20 Bands Named After Classic Literature
isaac brock of modest mouse, via getty images
Sometimes musicians reach for inspiration from their bookshelves. Here are 20 bands named after classic literature.
1. Modest Mouse
Issaquah, Washington's Modest Mouse named their band after a passage from the novel The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf. “I chose the name when I was fifteen," explains lead singer Isaac Brock. "I wanted something that was completely ambiguous, but it’s really candyesque sounding. But it meant something to me. And I could identify with that.”
"I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises."
2. Veruca Salt
Alternative rock band Veruca Salt is named after the spoiled rich girl who wins one of the Golden Tickets from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.
3. My Chemical Romance
Bassist Mikey Way was working at a Barnes & Noble when he was taken with the title Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance from Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh. His older brother and co-founder Gerard Way suggested the word "My" at the beginning of the band name.
4. Titus Andronicus
The New Jersey punk band named themselves after the William Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus, one of the playwright's most bloody and violent.
"I have found that when a person wants to be in a band, he or she spends a lot of time accumulating a mental file of words or phrases that would be cool band names. "'Titus Andronicus' was, to my mind, the best one that I’d come across," vocalist/guitarist Patrick Stickles explained to Exclaim.ca. "I wanted our band to straddle that line between the more cerebral, thoughtful elements of the human condition and the part of us that just wants to see blood and brutality."
5. The Doors
The Doors took their band name from Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception, which was itself taken from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell from English poet William Blake:
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”
6. Rainer Maria
Co-founders Caithlin De Marrais and Kyle Fischer named their indie rock band after Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. The pair first met at a writing workshop in Madison, Wisconsin.
The band's original name was The Sparrow, but founder John Kay renamed it Steppenwolf based on a suggestion from record producer Gabriel Mekler, who had just finished reading Hermann Hesse’s novel.
8. Of Mice & Men
California-based Metalcore band Of Mice & Men got their name from John Steinbeck's famous work.
“The book Of Mice and Men says, ‘the well laid plans of mice and men often falter,’” frontman Austin Carlile explained. “You make plans, and they get screwed up. [Bassist Jaxin Hall] and I both had plans for life, and they both got screwed up, so now we’re making the most of what we can.”
9. Joy Division
Originally, the name of the band was Warsaw, but they changed it to Joy Division so people wouldn't confuse them with another punk band from London called Warsaw Pakt. The name Joy Division comes from a novella entitled House of Dolls from a Jewish writer named Yehiel Feiner, who wrote under the pen name Ka-tzetnik 135633, which was his number in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The novella describes Jewish Joy Divisions as a group of women being used as sex slaves for Nazi soldiers and officers during World War II.
10. Clem Snide
Singer/songwriter Eef Barzelay named his alt-country band Clem Snide after a character who frequently appears in the novels of William S. Burroughs, including Naked Lunch, Exterminator!, and The Ticket That Exploded.
11. As I Lay Dying
The San Diego-based metalcore band got their name from William Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying. While lead singer Tim Lambesis liked the name of the book, he believes that its themes and story don't reflect the band's identity.
"We got the idea from the name. I wouldn’t say that there is a correlation in the meaning of the book and the meaning of the band. We stole the name from there," Lambesis explained to Metal Underground. "It’s kind of depressing but I guess it’s well-written. It’s not my style of novel."
12. Belle & Sebastian
Lead singer and founder Stuart Murdoch named his indie pop band after a French children's book called Belle et Sébastien by Cécile Aubry. It was adapted into a TV series during the '70s and was made into a Japanese anime series in the '80s.
Originally, the Australian alternative band was called Innocent Criminals, but the trio was later renamed Silverchair after the C.S. Lewis novel The Silver Chair when they signed with Sony Music in 1994. The Silver Chair is the fourth novel in "The Chronicles of Narnia" book series.
14. Josef K
The Scottish post-punk band took their name from the protagonist featured in Franz Kafka's novels The Trial and The Castle. The character Josef K also appears in the short story "A Dream."
15. The Artful Dodger
British garage band The Artful Dodger was named after the leader of the juvenile pickpocket gang in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Founders Mark Hill and Pete Devereux took the name because of all the bootleg songs they made when they first got started in the music industry.
16. The Boo Radleys
This name comes from the mysterious Boo Radley of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. According to the band's MySpace page, "The name comes from the shady character in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, but was chosen (in a pub) just because they liked the sound of it."
17. Sixpence None The Richer
Sixpence None The Richer took their name from a passage in C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity. The section from Lewis' book is about a son asking his father for a sixpence to buy him a gift.
"When the father received the present, he was none the richer because he originally gave the sixpence to his son," lead singer Leigh Nash said on The Late Show with David Letterman. "The analogy is to God who gives gifts for us to glorify him. He is not richer because of our presentation since he originally gave the gift."
18. Okkervil River
Okkervil River lead singer Will Sheff named his indie rock band after a short story by Russian novelist Tatyana Tolstaya.
"There’s a lot of writing in the second person, a lot of jumping around in terms of what she was talking about, and it just felt very intuitive to me," Will Sheff told MTV. "A lot [of] how those experiences might feel to me, where you’re waking up from a dream and you’re jostled around. I was just really impressed by her writing."
Okkervil is also the name of a muddy river in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
19. The Airborne Toxic Event
The Los Angeles-based indie rock band based their name on a section from the novel White Noise by Don DeLillo.
Born Richard Hall, the electronic songwriter got his middle name "Melville" and the nickname "Moby" from his parents, who told him at a young age that Moby Dick author Herman Melville was in their family lineage. "The basis for Richard Melville Hall—and for Moby—is that supposedly Herman Melville was my great-great-great-granduncle," he told CNN.