Difference Engine - Came in very handy

Difference Engine - Babbage - Difference EngineAmerican shoegazers from Mobile, Alabama who had to wait fifteen years before their debut album, Breadmaker, was completely remastered and served up to the audience for a second time.

To resolve the origin of the band name we need to introduce the novel of the same name by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

A difference engine is a mechanical calculating machine that in its time (around 1822) was designed to make polynomial calculations.

The machine could be used for both logarithmic and trigonometric functions, which of course came in very handy.

Active: 1994-present, USA
Site: http://differenceengine.ie/

Sloppy Seconds - Category Unsavory band names

How did Sloppy Seconds get their band name - Simenon - MaigretIn the category 'unsavory band names' this punk rock band from Indianapolis, Indiana is a pretty strong challenger.

Sloppy seconds is English slang for the job a man fulfills who has sex with a woman who just before has been the lucky recipient of another load of spermatozoids, possibly from another man.

The Belgian writer Simenon compared this activity in one of his Maigret novels with 'stepping into another man's warm slippers'.

Sounds a lot cosier, right?

Active: 1985-present, USA
Site: http://www.myspace.com/kingsofjunkrock

Hawthorne Heights - Unclean singer

The alternative rock band Hawthorne Heights comes from Dayton, Ohio and can boast a lineup that includes an unclean vocalist; more about that later.

The name of the group according to some fans refers to a place in Ohio, but we have not been able to discover it. On various spots on the globe there are villages and neighbourhoods called Hawthorne Heights, among others in the US State of Indiana.

How did Hawthorne Heights get their band name idea - Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet letterBy 'Hawthorne' the Daytoners honor author Nathaniel Hawthorne (in fact Nathaniel Hathorne, 1804-1864). Evil and the sins of mankind are often central in his books and he not seldom presents moral messages that stand out by their psychological complexity.

Whether or not all this can be recognized in the music of Hawthorne Heights is currently subject of an intensive study; you will hear more about it, perhaps.

And on the subject of the unclean vocalist: that does not apply to the personal care of the man, but to his singing style. That style is sometimes mockingly described as Cookie Monster-vocals; see and – especially - listen to Sesame Street.

For those who want to know even more about it: check out Death Growl on Wikipedia.

Active: 2001-present, USA
Site: http://www.hawthorneheights.com/

fIREHOSE - Typographic junk

Where did fIREHOSE get their band name from - Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick BluesFunny way to write a name?

Normal English and Americans sometimes use the big word 'reversed capitalization' for this kind of spelling, but when graphic artists get heated up about it they just call it typographic junk.

The alternative fIREHOSE rockers, housed in San Pedro, California, saw the 'Fire Hose' sign flash by in Dylan's famous Subterranean Homesick Blues clip.

They had seen enough.

Active: 1986-1994, USA
Site: http://idiot-dog.com/music/minutemen/indexf.html

Flaming Lips

American rock band from Oklahoma City with a soft spot for such inviting song titles as Psychiatric Explorations or the Fetus with Needles.

How did Flaming Lips get their band name - Flambe cocktail - Photo Paul McMillanOver-enthusiastic fans first used their own imagination to figure out what the band name might mean, producing explanations like 'the Rolling Stones logo' (which can rightly be described as two fiery lips), 'a reference to drugs' and 'a certain venereal disease' (a female one, that is).

Next to this the name is said to show up as a neon sign in films with Shirley Maclaine and Fred Astaire, or a quotation is suggested coming from the burning lips of philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (in this case poet Margaret Walker would be more eligible, with her remark that 'The word of fire burns today on the lips of our prophets in an evil age').

But it is all just idle talk, according to an interview with frontman Wayne Coyne:

'Back in 1983 when we were approaching our first gig we really didn't know what we were gonna be called.', he says. 'I'd read somewhere about a group called the Flaming Hands, which was a name I'd liked and that led to the Flaming Lips.'

Active: 1983-present, USA
Site: http://www.flaminglips.com/

See also: Futureheads, Rolling Stones

Cirith Ungol - Mount Doom metal

What band name Cirith Ungol means - Tolkien - The tower of Cirith Ungol - Artwork John HoweMetal, metal and more metal, that was the order of the day for this Californian band from the city of Ventura: heavy metal, progressive metal, doom metal, etc.

The band's name is taken from the eponymous mountain pass and tower described in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth.

Middle-earth is an imaginary continent in which many stories of Tolkien are set, such as The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings and The Silmarillion.

Active: 1972-1992, USA
Site: http://www.truemetal.org/cirithungol/page.php?page_id=1

See also: Amon Amarth, Marillion

They Might Be Giants

Also known as TMBG. The alternative rock band from Brooklyn, New York usually consists of John Flansburgh, John Linnell and – probably the only band member one can really count on - a drum machine.

Why band name They Might Be Giants - Don Quixote - No Quixotes road signThey Might Be Giants is also the title of a 1971 film, directed by Anthony Harvey.

According to Linnell - and he should know - the band wanted a name that was outward-looking and paranoid.

 In another interview it was explained differently: 'It's the name of a movie. It's not a good movie and it don't hold that much significance for us.'

Perhaps it is nice to know that the film They Might Be Giants is named after was loosely based on the experiences chronicled by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in his novel El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha.

In that book Sancho Panza puts the question to his 'boss', Don Quixote, why they always have to take up arms against windmills.

Don Quixote replies: 'Why, they might be giants!'. (In Spanish, of course.)

Active: 1982-present, USA
Site: http://www.theymightbegiants.com/

Jesus Jones - North meets south

This techno band from English Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire is also playing some fine Grebo (a term that - if our information is correct – relates to music that does well among Goths, skaters and alternative types).

How did Jesus Jones get the band name - Spanish beach - AndaluciaDuring a vacation one sometimes gets the best professional ideas and that also happened to the members of the future Jesus Jones.

Lying on a Spanish beach it suddenly occurred to them that their omnipresent countrymen, not rarely adorned with one of England's commonest surnames Jones, were surrounded by locals often called Jesus, a first name of many Spanish speaking people.

Link a frequently used English last name to a frequently used Spanish first name: the band surely recognizes a bright idea when it sees one.

Active: 1988-present, GBR
Site: http://jesusjones.com/

Texas is the Reason

Emo band from New York City that was brought together by guitarist Norm Arenas (ex-Shelter) and drummer Chris Daly.
Why band name Texas is the Reason - Kennedy Assassination postcard

The band name comes directly from Bullit, a song by The Misfits in which the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy is described:

'Run, Jackie, run
Texas is an outrage when your husband is dead
Texas is an outrage when they pick up his head
Texas is the reason that the president's dead'.

Active: 1994-1997; 2006, USA
Site: http://www.myspace.com/texasisthereason

Smash Mouth - Or brains

The name could have been Smash Their Brains In just as well, but then again Smash Mouth sounds slightly more civilized.

Where did band name Smash Mouth come from - American footballThe rock band from San Jose, California that adopted this name took the expression from American Football coach Mike Ditka (actual name: Michael Dyczko), in the US better known as Iron Mike.

This Ditka was and is a strong supporter of an attack technique that euphemistically is described as the offensive philosophy.

It can get rough - so much is clear. One could also say – and some actually do - that smash-mouth football amounts to three yards and a cloud of dust.

Active: 1994-present, USA
Site: http://www.smashmouth.com/

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