Body stuttering for breath, adrift on a warm high, metres deep in a wikihole brought on by watching Australian network television throwback TV show known as ‘Rage’ (I think it’s closest equivalent would be MTV 120 minutes, except the amazing cultural hall of mirrors policy here means that they will automatically play anything submitted by an Australian band, a challenge I hereby accept…) So anyway, I was looking up stupid bands related to the Prodigy and happened upon a nineties punk-metal band with a bassist listed only as ‘Shop.’ Wheezing, this reminded me I had always meant to collate my favourite punk names. Easy proof that it’s no accident that the first three letters of punk are pun. We all need the arcane obtuse silly fucker mentality of punk more than ever, here are eight great names and their owners. Tell me yours.
Drummer in New Zealand first wavers The Scavengers, who, as pretty much the only Auckland punks besides The Suburban Reptiles in 1977, went pretty hard with the punk names with such little competition, but look, only Des hit silly genius conceptual pay dirt. The rest of the band limply proffered, in reverse order of shitness: Johnny Volume, Ronnie Recent (Brendan Perry who’d go on to be one half of Dead can Dance, no less) Mal Licious and finally the drummer… ‘Mike Lezbian.’ Come on mate. Best Scavengers song is ‘Mysterex.’
Just forever perfect, most quotable fuck up, perfect living relic of the old New York, truly true chaos punk, and in today’s context almost repellant and cringeworthy in so many ways, but only in ways that we all are but perhaps better train ourselves to hide. Seeing her speak these days always makes me wonder if these scenes I fetishise and idolise would have actually been absolute punisher hotbeds. Think about it. Still, with lines like this, how can you resist? “I may be putting my cock on the line here, but I think we need to go directly to the source and simply get rid of God. After all, God was the first cop.”
This always struck me as an hilarious name choice until I was informed it was not really a punk name but an actual real surname. What?! A medieval English one, apparently, and thus spaketh the research: “beds were such rare things in ancient times, that to have one, was a matter of local comment to the point where the person concerned was named from this piece of furniture. Certainly early nicknames were bestowed for much less reason than this. However it also has to be said that the medieval period was renowned for its Chaucerian humour which was almost always direct, and often obscene. The first known nameholder was one John Gotobedde of Barnwell, Cambridge, in 1269.” Being sucked in again. Some years later I looked it up again and found out it technically is a punk name, given that his real name is Robert Grey…moral of the story never listen to your mates, always listen to Wire, ideally the first half of Pink Flag and the last half of Chairs Missing.
Girl genius, purveyor of plastic future, the braces and the glory. Have you ever tried to do Poly karaoke? Legitimately impossible. Poly had frequent visions and was hospitalised several times, once with a schizophrenia diagnosis. She was hit over the heat with a baseball bat in Brixton as a child. She was run over by a fire engine which shattered her pelvis as an adult. She saw bright pink glowing UFOs in the skies. If there isn’t some Hare Krishna fan fiction about Poly and Ray Cappo there should be. The ad she posted in Melody Maker (yes she initiated the band, yes it was her vision, yes yes yes) for bandmates read “’young punx who want to stick it together.”
The Feederz frontman is probably best known for wearing the corpse of a dead German Shepherd dog on stage at 924 Gilman. Slightly overdetermined situationist-wannabe antics put Frank and co into a lineage with Crass and the KLF, but let’s be real they didn’t quite have the tunes. Still, better to go down in punk history for freaking out some squares with animal shelter off-cuts than not at all.
Makes it in because I was touting this as a great unused Punk name until learning that of course, Lance played drums for the late great Vi Subversa’s Poison Girls! Vi, who I’ll talk about here because I don’t know shit about Lance (other than his real name was Gary, but middle name Lance!) was born in 1935, which I am almost certain makes her the oldest punk from that era, but I would love to hear other contenders for that title.
I swear to God, it hadn’t occurred to me how many levels this name works on until I wrote it down. Quite possibly the apotheosis of punk names? Snake man. Blower of mics. Lux on Poison Ivy “It’s hard to figure out how we’re different because we’re together all the time and we always do everything together. In a way it’s kind of one thing, me and her, but she’s also very much an individual and very strong. She grows like a tree. She’s faceted like a diamond. There’s a million sides to Ivy and I just love all of them.”
Of Rev Volting and the Backstabbers, a good example of making the most of a good name when you think of one. Sounds extra cool in a Glaswegian accent. British readers will be pleased to know Backstabbers bassist went on to appear in Scotsploitation sitcoms such as Rab C Nesbitt and Gary: Tank Commander. Looking up ol’ Rev got me on a massive Paisley punk tip (bands like XS Discharge, The Fegs, Defiant Pose) who put out a comp 7” called Ha! Ha! Funny Polis on their label… Groucho Marxist. It cannot just be me who draws strength from such beautiful wordplay. You’re welcome, friends.