What are some of your favorite hardcore and punk band names and how did those bands come up with their name? Sick Of It All? Minor Threat? Agnostic Front? Bad Brains? These names just didn't appear out of thin air. Each one has some kind of story behind them. In Effect's Chris Wynne compiled a list of his favorites and then set out to find out their origins by tracking down members of each band for the backstory. In addition we went out and tracked down friends and fans of these same bands and asked the question "What does this bands name mean to you?" Whether you agree with the majority of this list or not we hope you find this an interesting read and maybe learn a thing or two about the history of hardcore and punk along the way. Thank you to all who took the time out for their responses and a special shout out to Mike Gallo from Agnostic Front for helping us track down Rancid's Tim Armstrong. Graphics by: TeamSpierings. The list below is in no particular order and the goal here was to try and focus on the actual band names.
SICK OF IT ALL, QUEENS, NY
SICK OF IT ALL
“We were 4 angry kids, hanging out in my parent’s basement and we wanted a name that represented this. Our drummer at the time Dave, a Chinese kid with a heavy accent blurted out "Sick Of All". Pete and I said "nah, how about Sick Of It All"? Dave didn't like it but he gave in. He played our first show (at The Right Track Inn on Long Island) and then quit to join the Marines.” -Lou Koller, Vocals, Sick Of It All
“One of the most sought after and coolest items of the 90's was the Sick Of It All windbreaker - with the lettering on the back/bottom of the jacket. I'd rock that thing everywhere - winter, spring, summer, fall - it resonated with just about everyone from all walks of life… to the point where people would stop me on the street and say something. Majority having no clue it was even a band, just thinking it was an opinion - a statement on life itself. Whether it was The Tombs in Manhattan, the weed spot on Franklin Avenue, dust spot on 116th, the old folks home in Hallandale Florida and Bingo Hall visiting family. Coast to coast on tour, up the west coast down into Mexico. Everyone was sick of something - and that jacket spoke to them. From straight hoodlums to WW2 vets, teenagers, women, suits, the homeless and senior citizens - I got comments. Everyone was sick of it all - and could relate. Loved that damn jacket. And the band was pretty damn cool themselves. Some of the finest merch in the history of hardcore”. -James LES, Brooklyn, NY
“I've always liked plain and simple band names. These Arms Are Snakes? A Life Once Lost? Manbearpig On The Edge Of The Indefinite Ultimatum Of The Colour Blue? What the hell does that even mean!?! Here's four guys who are sick of it all and their music shows it. So what else were they gonna name their band? As a bonus, I like that they're not discriminative with what they're sick of. Not just sick of society, sick of the authorities, sick of being out of toilet paper, no… just sick of it all. Everyone can relate… great!"
-Daan #Hashtag Fanzine Den Bosch, The Netherlands
SICK OF IT ALL @ 2015 BNB BOWL, NYC. PHOTO BY: AGA HAIRESIS
CRO-MAGS, NEW YORK CITY, NY
CRO-MAGS (Borrowed from the “Hard-Core, Life Of My Own” book by Harley Flanagan)
“But yeah, it was a pivotal time for music, and bands that were happening around that time were setting the standard for what would become hardcore. Black Flag had recently played in town with Dez Cadena singing. It was around this time that I came up with the idea for the Cro-Mags. I was so inspired by all the intense new music. I came up with the name while hanging out with a friend from L.A. that everyone called Mugger, who roadied for Black Flag. We were at a friend’s house on 12th Street and Avenue A, where UXA were staying, down the block from my mom’s apartment. Mugger and me wanted to start a band- or at least we were talking about it. He suggested we call the band the Cave Men, and then the Ape Men, the Neanderthals, and so on, ‘cause we both had shaved heads and both looked very caveman-ish. I came up with the Cro-Mags, and that was that. I thought it symbolized modern man as a modern primitive. Black Flag split back to the West Coast and that was that. But the name stuck”. -Harley Flanagan, Founding Member, Bassist, Cro-Mags
“I recall seeing ads for Cro-Mags’ “Age of Quarrel” everywhere in 1986—flyers on poles, Village Voice, at shows. It’s folly to try and separate the name, the evocative imagery of a mushroom cloud on the album, the stunningly original sound, and ferocious live show. Cavemen resigned to the looming modern, man-made apocalypse might be a first thought. It’s gonna happen no matter what you do, so stick your chin out and take it full-on. Boiled down to its essence, the name and imagery captured every mugging, every murder, every street brawl in 1970’s/80’s New York City. It meant broken noses, knotted heads, chest tats, pit bulls gnawing on tree limbs outside CB’s, back flips into the crowd. It raised the volume and put a beat and rhythm to that muffled sound you heard when you wandered around the Lower East Side dusted. It meant having zero hesitation to punch someone in the teeth. Cro-Mags, to me, is the story and face of New York City".
