10 Bands Doomed by Their Names
What's in a name? Everything -- at least when it comes to rock 'n' roll bands that choose dark or foreboding or controversial monikers. Ominous and off-putting names have a tendency to predict groups' fates, and all of the acts featured here on our list of 10 Bands Doomed by Their Names went through some bad stuff -- everything from messy breakups and legal disputes to arrests for alleged murder-to-hire plots. Maybe these groups should have chosen their names a little more carefully.
Ben Folds Five, the brainchild of frontman Ben Folds, is a clever name fit for a this, a group that has made some very clever songs. That's because they're a trio, not a quintet, and the name should be read like a sentence -- one that might have predicted the band’s breakup. Luckily, a decade after they folded in 2000, the group reunited for a 2011 a retrospective album and last year's ‘The Sound of the Life of the Mind.’
In 2009, after their fourth album, ‘Folie à Deux,’ Chicago pop-punkers Fall Out Boy announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus. The group cited a variety of reasons behind the temporary breakup, including the nonstop schedule of recording and touring they'd endured since their 2003 debut, ‘Take This to Your Grave,’ as well as the high-profile nature of bassist Pete Wentz’s marriage to singer-actress Ashlee Simpson. While the band -- named for a Simpsons character -- may have had a “falling out,” it was relatively short-lived, as they've since reunited for this year’s ‘Save Rock and Roll' album.
While the name Yuck doesn’t quite instill a sense of revulsion in listeners — their 2011 self-titled debut was the subject of much acclaim — it may speak to Daniel Blumberg's attitude toward the band. In April, the singer announced he was parting ways with indie rock foursome to focus on other projects. He quickly moved on with his new band Hebronix, while the remaining members of Yuck regrouped and hit the studio to record their sophomore album without him. It's a safe bet someone's got a bad taste in their mouth.
At the very least, when the Seattle post-punk outfit Pretty Girls Make Graves lifted their moniker from the Smiths song of the same name (which was in turn taken from Jack Kerouac’s ‘The Dharma Bums’), they set themselves up for the doom that comes with being a Smiths fan. However, their gloomy name may also have set them up for their 2007 breakup following Nick Dewitt’s departure.
Speaking of the Smiths, their name begs for anonymity, something you'd no longer associate with this beloved British group. They earn a place on our list of 10 Bands Doomed by Their Names because "Smith" is one of the world's most common surnames, and that connotes a sense of family — a community spirit you don't get from these four musicians, particularly singer Morrissey, who's fought legal battles with bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce and maintained a long-running feud with guitarist and former songwriting partner Johnny Marr.
Were Joy Williams and John Paul White of the Civil Wars predicting their own inner-band turmoil when they chose their name? After snagging a couple of Grammys for their debut album, ‘Barton Hollow,’ the duo announced they were going on hiatus due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition” in the fall of 2012. The future looked grim, but last month, they released a new song, ‘The One That Got Away,’ and their forthcoming self-titled sophomore effort drops Aug. 6. Consider this their reconstruction period.
Punk icons the Dead Kennedys drew heat for a controversial name that seemingly makes light of a certain noteworthy American family that has experienced its share of tragediess. The band has said that the tag was not meant to criticize the prominent political clan, but rather the state of the U.S. Whatever the reasoning behind the moniker, the band went on to experience many controversies unrelated to what they called themselves, including an obscenity lawsuit and legal battles over royalties and publishing rights following their breakup in 1986. If there's a Kennedy curse, might it have dogged these Cali troublemakers from the start?
Russian feminist punk-rock and protest group Pussy Riot leapt to fame in 2012 after performing their song ‘Madonna, Drive Putin Away’ in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Three of the group’s members, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were consequently arrested for “hooliganism.” Each woman was sentenced to two years in prison, however Samutsevich was released upon appeal. While the premise behind our list of Bands Doomed by Their Names is that artists didn't see their misfortune coming, Pussy Riot knew what they were getting into when they attached their inflammatory name to the protest against Vladimir Putin and the Russian government’s discrimination against women.
Influential post-punks Joy Division took their name from the 1955 book ‘House of Dolls,’ which described a type of Nazi concentration camp that prostituted its female Jewish prisoners. It was a rather dark choice for a band name, though it's somewhat fitting, as the Manchester rockers didn't exactly have a sunny time of things. The group's career was cut short when lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980, and when the surviving members regrouped soon after, they called themselves New Order — perhaps a wiser choice.
Metalcore outfit As I Lay Dying grabbed their moniker from the William Faulkner novel of the same name. However, considering recent accusations frontman Tim Labesis attempted to hire a hitman to murder his wife, their name may have foretold the band’s now-tentative future.