If you’re interviewing a band, and you really want to annoy them, one of the best ways is to ask: How did you come up with your name, and what exactly does it mean?
In some cases, musicians just get tired of answering that same question over and over. Yes, 311 are named after the Omaha police code for indecent exposure, Death Cab for Cutie is the title of a song by the Bonzo Dog Band, and Hüsker Dü is a Scandinavian board game. That’s why Google was invented.
Or maybe the name just got plucked out of thin air — for a poster that needed to go to press or whatever — and doesn’t mean much of anything. And now they’re stuck with it.
In any case, it’s hard not to be curious, especially in a place where musicians have adopted names like Shiii Whaaa, Edith Makes a Paper Chain, The Haunted Windchimes, Quartet of Jazz Death, and Thegoodmorningaccordionterrorist.
With that in mind, we asked 25 Colorado Springs acts, of various genres and vintages, for the stories behind their names, and here are their lightly edited answers:
Chuck Snow: My longest-lasting band The Autono (1984-1997) reportedly came from a cadaver named Otto Knowe that a friend of our drummer worked on in medical school. He made a big list of potential band names and we picked "Otto Knowe," without knowing the backstory at first, and then changed it to a more Who-like Mod movement thing. We almost became "Skyeel and The Beakmen," but I guess it sounded too much like "Echo and The Bunnymen" or something. I don't remember anyone not liking the name, although we had a devil of a time sticking to either The Autono or Auto-no or The Auto-no in our promotions.
Dylan Teifer: I met our guitarist Tim Costello in upstate New York in 2009. A longtime Colorado Springs resident, he was back helping with the family business in Oswego, and I was a tenant. Tim was hosting a Tuesday jam night down the road at the Blue Frog Coffee House, which is now closed. So the name came from the venue, the jam sessions we were having, and the project that formed around that jam night. Tim moved back to Colorado Springs in 2011 and I followed shortly after in 2012, and we soon started gigging under the Blue Frog name. In keeping with the "jam night" ethos, we will often collaborate with local artists and songwriters, featuring their material with Blue Frog as the backing band, and we continue to offer the tradition of a weekly Tuesday open jam night at the Townhouse in Manitou Springs, where all ages and skill levels are welcome to come play.
- Joel Rodriguez
The Changing Colors
Conor Bourgal: I honestly can't remember why I came up with The Changing Colors. I'm sure it had something to do with psychedelics (the name, not the forgetting). I dug out some old notebooks to refresh my memory but the name just appears, halfway through a Moleskine, nothing else on the page, no context. I do remember I'd been thinking about '60s concert poster art, that trippy art nouveau style ... I thought the name, The Changing Colors, could fit on a poster like that.
Mitchell Macura: Cocordion is a made-up word. It incorporates the prefix "co-" meaning "together, mutually, in common." And a suffix "-cordion." Which is just a part of the word accordion, an instrument that breathes. There is no intentional symbolism associated with the name and we don't really think names matter.
Edith Makes a Paper Chain
Sarah Hope: Edith Makes a Paper Chain was a caption from a '60s arts and crafts book. There was an older woman with a large bouffant coif and cat-eye glasses on a beaded chain. I jokingly said we should use it as a band name back in my first band in the '90s. But we didn't. We named that band Dog Tooth Violet. Since then I had other bands like the Pretty Pleasers and the Goods. Then, for a spell, I was without a band, but I was jamming with a couple of women making more of a living-room folk sound. We weren't really a band, but then we got a gig and we needed a name, so I dragged out my old list of potential names and we chose Edith Makes a Paper Chain. After that gig someone offered us another gig, and so it went from there. Over the years I've wanted to change the name to reflect the changing sound, but we were afraid that if we changed it, no one would come see us. Nowadays we are both a folk band and something else. My rock roots never went away but I still play an acoustic guitar. We go by Edith. That's it.
El Toro de la Muerte
Ryan Spradlin: Coming up with band names is something that I think all musicians hate doing. At least that has been my experience. Getting a group of artists to agree on a single moniker that is going to follow you indefinitely is a truly awful task. But I've always been a fan of bands whose names are nothing like their music (Destroyer, Chavez, Sunny Day Real Estate). So, when we started out as sort of an alt-country-bar-rock band, I thought it would be funny if we had more of a metal band name. There have always been tons of metal bands in the Springs. It was originally just "Bull of Death" and it was a bit of a joke. After we started playing out more, we changed it to Spanish. There was no logic in that decision. There was a Spanish children's book called El Toro de la Muerte that came up when I was registering a website, and we all agreed that it had a nice ring to it. And so it was.
