Thursday, June 23, 2011

Skunk Baxter: What it is, what it has been, what it was

How does one arrive upon a band name?  We have had the same band for nearly ten years, and at this point we are stuck with it.  If we change it now, we will have to call ourselves, "the band formerly known as Skunk Baxter".  So be careful what name you choose for your band. 

Our first name was "El Nino" which we thought would be a nifty social & environmental comment at the time.  Plus we felt it was necessary to face our fears about tropical storms in a constructive way.  But after a short while it was  Then we came up with "Solomon Grundy" which is based on the classic nursery rhyme, and it has a sort of punk quality to it.  Puts the brevity of life in its proper perspective, particularly when you are young and living in between the umbilical of a suburban cocoon and the wide world on your own for the first time.  We also knew Solomon Grundy was a villain in some old Batman comics, and we were big Kevin Smith fans and Kevin Smith was all about the comic books and their nerdy coolness.  

You're thinking, this is a band name right?  Well, turns out it already was.  We came up with it totally on our own, but unfortunately there already was a Solomon Grundy from Seattle that had some minor success with the one album they released in 1990.  So that was that. 

Anthony, our guitarist, came up with Skunk Baxter.  In the calculus of his mind, Skunk Baxter is the coolest band name ever, even better than Lars Ulrich (which admittedly is an excellent heavy metal name, while the Skunk is more up our alley).  We had heard Pearl Jam had wanted to call themselves Mookie Blaylock before they came up with Pearl Jam, so there was some sort of strange precedent for the idea.  The Skunkster was a guitarist who played with Jimi Hendrix, then Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers.  This guy could play, and he had a cool name that each of those three bands, and the genres they practically invented, totally dug.  Our band members bring a wide variety of musical influences to the table (blues, jazz, prog, pop) and Skunk's career seemed to cover those influences pretty well as far as we were concerned.  So given all these factors, and the fact that we thought it sounded sweet to say "Now opening for Phish, SKUNK BAXTER!!!", we decided to apply that name to our collective effort. 

However, over the years we have faced many a moment where we tell people our name, and they ask "Does that mean you stink?  Heh, heh."  Or "Why do you have 'skunk' in your name?"  Or "Were you unable to get permission from Warner Brothers for Pepe Le Pew?"  Sages of the local hipster scene have sauntered up to my side and counseled, "Dude, you guys sound great, but lose the name."  Too late.  At this point, Skunk Baxter is our band name, and we are stuck together now.

Perhaps the name has held us back over the years from some sort of unspecified "glory" or "fame" but I doubt it.  Our name is our name - it is as much a part of us as our music, and the members who make up the group.  To those who say "lose the name", I say to you thanks for your advice.  Our name is our identity, and we as a band are brothers on a journey of musical discovery - all for one & one for all.  We stand by our decision. 

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