1. Project – this not only makes it sound like a school assignment, it’s also oddly popular with anything remotely related to prog rock. Example: Alan Parsons Project
2. Group – if you have to explain that the small ensemble of people you have on stage with you is called a “group,” then your fans aren’t very smart and neither are you. Example: Michael Schenker Group
3. Experience – Only Jimi Hendrix is badass enough to use this, sorry. Once somebody that good takes on a descriptive name like that, nobody else should even think of ‘borrowing’ it.
Example: Jimi Hendrix Experience
4. Band – As in, “The Joe Smith Band,” and so on. If you’re good enough to put your name on the band, just pitch it as a solo act and let the other guys be your backing band without having to explain that you are a band. Example: The Dave Matthews Band
5. Having a person’s name when that person isn’t in the band – If I go see the Joe Smith band, there better be a guy named Joe Smith in the band. If there isn’t, whoever the lead singer is will forever be referred to as Joe Smith anyway, regardless of his real name. See Darius Rucker, who’s forever getting referred to as, “Hootie.” Example: Marshall Tucker Band, Freddy Jones Band
6. Numbers – It was Bob Seger who sang, “Feel Like a Number,” but there are too many bands with only numerals for names, and even more that use numbers in part of their names. If you can’t think of a good enough sequence of words to name yourselves, throwing in a number seems like a good idea, I guess. Examples: 112, Sum 41, Matchbox 20
7. Geographical destinations – If you name your band after a continent, country, state, or city, chances are you suck. One look at the track record is all you need. Examples: Asia, Atlanta, Boston, Europe, etc.
8. Sentences – not the word “sentences,” but a name that is actually a sentence. This is most common in the irony-riddled world of indie rock. Save the prose for your songs, not the clear, concise front that you want people to remember after the gig. Example: When People Were Shorter and Lived Near The Water, This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, …And They Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.
9. Crew – Unless you’re in a rowboat or on a naval vessel, you and your garage band are not a “Crew.” Usually this is used by rappers, however, not rock bands. Example: The Rocksteady Crew, 2 Live Crew.
10. Any Color – Like numbers, colors can be used as a crutch to make the band sound more interesting than they are—it’s also a conceit that’s been used way too much over the years. This one’s tougher to judge, but about half the time if there’s a color in the name, the band sucks. Examples: Blue Murder, Green Day, etc.