The 13 Most Pretentious Band Name Origins

Lots of bands have ridiculous names, but these band names have especially highbrow backstories.

1. The Airborne Toxic Event

“The Airborne Toxic Event” is the second section of Don DeLillo’s classic postmodern novel White Noise.

2. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is the name of Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang in the 1953 biker film The Wild One.

3. !!!

!!! took their name from the subtitles of the film The Gods Must Be Crazy, in which the Bushmen’s Khoisan language was represented with exclamation points.

4. Klaxons

Klaxons were inspired by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s The Futurist Manifesto and Futurist literature.

5. Panic! at the Disco

Panic! at the Disco took their name from The Smiths’ song “Panic,” which includes the lyric “Burn down the disco.”

6. An Horse

An Horse came from an argument singer-guitarist Kate Cooper had with her sister over whether or not you use the indefinite article “an” before the letter “h.”

7. As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying is the title of William Faulkner’s 1930 novel, commonly regarded as one of the best novels of the 20th century.

8. Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse took their name from the Virginia Woolf story The Mark on the Wall, which includes the phrase “modest, mouse-coloured people.”

9. Tokyo Police Club

Tokyo Police Club picked their name based on a computer program designed to analyze the most popular band names.

10. Godspeed You! Black Emperor

God Speed You! Black Emperor is the title of a 1976 Japanese documentary about a Japanese biker gang called the Black Emperors.

11. Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian took their name from Belle et Sébastien, a 1965 novel by Cécile Aubry.

12. Death Cab for Cutie

“Death Cab for Cutie” is a song by The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, as heard in The Beatles’ 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour.

13. The Killers

The Killers borrowed their name from the fictional band in New Order’s music video for “Crystal.”

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