Did you know that Portugal. The man… is not a man? It might shock you, but contrary to popular belief, The Arctic Monkeys might be a bunch of primates, but they are not arctic at all. Call all your friends, tell your family, text all your ex’s. This article will reveal once and for all the truth behind the most misleading band names in the music industry. It’s all lies I tell ya’!

Irony and sarcasm have always been part of the history of rock’n’roll, after all, it’s a genre born out of discontent, rebelliousness, and youthfulness. But come on, “Better than Ezra”? I don’t believe for one second that there is anyone out there better than that fine gentlemen. Whomever that lad is.

As far as I know, nobody in The Stranglers has strangled anyone. I’m also here to confirm, none of the members The Presidents of the United States has ever run for office. Yet. Oh, and the guys from Minor Threat… well, they’re actually a very nice bunch and pose no threat at all.

People, the deception gets worse, much worse. We’ve grouped the industry’s most famous misnomers in six categories:

Wrong activity

Eagles of Death Metal

They are not eagles, nor do they play death metal. The Jesse Hughes fronted mega-band are instead an old-school, aviator-sunglasses-wearing, magestic-‘stache-adorned rockers.

They explain the origin of the name on their official website, “The story goes that a friend was introducing Josh Homme to the death metal genre. When he played a song by the Polish band Vader and made a claim that the song was within the death metal genre, Homme then referred to Vader as ‘The Eagles of Death Metal’. After hearing this phrase, he wondered what a cross between the Eagles and a death metal band would sound like. With that, the band was born.”

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

The Californian rockers might be a force of nature in their live presentations, and they sometimes do wear leather jackets, but they’re not black, and as far as I know, they don’t belong to any motorcycle club. The name is a reference to Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang from Laslo Benedek’s 1953 classic film The Wild One.

The New Pornographers

Sorry to say, you will find no smut in their work. This eclectic collective of Canadian rockers got their name from Shôhei Imamura’s black comedy from 1966 The Pornographers. The story follows an underground pornographer who has to hide from the government, deal with yakuza extortionists, and who’s wife is convinced that her ex has reincarnated as the carp they have in their living room aquarium. No, really.

The Sisters Of Mercy

The mythic post-punk act is known for many things, but being merciful is not one of them. Quite the contrary actually. The band, which is thought to be named after Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Sisters of Mercy’ has had various lineups throughout their unorthodox career, with singer/songwriter Andrew Eldritch and a drum machine called Doktor Avalanche being the only constants. Their history has been plagued with conflictive relations between band members and legal disputes with their record company Warner, which they accused of withholding royalties, creative differences and overall incompetence.

Disagreements hit boiling point in the early ‘90s when they went on strike and ceased to release any new material in protest, while still being contractually obligated to two more albums. In 1997, Warner was fed up and decided to dissolve their contractual obligations in exchange for one album, which they accepted without listening to it. It turns out the album was made under the absurd name SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW, an acronym that is rumoured to stand for “Screw Shareholder Value – Not So Much A Band As Another Opportunity To Waste Money On Drugs And Ammunition Courtesy Of The Idiots At Time Warner” and was comprised of meek techno ramblings designed to bore the hell out of anyone who is brave enough to listen to it.

Butthole Surfers

In their early years, the experimental band from Kansas operated without a name. In jest, they introduced themselves at every gig with different monikers like Ashtray Babyheads, Ed Asner Is Gay, Fred Astaire’s Asshole, The Right To Eat Fred Astaire’s Asshole, and the very poetic, The Inalienable Right To Eat Fred Astaire’s Asshole. Rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it?

Legend says, at one show the announcer missed their name and presented them as ‘Butthole Surfer’, the title of one of the songs from their setlist. What began as a joke turned out to be the label that would define them for the rest of their career.

The Bambi Molesters

They swear they have not ever molested Bambi or any other fictional character from the Disney universe and I believe them. Formed in 1995 in the industrial town of Sisak, Croatia, the band is an energetic and fiery surf band with a classic sound that recalls pioneers of the genre like Dick Dale and The Chantays.

Electroclash band Chicks on Speed might play fast but they are not into amphetamines, Robots in Disguise are in reality two very talented humans, and there are actually no female members in She Wants Revenge.

