Ditch the Dictionary: Primer on Naming Your Project

The Rabbit Hole

Ditch the Dictionary: Primer on Naming Your Project

Posted by on Aug 1, 2016

Disclaimer: All names appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real bands, thriving or burned out, is purely coincidental.

The single’s written. You’ve already picked out your rock star clothes for the first gig. But wait…you need a stage name. Even if you already have a catalogue of songs under your belt (or sweatpants, depending on the type of musician) you just know your talent won’t be validated until you have an eye-and-ear-popping handle to release them under. Whether you’ve already got a name in mind or you’re facing creative hurdles, KUTX is here to help resolve your musical identity crisis. For your convenience, we’ve arranged the list in the most scientific and quantifiable way possible – by creativity.


0% Creativity

Full Name – You can only get away with this one if you list every gig as “Your Name Performs Live at The Venue”. Don’t have a cool sounding name? Either embrace it or keep on blaming your parents for your lack of success.  Bonus points for superfluous possibly, real middle names. [EXAMPLE: Your name, duh.]

10% Creativity

First Name & Title – You don’t want your full name – you’re more creative than that (plus you don’t want to give away too much personal info…pesky NSA always harassing musicians). But you also want your listeners to feel like they know you on a personal level. Why not try reverting back to a Middle Earth-style method of nomenclature with your name and title? Your title can range from your job description to your speculative American Gladiators handle. Whether it’s actually what you do or not is beside the point – it sounds like you have a position of authority – at the least in the dank atmosphere of a dive bar. [EXAMPLES: Janice the Tinker, Stephen the Out-of-Tune]

Nobility Title – It’s been a few decades since Jazz Royalty was the thing but you want to command your sonic territory! Let your subjects know that when you hit the stage, you’re the only king of the castle (inevitably leading to a hierarchy in the case of a band, and a Machiavellian Complex for a solo performer). [EXAMPLES: Queen Puff, Baron Von Mitchum]

First Name & The Plurals – Essentially the same as First Name & Title but this time you have a group behind you! Designate which member of the band will get all the action (some of you just mouthed the word “me” while reading that) and let the rest simply back that rock star up. There will never be any drama about who steals the spotlight amongst the band members, right?   [EXAMPLES: Steven & The Drapes, Ricky & The Squirrels]

20% Creativity

(The) Plurals – There are two ways to go about this. 1) Take “The” for granted and roll with it. 2) “The” is such a played out word! Who really needs definite articles anyways? Make listeners feel like they’re part of a group effort. [EXAMPLES: 1) No examples available. All band names have been taken. 2) Jogs, Picnics]

Alliterative/Rhyming Words – Tried but true, there’ll be a mildly satisfying experience every time your name is uttered. Near rhymes count as true rhymes. Nuff said. [EXAMPLES Mild Style, Clingy Stink, Shaking Shimmers, Action Apples]

Adjective – Were you flipping through the thesaurus trying to define your sound in terms other than…I don’t know, man… “indie rock”? Find a word. Memorize it’s definition (if only to have a consistent answer for the inevitable “How’d you come up with the name?” question you’ll get every single interview.) As a bonus you’ll also appear educated – hell – even scholarly (but certainly not pretentious). [EXAMPLES: Apoplectic, Louche, Kenopsia]

30% Creativity

Variation on a Famous Title, Phrase, or Person (Intentional Malapropism) – Your bar buddy drunkenly misspoke one time and now it must be memorialized through you! That’s how the world was introduced to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and that song never gets old, right? Make first time listeners do a double take when they see your name on a show listing. Once the name has caught on, never make any reference to the original person/work again. [EXAMPLES: Spilt Chamberlain, Smiley Virus, Haiti Kolmes, Chekov’s Gum, Hell’s Smells, Flirty Harry, Wrists of Curry, The Fridge on the River Kwai, Tokémon]

Prefix Word/Name –  Your ready to launch your hip-hop career. However, your full name just doesn’t have the gusto you’re looking for. You have a multitude of name-enhancers including but not limited to: Lil, Young, MC, Big, 2. Get creative. At least 30% creative. [EXAMPLES: Lil Big, Young Lad, 2 Jobs]

Letter/Number Swap – Why use “S” when you can use “Z” or “$”? Who needs a “C” when you’ve got “K” and “Q” at your disposal? Fans will have a blast trying to find your band online when you use double letters in place of single letters (“NN” instead of “M”, “UU” or “VV” in place of “W”)! In addition, any opportunity to replace letters with numbers should be seized immediately [EXAMPLES: $3Qu1n Kr3w, Th3 Q00l-A1dz, VVhat’s Up, Flint VVestUUood]