-Ted Gogoll, Author- "Echoes Of A Killing". Staten Island, NY
“Before I ever heard a note from these “Age Of Quarrel” purveyors the first thing I noticed was the "Cro-Mags Army" tag scrawled all over the Lower East Side. Coming from a graffiti background made me more conscious of writings on walls and I quickly ascertained that this wasn't related to any crew or name that I was familiar with. Someone pointed out that it was actually a hardcore band and we should go see them because they'd be playing at the what is now the old Ritz club location. Between hearsay and rumors of the members reputation for mayhem and with a name that was, well, barbarian or at least pre-human; I was prepared for the worst. When I finally got to see them it was definitely an "a-ha" moment: the Cro-Mags moniker fit them to a “T” with a raw vibe that tapped into a primal, animalistic source from who knows where. Their shows were rites that referenced humankind's collective tribal beginnings with all the blood, sweat, fear and violence that comes along with that. Hardcore was the shit and the Cro-Mags made me a convert". –Freddy Alva, Queens, NY
PHOTO FROM THE BACK COVER OF THE 1986 CLASSIC "THE AGE OF QUARREL"
CRO-MAGS name quote taken from the book "Hard-Core, Life Of My Own" by: Harley Flanagan.
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POISON IDEA, PORTLAND OREGON
“It was just a synonyms word that I thought up that means the death of something before it even started. Something you wouldn't want to do? Synchronous in bloom again”. Or as our President would say "It’s bad, really bad..". -Jerry Lang, Vocals, Poison Idea
“Poison Idea, to me, says bad head, negative thoughts, not a whole heck of a lot of bullshit hope or positivity. That is where my head was at for most of my life, certainly around the time I discovered the band. I liked some of the posi/youth crew type bands but the bands that I was always drawn to the most were the ones that sang about more personal and ugly aspects of life. It just felt a lot more realistic and relatable to me. Poison Idea, in name and content, were one of the bands that epitomized that for me. They may be the best that ever did it. Musically untouchable. Plus "Poison Idea" just sounds fuckin' cool and looks great on a t-shirt. One of my all time favorites”. –Jason Carter, Bass-Sheer Terror, Staten Island, NY
“So you are a young metal head, it's the early 80’s, and you are getting into this hardcore punk thing. Names were an incredibly important factor in the choosing of what to check out. Remember all you young spoiled interpunkers, we didn't have any YouTube, or Bandcamp, or internet at all. So when you see the name Poison Idea in a tiny ad in some shitty zine (not In Effect you dicks, too early), you are like, fuck man, I need to hear what these cats are putting out there. I was a noob into Bad Brains and I thought, hmmmmm, where do poison ideas come from? Well they may come from bad brains (sadly, actual teen me logic). It was almost a metal sounding name too, so I thought that they may be on the same wavelength as me, so I took a chance, and found they most certainly were not. I was blown away by them musically and lyrically. We all have poison ideas from time to time, shit, I have them all the time…in fact I'm having one right now".
-Core Junkie, Westchester, NY, Montgomery City, MD
BACK COVER OF 1990's "WE GOT THE BEAT/TAKEN BY SURPRISE" 7" ON SUB-POP RECORDS
YOUTH OF TODAY, NEW YORK/CONNECTICUT
YOUTH OF TODAY
“I can't remember if it was me or Ray, but we were discussing names and wanted something that would let people know that we were hardcore, because a lot of bands were growing out of thrash at the time, but we still loved it. "Youth Of Today" was a line in songs by Cause For Alarm, the Abused and the Avengers, so we adopted it as our own”. –Porcell, Guitar- Youth Of Today (Taken from a September, 2014 interview with In Effect)
“I remember the moment I first saw the band name “Youth Of Today”—on a CBGB’s flyer at Bleecker Bob’s for a show that afternoon, in September 1986. Three simple, potent words. No bullshit, no gimmicks, stripped down, the name was far different and relatable than the thrash and rock band names I’d grown up on (Metallica, Slayer, Venom, Led Zeppelin). I was 14 that day when I finagled my underage self into see them—it was also my first hardcore show—and that name gained even more resonance when I heard the music. Urgent. raw. energetic. invincible. It meant don’t waste time, take absolutely no shit from anyone, strength through positivity, and living life to the fullest. Even at your young age, you could make a change".
-Ted Gogoll, Staten Island, NY. Author- "Echoes Of A Killing".