Nick Yanez: Although the name "Get Along" may come across as a wish for peace and friendship to all who hear our music, the origins of the name are much more sarcastic than that. Not that we don't want to promote people "getting along," but we chose the name as a sort of ironic take on the specific time of life we were experiencing at the point of naming our project. We were young, recently engaged, and ready to conquer the world with our passion. Much to our surprise, far too many of the local townies didn't agree with our destiny (I know right?) and instead of encouragement and support we found ourselves at the unbearable end of unwarranted and small-minded advice. To put it simply, these strangers all felt the need to tell us how to get along in life. So the name is a satirical stab at conformity, not unlike most of the themes in our lyrics.
- No Credit
Grass It Up
David Jeffrey: Grass It Up is a reference to performing popular songs in the bluegrass style. In our early days, we were grassing up music by Jimi Hendrix, KC & The Sunshine Band, Prince, Tom Petty, Phish, The Dead, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and more. Of course, with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado our name has taken on a whole different meaning. This last fall, when we traveled to Kansas, we put a Trump sticker on the bumper, a Bible on the dashboard, and we drove well below the speed limit out of fear of being pulled over for simply driving with Colorado plates.
Had I Known
Brian Eastin: The band was practicing and all of us knew that we were running out of time to pick a band name, as we had just booked our first show at the original Flux a few days prior. After throwing around some good and some very bad ideas, we started focusing on the word "knowledge." This was narrowed down to "known." We then thought "what goes good with 'known'?" Crickets chirped for the next few minutes. Danny, our bassist, then said, "If I knew anything about the word 'known,' I'd know about it by now." Him saying this created more brainstorming. We started discussing prior knowledge of things relating to music and movies. I then simply said, "Had I Known it would be this difficult to come up with a name, I would have chosen '3 Cool Dogs.'" Lawsuits from Three Dog Night popped in my head when I said that. When Danny heard me say "Had I Known" he said that it sounded perfect. We said it a few times and it just stuck.
The Haunted Windchimes
- Art Heffron
The Hopeful Heroines
- Bradley Flora
Brian Elyo: mobdividual, is a word mash-up of "mob" and "individual." It has a couple of different meanings, the first being an individual's ability to refrain from deep thought, such that their level of opinion does not reach above a mob-type mentality. The use of technology compounds this illusion/delusion by allowing one person an enormous virtual presence. The second, which is my focus as a musician, is a single person attempting to be a noise orchestra. You can think of it as a "mob" — an unruly uncontrollable sound — balanced with the "individual," which can be more concise and clear. And that's typically what I do live: morph passages of massive noise with clear, pretty or sad chords.
Garret Myers: About 11 p.m. four years ago we were sitting in our rehearsal space after throwing out what felt like hundreds of band name ideas. None of them felt right. Our drummer Tyler threw out "The Suspects," which was the first name to catch the ear of all three of us. We began to toss this name around and discuss how it made us feel, and what it might imply. One thing we all found intriguing was the idea that each older generation tends to accuse the next younger generation of certain character flaws that often and frankly are just not true. What's true, though, is each generation has a different way of doing something, or a different vantage point on certain subjects. We've come to realize there's a lot of accusation being thrown around, for no real purpose other than to sort of build up the accuser. We realized then, that we're a Modern version of yet another Suspected generation. It's important to keep in mind that "suspect" doesn't mean "guilty."
Sebastian Nutter: When the band first was formed we sat down and had everyone put together a few different names they liked. Originally the name was almost called "Das Kunts?" mainly because we thought it was funny. However, we were sitting down with our first guitar player's dad and he asked what kind of music it was going to be. Rather than going into a long explanation of what Oi music is, someone told him it's music to drink beer to. The dad said, "Like the song '99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall'?" When we heard that, it jumped at us immediately and we chose 99 Bottles. Afterwards, to make the name more legit we decided we had to drink 99 beers in a night by just the band. We did and have pictures to prove it!
