I recently read a book about the power of names, specifically the ones we give our children. It explained all the ways your name can give away your socio-economic background and upbringing before you walk into a room and the trends that follow certain geographic regions and how they can partially predict the level of success someone would have. It got me thinking a lot about band names and how much the success of a band can be predicted by a name. You ever hear a band name and think ‘Oooo, that’s a good one. That’s a name people want to talk about and wear on a shirt’? I have. I’ve been witness to the creation of several bands and one of the worst parts always seems to be naming the band. It’s this complicated process of finding something unique that isn’t too weird or unpronounceable, something that’s personal and representative of the band without seeming like an inside joke that no one gets. Then of course there’s the legalities of it: It can’t be anyone else’s band name either. I’ve heard many a horror story of a google search gone wrong that leads to a lawsuit over who gets to keep a name that someone has been building on for years.
I’ve seen some weird names born out of this process, names that are so strange that they can even turn me off of listening to a band. There’s some sounds that just don’t feel good coming out of my mouth, I avoid talking about them just so I don’t have to say them or think of the imagery the word invokes (You hear me, Hoobastank & Butthole Surfers? I’ve never wanted to talk about you) One band that I used to think was a bit oddly named was a 5 piece indie rock outfit out of Selkirk, Scotland called Frightened Rabbit. I’ve been having quite the love affair with them this past week, so I went digging a little deeper to find out more about the origin of their name. I was pleasantly surprised to read a most adorable story about the lead singer:
“Scott Hutchison was a shy boy. Left in a room with other kids, he would go quiet, and for this, the story goes, his mother called him “her frightened rabbit.” Years later, less shy, he began to write songs and sing them live, then along the way he added friends to the act– two guitarists, a bassist, his brother on the drums– and with them made albums on which he howled and drank and f*cked and fought, every chord seeming to push the memory of his skittish namesake further and further away”
After reading it and thinking of the above listed criteria, I realized that their name isn’t strange, it’s actually kind of perfect. Which is fitting, because so is their last album, Pedestrian Verse. Full of meaningful lyrics that anyone can interpret as their own in front of full, bright rock that immediately makes me think of a really good party where the drinks are plentiful and free, no one is too drunk and everyone just wants to dance and hug each other. In every interview I’ve seen, they seem like genuinely down to earth guys that I would actually want to hang out with (or at minimum we could shop in each others closets, there is just so much plaid going on) and that really translates to the music.
My favorite song of theirs can be found below, it’s titled ‘The Woodpile’. I suggest checking out ‘Nitrous gas’ and ‘Swim until you can’t see land’ if you’re looking to dive in a little deeper (and I’m quite confident you’ll want to). Shakespeare said that a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, and even though I clearly have a lot of thoughts on how to name something, I’m quite certain that even if Frightened Rabbit had a different name, they would still sound amazing. Enjoy.
“Come find me now, where I hide and we will speak in our secret tongues……..”