What’s In A Name?

Primarily a listings mag, every issue of London In Stereo requires one gruelling night of data entry; manually recording the hundreds of upcoming gigs. Doing this means I see a lot of band names, many of which are so poor that I went to the effort of creating
the Twitter account Your Band Name Is Kinda Bad (@ybnikb) to raise awareness. From the baffling Ravioli Me Away, to the ungoogleable Hugh (FYI, mononyms only work if you’re Madonna or Cher), it’s clear this industry has a bigger problem with monikers than Hillary Clinton (that joke would’ve slayed in 1998). Food names are some of the worst offenders (admittedly, Tilapia supporting Brunch at Power Lunches was inspired), superseded only by genitalia (Milk Dick, My Cock Your Problem, The Front Bottoms, and the frankly stunning 100% Beefcock And The TitsBurster). Awful as they are, they’re also pretty fucking funny and, ultimately, harmless – unlike genuinely troubling acts such as Child Abuse, Prostitute Disfigurement, Rape Blossoms and more.

Last year, a college promoter in Ohio cancelled a Viet Cong gig after consulting Vietnamese students and concluding that due to their name it would be unsuitable to proceed with the show. While the band almost certainly didn’t mean to offend, I applaud the promoter’s informed decision, if only for highlighting a wider problem in music. Take Slaves, for example, two unrepentant white men who had the nerve to brand someone else ignorant for calling out the historical, racial implications of their name. But what can we do? Any attempt at censorship would give them free publicity, and they won’t listen to reasoned argument. Put simply, bands like this aren’t going anywhere, but as people with a social conscience, we can future-proof ourselves. When the next edgy-named white dudes come along, as fans and as industry folk, we heed the warning of (the ironically badly named) Urwin’s Law: any band dumb enough to continue using a problematic name will never produce something worth listening to. Based on the Slaves songs I’ve heard so far, I’d say this holds up. (They’re shit, in case that wasn’t clear.)

@JackMerlin