40% Creativity

The New, The Young, or The Old –  Mask your true age and appeal to different demographics to some degree of success! Avoid photos at all costs or the charade is up! [EXAMPLES: The New Retirees, Old Kindergarteners, Young Receding Hairlines]

Word Repeated – If you want to sound like you have a stutter or you want your fans to think their CD is skipping, you’re in luck. This option is also great because you can convince your audience to chant one word over and over (and, if done correctly, brainwash them into becoming your mindless concert zombies). [EXAMPLES: Drip Drip, So So, Chew Chew Chew]

Animal Incorporation – What better way to tie in your audience’s love of wolf & tiger shirts? With this option, you’ll never have to worry about coming up with a logo because you can always rely on the savage nature of your musical spirit animal. [EXAMPLES: Father Hawk, The Cephalopod Experiment, Majestic Grackles]

50% Creativity

(Obscure) Local/Regional Location Name – People need to know where you’re from. It’s not like filling out basic biographical information on your band’s fan page is easy or one of the first things to do. Let your location do the talking – then do your sound check. [EXAMPLES: Waller Creek, The Triangle, Daniel’s Apartment]

Disgusting Phrase (With Heavy Metal Umlauts) – Your stuff is hardcore and you want fans to know that before hearing note one. Of course, you can’t discuss it with your fellow metalheads; they’ll find your choices tame at best. Branch out! If it makes your Grandmother shake her head, it’s a keeper. [EXAMPLES: Blöwing Chunks, Stägnant Pöres, Tepïd Yoüth, Löogie Hockër]

60% Creativity

Material (& Material) – Appear overly analytical, like you take everyday life for more than just face value and really dig into what this world is made of. Sure, you dropped Geology faster than you dropped Chemistry and Biology (“I want to be a musician, not an engineer, DAD!”) but you retained enough info to make a sweet-sounding band name. Bonus points for material combos. [EXAMPLES: Cobalt, Einsteinium, Grass & Mulch, Concrete & Bird Droppings]

ALL CAPS – YOU’RE DIFFERENT THAN OTHER ACTS ON THE LINEUP BECAUSE YOUR NAME IS (slightly) BIGGER ON THE WEBSITE LISTING HOWEVER IT WON’T ACTUALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE ON A PHYSICAL MARQUEE. BUT YOU ALREADY KNEW THAT SINCE YOU ALWAYS THINK AT FULL VOLUME. [EXAMPLES: TRAMPOLINE TRAUMA, VISUAL MIGRAINE, X-AMPLE]

lowercase – You’ve mastered the illusion of modesty. Bonus points for periods instead of spaces. Ridicule those pesky venues that think they’re “fixing” your name by adding a capital letter or two, but they don’t get it. Do you get it? Exactly…you don’t need to. [EXAMPLES: smoky light city, i.need.a.date, no recorded material]

70% Creativity

No Vowels – Is it an acronym? Is it an an abbreviation? Whatever it is – it’s cool. Band monikers like these are so hip that only true fans know how to pronounce their names (You don’t want to be that guy who calls the GZA “Jee Zee Ay”) [EXAMPLES: VWLS SCK, Lndn Brdgs, Dslxc, IBCNU]

Made Up Word – Need we say more? The more syllables, the better. Bonus points if it ends in a vowel. [EXAMPLES: Danga, Borachee, Skoomatoo]

Two Words Combined Into One – Did you accidentally hit the delete or backspace button when typing up your handle? It’s not a typo – It’s trendy! [EXAMPLES: SilkStroll, BleakShrub, RevisionError]

80% Creativity

Ailment – Want prospective listeners to feel bummed out the moment they read your name? It may not motivate them to listen to your music…but it’s so edgy. Let’s be honest, you want the record labels to think you’re bitter and, at times, morose with your perception of life. [EXAMPLES: Blind Man With A Telescope, Widow In A CT Scan, Leper On The Merry-Go-Round, Paraplegics Playing Twister, Epileptic On The Dance Floor]

Oddly Specific Phrase – Sure, you never made it through the whole book, and maybe a dictator’s speech isn’t the most PC source for your band name, but that one phrase sounded really friggin’ cool. [EXAMPLES: Swimming Quickly Despite Viscous Liquid, Strutting Proudly In Light Of Pit Stains, Using Your Outside Voice On the Inside]

90% Creativity

Lowercase/Uppercase – Pick vowels or consonants or just free form it. Just be sure to insist on how it’s written every single time after you’ve established the name. [EXAMPLES: jAmjOInts, dYslExIA, ReaDiNG THiS HuRTS]

Symbols – Want to confuse your fans (and divide them amongst themselves according to who can pronounce the name correctly). Do you need an explanation? Not necessarily. Do you need to figure out how to say your name? Since we now live in a Prince-less world, then yes you do. [EXAMPLES: # & *, )<)^(>(, %%%. \@^^@/]

