Music bands: What’s in a name?

Published: June 28, 2011

Local bands reveal the inspiration behind their names. DESIGN: SAMAD SIDDIQUI

LAHORE: 

It was in 2004 that a nascent anonymous band was invited to perform at the 2nd Indus Music Awards. When the group was about to go live, the electrical system at the show “overloaded” due to weak circuit board. This would subsequently inspire the name for the iconic band Overload.

Farhad Humayun, the band’s drummer and founder, fondly relates the tale of how the band came up with their name. “We have always been a live band and many of the things we perform are improvisations. So when we tried to plug in and perform at a music award show, the circuit board could not take the excess load. Hence we started calling the band ‘Overload’.”

Humayun describes the process of naming a band is like naming a child, since an infant’s name often reflects the parents’ world-view. He says that bands adhere to their philosophies while choosing an appropriate title, yet sometimes they even come up with words which hitherto have not even existed, such as “Aerosmith”.

Internationally, several legendary bands have fought legal battles over titles. Roger Waters and David Gilmore faced a civil suit fighting for the ownership of the name “Pink Floyd”. The court ruled in favour of the latter. Locally, Atif Aslam fought with his old group Jal over the band’s name. The high-profile lawsuit was later settled when Aslam decided to pursue his solo career.

In the underground music scene, a band’s name has vital significance for building its first impression and can impact its fan-following. Bilal Muneer of DreamLed and The Others believes that a band should choose a name according to the music genre it performs. The name “DreamLed” was decided after the band performed a jam session influenced by Dream Theatre and Led Zeppelin, while “The Others” was inspired by the band members’ rebellious attitude.

While many bands look for innovation and uniqueness in their names, some mainstream musicians stick to their personal identities such as “Meekaal Hassan Band”, named after the band’s lead guitarist. Haniya Aslam, of the duo Zeb and Haniya says that their band had tried to decide on a name but could not agree on any single title. Hence, they decided to go with their first names.

“It really depends on the attitude of the band, whether it wants to make it gimmicky or look at the band as a project or process,” says Aslam. “If you know your genre, you can make a name accordingly, but we were a bit scared because our music did not belong to any particular genre.”

But such a naming strategy has its own limitations. “If you use your name in the band’s title, you lose ownership of your own name, as it becomes a public property and can be used everywhere,” Aslam explains.

Other renowned bands also have interesting stories to relate about their names.

ADP

“Though the first two words “Aunty Disco” were suggested jocularly, the band later added “Project” to the band’s title. “We never wanted a name that would sound like all the other bands such as Mizraab, Aatish, or Toofan. ‘Aunty Disco’ was randomly jokingly suggested during a brainstorming session but we decided to keep it. Subsequently Imran Lodhi (late) and I added ‘Project’ to it, thinking it should reflect the experimental factor that we have in our music,” says ADP’s Yasir Qureshi.

Strings

The band had been playing in their college for some time but it was during a college show that the members came up with the name “Strings”, when the quartet had to be addressed for an onstage performance. “We came up with ‘Strings’ on the spot. Very soon, our first album was released. So we never really thought of changing the name because there was an association that had developed with the name and it wouldn’t have been the right thing to change it,” says Faisal Kapadia, lead vocalist of the band.

Fuzon

Fuzon’s name came as a suggestion from friends. Decided 10 days before its formal registration, the band members were sure the name reflected the essence of their music – a blend of eastern and western music. “We wanted to go with something unique. It came from a bunch of friends at the studio one day. We thought the name was simple and the main thing was that people understood what we had been trying to do. Fuzon was the best name because it was simple, effective and different from the word’s English spelling,” says Shallum Xavier of Fuzon.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.

Reader Comments (2)

  • siddiqui
    Jun 29, 2011 - 1:13PM

    why do you guys even write on music? its usually either gossip or a review of something which almost everybody had already listened…
    if you want to be a music reviewer, you have to be a listener first (which is not an easy thing) who is open to all forms of music… for example, South American and East European music, which most people are not familiar with… Recommend

  • Jun 29, 2011 - 2:41PM

    Did you just pair Pink Floyd and Jal Band in the same comparison? Blasphemous! I tell you..Recommend

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