Wednesday, March 13, 2013

And the name of the band is .....

You know what’s harder than choosing a name for your kid? Choosing a name for your band. Choosing a name is almost harder than putting a band together and learning some songs. Or at least it was for the little band I play in with Chicken Grrrl and Joe.

Part of the problem is that we don’t think of ourselves as a band. We’ve played together a lot over the past several years--sometimes just the three of us; sometimes each of us have cheated with other people. But we didn’t really consider ourselves a band until we were asked to play at a local festival in May, and The Organizer sent me a message asking for the name of our band for the promotional materials.

I stared at my computer screen for a while. A band name? It’s just us. We don’t have a band name. “I’ll have to get back to you on that,” I messaged him. And the debate started.

It’s not the first time Joe and I had been through the name selection process. Years ago at a party at my house a group of drunks musicians we played with decided we needed a band name. After a long, heated discussion that was broken up by fits of loud classic rock and shouting at the kids to stay out of the Jello shots, somebody came up with Queen Reticula* and the Screaming Fucktards. Somebody else wrote it on the lid of a pizza box with a Sharpie, and set it against the drummer’s bass. A band was born. (Of course when we played at church we changed it to Queen Reticula and the Screamers. Even Unitarians don’t put the word “fucktard” in the Sunday bulletin. Vagina, yes. Fucktard, no.)

A few years later when I moved, I found the pizza box lid behind a bookcase in the family room, dusty and crisscrossed with cobwebs. I considered having it framed, but then reluctantly I threw it away. I kind of wish I’d kept it, because now that we have a band name, shit is gettin’ serious. That box top was history, dude. Rolling Stone is going to have to use something else for a cover photo.

Obviously that name was past its prime though. We needed something fresh. Bold. Evocative. Something without both my name plus the word “fucktard” in it.

Joe and I talked about it at a party and got feedback from the people there. We came up with a perfect name we both really liked …. The next day neither of us could remember it. We still can’t.  I’m pretty sure it had the word “five” in it, but …. I just can’t bring it back. But that name was fucking perfect.

We had to move on.

The Organizer’s wife suggested Two Ho’s and a Joe. Joe liked it. Nobody listens to the bass player.

Another night at a local bourbon bar Alex tried to help. From 4 feet away he texted me a scrolling list of names:

  • ·        Bro Before Ho’s
  • ·        Ho’s Steak
  • ·        Hodown Voice (Ho fucking ho, Santa Claus. Chicken Grrrl and I have no idea why people keep calling us ho’s. Neither of us are even remotely marketable in that career field – no offense to Chicken Grrrl. Although come to think of it, there’s a prostitute named Mary in my neighborhood who’s 64 and skinny as a stick. I haven’t written her story here yet. That has nothing to do with band names.)
  • ·        Dim Bird
  • ·        Messy Quik and the Roasted Stick (I liked this one best.)
  • ·        Up Gin
  • ·        Retro-Morning Soul (This is Alex’s favorite. I have no idea what that name even means, but it makes me want to tie-dye a t-shirt and bake some special brownies.)
  • ·        The Ostrich
  • ·        Speak of Crack Weasel (This led to a discussion of Stephen King’s novel, Dreamcatcher, and I said crack weasel was too close to ass weasel, and besides I didn’t want people to think of an alien monster tearing its way out of their asses when they hear our name. Some bands go for that kind of imagery, but I’d rather they think about me Chicken Grrrl being a ho.)
  • ·        Your Unicellular Sisters
  • ·        I Love a Perfect Soul
  • ·        7th Wheel

None of these names stuck. (Sorry, Alex.)

After a couple of weeks The Organizer became more insistent. He needed to get started on those posters and t-shirts. I sent an email to the band – all 2 members: We have to come up with a name tonight! No more avoiding the band name.

We poured some wine and settled down in my living room …. Took a few sips. The clock ticked. Inspiration went outside for a cigarette and didn’t come back for a long time.

We each threw out some suggestions, but they all sucked donkey balls – even the ones that made us laugh. Everything we came up with sounded artificial, like it should mean something but really didn’t. None of the names represented us, as a trio. Or some did, but they weren’t fit for the public.

We also had trouble imagining the world calling us by one common name – like you would a person. It’s not like we could yell a band name out the back door to see what it sounded like when we called the band in for dinner. And we couldn’t cop out and name the band after a band relative – although I suggested we call ourselves The Beatles. But The Beatles, Jr.? Little Beatles? No.

