The Name Game: We Find out the Stories Behind Some of Nottingham’s Weird and Wonderful Band Names

Sunday 18 February 2024
reading time: min, words

Generating names is always a hard task, and when it comes to naming a band, it becomes part of your identity in a strange way. And in Nottingham, it’s safe to say we’ve got some weird and wonderful examples which really do stand out among the crowd. But not only do they stand out, they also generate mind-boggling questions… So, we thought it was time we got some answers. We asked an array of Nottingham bands to tell us the true meaning behind their names. Well, we did tell them they could make something up if they wanted to, actually. So, believe these at your own risk…

Evil Scarecrow
Choosing a band name is hard - everything is probably already taken. We approached it in a fairly drunken way, spitballing things that might make a cool logo or sound brutal. We kind of thought scarecrows were one of those lame scary-but-not-scary things. It felt reasonably suitable for a band that was kind of metal-not-metal and funny-not-funny. 

Unfortunately ‘Scarecrow’ was taken, so we need a prefix. Some 'dot voting' later, we ditched Nuclear Scarecrow, Lazer Scarecrow and even Scary Scarecrow until finally, the last thing left in the bin was Evil Scarecrow. We did have a colon in the middle of the name before the 'S' but it sometimes came out as a worried face on social media, so we ditched it.

Dura Mater
Our very own Anya Fogg (keys and vocals) first heard the term ‘Dura Mater’ while at the University of Nottingham where the band met, in a human body dissection lesson for her medicine course. Alongside the Pia Mater and the Arachnoid Mater, it is one of three layers of protection around the brain. We debated each of these for the band, as the evocation of anatomical diagrams appealed to us, but in the end, we decided that Dura Mater, meaning ‘Tough Mother’ in Latin, was the best fit for the eclectic art-rock music we were creating. 

Between the eight of us, the nod to our own mothers can refer to anything, from our appreciation of their tenacity to them being the inspiration behind some of our most forlorn and indignant lyrics. We had a tight deadline for choosing a name when our first gig at the student bar, Mooch, was approaching, and it’s funny seeing it now on T-shirts being sold at Rock City just over one year later. We pronounce it “Dyoor-uh May-tuh” but we’ve heard every variation of phonetics by now – even our drummer Alex resolutely maintains the first way he ever said it, but we never can get everyone to agree on anything. 

Wizards Can’t Be Lawyers
The name behind Wizards Can’t Be Lawyers is based on true events, of course. It all began with a confused man of trivial relation to one of our members. This man was a practising lawyer, but he also firmly believed he had mystical powers. The topic came up in pub-time conversation and a justifiably doubtful pint-drinker scoffed, “That’s ridiculous, wizards can’t be lawyers.”

So, now it is the name of our band and a strong opinion we all hold. We are willing to be convinced otherwise, however, if wizards do exist among lawyers, we think it would be rather unfair to the Judicial Systems of the world… But maybe that’s how so many oily, unctuous bureaucrats slip through the net with their dodgy tax evasion. If anyone knows any wizards that are also lawyers, please do let us know…

Cheap Dirty Horse
A crass pun? Absolutely not! And, of course, it had nothing to do with both Cheap Horse and Dirty Horse already being taken. Where did it come from then? Well… There was this mischievous squirrel who we always saw outside Magnet Studios. Every time we nipped out for a break, there it was. We didn’t want to scare it off, so we’d always try to stay super quiet. We wouldn’t chat, we’d just stand there, as still as we could. Then one day, when we came out for some fresh air, the mischievous squirrel was gone. 

We were devastated. We’d become accustomed to the little guy. But we were also happy that it meant we could have a natter without disturbing anyone. How about Mitch and The Hedbergs? asked Ellen. Nah that sucks, said James, we should be called Don’t Suc- His mouth dropped. We were staring at an army of squirrels. Thousands of them. Organised, like starlings, into three clear words: Cheap Dirty Horse.

Express Office Portico
When we started the band, we wanted to acknowledge the city that we come from. So, what better way than to choose a landmark? ‘The Council House’ or ‘Trent Bridge’ didn’t quite have the ring to it we were hoping for. But after stumbling across an article on author-illustrator Carol Adlam, which contained cartoon images of places and buildings in Nottingham, we found our landmark, the ‘Express Office Portico’.

The building can be found on Upper Parliament Street and is the entrance to the old newspaper distribution office for the Nottingham Daily Express early in the Twentieth Century. Its design is one of many across the city by Watson Fothergill, whose architecture is celebrated to this day, with tours of his work including a stop off at the ‘Express Office Portico’. The tour guide has even told us herself that she can’t believe someone would name a band after that landmark. But what better way to link ourselves to the city, ey? The most off-the-wall connection possible.

Bored Marsh
It was always on a long list that we had made, but it just completely stood out compared to all the others. It’s just Nottingham – and we wanted that local affiliation. People from Notts know what it is, but everybody else just sees it as a band name. 

And I like the fact it’s a play on words with ‘Bored’, it’s just how everyone’s feeling about Broadmarsh – how they have been for the past twenty years.

The name came from an advertising war between detergent manufacturers in the nineties, who promised extravagant ways to get your whites ‘whiter than white’ (whatever that means).

Until one promised that their brand came with added 'fatdigester’, which we borrowed and with twisted logic, applied to a band that promotes inclusivity, from a brand promising they would make everything white. If that makes sense. It did then, at least. And it’s too late now! 

I used to work in a vintage shop in Nottingham. Weekdays would be pretty dead, so me and my friend Gemma used to make up fake band names and write nonsense lyrics to entertain ourselves. Catmilk was one of the favourites that never went away. 

When I stopped being a solo artist and formed my lovely band I threw it into the ring. Everyone loved it and it confused my Gran so I knew it was right. It generated the eternal question: "Sooo… is it the milk OF the cat or the milk FOR the cat?" Who knows. Only the cats know.

Airport Dad
Airport Dad comes from a long running joke that we think sums us up as people. The name Airport dad started from an inside joke that we all had about our lead Guitarist, George, as every time we were due to play a gig, he would be stressed out and making sure we had everything (just like airport dads do). When we started the band in 2022, we were originally called Citrus, and we knew we wanted to change it at some point. 

When we were in the recording process for our song Brighter Days, the discussion of band names came up, and George was in full Airport Dad mode, and we laughed about it for a few moments, then we all agreed it was a pretty catchy name, and it was then that Airport Dad fully formed and we’ve never looked back since.

The Cost of Loving
I’m a big fan of The Style Council and they have an album called The Cost of Loving, so that’s where the phrase first came to me. I always appreciate lyrics and titles involving wordplay, probably because I was a fan of rap music in my teens. 

‘The cost of living’ has been a media buzz phrase in the last year or so, but aside from that I like the meaning of the pun. Our music nods (sort of ironically) towards new romantic bands. I read it as an anti-austerity phrase, and a criticism of our current, loveless government… so it works with our politics as well!

We have a favour to ask

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion

Please note, we migrated all recently used accounts to the new site, but you will need to request a password reset

Sign in using

Or using your

Forgot password?

Register an account

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.

Forgotten your password?

Reset your password?

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.