What’s in a Name? – 10 Great Punk Band Name Origin Stories

Do you ever wonder how bands come up with their names? What does MxPx stand for? What the hell is a Mustard Plug? What was the inspiration behind the moniker Hot Water Music? Below are 10 interesting stories behind some of the more bizarre, intriguing or just plain random band names from our beloved punk scene.


1. Mustard Plug

Shattering my theory that their name is also a term for a sex toy for dirty condiments, the real source of this ska band’s name comes from trumpet player Brandon Jenison who stated in an interview that the moniker originated when “a guy in the early stages of the band was making a sandwich.  That crusty stuff that forms on the mustard bottle when you put it in the fridge without wiping it off first gave him an interesting idea for a name.”  Just think, if that dude had made a different kind of sandwich we’d all have been listening to “Evildoers Beware” by Ketchup Plug back in 1997.


2. Hot Water Music

Proving to everyone that their influences run deeper than most hardcore inflected post-hardcore/emo/punk bands, Hot Water Music turned to literature to cull their name. Author Charles Bukowski’s short story tome Hot Water Music was published in 1983 and according to Wikipedia it “deals largely with: drinking, women, gambling, and writing.” Bukowski is considered an influential author and is famous for his minimalist writing style and focus on poor, ordinary Americans as inspiration. Very Deep.


3. Avenged Sevenfold

From an originally hardcore band comes a hardcore name. According to an interview with vocalist M.Shadows, the name originates from the Bible and is about the first murder on Earth between Cain and Abel. It is a “what goes around, comes around” sort of thing. The book in question is Genesis 4:15, which reads, “But the Lord said to him, Therefore whoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.”


4. The Ramones

According to our sources on the street (high five, Wikipedia!), the band chose their name as a tribute to Paul McCartney who used the alias “Paul Ramone” when he would check into hotels, incognito. As an added bonus, the name also acted as a parody of all the “family” music acts of the time like the Partridge Family, Jackson 5, the Osmonds, etc.


5. Less Than Jake

When I was younger I was always confused about this popular ska band’s name, I mean nobody in the band is named Jake. As it turns out, Jake is not a person at all. According to the band’s MySpace page, the name Less Than Jake comes from drummer Vinnie Fiorello’s parents’ dog, Jake. As the story goes, this dog was treated better than all the family members living in Vinnie’s home and thus the term “Less Than Jake” was born to describe the status of the rest of the household. Eventually the guys decided it would make a good band name.


6. Leftover Crack

This band name may seem obvious but the meaning is a little smarter than you may think. The name Leftover Crack is explained by frontman Stza as being “an oxymoron”, based on the idea that crack cocaine addicts are known for vigorous use, and are unlikely to have any “leftover” crack. I feel the same way about pezz but I guess Leftover Pezz doesn’t sound nearly as badass.


7. Tiger Army

Psychobilly mainstays Tiger Army also have an interesting story behind their name. In an interview with Hot Topic, frontman Nick 13 mentions that “the Tiger is a solitary, independent animal and that the spirit is represented in the people who find their way out of the mainstream into different kinds of alternative culture or subculture, the people who are searching for something, who don’t just except what is handed to them. That’s the Tiger Army, all the people who share that spirit and relate to our music. The rest of the human race are cows, sheep and herd animals with a herd mentality.” There you go people, don’t be a cow, search for something!


8. MxPx

When members Mike Herrera, Yuri Ruley, and Andy Husted of pop-punk royalty MxPx formed their band, they were 15 year old classmates at Central Kitsap High School. Originally they named themselves Magnified Plaid as a tribute to the original guitarist’s fascination with plaid shirts but unfortunately (or, fortunately) the band’s title didn’t fit on any of the band’s posters. To remedy the problem they used the abbreviation “M.P.” but in Yuri Ruley’s handwriting, periods appeared as “X”‘s, and since he made up the show posters for the band, the four-letter moniker “MxPx” stuck. I never should have bet my friend that their name stood for My Xylophone Purple Xylophone.


9. My Chemical Romance

Punk turned broken up mega rock group My Chemical Romance also got their name from literature. According to legend (read: the internet) the name of the band was suggested by bass guitarist Mikey Way, younger brother of lead singer Gerard, who was working in a library when he was struck by the title of a book named “Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance”. The phrase “Chemical Romance” really resonated with him and band name history was soon born.


10. Alkaline Trio

Pop-punk legends Alkaline Trio have had a more haphazard approach to their name. There were three founding members of the band (Matt Skiba, Rob Doran, and Glenn Porter) hence the “Trio” but the first part of the band name is completely arbitrary. Matt Skiba decided he needed to find a cool word to stick in front of the it so he just picked up a dictionary and started flipping. He didn’t need to get much further than halfway through the “A”s before stumbling across “Alkaline”. He tried it out, thought it sounded pretty cool and BAM! – band name born! Other options included Albatross Trio, Allergy Trio and Alligator Trio.

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