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Ironic Band Names

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by Chris Henniker (subscribe)
There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
Published October 12th 2013
What do you mean, you don't play Acid House?
Eagles of Death Metal on stage at the Commodore Ballroom July 20th 2009
Image by SylviaBoBilvia / Wikimedia Commons


Have you ever been mislead by a band that played nothing like their name expected? Ever thought Joy Orbison was a Roy Orbison tribute singer? Well, you can blame Nathan Barley and his "friends" for that, and it's creeping out of Nathan Barley country like rust. Well, here's a guide to ironic band names and how to deal with them.

Pinkunoizu: You were expecting them to be Japanese from the name, but they're a Danish Noise pop act in the vein of fellow Danskers, The Ravonettes. Yes, they're a JAMC clone but they're quite ironic because of the name in itself. That said, you wouldn't be surprised at the possible Boredoms influence.

Acid House Kings: Moving further north, The Acid House Kings are a Swedish indie-pop act with all the sweetness and adorability of a pretty Swedish blonde in a fluffy jumper holding her pet kitten, inviting you to play with them. Boy-girl harmonies straight out of Motown and the girl groups of the 1960's abound that re-appeared on the C86 compilation. One wag (or was it dissappointed raver?) asked: " Where is the acid house? I want my 303" It shows irony can be confusing, especially when you have been spending your weekends getting loved up and sorted for E's and whizz.

Eagles of Death Metal: The king of ironic band names, this stemmed from a conversation about the death metal band, Vader. Josh Homme of Queens of The Stone Age was being introduced to Vader by a friend, who said they were death metal. Homme said they were the "Eagles of Death Metal" because they were not that heavy. This piqued his curiosity about what that would sound like, a cross between The Eagles and Sepultura. It feels like the irony is lost on them, as one YouTube poster pointed out: "No shit Sherlock...it's called irony."

What have we got so far? The irony comes from the mismatch between genre (or location) and name. What other, less obvious ones are there?

Pansy division: A very funny gay pop-punk act, whose name is a pun on Panzer Division and "pansy". You think of Panzer, you think of butch steel and diesel, but the Pansy division undercuts this with the irony of their name, which suggests effeminacy, feyness or even vulnerability. You could even say it suggests the flower pressing of the leisured classes.

Minus The Bear: I thought it was a character name, a bear called Minus, but it refers to an in joke about a 70's TV series, explains singer-guitarist Jake Snider: "A friend of the band had gone on a date," and one of us asked him afterwards how the date went. Our friend said, 'You know that TV show from the '70s, B.J. and the Bear? It was like that... minus the Bear.' That's the straight truth." I don't get it, either. It must be ironic for that reason, aside from its pretentiousness.

6 Day Riot: What are you thinking, dear reader? Anarcho-punk in the vein of Crass? You're wrong. Think cutesy folky indie-pop that The Times called, "Fin de siècle folk-pop." They even went to say they were "splendid."

Brian Jonestown Massacre: Although the name is an obvious pun on Jim Jones's Jonestown and Brian Jones never killed anyone, I love these guys and their take on 60's psychedelia.That said Jim Goad says that if you name a band in this manner, putting a twist on things and saying its original shows you up as inferior to the original inspiration. What would Brian Jones say about that?

According to Goad, in his essay about dumb bands in Portland, Oregon, it shows how badly the eight rules of naming bands have been broken. In fact, he even said: "The band names get worse and worse, and the bands get worse and worse, until, according to some projections, all possible band-name combinations will have been used by the year 2013, signaling the silent, shameful, overdue death of a musical genre which has been dying for decades."

This is only a snapshot of the ironic band name, as there are more yet to come. If you can name any others, I'll be very happy. NO, Mr Barley, you've had your turn.
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