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The Animals:

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

What You Can Tell From The Zoological Origins of Band Names

The Coyote Steps would be a good band name

One of the first decisions a band must make is what it will call itself. This name will be printed on merchandise, printed on billboards, and shouted from the stage. Once known to the public, the name has a place of permanence, and it cannot be easily altered. It is why the name of that band must take on a spiritual importance that gives the outside world a shibboleth to connect to the origins of the band.


One of the most common places bands search for inspiration when naming themselves is from the Kingdom Animalia: The Beatles, Animal Collective, Anemone, Gorillaz, Manatee Commune, Glass Animals, Grizzly Bear, Miniature Tigers, Brother Tiger, Tigers Jaw, Tiger Town, la Tigre, (could probably do an entire article on tiger names), Owl City, The Ocotopus Project, Panda Bear, Trash Panda, Lion's Bark, Department of Eagles, Deerhoof, The Bird and the Bee, Caribou, Orangutang, Horsey, Mimicking Birds, Guerrilla Toss, Cage the Elephant, Fruit Bats, the Monkees, and of course the Animals.


A band name takes on a spiritual importance that gives the outside world a shibboleth to connect to the origins of the band.

What does it say for you take up the spirit and zeitgeist of one of God's great creatures? Perhaps there is no greater example than the modern day Animal Collective swooping in like the MFing Lorax speaking for all the animals. This is perhaps reflected in their overall eclectic, but unrefined sound as if they are being pulled in one thousand directions. Let's not even get into the original animal-usurper band the Animals known for making a single decent cover. A lack of appreciation for the nuance among the different creatures of the animal world will generally reveal itself as a lack of nuance in musical interpretation. Even the GOATs only named themselves after a single phylum of insects.


Rather than express oneself as such a duplicitous fashion, a more considered understands it always better to start from a place of humility. Many of the other bands I listed take a far more purposeful approach to their naming: Tigers Jaw, merrily claiming to exemplify but one portion of a Tiger's bite. Miniature Tiger likewise acknowledges while they have the ferocity of the Tiger, they lack its size and strength. Le Tigre is clearly only invoking Latinx tigers. Similarly, Manatee Commune (a more tempered 'Animal Collective'), Mimicking Birds, and Guerrilla Toss (the benign action of a Gorilla jettisoning an object) all exhibit a clear deferences to the species referenced in their musical titles compared to say Glass Animals (a lofty ambition to be the silica version of all animals) .


See these lions. Which of their body parts speaks to you?

And for most even attempting to narrow themselves to a single species is still too arduous; Owl City and Caribou both fail to live up to the greatness of their namesakes. The Monkees, while they did attempt some ambitious recordings after gaining initial notoriety, never fully moved past the mispelling. Though that is not say that a band cannot reach for ambitious animal heights. Grizzly Bear has managed to continuously emerge from the forest and raid the trash bins of sound with a new single every 3-5 years to earn their moniker. Fruit Bats succeeds at personifying the flitiness and cantankerous disposition of the family Pteropodidea. The Octopus Project and Department of Eagles project themselves as mere subsidiaries of these species. It is possible to personify sufficient qualities from a single animal to lay claim to its name.


There is currently a thousands bands getting ready to sticky themselves with a name that will either haunt or inspire them throughout the duration their musical undertaking. Undoubtedly, many will converge on a title that consists either wholly or partially derived from a reference to a member of the Animal Kingdom. The only question is will their selection be considered and deferential to the animal they wish to embody, or will they simply hope that with the name of the animal the traits of the beast will follow?

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