise film Top Gun. They now apparently perform with a couple members of Good Charlotte.
Bands Named After States
After Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alabama is probably the second-most famous Southern rock band from Alabama. Wait — Lynyrd Skynyrd is actually from Florida? You mean all that talk about “Sweet Home Alabama” was a lie? Son of a…
Featuring singer Zeitia Massiah, this short-lived Eurodance band from England charted back in 1994 with “Slide on the Rhythm” but never produced another hit.
Like Reykjavik!, Alaska! are super excited about their band name! The San Francisco-based trio had a five-year run from 2000 to 2005, and featured Imaad Wasif, Lesley Ishino, and Russell Pollard, formerly of Sebadoh and Folk Implosion.
I’m starting to notice a pattern here. Bands formed in the ’60s or ’70s, like Kansas City’s Missouri, named themselves after the places they were from. Now bands name themselves after random places to be cute or quirky, or whatever.
Glasgow’s Texas took their name from the 1984 Wim Wenders film Paris, Texas. You know who is also named after Paris, Texas? Paris, Texas.
Bands Named After Countries
If you’ve ever heard of America, you’d probably think they’re American. And if you’ve ever listened to their biggest hit song “A Horse With No Name,” you’d think they’re Neil Young. But they’re neither of those things.
Like America, New Wave band Japan hailed from London, England. Naming your band after another country is a thing they have in London.
Brazil has the distinction of being perhaps the only band on this list that used the name of not one, but two random places they’re not from. Though from Indiana, the band was originally called “London” — however, once they realized that a Hollywood-based band already uses that name, they chose “Brazil” randomly from a map.
Jamaica is from Paris, and they used to be called “Poney Poney,” which is a name not only superior to “Jamaica,” but to nearly all other band names ever.
The front man of Spain, Josh Haden, is the older brother of the Haden triplets, Petra, Tanya, and Rachel. Though based in California, Spain has an especially dedicated following in Europe, and even played at the 2007 Tanned Tin festival in Castellón.