Culprits of misleading advertisement

The Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan might have a weird head, but he’s certainly not a pumpkin. “Smashing is not a verb, it’s an adjective. It’s not like we like to smash pumpkins or anything. And we are not amused by pumpkin jokes anymore.” confided the band’s original bass player D’arcy Wretzky in the book This Is the Sound: The Best of Alternative Rock by Randi Reisfeld.

“It could have been any vegetable,” says Corgan in the same book. “[the name] has nothing to do with Pumpkins or Halloween. It just came to me – there’s no related story.”

Van der Graaf Generator

A Van de Graaff generator is an electrostatic science thingie that emits static electricity in the form of little lightning flashes that burst out of a metal globe like something out of a Frankenstein movie. Nope, you can’t buy one of those at their concerts. Total letdown.

The Entire Population of Hackney

Yes, the band is an unusually big ensemble of around seven or eight musicians from Iron Maiden, FM and Urchin. But by no stretch of the imagination did they employ the whole population of the traditional London borough.

The Tallest man on Earth

Swedish folk hero Kristian Matsson might compose endearing and honest tunes that remind us of Bob Dylan. But I’m not buying it. I refuse to trust anyone who calls himself “The tallest man on Earth” while just being around 1.7m tall. Preposterous!

Free

When I looked them up, I discovered you have to pay for their music just like with any other artist. Talk about deceptive advertisement! Legend says it was Rolling Stones mentor Alexis Korner who came up with the name and accompanied the proto-metal band until they got their first deal with Island Records in 1969.

The Greatest Show on Earth 

A good attempt certainly. But no, not even close. The Brit late ‘60s psychedelic rock outfit was a bit derivative, their project short-lived, and they only had one hit. Hardly the legacy for “The greatest show on Earth”

Crash Test Dummies might have turned into a mainstream success by accident, but they are certainly no dummies. Jazz-rock ensemble The Screaming Headless Torsos might scream now and then, but they do have their heads in place. The Best Kissers in the World is of course just wishful thinking, the guys of God’s Favorite Band are kind of stretching it a bit too much, and Erlend Øye… well, he truly might be The Whitest Boy Alive.

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Gender Swapping

Queens of the Stone Age

The band has had more than two decades of history and has only had one female member. Their vigorous brand of muscular riffs and catchy melodies went through three different names and lineups until they landed in the scene in 1998 with their eponymous debut album. Producer Chris Goss used to joke and say “You guys are like the Queens of the Stone Age” back in 1992 when they played under the name of Kyuss, and the nickname eventually stuck.

“Kings would be too macho. The Kings of the Stone Age wear armor and have axes and wrestle,” explained Josh Homme in a chat at Ozzfest 2000. “The Queens of the Stone Age hang out with the Kings of the Stone Age’s girlfriends, when they wrestle. And also, it was also just a name given to us by Chris Goss. He gave us the name Queens of the Stone Age. Rock should be heavy enough for the boys and sweet enough for the girls. That way, everyone is happy and it’s more of a party. Kings of the Stone Age, is too lopsided.”

Violent Femmes

The band’s unique brand of folk-punk might be violent at times, but they have never had a female member. Around the time of the band’s inception back in the early ‘80s, bassist Brian Ritchie used to tell in jest that his brother, a square insurance salesman played in a punk band. When pressed for the name of the band, he came up on the spot with “Violent Femmes” as a joke. The name stuck and here we are, four decades later.

The New York Dolls

They might have been the pioneers of the contrasting genres of glam and punk, and some of them kind of looked good in makeup but calling them “dolls” might be an exaggeration. Both founding members were not even born in the United States; Billy Murcia was Colombian and Sylvain Sylvain was born in Egypt.

After failing with their first musical endeavor, a band called The Pox, the duo started a clothing business. While they began producing their line of handmade psychedelic sweaters, Sylvain got a job at a posh men’s boutique on Lexington Avenue to gain some inside knowledge of the retail sector. The shop was located right across the road from The New York Dolls Hospital, and the rest is history.