LYRICS TO "YOUTH OF TODAY"
The kids will make it happen
we're starting a new way
in the world today
we"re the youth of today
never fight each other
use our heads before our fists
then we'll kick down all the barriers
of hate and prejudice
live fast die young was just a fad,
for a bunch of losers
who didn"t take care.
i'm gonna live my life,
breath every breath,
look towards the future
and move straight ahead.
FRONT COVER PHOTO FROM 1986's "BREAK DOWN THE WALLS"
NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE, NEW YORK
NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE
“When we were young, and first started jamming Frank Zappa was a big influence. A buddy of ours hanging out at one of our jams basically came out with “Hey, you guys should call yourselves No Redeeming Social Value because it best describes what you're doing here”. The phrase is from a Supreme Court case which set the precedent for “what is considered to be obscene or of prurient interest”. The phrase is sampled on “Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers of Prevention”. So we figured - perfect! Also, we were sorta being smart asses, because we wanted a name that sounded nothing like any other bands and that few people would forget once they heard it, whether they knew what it meant or not. Then, of course we always get a good laugh out of people trying to spell the whole name correctly". -Dean Miller, Vocals- No Redeeming Social Value
“I remember this time when my friend Chris Bunkley had a barbecue in his front yard at his parent’s house in Queens Village. At the time he was the singer for Terminal Confusion or would
later become the singer for Terminal Confusion. I remember a few other Terminal dudes were there including their drummer Doug Voyer because he kept telling Bunkley that his mom's beans were slamming
the whole time. While we were all hanging out I noticed these 2 skinny skinhead dudes leaving their house directly across the street with guitar cases and getting into a car. I said "hey Bunk, you
got some skinheads living across the street". He said "Yeah, that's Dean and Kent Miller, they have a band called No Redeeming Social Value". I immediately said "that is the stupidest fucking name
I've ever heard for a band"
Not too long after I would see NRSV play a battle of the bands at a local church in Queens and from there started to see them on a regular basis as they began to make a name for themselves in the NY scene. They're music was tight, classic NYHC with live shows that totally were totally bananas. It seemed like every show they played had another over the top creative theme to either their antics or costumes. They truly were living up to the name No Redeeming Social Value all the while championing Olde E Malt Liquor, tattoos, chicken, skinheads, a disliking of guidos and the fact that they can rock any party which they did over and over again. I went from being Nelson Muntz from the Simpsons pointing at those 2 skinny kids outside their mom's house saying "ahhhh hahhhh" to being one of their biggest supporters. A band that truly has lived up to their name over the years”. -Chris Wynne, In Effect- New York
“Too many bands take themselves way too seriously, and their entire image is calculated to reflect that. Up to and including a very well thought out, gruff, to the point name. No Redeeming Social Value as a band and as a concept is a brilliant, well needed satire of this culture. The band represents a simultaneous celebration and tearing down of the absurdity of hardcore. It’s a long, frumpy, cumbersome title, yet it’s everything most bands try to convey. I remember I got my hands on their DVD – NRSV HCTV – before even seeing them live. Drunkenness, mayhem, nudity, drugs, moshing, an overweight gentlemen in his underpants, it had everything your mother warned you about and tried like hell to hide you from. I watched it over and over studying each hilarious frame. What was it about these guys that was so funny to me? How did they manage to make this seemingly violent scene seem like the most fun place on the planet? What kind of individuals were capable of such musical bedlam? They threw caution to the wind with no regard for their image or reputation, and it was clear, these men had very little to offer society. They were of No Redeeming Social Value”.
