18 More Perplexing Band Names Explained

A few weeks ago, we examined 23 head-scratching band names and their origins. But why stop there? With hordes of artists operating under befuddling stage names, we’re going to keep lowering our bucket of truth into this bottomless well of absurdity. So here are 18 more origin stories. As we noted last time, sometimes the names have a simple explanation, and other times they emerge from spotty rock lore. Either way, the answer is always ridiculous.


These dance-rockers probably regret coming up with the most un-Google-able band name ever. The idea came from the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy”: They were fascinated by the African tribesmen in the film who pronounced exclamation marks with clicking sounds. Said the band to Spin: “We thought it would be funny if we called ourselves !!! and people could just associate whatever three sounds they wanted with the name.” For one reason or another, “Chk Chk Chk” is the version that stuck.

10,000 Maniacs

Here’s another band name inspired by a movie. The band thought they were lifting the name “10,000 Maniacs” from a B-horror flick, but the film’s real title was “2,000 Maniacs”! Remember, in 1981 you couldn’t just look that stuff up on IMDB. How quaint.


The 3OH!3 duo hails from Boulder, Colorado, which has an area code of 303. Proving that area code love isn’t just for real rappers.


Band member P-Nut (a name that also demands an explanation) and friends were apprehended after skinny-dipping, and the citation in Omaha for indecent exposure is 311. They thought it would be funny to name the band after said code. And, no, it’s not secret code for KKK, so you can tell your sixth grade self to chill out.

Cold War Kids

While visiting Budapest, the bassist was in a park where old Commie statues were disposed of, which also served as a playground. The thought “Cold War Kids” popped into his head, though we probably would’ve gone with “Most Depressing Playground EVER.”

Counting Crows

Lead singer Adam Duritz took the name from a nursery rhyme he heard in the movie “Signs of Life,” which his then girlfriend Mary-Louise Parker was in. And thus began Counting Crows‘ journey to becoming the Best Band Ever.

Das Racist

These rap oddballs named themselves after a meme spawned by the cracked-out MTV2 show “Wonder Showzen,” which involved a child yelling “That’s racist!” Now it’s a GIF.

Depeche Mode

The brooding British synthers are named after French fashion magazine Depeche Mode, which translates to “Fashion Dispatch.”

Green Day

According to internet lore, the name Green Day was simply borne of the band’s fondness for marijuana. And now they’re Broadway stars entertaining gray-haired tourists. Weird how things work out.

Iron & Wine

Sam Beam got the name when he saw saw a protein supplement called Beef, Iron & Wine (sounds…terrifying) in a middle-of-nowhere gas station. Beam felt the phrase “Iron & Wine” fit with the duality of his music’s melancholy/hopeful sound. And that it would be more interesting than using his actual name.

The Joy Formidable

Frontwoman Ritzy Bryan wrote the phrase “Joy Formidable” on a piece of paper, and the band felt it evoked the same feelings their music did. Pretty boring story, but Bryan’s not big on the idea of naming bands, telling Spin the whole process is “puffy” and that when bands just point at words in the dictionary it’s a “bunch of s***.”

Kings of Leon

Unlike the band, this one’s pretty understated. Band members and brothers Caleb, Jared and Nathan Followill named the group after their father and grandfather, both named Leon.

Lady Gaga

Producer Rob Fusari, who helped Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) suss out her more theatrical and pop eccentricities, always associated her with the equally theatric Queen–specifically their song “Radio Ga Ga.” And thus, the Lady Gaga stage name was born. However, an anonymous Gaga “collaborator” told the NY Post the name was the end result of an evil corporate marketing meeting. We buy it.

Minus the Bear

As told to Spin: “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.” Best band name origin ever? Best band name origin ever.

The Postal Service

We assumed this name was meant to convey something as boring as the group’s music. We were close. The duo apparently had a long-distance music relationship, so they’d work on tracks and mail them to each other.

Waka Flocka Flame

Back when he watched “Muppet Babies” as a child (it seems even macho rap thugs were powerless to the allure of Nick Jr. as kids), his cousin used to call him “Waka” after Fozzie Bear’s catchphrase “waka, waka, waka.” Presumably because nothing is less street than Fozzie, his mentor Gucci Mane added the “Flocka Flame” to the name.

We Were Promised Jetpacks

Well, singer/guitarist Adam Thompson doesn’t even remember where the name came from…but we can at least tell you what it doesn’t mean. Thompson told Spinner: “There’s no pining for jetpacks or any s*** like that. We don’t even care about jetpacks. In fact, I hate jetpacks.” Sure, “The Rocketeer” was lame, but that’s an awful lot of vitriol against a potentially awesome invention. Just look!

Wu-Tang Clan

RZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard took the name from the kung-fu movie “Shaolin and Wu-Tang,” which they proceeded to sample extensively on their debut album.