Original Band Names Hard to Come by in Digital Age

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Some of us suspected it all along. With some six billion-plus human beings going about their business on planet Earth, you know there’s a good chance that someone, somewhere, is doing exactly what you are doing right now. Could some other person be typing these exact same words right at this moment? Or at least expressing the same idea, but in a different language?

Could an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of time really come up with works of Shakespeare? I digress, but I think you get the point.

The internet has connected so many of us, and while that certainly can be a good thing, there is a downside as well. We’ll not delve into the subject of pedophiles luring victims via online chats, or overseas scam artists bilking thousands of dollars from well-meaning souls. This time, the damage can be measured on the low end of the scale.

It may be difficult to illicit much sympathy for the likes of John Paul Jones, legendary bassist for Led Zeppelin, and no doubt a man with substantial wealth. However, Jones does highlight one inconvenient truth (no apologies to Al Gore) of the digital age: Our ideas may not be as original as we thought!The Digital Planet

While struggling with the difficult task of choosing a name for their new group, Jones, along with his band mates, came up against a frustrating fact of life online. Each time the group thought they had nailed down a cool name, drummer Dave Grohl would discover through his online research that the name has already been used – in many cases by several other groups!

The first name they settled on, “Caligula,” was taken. Being that he was a pretty memorable figure from the annals of history, I suppose they should not have been surprised, but one wonders what kind of image they were going for with that one!

As the search for a meaningful name continued, the group was confronted with brick wall after brick wall in the form of great-sounding names that has already been used by other bands.

With rehearsals waiting, and music to be made, the group finally settled on Them Crooked Vultures – a name that Jones readily admits, has no real meaning.

“Think of a great band name and Google it, and you’ll find a French-Canadian jam band with a MySpace page,” Jones explains with obvious frustration.

Before the arrival of the internet, it was relatively easy to pick a name with confidence. If you had never heard of a band with that name, you went with it. If some local grunge rock group in Overland Park, Kansas was using the same name, it wouldn’t matter much. Both groups could blissfully go about their business, and never know that the other existed. Unless, in the unlikely event that national or (gasp!) international recognition came knocking.

That’s what made things even more difficult for Jones and his new group. When the bassist from Led Zeppelin joins forces with Foo Fighters drummer Dave Grohl and Queens of the Stone Age veteran Josh Homme to form a new supergroup, just about everyone with an interest in rock music is going to hear about it; making the selection of a unique name that much more important.

On a personal note, in the course of creating a small business a few years ago, I was faced with the necessity to come up with a “trade name” that one must register with the state. I worked my way through a number of names that were already registered right here in my home state! Finally, I settled on what I thought was a completely unique name that I actually made up by combining two words from the dictionary. It was a name that was pretty close to the kind of name I had in mind when I started.

I successfully registered the name, and only later realized that some domain squatter had already registered the dot-com version of the domain, which left me with the dot-biz version, which was OK by me since we did not plan to use the trade name for a website. It was a bit of an eye-opener to discover that someone else not only invented the exact same name I had, but also registered it as a domain name.

By the way, the site has remain parked and advertised for sale since I first discovered it over five years ago. Good luck with that one, whoever you are!

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I refuse to accept that all the good names are taken. It’s a hell of a lot more difficult to come up with an original and sufficiently-cool band name these days, for sure, but I’m confident that it can be done. It will just take a lot more time and effort.

How much they are willing to invest in a new name will be a decision that each new band will have to decide, but it surely does shed light on the reasoning behind groups that settle on names like Them Crooked Vultures or Chickenfoot.

You don’t suppose there’s another group out there calling themselves Chickenfoot, do you? I cannot even bring myself to look, but if you find out that there is, don’t tell Sammy Hagar & Co.

You can read more on this topic at the Wall Street Journal, including what dickheads the legal eagles at the John Deere company are. You know, the ones that make the green lawn tractors and stuff. Talk about a lame argument. I very much doubt that the next lawn tractor I buy will be running “like a Deere” on my property!

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