It's usually pretty easy to tell what a band's musical influences are. Every thrash riff can be traced back to the Big 4, bouncy mosh parts come from NYHC, and melodeath riffery hail from Sweden. But when it comes to a group's musical inspiration for their band name, that can sometimes be incredibly tricky to identify, largely, because the influence can often be way more left-field.
From the heavy-metal titans who dubbed themselves after a folk troubadour's tune, to the progcore band who found their moniker in the pages of a roots-rock band's lyric sheet — here are 15 great bands who got their names from other artists' songs.
Namesake Song: Poison - "Talk Dirty to Me"
You'd never guess it from their music, but post-hardcore heroes At the Drive-In take their moniker from a most unlikely source: Eighties hair-metal radio-rulers Poison. Yeah, really. See the line "I gotta touch you/Cause baby we'll be/At the drive-in," from the song "Talk Dirty to Me."
Had singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala had his way, the group might have been named after a way more fitting source: the Bad Brains' "At the Movies." But co-founding guitarist Jim Ward won out, and the rest — as they say — is history.
Namesake Song: Ramones - "Bad Brain"
Had At the Drive-In opted for a Bad Brains-inspired name, they would have been continuing in the spirit of the hardcore pioneers' own moniker, which was taken from a song by one of their heroes. Originally a jazz fusion outfit called Mind Power, the D.C. rabble-rousers eventually got their hands on a copy of the Ramones' 1978 LP, Road to Ruin, sped the tune "Bad Brain" up to 78 RPM on their turntable, discovered the fast-as-fuck sound they'd been yearning for — and their new name, as well.
Namesake Song: Counting Crows - "Ghost Train"
Who'da thunk that the progressive metalcore pros Between the Buried and Me would harvest their moniker from a song by Nineties roots rockers Counting Crows? Look no further than the group's 1993 deep cut "Ghost Train," which contains the lyric "Fifty million feet of earth between the buried and me."
"For me, it has a positive message," singer Tommy Rogers said of the band name in a 2007 interview. "It's what we do between now and when we die." BTBAM would consecrate the Counting Crows influence on their covers album, The Anatomy of, taking on a different song, "Colorblind."
Namesake Song: Melvins - "Boris"
This one makes perfect sense. Japanese trio Boris are uncompromisingly eclectic — squirming between noise-metal, drone, post-rock, psych and more — and impossible to define. So are sludge/grunge godfathers the Melvins, whose eight-and-a-half-minute steamroller "Boris" served as a great creative jumping-off point.
Namesake Song: Misfits - "Hatebreeders"
As Jamey Jasta explained concisely in a 2017 interview of Hatebreed's Walk Among Us namesake: "We just took off the 'E, R, S.'" As simple as that might sound, the moniker did cause some confusion in 2012, when CNN wrongly lumped Jasta's group in with "white-power hardcore bands," thinking the name meant the band was intent on breeding racial hatred. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. "Our music brings people of all races together all over the world," Hatebreed responded, demanding a retraction — which they swiftly received.
Namesake Song: Bob Dylan - "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"
Bob Dylan's folksy wisdom is hardly the first thing that comes to mind when Rob Halford screeches onstage on a motorcycle and starts belting like one of Satan's angels over dueling guitar licks — but perhaps it should be. Turns out, the metal gods — specifically, OG bassist Bruno Stapenhill — found their iconic name in the title of a rambling one-take that the Bard laid down in 1967. The vibe Stapenhill was looking for? Something akin to Black Sabbath's iconic moniker.
Namesake Song: Hawkwind - "Motorhead"
In 1975, Lemmy Kilmister was booted from the jammy psych-rock band Hawkwind for doing "the wrong drugs," as he succinctly put it, so what did the freshly unemployed bassist do? He took the name of one of Hawkwind's songs (written by the man himself), added an umlaut above one "o" for good measure, and formed his own band, one that actually sounded like a sentient five-liter engine that just wanted to pur all day and night. For good measure, he also later re-recorded the song under his new banner.
Namesake Song: - Motörhead - "Overkill"
Motörhead would go on to name numerous bands in their rumbling wake. Exhibit A? Long Island thrashers Overkill. Lemmy and Co.'s pedal-to-the-floor rock & roll was what the speed-metal stalwarts built their sound around when they formed in 1980, so naturally they had to pay tribute by dubbing themselves after one of Motörhead 's biggest hits.
Namesake Song: Inside Out - "Rage Against the Machine"
Inside Out were Zack de la Rocha's short-lived hardcore band prior to RATM. While their prescient innovation on late-Eighties hardcore doesn't sound much like Rage's funky rap-rock jams, one of their unreleased tracks, "Rage Against the Machine," bore a name that was just too good to let die on the vine.
Namesake Song: Motörhead - "Dancing on Your Grave"
Flashback to the early Eighties in Brazil: A kid named Max Cavalera is listening to Motörhead's Another Perfect Day LP and, since his English isn't very good, translating the lyrics into his native Portuguese. "I came across 'Dancing on Your Grave," Cavalera recalled of the pivotal moment to Revolver. "And 'grave' [in Portuguese] is 'sepultura.' And that's how the name was born. … straight-up from Motörhead, which is pretty cool."
Namesake Song: Black Sabbath - "St. Vitus Dance"
Doom legend Scott "Wino" Weinrich's second concert ever was Black Sabbath supporting Paranoid, and to say that it made an impact on him would be a major understatement. The heavy-metal originators' stamp is all over Wino's music, from the Obsessed to Saint Vitus. The latter band even take their name from one of Ozzy, Iommi, Geezer and Ward's tunes: Vol. 4 standout, "St. Vitus Dance."
Namesake Song: Deftones - "Headup"
Having named Sepultura after a Motörhead lyrics, Max Cavalera would name his next band after a Deftones cut — one he had a major hand in. "Headup" was the first song Max wrote following his acrimonious 1996 split with Sepultura, and it was a tribute to his deceased stepson Dana Wells, who was a fan and friend of the Deftones. "Soulfly/Fly high," Cavalera roars on the song. "Soulfly/Fly free."
Namesake Song: Darkthrone - "The Pagan Winter"
It's no secret that Pantera's Philip Anselmo loves his Darkthrone. He even had a short-lived supergroup, Eibon, with the Norwegian black-metal pioneers' Fenriz (as well Satyricon's Satyr and Necrophagia's Killjoy). So when, in the early Nineties, Anselmo was brainstorming a name for a black-metal-inflected hardcore side project, he turned to a lyric in the Darkthrone song "The Pagan Winter": "United by hatred/The final superjoint ritual."
Namesake Song: Metallica - "Trapped Under Ice"
"Trapped Under Ice" isn't even close to being the best song on Ride the Lightning, but it's a cool-ass name that fits like a glove on the seminal, Justice Tripp–fronted Baltimore hardcore group. After all, their frigidly heavy bangers have names like "Stay Cold" and lyrics about heartless ice queens — "Fight Fire With Fire" wouldn't have worked.
Namesake Song: Unearth - "Endless"
"Growing wings of sorrow/Have brought you to the winds of plague." That's a seriously badass line from an early Unearth song, and one that perfectly fits the vibe of Winds of Plague's symphonic deathcore overtures, which are packed with fantasy lyrics and battle-scarred breakdowns that take their metalcore influences to another level of heaviness.