-Dan Piro, Guitarist-Ache, Norwalk, CT
MINOR THREAT, WASHINGTON DC
“After we got home from playing the last Teen Idles gig (930 Club, November 6th, 1980), Jeff Nelson and I set out for an all-night drive up to visit a friend of ours at college in upstate New York. During that drive, Jeff and I came up with a list of potential names for our new band (“Straight Edge” was one of them, by the way), but the rest of the list was scrapped when Jeff came up with “Minor Threat”. Obviously we were engaging in wordplay with “Minor Threat” as we wanted to underscore the fact that we were kids. Remember that our earlier band was called “The Teen Idles” and the Teen Idles' record was entitled “Minor Disturbance EP”, so you can see that this was an oft visited theme. I’m fairly certain that the name “Minor Threat” came before we decided on using “Minor Disturbance”, but I’m afraid that detail is lost to the ages!" –Ian Mackaye, Vocals- Minor Threat
“I grew up far away from any real punk or hardcore scene living out here in Hong Kong. When I was growing up I was fully immersed in metal as a guitarist. So my world was all about the riffs and the musicality - less so the lyrical content or vocals at all. While growing up I also made a conscious decision not to drink, smoke or do drugs not for any particular reason except that I didn’t want anything to impact my skateboarding (can’t deny that there were some family dynamics that also played a heavy part in this decision)…right around the 8th grade all my friends who skateboarded started drinking and smoking and one by one their love for it started fading. I didn’t want to have anything to do with that. So while my friends were out at 7-11 buying drinks or cigarettes (they serve anyone here) I’d wait at our skatespots for them to show up. All through high school I had never heard of the term “straight edge” because as I said, Hong Kong was probably one of the last places back then to really find anything remotely “hardcore” related. So I had no idea there were more people like me and that there actually was a label for all of this. When I finally got to the States to attend UMASS in 1994 that’s when I first heard Minor Threat and the songs “Filler”, “I Don’t Want to Hear It”, etc., and the term straight edge because every single time people found out I didn’t drink/smoke etc they’d always say “Oh - you’re straight edge!” I had no idea what that meant…so when I looked through the lyrics of that Minor Threat record and those couple of songs on the record that talked about straight edge it was as if the lyrics and the band reached out and grabbed me by the collar and pulled me deeper into this world. In Western Massachusetts at that time there also was a little bit of a negative connotation to the term because there was a huge “hardline” movement. That shit didn’t make sense to me back then and still doesn’t. Like most people I know who are still straight edge now in our 40’s - it was just a choice we made for no other reason than that was who we were and had zero interest in partaking in any of this stuff. So during that time one of the reasons I did call myself “straight edge” was to be a counter to that weird more hardline-negative-intolerant image of straight edge of that era. I didn’t care if people drank or smoked weed in front of me - it was their choice”.
-Riz Farooqi, Vocals-King Ly Chee, Guitar-Dagger, Owner; UniteAsia.org- Hong Kong
“Long before I went to college in DC, I got into some DCHC, through, of course, the Bad Brains. I remember the first time I was told to check out Minor Threat, and I thought that it was just about the coolest name I'd heard. I was very young and my brain wasn't fully hardened yet and I was mystified by the many interpretations that name could have. I mean, were they minors as in their age, who were also a threat? Were they overall, not a major threat but more of a minor threat yet not minor enough to be simply a nuisance? I had absolutely zippy knowledge about the group, but I thought that the name ruled. I was a minor and probably considered myself a threat even though in hindsight, I was far from it. Regardless, I had to get my hands on this shit to find out just what kinda noise these guys were making. Well, truth be told I never actually found out the exact interpretation of the name because once I heard the music, it didn't fucking matter".
-Core Junkie, Westchester, NY, Montgomery City, MD.
BAD BRAINS, WASHINGTON DC, NEW YORK
Excerpts taken from the book Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. from Bad Brains
“We were into all this progressive jazz, Return to Forever and Weather Report and cats like that. They had been playing really adamantly and fast, and that was our shit back then. But after a while, those dudes started going commercial and started to lose the power behind the music. That’s where Sid McCray came in and introduced us to the punk rock". –Earl Hudson, Drums- Bad Brains
“Sid played us the Sex Pistols’ “Never Mind The Bollocks” album. The band members were some of the most intriguing looking individuals I’d ever seen. They had black eyes and drool and mohawks and everything. I listened to the music, and it was shocking. I guess you could call it awesome. It was outrageous. And then he played some Ramones for us, which I found absolutely incredible. We heard their song “Bad Brain,” and we kinda clicked with that. We got our name from that". –HR, Vocals- Bad Brains
