It’s not unusual for young bands to draw inspiration straight from their members’ record collections. Sometimes, though, the influence isn’t strictly musical. Here are eighteen artists that took their very names from other bands—sometimes directly from song lyrics, occasionally from misunderstood quips, and once straight from a legend himself.
It seems fitting that this now-iconic band’s name would come from a band equally as legendary: The Talking Heads. Their original band name was On a Friday, but after a request from record label EMI, it was altered, taking inspiration from the song “Radio Head” from the 1986 Talking Heads album, True Stories.
Cold War Kids
Frontman Nathan Willett has a pleading a voice that seems to tremble and break at all the perfect moments. It’s every bit as emotional, raw and in-your-face as the band’s music. Which is to say, it’s kind of the opposite of the lyrical piano man who inspired the band’s name: Billy Joel. The phrase Cold War Kids comes from one of his songs, “Leningrad.”
Pretty Girls Make Graves
The band bears the name of a song from The Smiths’ 1984 self-titled debut. Watch an early, live performance of the song, below.
If you’re a big New Order fan, perhaps you’re aware of the origin for Brandon Flowers & co.’s band name. If not, watch the music video for the New Order song, “Crystal,” closely. Pay special attention to the drumset.
You may not remember Aimee Mann’s short-lived new wave group, but you’ve definitely heard their song, “Voices Carry.” Listen to the 1967 David Bowie song that the group gets its name from, below.
Suburban Kids with Biblical Names
This Swedish pop band formed in late 2003, and have since released all of their albums and EPs with titles that correspond with their numerical release (#1, #2, #3, etc). Their band name, however, is a little more inspired: it comes from a lyric from “People” by the Silver Jews.
Bastard Sons Of Johnny Cash
This country group, led by Mark Stuart, formed in California in the mid-’90s and received permission to use Cash’s name before he died.
This Nashville-based group has to have one of the coolest band-name-origin stories we’ve heard. After the founding members Matt Campbell and Jeremy Fetzer met bassist Adam Binder and drummer Luke Herbert, they realized their working name, The Attack!, was already taken. After one of his shows in Nashville a few years back, they asked the great Lou Reed for help, and “The Deep Vibration” was his answer.
There’s been some debate as to how exactly Mother Monster received her now-infamous monicker. According to music producer Rob Fusari, he once texted her the phrase “Lady Gaga” on accident, meaning to send the title of the Queen song, “Radio Ga Ga.” Others tell a different story, but watch the original Queen video and Fusari’s typo seems appropriate.
Jim Jarmusch’s band, Bad Rabbit, has been described by the filmmaker as “slo-motion psychedelic rock-n-roll.” The name of his group comes from a song by Providence, Rhode Island-based musician Gavin Castleton. Watch Castleton perform “Bad Rabbits” live with Facing New York, below.
The Rolling Stones
According to Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones got their name when Brian Jones, while placing an advertisement, was asked what his band’s name was; they were nameless, but he glanced around and spied a Muddy Waters LP, and the rest was history.
Boys II Men
“End of the Road.” “I’ll Make Love To You.” “On Bended Knee”—it’s because of hits like these that Boyz II Men are probably responsible for most of the baby-making in the ‘90s. It seems unlikely that the same group would’ve seen the same success with a name like Unique Attraction, though. Fortunately, early on they changed their name to Boyz II Men, taking inspiration from a New Edition song.
The Lightning Seeds
This English rock band is so named after to a misheard lyric from Prince’s 1985 single, “Raspberry Beret.” (The real lyric was “Thunder drowns out what the lightning sees.”)
Late-’90s heavy metal bands have origin tales, too. In 1996, Brazilian songwriter/musician Max Cavalera split from former group Sepultura; after making a guest appearance on the Deftones’ song “Headup” on their 1997 album Around the Fur, he formed Soulfly. The name comes from the lyrics of the song.
Scary Kids Scaring Kids
This Arizona-based group played their last show this March at Soma in San Diego; coincidentally, the highly influential Chicago-based group Cap’n Jazz, whose song “Scary Kids Scaring Kids” gave the group its name, recently announced their reunion. Hear the song, off their album, Analphabetapolothology, below.
We Are Scientists
Scary Kids Scaring Kids weren’t the only ones to gain inspiration from Cap’n Jazz. Brooklyn-based We Are Scientists, who we think are very funny, also got their name from a Cap’n Jazz song that also appears on Analphabetapolothology.
Since their start in 1996, Japanese experimental rock band Boris have made their name (figuratively) by blending different types and genres of music. Literally, they took their name from the first song on The Melvins’ 1991 album, Bullhead.
Britt Daniels’ long-running indie act named themselves in tribute to the 1970s experimental German group, Can, which had a song called “Spoon.”