Joe picked up a book from ever-revolving stack on my coffee table. He started throwing names. “This one looks good. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened.”

“I’m not sure we can use Jenny Lawson’s book title for our band name ….” I said. Joe and Chicken Grrrl disagreed. Chicken Grrrl probably has a big old crush on Jenny Lawson, which makes me super jealous, but she is The Bloggess.

“OK, fine,” I said. “Let’s just brainstorm from these books, and I’ll write down the ones we like best.” The books brought inspiration back into the room – the lazy bitch -- and we all started shouting out names.

After about 10 minutes of both possible and ridiculous suggestions, and some that made us squirt wine through our noses, we came up with a list of 10 possible band names. We only needed one fucking band name, but it was a start.

“Let’s enlist some help,” I said. “And we need to practice. Let’s narrow these down to 6, and I’ll post them on my Facebook for feedback.”

The numbered names are the ones we posted to Facebook.

1.Free to a Good Home
Andian Felt Hat
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened
Mostly True
2. Almost a Psychopath
Extraordinary Delusions
3. What If the Baby’s a Republican?
4. Champion Hotdog Eater
5. Stabbed by Chicken
6. Cleanup in Aisle 3

We tuned, plugged in and started playing.

In the meantime, my Facebook friends debated the merits of our 6 names. Lots of people loved #3, but thought it sounded like an album or song title. Some people suggested their own band names, like Pandora’s Paradise, Accidental Butter, and Everybody Loves Cookies. My son Drake suggested Sarcastic Redhead, which I loved, but the rest of the band didn’t. Stiffy and the Vag also didn’t make the cut of the fan suggestions. There were more. Too many to list.

Every 20 minutes or so we took a break to fill our wine glasses check the results.

A few Facebook friends combined some of our names to come up with their own unique versions to vote on. Stabbed by a Republican Chicken, for example.

Does this kinda look like a vagina?
Alex expressed his disappointment that we didn’t choose Retro-Morning Soul. I will probably tie-dye him a t-shirt as penance. He wears too much black.

The one that made us laugh the hardest – Champion Hotdog Eater – didn’t get a single vote. We crossed it off early. Stabbed by Chicken fell next.

We also crossed off What If the Baby’s a Republican? because it was too long. And Almost a Psychopath, because it sounded serious, like a death metal band … or an ex who can’t let go … or an over-attached girlfriend. 

By the end of our rehearsal, we had finished a box of wine after 69 comments, two names had tied for first place: Free to a Good Home and Clean Up in Aisle 3. We agreed we could live with either of those, although Cleanup in Aisle 3 tickled us more, and that we would sleep on it and come to a decision the next day. For sure, the next day.

The next day Chicken Grrrl sent out an email to the as-yet-unnamed band. She suggested 3 more names.

  • ·        Peppermint Sugar Fish
  • ·        Viable Sage
  • ·        2pm Cocktails

Did I mention how hard it was to come up with a name for our band? My former in-laws gave each of their daughters a first name and three middle names along with a hyphenated last name. They didn’t spend this much time choosing all those names for their kids.

I said I could live with 2 pm Cocktails (although I secretly thought it was better if we didn’t tattle on ourselves about that). And I still liked Clean Up in Aisle 3 (although secretly it made me think of pregnant women throwing jars of pickles to cover up their water breaking).

We emailed some more. Free to a Good Home started to sound better to me than any of the others. (Although secretly, I would have chosen Nice, Fresh Trout.) Of all the names we’d thrown around, it really did represent us best. We’ve made far more money for charity than any of us have ever pocketed as a band.

And then by some miracle, we all agreed. Just like that, our band was called Free to a Good Home.

Free to a Good Home. Chicken Grrrl, Joe and me. 
Free to a Good Home.

(No, we don't have a logo yet. How could you fucking ask that? Shut up.)

* We used my real name, which gives a delicious ring of alliteration, but alas, that’s not my name here in Reticuland.


  1. Great read. Love this. You'll wind up with a lot of puppies, won't you?

    1. Thanks! I was hoping a lot of people would want to take us in and feed us. ;-)

  2. Yay! Of the final names you listed, that was the one I liked best.

    1. We're all happy with it now the decision has been made. And I think it will make for some good patter with the audience too.