"I first saw the band name "Bad Brains" painted on the back of an MC jacket worn by a guy named Israel Joseph in the 80's. Years later Israel went on to sing in Bad Brains for the “Rise” album. Israel and a few of his friends were camping out for concert tickets at Madison Square Garden. I was meeting them for the first time right behind them in line. Right away I noticed his jacket. Seeing Bad Brains spray painted across his MC jacket that day… that band name spoke to me right away. I was just starting to get into punk, speaking my mind and fighting back all the people that f*cked with me. I felt like I had bad brains. I liked thinking about the band name because it had power like "I'm a bad brain MotherF*cker! Don't F*ck with me!" I had images in my head of the band name being a hardcore kid that could pull his brains out of his skull and scream at people with his rotting brains in his hands. I was connected to the band name before I even heard the music. A few weeks after seeing the band name for the first time Israel gave me the ROIR sessions yellow cassette tape! Everything I thought about the band name and more was right there in the music and lyrics. The music literally became a part of me. Being a black dude amd the Bad Brains being all black and the message of PMA was huge for me. Around the same time I heard the song "Bad Brain" by the Ramones… where the band name came from. That Ramones song brought me right back to imagines of people pulling their brains out of their skull. What a sick band name!" -Ryan Bland, Vocals-Ache, NY
"Sometime in 1983, a friend told me about this band called "Bad Brains" before I'd even heard a note of their music. I thought the name was sort of goofy like a lot of other punk rock bands at the time. It wasn't until I immersed myself in the ROIR cassette and finally saw them play 2 years later that I realized how fucking cool the Bad Brains were. Their music and their vibe made me forget what their name even was. Now, I associate "Bad Brains" with the coolest band ever. Funny how that happens". -Howie Abrams, Queens, NY
PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE FAMILY OF MO SUSSMAN/MJ VILARDI
KILL YOUR IDOLS, LONG ISLAND, NY
KILL YOUR IDOLS
“So, we had a few names before we finally got to Kill Your Idols. When Andy and I first got together, we threw around "Condemned To Live", which proved to be a bit too negative sounding! We were calling ourselves "Watkins" for a while… we took it from the name of a trucking firm across from our practice space. We tried "Pettle Head", and we had a logo of a sunflower with a frown, with a double barrel shot gun blowing half his head off, Andy drew it. Contrary to what some have said, we didn't get the name "Kill Your Idols" from the Sonic Youth song, or from the t-shirt sold at Trash & Vaudville that was worn by Axl Rose in the late 80’s… but we DID get it from a band's song title. We stayed up at Andy's apartment trying to think of a name because we had opportunities to play shows on the horizon, and we were ready to record a demo. We took all Andy's vinyl records out and started scouring lyric sheets and song titles. We came across the Situated Chaos 12”… an important 80’s Long Island Hardcore band featuring singer Big Vinnie Segerra, who did a label called Mint Tone, booked many great local shows, and eventually was the one to bring Andy and I together to form KYI. So we decided we'd make it a tribute to him, and Situated Chaos, who are sorta un-sung as trailblazers to the Long Island Hardcore scene. Their song, "Kill Your Idols", with the chorus of "Kill your idols influence" sorta jumped off the lyric sheet. We felt like those lyrics summed us up. No one is too important or glamorous. No one HAS to like your fucking band, and if they do, you share a bond. Hardcore isn't supposed to be about being a star. The best shows are ones where there are kids all over the stage that know all your lyrics. When the band isn't just 4 or 5 guys… it's 2 or 300 sweaty kids that are like ONE for 40 minutes. That's what the name Kill Your Idols meant to us". -Gary Bennett, Guitar- Kill Your Idols
“To me the name Kill Your Idols means that every human is equal and fallible, so holding anyone up on a pedestal for simply being famous or in a band is ridiculous. What creates value in people is what they do and how they treat others”. –Bill Wilson, Blackout Records- New York
“When I hear the name Kill Your Idols the first thing that comes to mind is their iconic skull logo that is plastered on everything this band does and why wouldn't they put it on everything as its one of the coolest logos out there from any time period in hardcore… Period! What's more important to me though is the fact that throughout the years the people who make up this band have never let their success within the scene go to their heads. This band has done so much in their time together and they have always remained this basic, plug in your shit and wail away on your gear for 45 minutes type of band free of any egos, big heads, or any kind of rock star attitude. The band name is Kill Your Idols and to a man I'm sure they would not want anyone idolizing them in any way for their accomplishments as a band. Just a group of humble individuals still cranking out great music”. –Chris Wynne, In Effect- New York
KILL YOUR IDOLS PHOTO BY: KEN PENN
AGNOSTIC FRONT, NEW YORK
“I don’t take credit for anything but I did come up with the name. It’s not like I wanted to come up with a name. I wanted to make a statement and it speaks for itself… AGNOSTIC… to be in doubt. FRONT… a point of view and that’s about it. I didn’t want to do like Blondie, The Cars, The Beatles… DUH! ‘Ya know what I mean? It meant more to me than to just have a name for a band. The Wonderfuls, The Satellite Seven, alright, whatever".
