by Jay Tilles
Sure, bands could just call themselves by the names their parents gave them. But what fun is that?
Every year we look forward to receiving summer festival line-ups with anticipation—knowing many will contain a potpourri of interestingly named artists we’ve never heard of. That, in turn, will stir debate over whether said bands can even be real.
But it wasn’t until realizing that no less than three bands had named themselves after notable lines or characters from The Goonies that my quest to find more flick-inspired-rockers became real.
Below is a partially comprehensive list of bands whose monikers draw inspiration from movies. Sure, there are many smaller, lesser known bands like the Copperpot Journals, [yet another Goonies reference] but we’re not going to cover those—just the acts you’ve heard of, or that we hope you’ve heard of.
Named after the character “Dr. Durand Durand” in the 1968 French-Italian science fiction film Barbarella. Played by scantily clad Jane Fonda, Barbarella is sent on a mission to find the doctor, causing his name to be repeated dozens of times.
Originally calling themselves FOI: Force of the Imperial Master, RZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard adopted the moniker of Wu-Tang Clan after the 1983 martial arts film Shaolin and Wu Tang, which chronicles the rivalry between the martial arts schools Shaolin and Wu Tang. The group’s first album 1993 debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was even divided into Shaolin and Wu-Tang sections.
The pop punk band from Santa Barbara named themselves after a line by Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Frustrated with Han Solo, she says to the outlaw, “Why you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!”
“It’s a slight change of a line from Pirates of the Caribbean,” singer Oliver Sykes sold Spin in 2010. “Right at the end of the film—it might even be the very last line—Johnny Depp says, ‘Bring me that horizon.’ Inspired by the line, Sykes explained that at the time he was still living with his parents, yet obsessed with touring and traveling the world. “We never thought doing that was possible, but that’s what we wanted to do. So that quote sort of stands in for our feeling of wanting to see what the planet had to offer.”
Disbanding in 2002, followed by a feud over the band name in 2013, the Orange County ska band drew their name from the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The popular John Hughes film followed the day in the life of Ferris Bueller, a quick-witted high school senior.
Originally calling themselves Ed Rooney, the Los Angeles rock band named themselves after the bumbling principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Yup, that makes at least two bands named after film.
The Chicago alternative outfit named themselves after the selfish, spoiled little girl who in Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. British actress Julie Dawn Cole famously brought Veruca Salt’s written character to life in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.