A word or several on band names, Part 2: Who has your name?

One of my many college roommates played bass in a band called Wanderlust.

He hated it (the name).

And even though it was mostly none of my business – but I hated the name, too (the band? It was pretty good) – I informed the kid that I had heard of another major label band in the ‘90s who went by the name Wanderlust. We investigated together and found an old album sleeve. He thanked me and informed the lead singer/songwriter.

The end of that story, though, was that the signed band no-longer existed and my roommate had to soldier on playing great music in a band whose name he hated. Wanderlust... I wonder if they ever left the Midwest.

I couldn’t help my roommate, but this does prompt a decent question: even if you think you’ve got a great name for your band, who else out there has it?

Because it could be some other unsigned band. If that’s the case, it doesn’t really matter if there’s a folk-rock Wanderlust out of Midlothian, IL and power-pop Wanderlust out of Philadelphia, because, to their fans, that’s the only Wanderlust that matters.

This all just makes it a race until somebody gets famous enough for it to matter on a grander scale – i.e. “There’s only room for one D.J. Monkey Spit at this station!” And power-pop Wanderlust is the one that pops up on Wikipedia, so we see who won that little derby.

Maybe there was another Black Sabbath gaining steam around the rolling hills of Delaware just as “Iron Man” roared its way through the boom-boxes of America in 1970. Imagine the conversations in that east-coast garage that summer:

“Dang, Dave! We gotta go with our second choice, after all.”
“I dunno, man. White Monday still sounds racist to me.”

“I think Vampire Weekend might be pretty..”
“Quiet! You’re here to drum.”

As a writer/musician I’ve naturally questioned using a pen name. I mean… Dan Bradley? It may not hit you in the face like Busta Rhymes, but at least you probably won’t misspell it.

Or if not a pen name, do you drop a middle initial in there? Go with the full name? Nobody’s called me Danny since pee-wee soccer.

Because who else has your name? Is anyone else out there doing something with it? Making it more noteworthy than you ever could?

As for me, a quick Google search reveals the Dan Bradley Big Band, DanBradleyTranslations.com (prolific in Japanese to American), a stunt-coordinating Dan, complete with IMDB page and some sort of Dan Bradley excellence in LGBT award (makes me wonder about a few college nights I don’t remember).

There is also a Daniel Bradley making music over in London. But if you read these posts regularly, you know I’ve got too many potential future band names to ever tour on my name alone (Dibs on Bobsled Toboggans!).

I also know that, as a Bradley, I can never again own a personalized Cubs jersey (thanks, Jim Hendry).

Ok. We Dan Bradley’s are entertaining. We’re hip. I might need to add a middle initial to my IMDB page if I’m ever in a movie, and a personalized web page is out if I get into Japanese translation, but at least my Facebook page is running pretty high on the Google search.

So I’ve got a way to go before warranting a Wikipedia page I have not constructed myself, but at least it looks like I’m in charge of making a big name for this name.

As for the music rambling and satirical sports news, I’m definitely the Dan Bradley in charge of that.

For now.

Whew.

Comments

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  • LOL, loved this. My son is currently agonizing over what to call himself (stage name, I mean) and what to call his currently non-existent band. It's a bit like picking a blog name, or naming a child, - you should give it a lot more thought than you think you'll need to because it can send out all the wrong messages, and you'll be stuck with it forever. (OK, you can always delete a blog, but you tend to lose a lot of followers in the process.)
    As an author whose book title was blatantly copied by someone else, despite being notified by my agent, (you apparently can't copyright a book title), I would advise anyone who comes up with a really great name to go get a Trademark on it, or whatever the legal thing is that means you can shout at and threaten whoever tried to steal it.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    Haha... Naming non-existent bands is one of my favorite hobbies.

    Hope your son is keeping a list. Makes it easier to look back over all your ideas and weed-out the silly ones (very important for me). You're right -- I've had blogs i didn't like the names of before. But the Jam Room.. it's always been there.

    I had a creative writing prof. tell me that you can copyright any damn thing you want at any time -- just make up a name for your publishing company, mark the date and it's valid (this blog is copyright 2012 by Lucid Lives arts, btw). Problem is, the law will only back you up in court if you register it (or, i guess, if you can otherwise prove the timing somehow... Which would take you paying a bunch of legal fees etc.).

    Creative property. Always a weird battle, eh?

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    This is hard, I agree. I grew up rapping and people called me Radstarr. I never changed the name, even though it seems outdated. Even when I started doing more pop-type music, I still recorded under Radstarr (on Spotify) as most people knew me as this. Since I've started a new heavier rock project, I wonder what we should change the name to, but I guess that doesn't matter until we play out, or if we ever record. Either way, anybody who's ever played in bands, or is an artist, has been through this thought process!
    Great post DB!

  • In reply to radstarr:

    Even the Beastie Boys once admitted they'd have thought longer on the name had they known they'd be around forever.

    I know all about getting stuck with a name. Back in jr. high i was stuck with the nickname "Nad" after pointing out during a Mad Libs session it was Dan backwards. That followed me to high school and even college, where I had to convince a mean-looking, mohawk-ed townie that both a Peoria and a Chicago Nad could co-exist, and we didn't need to fight for it. No joke.

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    turns out the nickname followed him well past college. It's been close to a decade since we finished our undergrad, and those of us who know and love him.... We still call him nad, nado, nadly, etc... Some things just last forever.

  • In reply to elrickxxv:

    ;-)

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