Someone I know had a son a few years ago. He named the kid Rolls. Last year, he and his wife had another boy. They named him Royce. It’s tough on poor Rolls, especially if he ends up being a tubby kid, because independent of his brother he’s a random verb in present tense. The only way Rolls is going to work out for that kid is if he gets into hip hop. It might actually be worse for him to be introduced with his brother but at least it gives the name Rolls context and you understand he wasn’t named after a description for adipose.
Context is a wonderful thing and a friend of mine, V, sent me something today which looks to provide context to the weird and wonderful world of naming a band.
This flow chart is particularly resonant for V and me because once upon a time, V was part of a band and one of the reasons for the early demise of his rock career was a name. Or the lack of one. The story of the naming of V’s band is one that some might know but I think it’s one that survives repeating. So here we go.
For about a year and a half, V entertained the notions of being a rockstar, complete with a band. It was an imaginary band since there was no one other than V (a drummer) in it but that was a minor detail in V’s plot. He had names of songs, possible album titles and maybe even some album covers designed. That he didn’t have a guitarist or a singer was no deterrent. Along the way, V coined names for the soon-to-be-created band and as luck would have it, once he did indeed get a band together, the ungrateful critters vetoed all the über cool names (like Raging Hormones) that he’d come up with.
Which was why on a stormy November evening, in the tropical city of Mumbai, V strode in to his office which was then peopled by three brilliant minds – A, L and myself – and grandly declared he had an offer for us. Whoever could come up with a cool name for V’s band would get a 2% cut from their future gigs for an undefined period of time. Even though both L and A rubbished the meagre percentage on offer, it didn’t stop them racking their brains. Which is where the trauma began for V. Then again, he probably dug his own grave when he told them that the only band names he found cool were Pentagram and Kinky Ski Monkeys.
Suggestions from L and A, aka Mirbaxani (a nifty combo of their surnames) included:
Quadrangle (L: It’s the closest you can get to Pentagram.)
Pi Dhwani/ Pi Dhoni
Shunya (V: Dude, we can’t be Shunya. That’s like being Zero in Hindi.)
Anti-peristalsis (V: Why not AIDS while you fuckers are at it?)
Seba Med (V: What is that? A: A feminine hygiene wash. V: What? To wash what? [reads washing instructions on the back of a handy packet of Seba Med] Holy shit.)
The Moist V (V: You know, that could be cool. L: You think you can pick up chicks with that name? V: Shit.)
FNUK (L: You know like FCUK misspells fuck, you guys can misspell funk.)
The Anita Patel Band (ok, so that was me and not Mirbaxani)
After all this, one fist fight and some rubbish ideas from all and sundry (Me: How about Botox?) (V: How about the Fairly Average Band? L: What kind of a stupid band calls themselves average? V: But see the initials are FAB! L: Then you guys can call yourselves the FAB Four.), V came up with the bright idea of abandoning English altogether and taking inspiration from the classics.
V: Just check na, what’s funk or electronica in Greek.
L: I don’t think the Greeks have a Greek word for funk. It’s not exactly traditional for them.
V: What about electronica?
M: That probably is Greek.
A: Or Latin.
V: Latin works. Check na!
A: Are you sure you don’t want to use Mirbaxani?
V: Very sure.
A: What about Tetanus Shot?
V: Just tell me what the Greek word for funk is.
Obediently, L went to Altavista’s Babelfish, wrote funk and asked for it to be translated to Greek.
L: There it is.
V[bounding towards L’s computer]: What? What? [stares at the computer] What the fuck is that?
L: Greek for funk.
V: How do you pronounce it?
L: Fuck knows.
V: What kind of an idiot are you?
L: Excuse me?
V: I asked you to get me the Greek for funk.
L: That is the Greek for funk.
V: But it’s in Greek. Obviously I need it in English.
Me: But we know what it is in English. It’s funk.
V [ignoring me entirely]: You needed to go to a site where you’d put funk in English and get it translated to Greek.
L: That’s exactly what I did!
V: But this is pointless! What’s the point of translating it into a language I don’t know?
Just when you think he is a doofus, V explains himself and makes a certain warped kind of sense that almost makes Babelfish look stupid. Or maybe by this time I’d just become hysterical.
V: See, you go to Paris and you want the word for dog. You don’t need it written in French, right? You need it in French in English so that you can say it.
At which point, L suggested V get a phrasebook and stoically ignored all entreaties to find a Greek phrasebook online which would have the Greek for funk in English. “Dude, it’s no use in Greek,” said V. “I might as well go with Gurbaxani rather than the shit I can’t read.”
“The suggestion was Mirbaxani,” said A before delicately adding under his breath, “though if you want to go with Gurbaxani, that’s fine too.”
V, however, was already striding into the November rain muttering, “Tetanus fucking shot.”