Barenaked Ladies

The Canadian rockers famous for many hits including the theme song for The Big Bang Theory are well, not ladies, and despite constant petitions from their fans, they have never acceded to play naked.

Brazilian Girls

This electronic outfit is from New York, none of them are Brazilian, and the only female member is the Italian singer Sabina Sciubba. Although their sound is an eclectic mix of world rhythms like tango, chanson française, and reggae, they do not include Brazilian rhythms at all. Their song ‘Lazy Lover’ from 2005 is the closest they’ve been to Bossa Nova.

“We came up with it [the name] just to attract people’s attention,” explained drummer Aaron Johnston to The Chicago Tribune in 2005.

Similarly, San Francisco indie rockers Girls didn’t include a single female member in their two albums, and heavy metal band Twisted Sister never included in their lineup any sisters, much less twisted.

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Geographically misleading monikers

Of Montreal

The American indie pop band is actually from Athens, Georgia. Multi-instrumentalist Kevin Barnes founded the band in 1996 and named it after an ex-girlfriend from Montreal.

Asia

Asia is one of the first and most successful supergroups of all time. The original lineup of this prog-rock extravaganza was composed of four members of some of the biggest British bands of the ‘70s; lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton of King Crimson, guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Geoff Downes of Yes, and drummer Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Back then record stores filed albums alphabetically and by genre, and rumor says they wanted a name that started with “A” so it would be the first thing customers would find when browsing.

Manchester Orchestra

The indie-rock outfit is not an orchestra, and they’re from Atlanta, Georgia. The name is an homage to the tradition of great bands that came from Manchester in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, like The Smiths, New Order and The Happy Mondays.

“I was 16 and listening to the Smith’s a lot and they were from Manchester,” said founder and singer Andy Hull In a 2017 interview with AXS, “Half of it came from where I could be kind of the conductor and my friends could come in. I was selfish, and half of it was just to avoid band drama that existed with 16-year-olds playing in bands in high school. It was an open-door policy with the band so if you wanted to play, you could come in.”

Austrian Death Machine

This name actually was very close to becoming an accurate description. The Californian thrash metal band is a side project funded by As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis as a parody and tribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Lambesis writes, sings, and plays most of the instruments in their recordings, while Destroy the Runner vocalist Chad Ackerman portrays “Ahhhnold”, a humorous imitation of Schwarzenegger.

Lambesis described in his MySpace blog his main band As I Lay Dying as “heartfelt and full of passion” while Austrian Death Machine as “an outlet of pure testosterone and stupidity.”

In a surreal twist of events, the metal singer was arrested for attempting to hire an undercover detective to kill his estranged wife Meggan Murphy. Ultimately he was sentenced to six years in prison in 2014.

Detroit Metal City

This one isn’t from Detroit, and it isn’t even a real band. Detroit Metal City is a successful black comedy manga that ran in the Japanese magazine Young Animal from 2005 to 2010, named after the famous single by Kiss ‘Detroit Rock City’. The series has spun off to anime and live film adaptations, and to accompany those releases a fictional band, Detroit Metal City was created. The group, comprised of various popular Japanese artists has released various records and garnered an audience of their own.

Portugal. The man

The experimental indie project is actually a fully-fledged band from Wasilla, Alaska. “It’s an interesting name, I guess,” they explained in a 2011 interview with Blank News, “it’s kind of an alter ego like Ziggy Stardust and Sgt Pepper. It’s our character to represent us as a band. In picking a country’s name, it was one name that represents a group of people. It made sense for a while, but we have regretted it ever since that day.

In the same vein of deceit, The Kingston Trio is actually a folk group from California, Japan is a brit new wave band, the guys from Tokio Hotel are German, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is an American progressive metal band.

Despite appearances, Lana del Rey, Yo la Tengo and The Flying Burrito Brothers are all American artists, Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias are a British comedy rock band formed in Manchester, and the pop ensemble I’m from Barcelona is Swedish.

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Wrong family

Mumford & Sons

The British folk-rock quartet is not conformed by Mr. Mumford and his family. In fact, the band members are not related to each other and they all have about the same age. The name is just a half-jokingly way to honor vocalist Marcus Mumford, who during their formation was the one making all the phone calls, getting the band together and hustling for the gigs.

