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So what’s in a band name?

music Updated: May 19, 2012 15:34 IST
Megha Mahindru
Megha Mahindru
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

City artiste Sidd Coutto is probably the king of quirky titles. Over the years, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s music has changed from his first alternative rock outfit, Zero, to his most-recent easy listening pop-rock band, Punk Ass Orifus.

But the one thing that has remained constant through his multiple projects is his penchant for the peculiar. “Most of the band names have been accidental,” explains Coutto.

His Eureka moment occurred in a classroom in the late ’90s. “I was very depressed in class one day and scribbled ‘I’m Zero’ in my notebook. And then I thought it was cool, you know, to have a band called Zero,” he says with a laugh. Soon, the four-piece band figured the title was not internet-friendly. “Zero isn’t a Google-able name.

So when we formed Helga’s Fun Castle, our only concern was to have a unique name, something no one had thought of before, so it would be the first thing that turned up if you searched,” he says.

Since then, Coutto has stuck to this lesson with bands like Tough On Tobacco (TOT) and Punk Ass Orifus. A smoker himself, he adds, “A friend and I were watching Thank You For Smoking (2005), where the governor says ‘we need to be tough on tobacco’ and as we lit another cigarette, we thought ‘wow that’s a cool name!”

About his latest, Punk Ass Orifus, he explains, “Its acronym is PAO (from maka pao, local slang for Christians), and that’s who we are — a bunch of funny paos. It was supposed to be Punk Ass Oranges, but then we thought Orifus was funnier,” he adds.

Band names have found inspiration in everything from food (think Malayali rockers Avial, who compare their mix of folk and rock music to the mishmash of veggies that comprises the Kerala dish) to restaurant names (Delhi’s Peter Cat Recording Co, which makes music as quirky as its name, was christened after a Kolkata eatery).

Others like Lima Yanger, frontman of city band Duncan Rufus explains that his band has nothing to do with Donuts or the date rape drug. “It’s a combination of the street I grew up on (Duncun Road in Dimapur) and my first pet (Rufus).”

Some like Menwhopause’s Anup Kutty have no qualms accepting that their pun-intended moniker won them a spot in the top 25 worst band names list, when they were touring in Texas.

For every interview, he spins a different story around the nomenclature: “Our name came from my mother who once said, ‘you guys look like men who pose’,” he says, before adding, “Wait, no, it came from a Brazilian tyre company. Umm, the real story is that we were originally called Menu-Please, but someone pronounced it as menwhopause and it stuck,” not mentioning anything about his quiz team in college that went by the same name.

Ask him if critics have ever cracked menopausal jokes on bad gig days and he says, “What's a menopausal joke? There’s nothing funny about it. Period.”

Duncun Rufus
“It’s a combination of the street I grew up on (Duncun Road in Dimapur) and my first pet dog (Rufus)”
—Frontman, Lima Yanger

Menwhopause
“The real story is that we were originally called Menu-Please, but someone pronounced it as menwhopause and it stuck.”
—Guitarist, Anup Kutty

Noush like sploosh

“It’s how I would introduce myself so drunk white people could understand my name. Sploosh is one of my favorite sounds — that of a flat-heeled boot hitting a fresh puddle. I’ve realised the benefits of having a long, nonsensical name: when people google it, they find you!”
— Anoushka Anand, one-woman act