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12 Bands Named After Places They're Not From: Beirut, Dresden Dolls, And More

by Joey DeGroot   Jun 29, 2014 10:03 AM EDT

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Thinking of a band name is difficult, but one of the laziest routes a band can take is naming itself after the place they come from. However, these twelve bands took a more interesting route and named themselves after places that they're not actually from.

1. Beirut

Though Beirut is technically a band, it began as the solo project of Santa Fe musician Zach Candon, who was inspired to write Balkan-inspired folk music after a trip to Eastern Europe when he was 17. Instead of naming his band after an Eastern European city like Bucharest or Belgrade, however, Condon chose to name his band after Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, which he'd never even visited.

2. Portishead

Portishead is very nearly from the town of Portishead. Though instrumentalist Geoff Barrow grew up in Portishead, the band actually formed in the city of Bristol, just eight miles away.

3. Asia

Even sixty percent of all people on Earth live in Asia, none of the members of Asia are from any country on the continent. The band Asia was a supergroup consisting of progressive rock veterans, which is about as British as you can possibly get without letting Prince Charles join.

4. Boards of Canada

This legendary ambient electronic duo isn't actually from Canada at all, but from Edinburgh, Scotland. The band takes its name from the National Film Board of Canada, a public film production company.

5. Osaka

This New Brunswick, NJ indie rock band chose to name itself after the Japanese city of Osaka, despite the fact that not a single member of the band is even of Japanese heritage.

6. Of Montreal

I'm sure Of Montreal's name helped it get some publicity back when Arcade Fire and the whole Montreal scene blew up, but the band is actually part of the Athens, Georgia Elephant 6 Collective. Its misleading name can be traced back to a girl from Montreal that frontman Kevin Barnes once dated.

7. Texas is the Reason

Texas is the Reason can be a very confusing band. Though the word "Texas" is in its name, the band is actually from New York City, but plays a style of music known as "Midwest Emo." The band's name actually comes from the chorus to the Misfits song "Bullet," about the JFK assassination, which goes, "Texas is the reason that the president's dead."

8. Japan

In its early days, new wave band Japan was much more popular in Japan than in its native England. Just imagine how many more albums the band could have sold if it had named itself "China" or "India" instead.

9. I'm From Barcelona

Despite its insistence that it's from Barcelona, not a single one of I'm From Barcelona's 29 members (that number is not exaggerated) is actually from Barcelona. The band is actually from Sweden.

10. The Dresden Dolls

Boston's Dresden Dolls chose its name for a number of artistically sound reasons, but the easiest to explain is that "Dresden Dolls" is also a song by the Fall.

11. Uncle Tupelo

The name "Uncle Tupelo" was supposedly created after selecting two random words from the dictionary, but it ended up being the perfect name for an alt-country band, even one from Illinois and not Tupelo, Mississippi.

12. Phoenix

Yes, I am very aware that Phoenix is almost definitely named after the mythical bird and not the capital city of Arizona. If the band is named for Phoenix, Arizona, however, then it would fit in with this list perfectly, since the band hails from Versailles, France.

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