Thee ____ing _____s
August 3, 2005 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Why are there so many (relatively speaking) bands with names that begin with Thee? And who started it?
posted by mookieproof to Media & Arts (22 answers total)
Do you mean "The?" The only band I can think of that starts with "thee" is "Thee Headcoats."
posted by keswick at 11:09 AM on August 3, 2005

Nardwuar the Human Serviette started it.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2005

back in the 60s, there was a british band called Thee that played what we would nowadays call, "garage rock." if you'll notice, a lot of the bands with the Thee (most notable my faves, Thee Headcoatees) have a similar sound.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2005

This is interesting to me, too. There's a local act here that starts with Thee and for the longest time I thought they'd made a typo on "Three" and stuck with it (there are three of them). A google search for 'thee band" turns up this link that has a couple theories.
posted by krix at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2005

Oldest one I can think of is Thee Midniters from the 60s.

It makes me think of Billy Childish though (Thee Headcoats, Thee Headcoatees, Thee Mighty Ceasars).
posted by aiko at 11:14 AM on August 3, 2005

I, too, thought of Billy Childish.
posted by box at 11:34 AM on August 3, 2005

Silver Mt. Zion does it - of course, they change their name with every release, but on their most recent release, Horses in the Sky, they were calling themselves Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band. Who started it? I'm curious too... Love their music, but the 'thee' annoys me.
posted by ubersturm at 11:39 AM on August 3, 2005

Yeah, Thee Midniters was the first; the odd spelling was to differentiate them from Hank Ballard's group The Midnighters (see this LA Times interview with their leader, Willie Garcia). They were a great band, heroes of the "Eastside" Chicano sound, but the highest they got on the charts was #67 in March '65 with a cover of Chris Kenner's "Land of a Thousand Dances." (They had a great instrumental "Whittier Blvd" later that year.) I believe the "Thee" fad spread first to other Chicano groups and then to garage bands generally. There's a discussion of the "Thee" phenomenon at Language Log, but it's oriented toward linguistics rather than rock history, of which one of their correspondents shows a lamentable ignorance ("They may have recorded the first version of "Land of 1000 Dances"...).
posted by languagehat at 11:51 AM on August 3, 2005

There was a phase of this in the UK in the 80s, following Genesis P. Orridge's Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth. Porridge used 'thee' quite a lot anyway. There was some theory behind it, something to do with the power of language; I think he may have got it from Burroughs. It was everywhere for a short while, including Brighton, where I used to live.

Another one: J-pop funsters Thee Machine Gun Elephant

On preview ...
posted by carter at 11:56 AM on August 3, 2005

Also Thee Missouri, though I don't know a thing about them other than the name of one song, "You and Voodoo."
posted by attercoppe at 12:02 PM on August 3, 2005

I third Genesis P. Orridge and Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth.

See also: Thee Psychick Warriors of Gaia, Thee Notorious 23

In relation to Genesis P. Orridge, it is probably (possibly annoying) Burroughsian word play. Psychologically, it probably has something to do with empowerment of individuals, individual sovereignity, and certainly a bit of melodramaticness. Also in the TOPY vein, an extra "e" in weird places is a reference to 'energy'.
posted by loquacious at 12:20 PM on August 3, 2005

There was a range of other re-spellings, if I recall. Various industrial/noise zines used to publish long interviews with Porridge littered with these.
posted by carter at 12:31 PM on August 3, 2005

Surely it's just to guide the pronunciation of the name? Sometimes people simply want to override the conventional linguistic rules for thee [vowel] versus the [consonant]. Take Thee More Shallows, for instance: with a The, not a Thee, they're going to be called Thuh More Shallows. Which doesn't sound very good. Similarly with other bands: Thuh Headcoats just doesn't sound as cool. And since someone's done it, it becomes more acceptable for others.
posted by nylon at 1:01 PM on August 3, 2005

Thee Shams are on the bandwagon, too. (Not that I knew there was a bandwagon before today.)
posted by stefanie at 1:12 PM on August 3, 2005

Then you have Th' Faith Healers, who claimed that their 'e' had been stolen by Thee Hypnotics...
posted by xil at 1:26 PM on August 3, 2005

I totally need to start a band now just so I can call it "Thee Might Be Giants"
posted by Robot Johnny at 1:48 PM on August 3, 2005

Thee Dollhouse is a strip club in Raleigh, NC.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 2:01 PM on August 3, 2005

Thee _____ing _______s

Are you going for Thee Speaking Canaries here?

Either way, they are another band that occasionally uses "Thee" for pronunciation--see nylon's answer.
posted by njm at 5:10 PM on August 3, 2005

ps. carter, it's Michelle Gun, not Machine Gun
pps. it helps with the Thee vs. Thuh to put pause everso slightly after the Thee and put strong emphasis on the word following it, like an over-the-top compere. And this is the subtlety about the difference in pronunciation. Compare Thuh Headcoats (boring) to (ladies'n'gentlemen) Thee - Headcoats (exciting, dramatic, suspenseful).
Similary, Thuh Michellegunelephant versus Thee...MiCHELLE Gun Elephant.
It's a stylistic thing.
posted by nylon at 6:54 PM on August 3, 2005

Ack, yes.
posted by carter at 10:36 PM on August 3, 2005

Around here, it seems to be *strip joints* that have ePlethora.
posted by baylink at 3:39 PM on August 4, 2005

« Older Help me help my junipers   |   Things to do in Buenos Aires Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.