There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to face up to the fact that he’ll never achieve all his dreams. I’ve made my peace with the knowledge that I will probably never win an Oscar, date a supermodel, or own a dune buggy. But there’s one dream I can’t let go, and I know if I don’t make it happen I’ll regret it to the end of my days. What if I never create a musical group using these hilarious potential band names I’ve catalogued in my notebook over the years? What if I die tomorrow and I never appeared on stage sporting a bass drum with the name Cephalopod Anxiety or Tainted Meat Panic on it?
Like most young men, my dream of starting a band with a striking word combination I’d come across in a newspaper or book began when I read Dave Barry’s column. I’ll never forget those Saturday mornings on the couch, reading Barry’s latest with my dad, and laughing at the hilarious phrases he’d say would make good band names. I knew then and there that my destiny was to lead a series of bands with names like Hypogonad, Suburban Inferno, and Exploded Whale Carcass.
My dream came so close to fruition my senior year in college, when my roommate Jim and I started a “pop-thresh garage-inflected post-grunge” band. Naturally, I wanted to call the band Charismatic Megafauna, but Jim said that was “too whimsical” and he booked gigs under the name Midwaste instead. As you might imagine, Midwaste didn’t last long, and neither did our friendship.
After college, I was too busy with grad school and then my career to catalogue good band names, let alone start one and book gigs as Rectal Abrasions or Highway Jellyfish Disaster. One morning I woke up after a particularly grueling day at the office and found a new entry in my trusty notebook of band names. I must have written it in a fit of inspiration in the middle of the night. But instead of a flash of brilliance, I’d jotted down: “Band Names? Desk Metal. The Spreadsheets. Stale Bagel.” Clearly, my creativity was gone. I sank into an unmitigated funk, one so bad I didn’t even realize Unmitigated Funk is a great band name.
I quit my stifling office job after that, but by then I’d married and had a kid, which gave me ample material for band names (Diaper Cake, Cradle Cap, Newborn Jaundice), but no time to actually put a band together. I haven’t even touched my guitar since my son was born.
Now I’m staring down forty, and while I have a notebook full of names like Forty Rabid Squirrels, Caution Crow, Weird Uncle, Hobo Pie Revival, and Fugu Toxin Nightmares, I can’t claim to have performed a single gig. The last time I was even on a stage was that night in ‘04 when Midwaste took home 18th place at the Naperville, IL Battle of the Bands.
But I can’t give up on my dream. There’s still time, especially now that my kid is in pre-school. I need to strike while the iron’s hot, and before anyone takes the name Hot Iron Strike. After all, next month’s “Taste of Des Plaines” is looking for openers for their Matchbox 20 cover band. As soon as I pick out the best name from my trusty notebook, I’ll sign myself up as Pubescent Dystopia, Hands for Hammers, or Scab Roster. Then I’ll just need to find some bandmates and instruments, and I’ll finally achieve my vision of melding funny word combinations with melancholy sonic transgression. Which, come to think of it, would make a really good band name.