Normal Phrase with Innocuous Number/Normal Number with Innocuous Word – There’s no need to explain this one because, well, you won’t either once you’ve settled on your name. You might want to make up a historical anecdote just to appease your closest friends, just to be safe. And safe is all this name is. [EXAMPLES: Circuit Breaker ‘16, 401 Kilimanjaro]

100% Creativity

Combo: Combine any of the preceding rules. Excellence will ensue. [EXAMPLES: H0d0R D0ST0Y3V$KY, Eric & The “They Pet Horses, Don’t Theys”, SlamWell jamhell, The iPhone Reset Psswrdz]


Now that you’ve got your slick new name, get out there, play some shows, get tired of your name, and change it after a few months!

Jack Anderson

Time Slippin’ 5.18.16

The Rabbit Hole

Time Slippin’ 5.18.16

Posted by on May 18, 2016

March 18th in Music

1911: Birth of Joe Turner

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1912: Birth of Perry Como

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1949: Birth of Rick Wakeman

TSRickWakeman

1950: Birth of Mark Mothersbaugh

TSMarkMothersbaugh

1952: Birth of George Strait

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1964: A riot broke out in Hamilton, Scotland during a Rolling Stones UK tour when over 4,000 fans with forged tickets bum rushed the gates at the Chantingall Hotel in 1964.

TSRollingStones

1967: The Beatles were selected to represent the UK for the first-ever global-wide satellite broadcast. The group agreed to be shown in the studio recording a song written especially for the occasion. John Lennon composed ‘All You Need is Love’ after being told by producers to “keep it simple”.

TSBEatlesAllYouNeedIsLove

1968: The first Miami Pop event was coordinated by future Woodstock promoter Michael Lang and took place with an estimated 100,000 attendees. The 1968 lineup included Steppenwolf, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Mothers of Invention, Chuck Berry, Three Dog Night and more.

TSMiamiPop

1975: Birth of Jack Johnson

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1980: Joy Division singer and guitarist Ian Curtis shocked the world when he was found hanging in the kitchen of his Macclesfield, England house at the age of 23. Curtis had Iggy Pop’s 1977 debut album The Idiot, playing on his stereo on repeat and a suicide note was discovered nearby.

TSIanCurtis

1993: Creation Records A&R Alan McGee missed a train then headed to King Tuts in Glasgow, Scotland to kill time before catching the next one. It was at King Tuts that McGee saw Oasis and declared, ‘I’ve found the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band since The Beatles,’ and signed them to Creation shortly afterwards.

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2004: Clint Warwick the original bass player with The Moody Blues died from liver disease at the age of 63. Clint left the band in 1966 after playing on their only number one hit, ‘Go Now’.

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2011: John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ sold for over $230,000 at an auction in the United States. The sale of the sheet, which featured the song’s third verse and the opening words to ‘She’s Leaving Home’, took place at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.

TSLSD

– Jack Anderson

Twine Time Valentine

The Rabbit Hole

Twine Time Valentine

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016

Just discovered in the Paul Ray archives…a playlist from one of his annual Valentine’s Day shows! It’s a treasure of songs about being and falling in love.

Musical Resolutions 2016

The Rabbit Hole

Musical Resolutions 2016

Posted by on Jan 4, 2016

Come the end of each December, it’s customary to make a set of resolutions to follow (and inevitably break) as some semblance of self-improvement for the following year. Now, musicians are always seeking to better themselves through practice and performance, but given this “clean slate” opportunity, they can realistically set goals comparable to typical “go to the gym” idealizations. Musicians are often notorious for never giving up on their goals, even if it means putting them off for a few months (or decades), but they’ll never openly admit defeat (at least not in front of a fellow musician). To get an idea of what some musicians have in store for 2016, we’ve tapped into the Live Music Capital hive mind to share some goals and predict when they’ve caved.


Break by January

Start paying for rent.

Earn less from the door during Free Week; spend more at the bar.

Get out of bed at a reasonable time.

Break by February

Stop drawing creative energy from (READ: “distracting yourself with”) other hobbies such as stand-up comedy, screenwriting, and photography and instead focus on the “musician” identity you’ve already created.

Break by March

Actually send your press kit to music festivals this year instead of just complaining about how you didn’t get booked.

Gig more; record less. Gig less; record more. Switch on a bi-monthly basis.

Break by April

Save up some money to purchase that elusive piece of equipment you’ve always needed (wanted) instead of blowing money on your weekly…*cough*…inspiration.

Write a song with chords other than A, D, and G. (Yes, A minor counts)

Break by May

Untangle the rat’s nest then organize all your cables and adaptors before summer.

Mix and master the recording of your totally bangin’ McDonald’s jingle remix and mail it to the golden arches’ corporate headquarters. Remember what to tell your friends: You didn’t sell out; you bought in.