Thompson Twins

Originally a duo conformed by Tom Bailey and Pete Dodd, the successful brit-pop act was named after the two clumsy detectives Thomson and Thompson from Hergé’s seminal comic strip The Adventures of Tintin.

Cocteau Twins

Probably the biggest Scottish act of all time, the influential band took their name after the song ‘Cocteau Twins’ from fellow Scot rockers Johnny & The Self-Abusers, the short-lived punk band that would later be the foundation of Simple Minds.

The Cocteau Twins

Are they running alone?

The Cocteau Twins

Ah, where do they belong?

The Cocteau Twins

The song was later revamped and turned into ‘No Cure’, one of the singles from Simple Minds’ first album Life in a Day from 1979.

The Smiths

We all know none of the members of The Smiths is actually called Smith. The name is an ironic moniker in reference to the most common surname in England.

Morrissey tries to explain it in the most accessible way possible to a group of children on the TV-programme DataRun in 1984.

“I decided [the name] because it was the most ordinary name, and I thought it’s time that the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces”

Los Rodriguez

One of the most influential rock bands of the Hispanic world of the ‘90s, none of its members was a Rodriguez. A similar case to The Smiths, Rodriguez is probably the most common surname in Spanish, and in Spain, the expression “estar de Rodríguez” (to act like a Rodríguez) is said to refer to situations when one person in a group does all the work and the rest just has fun.

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Headscratchers

Les Rita Mitsouko

The French new wave duo is probably the biggest musical act to come out of France in the ‘80s, and it’s peculiar name is the combination of Rita, the name of famous stripper and actress Rita Renoir, and Mitsouko, the name of a perfume by French cosmetics company Guerlain.

Miike Snow

Mr. Snow kind of exists, but doesn’t play in the band. The trio conformed by Swedish childhood friends Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg plus American songwriter Andrew Wyatt is named after a mutual acquaintance. They modified the spelling of the name and voilá! That’s how you make history.

“We wanted to avoid the whole process of coming up with a name” revealed Andrew Wyatt to Out in 2009. “We picked the name of an assistant engineer of a video we had all worked on out in L.A. We thought he was a nice guy. Then we modified the spelling so he couldn’t sue us!”

Fun fact, Karlsson and Winnberg have worked with pop stars like Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Lopez, and Madonna, and are the brains behind Britney Spears Grammy-winning song ‘Toxic’.

Belle and Sebastian is not a duo but one of the most amazing bands to come out of Scotland in the ‘90s, and their name is a reference to the cult French television series and anime Belle et Sébastien based on the novel of the same name by children’s author Cécile Aubry. Similarly, Sofi Tukker is not a female singer, but a German American EDM duo comprised of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. Rüfüs Du Sol is not a crazy Scandinavian but an Australian trio comprised of Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt.

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And what better way to cap off this string of misnomers and weird anecdotes to highlight that one of these bands, none other than the friggin’ Eagles of Death Metal is heading to Australia in April. Not only will they be part of this year’s Bluesfest epic lineup, but the American band will have a series of sideshows that will take them to Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney.

The band was founded in 1998 by Jesse Hughes (vocals, guitar) and Josh Homme (drums), and includes a huge list of guest musicians both in their studio recordings and live presentations. Invitees have included Tim Vanhamel from Deus, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Jack Black, The Damned drummer Rat Scabies and actress Juliette Lewis.

Last June they released their fifth studio record titled ‘Eagles Of Death Metal Presents Boots Electric Performing The Best Songs We Never Wrote’, where Jesse Hughes takes on covers from various artists of diverse genres, going from AC/DC and The Ramones to George Michael and Mary J. Blige.

So there you have it, put on your best leather jacket, polish your shades, this is the opportunity to experience their unique brand of rockabilly, bluegrass and hard rock. This is a concert to headbang like crazy and dance your socks off.

Eagles of Death Metal

2020 Australian Tour

Also appearing at Bluesfest

Eagles Of Death Metal Australian Tour 2020

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Metro City, Perth, WA

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC

Tickets available through Bluesfest Touring