Call it adoption, homage, plagiarism or appropriation, but each of these bands arrived at their names with a bit of outside help.
1. The Bilinda Butchers
Here’s a nice bit of identity theft — there’s a band in San Francisco called “The Bilinda Butchers” who stole their band name from My Bloody Valentine singer/guitarist Bilinda Butcher’s birth certificate. I came across this derivative duo when they hijacked a Google search for the actual Bilinda Butcher, so I’m not sure one could say that they’re actually “getting away with this,” as they’re seemingly an unknown band. Still worse yet, the band is a self described dream-pop band — a genre that Butcher herself helped invent. It sounds like The Bilinda Butchers should have just gone the honest route of forming a My Bloody Valentine cover band. (I should add here that My Bloody Valentine took their name from a 1981 slasher film.)
2. H.P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an American writer and pioneer of the “weird fiction” genre, known for his blend of science fiction, fantasy and what he called “cosmic horror.” His writing has had a profound influence on a few major metal bands — Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Electric Wizard have all paid homage to the author — but no one took it as far as a band from Chicago called … H.P. Lovecraft. The band’s psychedelic music was directly inspired by Lovecraft’s writing and their two albums are titled “H.P. Lovecraft” (1967), “H.P. Lovecraft II” (1968). The band broke up and reformed, dropping the “H.P.” from their name. Then in the 1970s Lovecraft branched just a little further out, calling themselves “Love Craft.”
3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Canadian post-rock collective GSY!BE are an example of a band with a borrowed name who have managed to outshine their source material — in this case a 16mm Japanese documentary from 1976 about a group of young motorcyclists who call themselves “the Black Emperors.” An online search for GSY!BE mostly brings up images of the band and their bleak artwork, which are sort of indistinguishable from stills of the film. The band’s live shows involve film projections, but the overlap between their music and their ’76 namesake ends there. These days Canada’s Godspeed have popular ownership over the the film’s title.
4. Belle & Sebastian
Belle & Sebastian are precious. Too precious. The Scottish band epitomizes the genre of “twee,” and sing quaint songs about childish obsession (“I’m a Cuckoo”) and quirky isolation (“The Stars of Track and Field”). So it comes as no surprise that the group took their name from Cecile Aubry’s 1965 children’s novel “Belle et Sebastien,” a story about a six year old boy and his dog.