Naming your metal band is much harder than naming, say, your newborn son. Far more is at stake. Your band's reputation for terror, innovation, and general badassness depends on the avoidance of names like Hoobastank or Colon on the Cob.
Other genres have it easy by comparison. Ska? Just slip "ska" in the name somewhere and then break up. Emo? Create a sentence: The Cheese Is Old and Moldy.
But metal? Shit, dawg: Get ready to hunker down in your practice space for a week straight, armed with your Nile CD collection, fistfuls of controlled substances, and, oh yes, a thesaurus. Even names that sound good at first -- the Bay's own As She Burns, for example -- will implode when you realize that one can access your Web site by typing AssHeBurns.com.
So take the advice of successful Bay Area metal acts who were badass enough to adeptly name themselves, yet kind enough to participate in this, the official East Bay Express Metal-Band Naming Seminar -- conducted by e-mail, of course, since these people could probably kill me, or at least might feel compelled to try. When your band is named Hacksaw to the Throat, after all, you give that impression. You're supposed to.
Something Must Die (East Bay)
Death by Death (San Francisco)
Children of Umlaut (East/South Bay)
All Shall Perish (Oakland)
Suffocate the Creep (Fairfield)
Watch Them Die (Oakland)
Scorched-Earth Policy (Oakland)
Mucus Membrane (Sacramento)
Hacksaw to the Throat (Oakland)
How did you get your name? Who initially suggested it?
SMD: Our old bassist Dan Cicero came up with the name. He wanted something that sounded "heavy" without being called "Dead Carcassectomy" or something like that.
COU: Guitarists John-Jury Luis and Michael Loperena came up with the name after hanging out with a co-worker who is fluent in German -- he just kept saying, "Dude -- name your band UMLAUT!"
ASP: I actually suggested it after a lot of long nights thinking and going over our lyrics while looking at various news sites. Haha, a lot of fucked-up shit was going on in the world.
StC: The bassist and guitarist first suggested "Creep," but I [the drummer] thought it would sound better with "Suffocate" in front so we wouldn't get confused with Creed whenever you hear the name.
WTD: Singer suggested it. We were looking for a name that was dark, depressing, aggressive, and maybe even violent. We thought that one of the worst things in life is losing a friend or family member, but even worse is having to WATCH THEM DIE.
MM: Suggested by the band's original singer, Vinnie Matthews, now of Dying Fetus. Vinnie and I both thought this was an original name for the band back in '96, when every grindcore and death metal band's name ended in "tion." It's easy to remember but not totally cliché or cheesy.
HttT: Justin was sitting at Ben's kitchen table while still deep in his obsession with grueling death metal bands such as Mortician, and Justin thought that "Hacksaw to the Throat" suitably represented the full extent of torture and mayhem that he thought should be present in the music.
Did you know immediately that you'd found the perfect band name, or did it take a while for you to warm up to it?
SMD: I hated the name, but it works. People tend to remember it.
COU: Once the name was said out loud, everyone around us busted out laughing. We rolled on the floor for a solid ten minutes just thinking about it. Getting a reaction -- good or bad -- gets you noticed.
StC: It definitely took a while for the whole band to get used to the name, 'cause not many band names have three words. So yeah, it sounded weird at first. Didn't think we were going to keep it, but then it just started growing on us, and everyone told us that it's unique.
HttT: Initially, Ben was very hesitant because he didn't want to be considered just a "joke death metal band." Justin was so insistent that he threatened to quit the band and start a side project, just to utilize the brutal name, which from the very beginning he realized was a stroke of genius. Ben didn't ever consciously accept the band name, and then reluctantly decided that the name of the band really isn't too important (which you have proven wrong because you are willing to write an article about it).
What other band names did you consider? How close was the final decision? Are there band members who still dissent?
DXD: "The Unpassionate" was our first, but crappy, choice. We were actually the Unpassionate for about a week.
COU: Oh man, we came up with the cheesiest names. We sifted through the thesaurus for weeks looking up words like "power" and "intensity." Interforce was one suggestion, and so was Force of Rage ... has anyone seen my snakeskin Spandex and Aqua Net?
StC: It took about one year to finally decide on a good one. First it was Falling Up, Drain Bamage, Stone Conscience, etc. But I don't know, I guess those ones just didn't stand out enough. No one doesn't like the name -- we all take pride in it and the meaning behind it.
WTD: The list is way too long to give, and besides, if we wrote all of them here, we would be giving up all the ideas we had. I think that is part of the process, research!
MM: That was the first and only suggestion. I've come up with tons of great band names since then, but I may want to use them someday, so they're locked away in a top-secret vault!
HttT: Justin wanted to have a martial arts theme to the band and name it the Ninja Warlords. However, Ben strongly dissented from this notion by pummeling him in the face. We considered some names that were simultaneously dark and poetic, such as the Greek word "Erebus" which means "pathway descending into hell," but then determined, "Fuck it, let's go all-out brutality."
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