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How 50 of Alternative Rock’s Biggest Bands Got Their Names

The name game—it’s something that every band has had to deal with, but fortunately they always get it out of the way right at the beginning of their careers. We’ve created a gallery that shows how 50 of the biggest acts in alternative and indie rock came up with their name.

Coming up with a band name can be a maddening experience. Mostly because there’s so much hinging on it. After all, as you’re about to discover, some of the world’s most beloved groups started out with downright dumb (or at least significantly less cool-sounding) names before they finally turned to the ones that we know them by today.

Once you start to delve into the process by which some of your favorite bands came up with their names, it gets to be a slippery slope. Some had a stroke of brilliance, others acted out of desperation, and frankly, some took a rather stupid path to identifying themselves. And of course, this being rock ‘n’ roll, there are plenty of artists who are only to eager to perpetuate exaggerations and utter untruths about the origins of their names, just for the perverse pleasure of confusing the public at large.

But for every name, from the starkly minimalist U2 to the more exotic Yo La Tengo, from the deliberately vague R.E.M. to the local in-joke of Husker Du, there’s an origin story. And here are a half a hundred of the ones you want to know about. Click above to begin.

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