WHAT'S WHAT WITH AUSTRALIAN ROCK? (2020): Bizarre band names from across the Tasman

 |   |  3 min read

WHAT'S WHAT WITH AUSTRALIAN ROCK? (2020): Bizarre band names from across the Tasman
The place was some time in the Eighties and the time was a pub in suburban Sydney . . . and yes, that's how confused the memory is.

But something comes through clearly, the band playing that night were called Nuns in Traction.

I don't know that they played that often, or even ever again.

They just joined that long list of bands with names like A Couple of Jugs of Cold Pork Fat who I heard about but never saw.

I regret that, I think I would have had a good time.

There's something about the way bands name themselves in Australia. Bizarre, offensive, inscrutable . . . and often very funny.

Here follows just a few of them collected for your amusement.

The_encyclopedia_of_australian_rock_and_pop_coverAnd Elsewhere is unashamedly indebted to Ian McFarlane's excellent The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop (Allen and Unwin, 1999) for doing the research which we plunder but acknowledge here.

So here, in no particular order (although there are some very weird ones at the end), are bizarre band names from across the Tasman.

Feel free to tell us others . . .


  • The Fish John West Reject. Brilliant name. Albums were Swim and Fin.

  • Freaked Out Flower Children. Early Nineties band fronted by Gumpy Phillips. Also in the line-up was actress and TV presenter Sophie Lee (Flying Doctors)

  • The Kevins

  • Kiss My Poodles Donkey. Second album was New Hope for the Dead

  • Ku Klux Frankenstein

  • Acuff's Rose (one for you country lovers to get a laugh out of). Line-up included ex-Triffid David McComb

  • Bachelors from Prague. Retro-jazz and r'n'b out of Melbourne

  • The Band Who Shot Liberty Valance. Included members who had been in I Spit on Your Gravy, The Gravybillies and Corpse Grinders. Their debut album in '88 was Outlaw Death Lager Drinkers from Hell .A couple of them went on to The Brady Bunch Lawnmower Massacre.

  • Craven Fops

  • The Bhagavad Guitars

  • The Bondi Cigars. Apparently a colloquialism meaning shit floating in the sea at Sydney's most famous beach

  • Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band. Very famous jug band in the late Sixties. Members went to the Sports, Mondo Rock and others

  • Chocolate Starfish. Long before Limp Bizkit's album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water (2000) was this Melbourne band who made their name with their rocked-out cover of Carly Simon's You're So Vain and notoriety attached to the shit reference of their name

  • Lawson Square InfirmaryScreen_Shot_2020_05_09_at_5.01.35_PM

  • The Elois. Garageband punk from the Sixties. Other bands at the time were the Morlocks, the Creatures, the Missing Links (a theme emerging?) and the Running Jumping Standing Still.

  • Exploding White Mice. Albums included A Nest of Vipers, Brute Force and Ignorance and Collateral Damage. Not a folk group

  • Fester Fanatics

  • Le Club Foote. Included comedian Kim Gyngell (aka Col'n Carpenter) on keyboards

  • Lubricated Goat. Band included Stu Spasm and Tex Perkins. In a TV episode of Blah Blah Blah dealing with censorship they performed their song In the Raw naked. Outrage and headlines ensued.

  • Makers of the Dead Travel Fast. Experimental outfit from Sydney whose peers included →↑→

  • Matt Finish

  • Happy Hate Me Nots. In the same Sydney punk scene as Box of Fish, World War XXIV and Suicide SquadScreen_Shot_2020_05_09_at_4.58.21_PM

  • The Hekawis. Makes sense when you think of someone on stage saying “We're the Hekawis”. (In a 'Strine accent, maayt)

  • The Mad Turks from Istanbul

  • JFK and the Cuban Crisis

  • The Mighty Reapers of Vengeance

  • My Friend the Chocolate Cake

  • North 2 Alaskans. (One for film fans)

  • The Psychotic Turnbuckles. Their three main inspirations apparently were Wrestlemania, Bugs Bunny and Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators. “A pure cartoon creation, the Banana Splits of Australian rock'n'roll” says McFarlane

  • Sons of the Vegetal Mother

  • Zambian Goat Herders.

And that seems a good place to end this. (And we didn't even mention This is Serious Mum or the Fuck Fucks.)

What can you say about Australian musicians?

That they're mental as anything?

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Something articles index

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, THIS LAND IS . . . (2011): New Zealand in the eye of the beholder

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, THIS LAND IS . . . (2011): New Zealand in the eye of the beholder

Some many decades ago, after my dad and I had returned from an extended overseas trip, we were having dinner with some friends of my parents. At some point one of the guests – perhaps... > Read more

THE ORANGE BALLROOM (2016): The dance begins again

THE ORANGE BALLROOM (2016): The dance begins again

The actual name of the place is the Orange Coronation Hall and it was the lodge for the Irish Protestant Orangemen in Auckland. But everyone knows it as the Orange Ballroom, the name apparently... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

CONGRATULATION MR BEETHOVEN AND THE APO (2019): Sharing a birthday year

CONGRATULATION MR BEETHOVEN AND THE APO (2019): Sharing a birthday year

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra looks like having a big double-banger bash in 2020 when it celebrates its own 40thbirthday (life begins at 40, right?) and ol' Ludwig Van's 250th. Beethoven... > Read more

NEW ZEALAND JAZZ LIFE by NORMAN MEEHAN

NEW ZEALAND JAZZ LIFE by NORMAN MEEHAN

Presented like a piece of jazz – themes laid out and explored, then space for soloists to let their distinct voices be heard – this tight 240-page paperback is an important and very... > Read more