–Vinnie Stigma, Guitar- Agnostic Front (Taken from an April, 2015 interview with In Effect)
"AF's second album "Cause For Alarm" was my introduction to one of my all-time favorite hardcore bands. The crossover age transitioned me from listening to mostly thrash metal to mostly hardcore in almost no time at all. My album covers went from having pentagrams and upside down crosses on them to wild artwork by such amazing artists as Sean Taggart. My most vivid image when the name Agnostic Front comes up is a promo poster for that "Cause For Alarm" album featuring a soldier with a machine gun wearing a gas mask in front of a grave. It was a Sean Taggart piece but was not as super detailed as some of his more well known work. As a teen who was still new to this music I would sit in my bedroom for hours on end listening to records and surveying all the posters and show flyers that wallpapered my walls with that AF poster being my most prized possession as it was just so fucking cool. Found that same artwork on a t-shirt at the BNB Bowl in 2014 and is one of the rare shirts in my closet that I treat like it belongs in a museum". -Chris Wynne, In Effect- New York
“When you're a teenager, you're in search of anything you feel represents who you are. I'm someone who questions absolutely everything, and always sought to be a part of something larger than just myself as an individual. "Agnostic Front" accomplished both for me. When I went to see them, or wore one of their t-shirts, it made me feel important and powerful, and made me understand that my beliefs and way of thinking was bigger than any one person”. -Howie Abrams, Queens, NY
THE RIVAL MOB, MASSACHUSETTS
THE RIVAL MOB
“The Rival Mob, is often, strangely, shortened to "Rival Mob", even by us sometimes. The original lineup of the band (Justin and I didn't join until after the demo), included a fine gentleman named, Joe Hawk, now of the band, Hammer And The Nails. He plucked the name off of a song called "Different Class" by the classic, and sadly, highly underappreciated band "Jook". I believe the particular lyric it came from is “We come to dance we can't take a chance of being hit by a rival mob". So there you go… nothing too exciting. Another band name taken from a song that's better than any of our own songs. -Doug Free, Guitar- The Rival Mob
“This band came around when I was well into adulthood, with a wife, kids, house, the whole fucking rigamarole. At this point in my life there was band overload. The information age had flooded me with links to every jackwads half-assed attempt at a band. With so much out there, names became a little less potent. There were great bands with horrific names and great names wasted on bands that were complete shit. Not to mention motherfuckers were getting lazy and just naming their bands using names already taken. I remember seeing the name The Rival Mob, and thinking....fuuuuuck, that is a bad ass name, how has nobody used that? Many guys, especially of my generation have had some level of obsession with the Mafia, be it the history of it, the kick-ass movies about it, the evening news stories, or the Sopranos. This spoke directly to us. The name laid down the common ground which is all it took for me to want to check them out. Glad I did, one of the best bands of the past decade”. -Core Junkie, Westchester, NY, Montgomery City, MD
“When I hear the name The Rival Mob the first thing that comes to mind was them coming out at This Is Hardcore 2012 with "Intro Grunt" and the entire dance floor just opening up into a sea of insanity with bodies flying everywhere. It was my first time ever seeing them in person and fuck was it an impressive set. What also comes to mind is the idea of there being a mob and these guys being "The Rival Mob"… the opposition to that first mob. It conjures up thoughts of 2 factions who simply don't like each other gearing up to dish out some street justice on one other whether right or wrong... kind of like two groups of soccer hooligans marching at one another to settle a score. Their earlier releases featured images of cavemen/prehistoric man in rugged situations and with demos titled "Raw Life" and "Bitter Rivals" further solidifies that overall image of a harsh reality. Now how hardcore is that?" -Chris Wynne, In Effect- New York
PHOTO BY: GRAY MUNCY
CAUSE FOR ALARM, NEW YORK
CAUSE FOR ALARM
“CFA was born out of the band Hinckley Fan Club. I'm not exactly sure who said it but it was a bunch of us hanging on Avenue A and someone saying that's "a cause for alarm" and me thinking that's a great name for a band”. -Rob Kabula, Bass- Cause For Alarm
“When I think of Cause For Alarm - I think back to Bleecker Bobs and the price tag to own their 7" EP. One of the most coveted records in NYHC history that seemed to be a permanent fixture up on that wall behind the counter. Yellow cover with the riot cops dragging someone - stamped Cause For Alarm. Always out of reach. A piece of vinyl my broke ass couldn't afford as $100 or $150 was a fortune in those days- so I never did get my hands on it. But I did finally get a burned cassette copy (with all the pops, skips, warps and whistles tapes were known for) that I wore thin and spread around in my tape-trading days. 10 minutes and 25 seconds of grimy straight up NYHC. No bullshit. No filler. Great breakdowns. Sounds like it was done live in 1 shot in a dodgy studio somewhere. Great band name, lyrics and history. A solid piece of the blueprint to this thing".
