Band names are lot like marriage—sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. While there is undoubtedly something to be said for trying to ‘make it work’, the band name that you fell in love with as a 19 year old may not be the band name you want to associate yourself with in your 30s. Below are 10 artists that chose not to settle—Bands that changed their original names and went on to become famous.
Now: Death From Above 1979
Formerly: Death From Above
On early EPs, the band was known simply as Death From Above. Due to a legal dispute with James Murphy’s NY-based alternative dance label DFA records however, the Toronto twosome were forced to find a new name. Their response: Tacking the legal minimum of numbers to the end of their moniker and declaring cyber-jihad on DFA and Murphy.
While we’re on the topic of (possibly) legally mandated name changes why not mention another group of hometown heroes in Pup. Originally known as Topanga, the ascendant pop punk four-piece was (allegedly) served a cease and desist letter from Disney a couple years back when their name was deemed to be an infringement on Disney intellectual property (Topanga is the name of a popular character from the 90s teen sitcom Boy Meets World). Fortunately, the story has a happy ending for all, as the band is now selling out venues worldwide and Girl Meets World (a spin off Boy Meets World once again starring Danielle Fishel as Topanga) is killing it on Disney.
Now: POP ETC
Formerly: The Morning Benders
The Morning Benders are probably best known for their extraordinary Phil Spectre-inspired Yours Truly session version of “Excuses”. Today however, they go by POP ETC. Why? They decided to ditch their old name in 2012 due to the homophobic connotations associated with the term “bender” in the UK. Jury’s out on whether POP ETC is an improvement, but you’ve at least gotta appreciate the rationale behind the change.
Formerly: Daljit Dhaliwal, Films
Alt-J has certainly gone through their fair share of names. Originally known as Daljit Dhaliwal, after the stunning British newscaster, they eventually settled on Films (only to drop the moniker shortly after, when they discovered an American band with the same name). So how did they end up with their rad current title? Alt + J is the command that makes triangle shapes (∆) on a mac computer. Good enough for me…
Formerly: On A Friday
Is Radiohead a cool band name because “radio” and “head” sound objectively awesome together? Or do I just think that Radiohead sounds cool because they make amazing music? Does a rose by any other name, still smell as sweet? While I may not have any solid answers for the above, there’s no question that On A Friday is an awful combination of words—lyrics best left to a Rebecca Black song or a Keswick, Ontario battle of the bands poster, not the greatest band of a generation. Way to dodge that bullet guys.
Now: Pearl Jam
Formerly: Mookie Blaylock
Mookie Blaylock played point guard in the NBA for 13 seasons. Although he was a named to the NBA All-Defensive Team a grand total of 6 times in his career and was always a legitimate threat from beyond the arc, he is perhaps best remembered today for a having a funny sounding name. It is for the latter reason that Eddie Vedder once thought Mookie Blaylock might make a good band name. Thankfully, at some point, he came to his senses and settled on Pearl Jam (which—fun fact—may or may not be a reference to Vedder’s grandmother Pearl’s homemade jams).
Now: Fleet Foxes
Formerly: The Pineapples
Somehow I’m not surprised that Fleet Foxes were at one point named The Pineapples. It’s a delicious fruit, the guys from FF are well-known advocates of juicing, and if you look at a pineapple in just the right lighting it sort of resembles lead singer Robin Peckhold. Unfortunately for the harmony-loving Seattle folkies, a name clash with another area band prompted them to choose the name Fleet Foxes, a moniker Robin Pecknold felt was “evocative of some weird English activity like fox hunting”
Honourable Mentions: Thee Oh Sees (formerly: OCS & The OhSees), Dinosaur Jr. (formerly: Dinosaur), The Young Mammals (formerly: The Dimes), Nirvana (formerly: Ted Ed Fred, Pen Chap Chews, Skidrow), Oasis (formerly: The Rain), Coldplay (formerly: Pectoralz, Starfish)