What's in a name? Sometimes, not as much as you might think.
Take Flop, for example. If you didn't know better, you might think this Seattle quartet chose its moniker as an ironic comment on failure, like the way Led Zeppelin's name derived from Keith Moon's jest that the band would go over like a lead balloon.
But as guitarist Bill Campbell explains, "There was no thought put into the name, really. At the time we were getting together, we were doing it sort of as a joke."
It seems that singer Rusty Willoughby's old group had a gig lined up but disbanded before honoring the contract. "So the four of us were just some friends who decided we'd get together and learn enough songs to play the show," he says, over the phone from a tour stop in New Orleans. "We needed to come up with a name pretty much on the spot, and another friend just gave us that name.
"It just stuck," he adds. "We're forced to live with it now."
Not that the name has held the band back. Although Flop's sound is too idiosyncratic to be lumped in with what most people think of as "the Seattle sound," its sure-footed melodic sense and crunchy, clangorous guitar work give the band's current album, "Whenever You're Ready," the kind of edgy, hook-a-minute charm commonly associated with the Buzzcocks.
No surprise, then, that Campbell lists the Buzzcocks as one of the band's bigger influences -- along with Patsy Cline, David Bowie and the Beatles.
"I don't think there's really been any conscious effort to go in a specific direction," he says of the Flop sound. "We basically were influenced probably by what we listen to, and that's a pretty wide range of music. We've got a pretty eclectic collection of music in our tape box in the van."
So far, the band is doing pretty well with the new album, gaining airplay on college radio and even turning up on MTV's "120 Minutes." Even so, there have still been times when Flop has, er, flopped.
"We got booked into a club at Fayetteville, Ark.," Campbell recalls. "It was penny-pitcher night or something. So the bar was full, and the crowd was expecting a cover band that was going to play a four-hour set. And we're an original band that plays 45 minutes.
"We got to the club, and realized that they hadn't read the contract. When we explained what we were about, and they said, 'That's fine. Just try to stretch it out as long as possible. That's fine.'
"Then we played, and they basically told us to get out of their place and that we stank." He says with a laugh. "That's probably the worst thing that ever happened to us."
When: Tuesday, Feb. 8, 10 p.m.
Where: 8x10 Club
Call: (410) 625-2000 for information
Is Flop a hit? Listen to excerrpts from "whenever You're Ready and decidefor yourself by calling Sundial. The Sun's telephone information service.
at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County call 268-7736. 836-5028 in Harford County, 848-0338 in Carroll County.Using a touch-tone telephone,punch in the four-digit code 6148 aftyer you hear the greeting.