- No Credit
Gabe From The Future: "Superdelegate" is a term associated with the politics of "politics." The only politics we adhere to are the politics of '60's rock 'n' roll, the greatest and most influential movement in the history of that genre, with our stated platform of "Gyrations, Libations and Good Vibrations," hence our name The Psychedelegates! The name itself is the brainchild of frontman Gary "GT" Tatel, who is best known as the guru-esqe host of the Vintage Voltage radio show on local NPR affiliate KRCC.
Quartet of Jazz Death
Colin Trusedell: There was a jazz fusion group in the '70s called Trio of Doom that consisted of some of the most talented superstar musicians at the time. The trio included bass genius Jaco Pastorius, drum master Tony Williams, and guitar sensation John McLaughlin. Most jazz or fusion-jazz musicians today will say that this group of musicians has had a significant impact on them and their playing. That is really where I pulled Quartet of Jazz Death from as I had assembled a team of Colorado Springs' most amazing musicians consisting of Steve Langemo on guitar, Stefan Flores on drum set, Shawn Hanlon on keyboards, and myself on electric bass. Like us on Facebook!
Samir Zamundu: In 2006, while I was working on a solo album that was going to be titled The Reminder, Aja [Black] and I began working on songs together. We were collaborating more and more, and eventually created a strong body of work, and I thought why don't we call ourselves The ReMINDers? The name came from the concept of us, as individuals and a collective, being reminders to one another through music and actions of our greatness.
- Chiseled Light Photography
Kate Perdoni: We were searching for a name we all loved that hasn't yet been used by a band — quite a feat in 2017. We called ourselves Katey Sleeveless in the meantime. We used Emily's dad, Papa, as a litmus test for a good band name. We'd tell her a name at practice, and she'd run it by him, and come back and tell us if Papa had said Yes or No. I think this was actually before we'd ever met her dad, but still his opinion carried weight. Spirettes was Emily [Gould]'s idea. The more we thought about it, the more we loved the nod to classic women groups, and an older rock heritage. The Mo-Dettes, the Fondettes, the Planettes. I remember the Soviettes from my time in Minneapolis. We conjure up energy, willpower, earnestness, zest, and we're linked in spirit. Together we are a team, a unified force, purposeful, and something about the old-French female diminutive -ette feels paradoxically empowering and strong.
Daniel Oglesby: I came up with the name Vase Vide (pronounced "voss vee-day") for a solo project I started about three years ago. Initially, I stuck to writing score for local theater, but the project slowly morphed into writing electronic songs with other local musicians just for fun. I never thought VV would turn into a full-on Art-Rock band — but I'm glad it did! Korey Wilkinson and Kellie Palmblad became involved back when Vase Vide was still a solo project, but after we decided to turn it into a band, Dave Gashaw and Alex Rich joined us. After weeks of talking it over, we eventually decided to just keep the name ... we didn't love or hate it, but we also couldn't think of anything better. Vase Vide is French for "empty vessel." I've always been intrigued by Taoism, Zen Buddhism and charismatic thinkers with unconventional ideas on existentialism (hence the Alan Watts sample in our song "Strange Crosses"). I'm drawn to their collective notion that consciousness is nothing more than an empty space through which thoughts pass, and the idea that consciousness, not the mind, is a person's true self. From that concept, Watts suggested that the true nature of reality is nothingness and is intrinsically void. I love this thought because of how paradoxical it seems on the surface, so I decided to apply it to my music project and call myself what I am, an empty vessel.
Michael Salkind: Tracy [Santa] and I went on a vision quest during which we ingested large quantities of Geritol, far more than the recommended dosage, and then spent three days, barefoot, in a thrift store, seeking our spirit animal. We came across a wise jackalope who dubbed us Wild Hares.
Craig Haughton: How we named our band isn't as cool of a story as we would hope for. When we decided we were going to be a band, Skye [Lewis] and I sent text messages back and forth that had the words 'shed,' 'red,' 'barn,' 'wood,' etc., etc. — all your typical farm-type words mashed together. As soon as we thought of Woodshed Red, we googled it, and there were no other bands named that, and the website was available. We unanimously thought it was awesome. Everyone has their ideas on what makes a good band name. My only "must have" is when I have to tell someone the name of my band, they shouldn't say, "Huh?" It should be simple and you should only have to say it once.