–James LES, Brooklyn, NY
“Cause For Alarm is one of the most epic band names ever. I remember getting a free comp to their show at the Danceteria in 1986, and seeing their stenciled logo on their EP, along with the riot squad dragging a protester. To me, it spoke of that tension, the space between reaction and pro-action. You’ve just heard bad news, and now you must do something about it. Fighting back and standing up for your rights, no matter the consequence. That band name, its punchy strength, came full circle to me when I got a chance to audition on drums for them a dozen years after first hearing them. Running through a few songs, that tension, that revolutionary vitality flooded through me”. -Ted Gogoll, Author “Echoes Of A Killing”. Staten Island, NY
ALL OUT WAR, NEWBURGH, NY
ALL OUT WAR
“It's always funny when I see people say we got the name from an Earth Crisis EP. No disrespect to them, but when we were putting the band together we never heard of those guys. The name actually came from Jamie Davis from Bad Luck 13. Back in the late 80's/early 90’s Jamie did a fanzine out of Philadelphia called All Out War. I picked up the zine at the Anthrax in CT in 1990, probably at a Judge or Gorilla Biscuits show and the name jumped out at me. We had been throwing around names like No Hope, Reign Of Terror, and Ripping Fetus, but we all thought All Out War blew those names away. That name stuck and the first time I met Jamie some years later he knew right away where we got the name from because I never changed the font, I just copied it from the front of the zine. I've been thanking and giving Jamie credit for the past 22 years. Thanks again Jamie”. -Mike Score, Vocals- All Out War
“I had grown up as a metalhead in the 80’s but as bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax veered off into commercial oblivion I started searching for new outlets for aggressive music. I soon found hardcore and was immediately grabbed by the open scene between the fans and the bands. You could never go to a Metallica show and then just hang out with the band. As I dug further I discovered the darker metal influenced bands such as Integrity, Sheer Terror and Darkside NYC and was floored. I remember exactly my buddy Ross telling me about All Out War and that I should check them out and they would be right up my alley. To me the name instantly grabbed my attention and embodied both the hardcore and metal imagery that had enthralled me. The music ended up fitting the music perfectly. The scathing vocals and relentless music made me envision a modern day version of the Crusades with blood and bodies everywhere. Just like the name implies they are and all-out assault on the senses and are a true benchmark of New York City Hardcore Crossover".
–Clint, Organized Crime Records- Chicago, IL
“Growing up in Newburgh, NY and getting into the hardcore and music scene you just knew All Out War from the get-go. As a young kid, that's who's records you looked for. They were (and still are) the band that everyone emulated. That name is a perfect band name. It makes you brace yourself for something brutal”.
–Holly Berchelli, Outsider Zine- Newburgh, NY
“Rancid was the band name that worked for us.
We just knew it.
It was the end of 1991.
The punk shows and back yard parties in the East Bay were everywhere and all the time.
It just felt natural to call the band that. I could visualize it on a flyer.
Our only goal was to play punk rock in backyards and clubs like Gilman St.
It was perfect.”
-Tim Armstrong, Vocals, Guitar- Rancid
“Rancid… I hear this name and all I can think of is attitude. A remnant of the old days of punk. It’s short, sweet, easy to remember, and it works to represent a 40 year old culture. The bands from the days of yore flaunted names that caught your attention – The Buzzcocks, X, The Damned, Fear, The Clash, all names that get caught in your head as easily as the choruses of their catchiest songs, grit and all. Rancid being both the torch bearers and the innovators of this music have managed to cultivate an entire style all with a simple 2 syllable word” -Dan Piro, Guitar-Ache, Norwalk, CT
"Vocabulary.com has the word RANCID listed as follows…
“Rancid means sour, rotten, and nasty and refers most specifically to the sharp bad smell of decomposing oils or fats. "Rancid" is a great name for a post-punk band, but a lousy way to describe the sauce on your eggs Benedict.” The only band on this list with a one word name but a name that packs a wallop with their one word as punk rock often can be that outlet that turns us into sour, rotten, and nasty versions of our usual selves. A great band with a great name that is so simple but also so fitting for the genre".
-Chris Wynne, In Effect, New York
RANCID: PHOTO BY: AGA HAIRESIS
URBAN WASTE, NEW YORK
“Me and the boys were sitting in my room trying to hash out names for our band. We had a bunch of ideas, so we wrote them all on a piece of paper. Our good friend Doug Holland of Kraut was over hanging out, and looked at what we had come up with and called us a bunch of "Urban Waste", which was on the scrap page, but not written together as an idea. We loved it and ran with it”. -John “Johnny Waste” Kelly, Guitar- Urban Waste
"I was a huge Warzone fan and remember going to see them in 1986. Their legendary frontman Raybeez was wearing a white t-shirt with a homemade UW logo done in black marker ink. These were the days when I was just getting into the scene so I would seek out any bands thanked on record or demo tapes as well as t-shirts, reasoning that they'd be just as good by association. I quickly learned that the initials stood for Urban Waste, who were a class of 1982 NYHC band. Things that happened a scant 4 years ago seemed a lifetime ago back then so only "old-timers" remembered them as their 7" record was long out of print. The band's name perfectly captured the conditions afoot when I started hanging out in Manhattan's Lower East Side and Brooklyn's East New York neighborhoods: an urban sprawl of decaying proportions that encapsulated what being into hardcore in the big city meant. When I finally managed to obtain the 7", don't exactly remember how, everything from the multiracial makeup of the band to the hip-hop breakbeat at the start of "Ignorance" to their furiously distorted thrash sound; this could only have come from a place like New York. Urban in their five borough roots and Waste as in the untapped potential of the youth amongst them. The name is etched into my and tons of others consciousness as an all-too apropos signifier of a specific time and place that continues to resonate into our modern era". -Freddy Alva, Queens, NY
KNUCKLEDUST, LONDON, UK
“The thought behind it was that when I found and actively involved myself in hardcore music all the stupid trouble and negative fighting I was getting into stopped… so I used to say hardcore caused dust to settle on my knuckles”. -Pierre Pelbu, Vocals- Knuckledust
“I remember when I first heard the Knuckledust name. I thought that's some London gangsta rap and wasn't much interested in finding out more about them… until I finally went to one of their shows… I think it was at The Jamm, and realized how wrong I was. It's been countless gigs and hangouts since then”.