Break by June

Prevent the already-flooded animal T-shirt fashion market from becoming exclusively wolf shirts by introducing shirts with other animals: Not just gorillas, tigers, and bears, but platypi, coypus, and gerenuks.

Use up all the space on your pedalboard. Regardless of how many effects pedals you have, you can still get away with only using one onstage.

Break by July

Finish converting your closet into an isolation booth. Don’t worry about minor details like whether or not you actually have something to record and where you’ll hang your clothes. Who needs to wear clothes when you could staple them to the wall use them as recording insulation?! (R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe often recorded nude – perhaps this was how he got his start?)

Break by August

Toss out the metronome and tuner and discover your inner tempo (Doctors call it a “heart beat” or “pulse”) and tuning, maaaaaan. Note: Your recordings may begin to sound noticeably less…good. But your internal acoustics will be killer!

Focus less on sound and more on image. If you’ve had this resolution for multiple years in a row, you may have notice your job title slowly shifting from “Musician” to “Model” (or vice versa).

Break by September

Have more faith in the local scene and put an end to your annual music venue dead pool.

Develop niche subgenres through combining exponentially obscure genres like ThrashFolk Revival, ProgTrap, and ZydecoStep.

Break by October

Reinvent college rock. Re-reinvent college rock. Re-re-reinvent college rock back to the stone age then cash in on sand dollars by reinventing the wheel.

Release your recordings for playback on increasingly obsolete formats: from 24-Part Floppy Disk, to Victrola, to Phonograph, to Paleophone.

Break by November

Build up the courage to phone up your old high school buddies and ask them (now after all these years) if they still want to start that Creed doo-wop cover band.

Break by December

Follow through on all the outlandish collaborations you drunkenly discussed with other musicians on New Year’s Eve. Soberly realize that a two-person “supergroup” isn’t a real thing.


– Jack Anderson

Spoon’s ‘Gimme Fiction’ At Ten

The Rabbit Hole

Spoon’s ‘Gimme Fiction’ At Ten

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015

Spoon is a cool band. Everything from their music to their album art cultivates a sense of mystery. Every few years, another classic album seemingly materializes out of thin air, adding up to a contender for the best discography over the past twenty years.

Of course, it only looks effortless. If you listen closely, you’ll start noticing the sheer complexity of Spoon’s simple songs. Gimme Fiction was the first album to really teach me about this musical subtlety, and ten years later it still remains my favorite Spoon album (full disclosure: it was the first Spoon album I bought and it heavily soundtracked my early college years). This week, Merge re-releases Gimme Fiction with a disc of outtakes and an oral history from the band members and producer Mike McCarthy, giving nice context to a period that ended up being a game-changer for the band.

With Gimme Fiction, Spoon found a sweet spot between the studio experimentation of the preceding album, Kill The Moonlight, and their newfound prowess as a live rock and roll band. Songs like “The Beast And Dragon, Adored” and “My Mathematical Mind” hit hard, but there’s still so much space in the recordings. The piano sounds massive on this record, even though a lot of it was sneakily recorded in one of the practice rooms at UT’s Butler School of Music. The other dominant instrument is the guitar. Britt Daniel avoids typical guitar solos in favor of noisy, jagged exclamation points that zoom in and out of the songs. Jim Eno and Mike McCarthy add bizarre production techniques–sound effects, bits of studio banter, flubbed notes–to create a record that frequently feels like a hall of mirrors. It makes for a really unique mixture: songs that are catchy and weird, big and minimal, bright and dark.

Spoon also really started to flex its songwriting muscles on Gimme Fiction, resulting in both the lithe, Prince-like funk of “I Turn My Camera On” and the bouncy, Dylan-esque pop of “I Summon You.” They sound like they could have come from two separate bands, but they were both big hits, considerably raising Spoon’s profile. “I remember being at the beach that summer [in 2005], a couple months after the record had come out, says Merge owner Mac McCaughan, “and there was this big black SUV that was blasting ‘I Summon You’…I felt like this was a turning point.”

It wasn’t a forgone conclusion. Included with the reissue, the extra disc of outtakes shows how the songs evolved from odd riffs and sparse demos into full-fledged rock songs. Jim Eno’s drumming particularly opened up many of the songs, lending a soulful swing even when the rest of the band heads for weirder territory. As Daniel told NPR, both intentional and unintentional decisions played a huge part in making the record, making it sound so alive and mysterious. I’ve been pouring over Gimme Fiction for a decade now, but it still holds me at a distance. That’s why I keep coming back again and again.

–Art Levy

Below, listen to Gimme Fiction tracks recorded live in our own Studio 1A and KLRU’s Studio 6A, the historic soundstage of Austin City Limits.