The Leopard Number (and other modern musical outfits)

Those who know me well (all four of you) will understand me when I say that popular music is ‘not my thing’. I cannot wrap my elastic mind around its squalling guitars and thumping drums; its precious bleeps and piercing beats; its mawkish melodies and cumbersome chord changes. The only interest I have in modern music, really, lies in the literature that surrounds it: the words with which we choose to describe it – or, more often than not, the words with which it chooses to describe itself.

To note one example: band names. These have always fascinated me. Writers, bless them, tend to produce art under their own names. Sometimes they opt for pseudonyms – but these are rarely imaginative. George Orwell is better than Eric Blair, but not much better. ‘Sir Eric and the Beefsteaks’ on the other hand… But I am getting ahead, aside, or somewhere askance of myself. To put it briefly: band names reveal an intriguing literary bent, regardless of what it is they stand for (most of which is, to my own dear ears, unbearable).

Some band names, of course, reveal a very obvious debt to literature. ‘Eyeless in Gaza’ is the name of one such musical outfit. To cite a more recent example, I hear that an Icelandic foursome have named themselves ‘Gdansk Haunting’ in honour of Wdj Szesz. Long may such partnerships – arms stretched from one art form to another – continue.

With this in mind, allow me to make a proposal. I have, as you will have noted, recently re-published a set of ‘intercuttings’ by Pierre Monceau and Jean-Pierre Sertin, all of which come with intriguing two-word titles. My wife’s nephew (who is infinitely more ‘hip’ than I am, or will ever be) has pointed out to me that many of these titles would work equally well as names for modern musical outfits. I am inclined to agree. My proposal, therefore, is this: should any young band/solo performer/instrumental group feel themselves in need of a new name, perhaps they might like to consider the following options:

Leopard Number

Frippery Beads

Cabinet Light

Seven Uncles

See here for still more.


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