Anonymous Band

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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A rock band that doesn't advertise the identities of its musicians. How far this goes can vary: Some bands will just use pseudonyms in the album liner notes, but make no effort to disguise themselves in music videos or live shows. Other bands will be complete Reclusive Artists who hide their faces at every live show and only answer to obvious stage names. For the purposes of this trope, either extreme (or anything in between) counts.

Not to be confused with a Fake Band. In a Fake Band, an anonymous (and often-rotating) group of studio musicians provide the music, while a set of actors or cartoon characters provides the public face. In an Anonymous Band, the band's public face are the people making the music—they just won't tell you their names.

Examples of Anonymous Band include:

  • The Traveling Wilburys would be a "not fooling anyone" example. The liner notes list all the musicians as members of the extended Wilbury family, but due to the album photos and music videos, they're better known as "that Supergroup with Harrison, Petty, Dylan, Orbison, and that guy from Electric Light Orchestra."
  • The Swirling Eddies: Had ridiculous pseudonyms like Camarillo Eddy, Gene Pool, and Burger Roy Al. Actual identities: The members of Daniel Amos, plus friends like Gene Eugene and Mike Roe.
  • Neon Horse: Supposedly a group of anonymous musicians fronted by Norman Horse (who at one point was stated to be Moe, the fictional founder of the Moe's Southwest Grill restaurant chain). Norman was also the only musician to show up in their music videos—he wore wigs and heavy makeup. Actual identities: Norman is Mark Salomon of The Crucified and Stavesacre; the other members are Jason Martin of Starflyer 59 and Stephen Dail of Project 86.
  • Almonzo: Contributed odd tracks to compilations from Southern-California-based indie labels, and went by names from Little House on the Prairie. Actual identities: No one knows.
  • Project 86: A partial example. The album Picket Fence Cartel doesn't give any information about band members, but all their prior albums did. Since their drummer—Alex Albert—left beforehand, the identity of the drummer on the new album is completely unknown.
  • Jandek: The label, Corwood Industries, presents the music as if it were the creation of an anonymous collective. The guy who shows up to play live shows is referred to as "a representative of Corwood Industries". Actual identity: All evidence points to it being Sterling Smith, who is also the sole employee of Corwood.
  • The Dukes of Stratosphear, a psychedelic band comprising The Red Curtain, Lord Cornelius Plum, Sir John Johns and E.I.E.I. Owen. Actual identity: XTC.
  • TISM (or This Is Serious Mum): An Australian band whose members all conceal their faces and perform under obvious pseudonyms.
  • Slipknot. On-stage, the members wear masks and use numerals as aliases.
  • Lordi, a Finnish hard rock band who always wear masks when they appear in public and are only known by aliases.
  • Similarly, their predecessors GWAR were never seen out of character much of their early career (though, even the pre-internet days a dedicated fan could find out their real names, or you know, just read the credits on their home videos). They eventually dropped it and now give interviews and appearances either way (depending on what the interviewer wants ie, a "serious" interview about the band and their history, or Oderus ranting and being wacky).
  • The Protomen's members go by code names in all appearances and interviews, including in their liner notes, and most of them wear silver facepaint during concerts.
  • The Residents, who appear for live performances, music videos, and promo photos in masks or other face-concealing costumes (usually four eyeballs in top hats, or more recently three eyeballs in top hats and a skull). They also don't even use specific aliases, although once the vocalist adopted the skull mask he became known as Mr. Skull. As far as autographs go, if all four members sign something, it'll read "Residents", "A Resident", "Mr. Resident" and "Mr. Skull".
  • Killwhitneydead, in their early days.
  • Country Music group Chuck Wagon and the Wheels was formed as a band with a wrestling theme; its members were purported wrestler/singers named Chuck Wagon, Carl "Cal" Pyle and Sid Sequin. In Real Life, they were respectively brothers Gordon, Shelby and Wayne Kennedy. Gordon is a country and pop songwriter (Eric Clapton's "Change the World") and a former member of the Christian band White Heart, Bryan wrote several songs for Garth Brooks and Shelby co-wrote Reba McEntire's "I'm a Survivor".
  • Trailer Choir refers to its members as Butter, Big Vinny and Crystal. Real names? Mark Fortney, Vinny Hickerson, Crystal Hoyt.
  • Major Organ and the Adding Machine is a supergroup containing members of the Elephant 6 Collective, led by a possibly fictional character named Major Organ. Among the suspected performers are members or former members of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Olivia Tremor Control, The Apples in Stereo, Elf Power, and Of Montreal. Only one album, a Self-Titled Album, was released.
  • Mr. Bungle used aliases on their first album and their earliest concerts were performed in masks. Eventually they dropped the anonymity (possibly because everybody could tell the singer was Mike Patton anyway).
  • Viral music/visual project Iamamiwhoami, although the main participant is Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee. Claes Björklund is probably also involved, and the most likely suspect for "Captain Underpants".
  • Man or Astro-man? are a borderline example—their real names were never a secret, but they never went by those names on stage or on a record. The three regular members went by the identities of Birdstuff, Starcrunch, and Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard; other guitarists they played with over the years included Dr. Deleto, Victor Vector, and Cap'n Zeno.
  • Experimental music collective Caroliner are one of these... among other things.
  • Prince's jazz-tinged side project Madhouse would have all songs credited to Madhouse itself. During live performances, Prince and members of his own band would wear large baggy clothing and sunglasses to remain anonymous.
  • The Boomtown Rats experimented with this in their very early days, each member picking a different and increasingly ludicrous stage name for every club gig. They'd abandoned this practice by the time they hit the bigtime, but bassist Patrick "Pete Briquette" Cusack and keyboardist John "Johnny Fingers" Moylett kept their Stage Names throughout the band's existence.
  • Japanese band Greeeen. They use aliases (like many Japanese band members do) and don't show their faces in public, as all four members are licensed dentists (having formed the band while they were in dental college together) and don't want their fame to interfere with their practices.
  • The faux-Arabian band Gröûp X, best known for their "Mario Twins" video.
  • The Vulgar Boatmen were/was a single guy who created/recorded all the music, and hired two separate touring bands to be "The Vulgar Boatmen" on the road (while he stayed home). Not a Fake Band because the creator wasn't trying to fool anybody; he was just being postmodern about the whole "band identity" thing.
  • There is a Portugese Black Metal band whose members are not only anonymous (which is rather common in Black Metal), but do not even provide pseudonyms; neither have they named the band or its works. They are usually referred to as "Unknown Artist".
  • "Carmen Castro". She's appeared on tracks by several house musicians, but absolutely nothing is known about her. Weirdly, every single "Carmen Castro" track sounds like it's being sung by a different person. Her (their?) collaborator Mr. Oizo confirmed it's a pseudonym, but won't say anything else except "she's blonde".
  • The L.A.-based collective Fol Chen wear masks or raccoon-mask makeup in their public appearances, and most of them have pseudonyms to at least make it harder to track their real identities.