–Aga Hairesis, Photographer, London, UK
“When I first heard the name I thought they'd be an Oi band but that was the generation before. Knuckledust is like the teenage sons of the Oi scene who put on tracksuits instead of bomber jackets. Different sound but same vibe and those older Oi guys seem to love ‘em so the name's a good'un".
–Tom Barry, Dropset- Drums, London, UK
KD 2014. PHOTO BY: AGA HAIRESIS
L-R: WEMA, RAY, PIERRE, NICKY
EVERYBODY GETS HURT
Based out of Queens, NY and who did the bulk of their damage during the 1990’s. Anyone who saw them at places like Castle Heights on Northern Boulevard would agree that their name couldn’t fit their music, style and attitude any better. If you got anywhere near an EGH pit with your head not completely screwed on straight and focused there was a good chance you were gonna get hurt during their set. Even if you had those things in order there were still no guarantees as pits for their shows were at another level of brutal.
Old school hardcore band from Italy who got their start in 1981 and amazingly are still active today with a new album on the way in July. The combination of the words RAW and POWER come together for a strong name for a hardcore band that has stood the test of time.
Total time capsule mode here as these NYC punks came about just before Ronald Reagan became the 40th president of the United States in 1981. Outside of Murphy’s Law on their song "California Pipeline" punk rock hated Reagan with countless songs popping up rallying against him during his time in office. Naming their band Reagan Youth was a bold move that probably saw them catch a lot of flack when they started out. The 2017 equivalent would be Trump Youth and if an anti-Trump band like that were to form they surely would be in shitstorms left and right having to explain themselves and their choice of name till they become blue in the face.
MODERN LIFE IS WAR
One of the most creative names on this list with a built in message that draws you in every time you look at one of their records. To me the use of the term war in their name probably relates more to a mental war than actual bullets, bombs, and soldiers laying down their lives. Each generation before us has had their struggles but what makes modern day life more of a mental war is the way life has changed with the rise of the Internet and how we receive the news about the world around us. Heated elections, racial strife, international conflict, refugees in distress, hunger, poverty and more are not new problems to the human race. Modern life and being so dependant on getting information, news and entertainment from the internet can have this way of making you feel like you are in a pressure cooker 24/7, especially when you don't know if the information you are getting is pure or fabricated and if fabricated.. to what degree. A very thought provoking name to say the least.
MLIW PHOTO BY: KEN PENN
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY
Formed in 1982 in North Carolina with punk and hardcore roots; this band name just jumps out at you literally saying "were just not like all the rest". Although I never caught on to the C.O.C. sound like many of my friends did growing up I have to admit that their name and iconic radioactive skull logo are supremely bad fucking ass.
FULL SCALE RIOT
Current day band out of New Jersey whose name just has that hardcore ring to it. Say it with me now... FULL… SCALE… RIOT! Hang around the hardcore scene long enough and you are bound to end up in at least one of these at some point.
TWO MAN ADVANTAGE
If you didn’t know that these guys were a hockey themed punk rock band out of Long Island with 2 singers the name might not seem so special to ‘ya… but now that you do you’re thinking to yourself “hey that name IS pretty fucking cool”.
Although I have read that the Dead Kennedys name was not made to insult the Kennedy family you still gotta admit that naming your band that is still just a straight up not giving a fuck punk rock move. Formed in San Francisco in 1978 this band name generated enough controversy that they actually played some shows under different names like The Sharks, The Creamsicles, and the Pink Twinkies... (I know... WTF?!?) Being a legendary punk rock band absolutely helps the DK's name stand out from the pack but even if this was a short lived band with not much of a history this name still would have to be included as it’s at the top of the list when it comes to attention grabbers.
ALL HONARABLE MENTIONS WRITTEN BY: CHRIS WYNNE