Novel Band Names (Part 1)


A surprising amount of bands have named themselves directly from literary sources. Belle & Sebastian got their name from the Cecile Aubry novel

karol cetinsky

“House of Dolls” is a 1955 novella by Ka-tzetnik 135633. The novella describes “Joy Divisions”, which were allegedly groups of Jewish women in the concentration camps during World War II who were kept for the sexual pleasure of Nazi soldiers. Joy Division were of course named after the book.


“Mott the Hoople” is a 1966 novel by Willard Manus, now out of print and best remembered as providing the name for an English rock group of the early 1970s.


“The Soft Machine” is a novel by William S. Burroughs, first published in 1961, two years after his groundbreaking Naked Lunch, and heavily revised for editions published in 1966 and 1968.


The New York band The Velvet Underground, founded in 1965, was named after the book. Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison’s friend, filmmaker Tony Conrad, found a copy lying in the street. Morrison has reported the group liked the name, considering it evocative of “underground cinema,” and fitting, due to Reed’s already having written “Venus in Furs”, inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s book of the same name, dealing with sado-masochism.

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