As music culture continues to moves forward, more and more bands -- as well as heretofore unknown genres -- are being formed. Some of these new genres, especially witch house, dictate that their respective artists have confounding, insipidly bizarre names. In the case of witch house, some of the artists rely on symbols and punctuation to create their unique, unsearchable names -- names like †‡† and \\^◊^///.
The use of punctuation in band's name, however, is nothing new. Exclamation points, question marks, periods and backslashes have been a included in the process of coming up with a band name since the '60s. With one of the more recognizable punctuation mark bands coming to town this Friday -- Panic! At The Disco -- I got to thinking: what are some other punctuation mark bands?
Please, sit back and enjoy my list of the best bands with punctuation marks in their names.
Panic! At The Disco
The inspiration for this list, the Fueled By Ramen mainstays have a show this Friday at the Marquee Theatre. P!ATD actually dropped their punctuation mark from their name in 2008 with the release of their second album Pretty. Odd. Thankfully, the exclamation point is back in time for their latest album Vices & Virtues. One thing the band never gave up? Sentence-length song titles.
Named after a Vulcan priestess from Star Trek, the British pop group lead by singer Carol Decker had a smash hit with their 1987 song "Heart and Soul." The song shot up to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after being prominently featured in commercials for Pepe Jeans. It also probably still gets stuck in your head bi-weekly.
Probably the most recognizable punctuation mark band today, Sacramento dance rockers !!! (pronounced "chk chk chk") have crafted a rather solid career in spite of their ridiculously looking name. I'll admit that the only reason I first listened to !!! was because of their intriguing name. I'm glad I did, however, because I immensely enjoy every one of their four albums.
The lone metal/drone/ambient band on this list, Seattle's Sunn O))) (pronounced sun) named themselves after the logo of the Sunn amplifer brand. This makes them the only band on this list named after a logo. Their name has been said to be a play on the name of 1990s drone pioneers Earth. Sunn O))) revolves around Earth, you see.
New York indie/electronic trio +/- (or Plus/Minus, if you must) is another band I was initially drawn to by their interesting name. They are, as well, another band I am glad I found. Their style of indie/electronic music is bolstered by lead singer James Baluyut's creepy -- yet intriguing -- lyrics. No song better exemplifies this than "No One Sees You Like I Do
," from 2003's You Are Here
. Musically, the song is fresh and well-constructed -- lyrically, however, the song is a total creepfest.
Was (Not Was)
Remember that song "Walk The Dinosaur?" Sure, we all do. I'll go ahead and bet, however, that you have no clue which band sings the song. That would be Detroit pop/rock/R&B outfit Was (Not Was). Was (Not Was) was, ahem, formed by David "Was" Weiss and Don "Was" Fagenson. Weiss was childhood friends with Fagenson, and that friendship was what lead the two to form Was (Not Was) in the late 1970s. Had enough of the word "was" yet?
? and the Mysterians
Setting the gold standard for punctuation name bands, ? and the Mysterians had a #1 hit with 1966's "96 Tears." The band is lead by the every eccentric ? (Question Mark), who has been confirmed to be actually named Rudy Martinez. Martinez, who is never seen without wearing sunglasses, claims that he is a martian who once lived with dinosaurs. Still, he lead a band some consider to be the first punk rock band. As well, ? and the Mysterians were one of the first Latino rock bands to have a major hit record in the U.S.
This Leeds-based indie rock band -- currently on hiatus -- presents an interesting paradigm: a British band that uses the Spanish upside-down, or inverted, exclamation mark as part of their name. As well, the band has often used Faux Cyrillic to present their name as ¡FФЯWДЯD, RUSSIД! The band has two albums to their name, the first of which, 2006's Give Me A Wall, included the band's peculiar penchant for using numbers as song titles. In summation, a British band with a Spanish inverted exclamation point as part of their name released an album with song titles such as "Twelve," "Seventeen" and "Nine."
This New York indie rock band is the only band on the list to use an asterisk as part of their name. Formed in 2003, the band released their self-titled debut album in September of 2003. Amongst the better songs on that album were lead single "Jenny" and standout track "My Coco." Listening to Stellastarr* nowadays forces me to remember how popular the then-burgeoning post punk sound was in the early half of the 2000s, making me cringe because I absolutely loved Stellastarr* when it first them.
The one band name you are forced to read as a question -- complete with a rising inflection on the end -- alternative metal outfit Therapy? stand alone as the sole Northern Irish band on this list. Guitarist Andy Cairns admitted in a 1992 interview with NME
that the question mark at the end of the band's name came about as a printing misalignment on his behalf. One man's gaff is another band's legacy, it would seem.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
My personal favorite band on this list, Montreal instrumental post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor first came to my attention when they were detained at an Oklahoma gas station in March of 2003
on the suspicion that they were terrorists. After taking a hiatus after shortly after that hiatus, the band announced late last year that they would reunite and go on tour. GY!BE are the one band on this list that need no sort of punctuation mark gimmick to help their profile as a band -- their post-rock is some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard.
Whether it be a lightning bolt or simply a slash, Aussie rock gods AC/DC are -- far and above -- the most recognizable band with a punctuation/typographical mark in their name. Taking their name from the abbreviation for alternating current and direct current, AC/DC are coming up on their 40th year as a band. Although some of their songs have been overplayed to the point of sheer and utter exhaustion, it would be ignorant to not fully recognize the influence AC/DC has had on popular music (hard rock, especially) in the past 37 years. A normal band that loses their lead singer after he chokes to death on his own vomit after a night of heavy drinking just seven years into its existence usually folds up shop and simply gives up. Lead singers, after all, carry the band's most immediate recognizability. Not AC/DC, though -- they forged ahead after Bon Scott's untimely death and recruited Brian Johnson as their new lead singer. It was all about the power of the AC/DC slash, people -- the slash.