What do Earth, The Pendletones and Smile have in common? They’re all original names of bands before their permanent, now famous monikers were settled upon (Black Sabbath, The Beach Boys and Queen respectively). How much is in a name though? Would Brian Wilson and co. have been taken as seriously if their name remained a silly pun? And if Freddie Mercury sang for Smile what excuse would he have to dress like this?
The same issue lies at the heart of cheesemaking as well. In episode 144 of Cutting the Curd, John Bonanno muses at length of the difficulty and importance of naming his business and cheeses. Anyone who has been in a cheese shop once or twice knows of the enticing nature of cleverly named cheeses - just like The Beach Boys, would Humboldt Fog be as ubiquitous if it had a less evocative name?
So, in the Venn diagram of bands and cheeses, what falls in the middle? Here are some cheeses and bands that share the same name:
La Marotte (the cheese)
Made by a small coop in Larzac, this natural rinded sheep’s milk tommette is mossy, licheny, and smells delicately of a wool sweater that has been in the woods for a couple days.
This German steampunky foursome plays a wassail laden medieval folk revival made to pump you up for that all night rage on midsummer’s eve. If you wanna get down feudal style then lace up your corset, crank up some La Marotte and get shwasted on mead.
Pairability of cheese and band: Good. The foresty aroma and milky delicacy of La Marotte matches quite well with the pastoral reminiscence of La Marotte.
Dante (the cheese)
Made by the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Coop, this Manchego influenced bad boy comes in two versions - the waxed rind and the natural rind. Both are dense, stony, and sheepy with an almost salt and pepper tingle. The waxed rind has a cleaner and more straightforward approach while the natural rind has a more earthy, topsoily bottom end.
Another German band, Dante is a technical progressive metal outfit reminiscent of the ubiquitous Fates Warning and Dream Theater. They have three full length LPs and rock pretty hard.
Pairability of cheese and band: Fair. Dante and Dante are both thoughtfully complex and multi-layered, but in very different ways.
Caveman (the cheese)
One of the very best blues anywhere, Rogue Creamery’s Caveman is earthy, fungal, pungent and creamy. This is one of my go-to picks when a European tourist asks to taste a great American cheese. This cheese takes no prisoners and does not compromise.
Caveman (the band)
Brooklyn based Caveman plays a dreamy indie rock that seems to be doing well for them despite their short time together. They got reviewed on Pitchfork and are on tour now!
Pairability of cheese and band: Poor. The brute of club-swinging Caveman unfortunately overpowers the subtly layered soundscape of Caveman.
Chevre (the cheese)
You know this - “chevre” generally refers to a fresh, unripened, unadulterated goat’s milk cheese. You also know that “chevre” is French simply for….
Goat (the band)
A bit of a cop-out, I admit, but I felt the awesome Goat to be worthy of inclusion. They are a Swedish band who, despite their very recent debut, have made a big splash in the avant-garde/experimental world. Kind of hard to describe, you should just check ‘em out
Pairability of cheese and band: Terrible. Chevre is a plain basic staple. Goat is a schizophrenia-induced world music train derailment.
Now don’t get me wrong - I’m not saying these crossovers represent a lack of creativity. On the contrary - I see these examples as reasons to celebrate creative expression, dig in and rock out. But there exists between these two worlds a mere flirtation! There is plenty more room in the middle of that Venn diagram. So to all you future cheesemakers and rock stars, here are some suggestions of cheeses that would make great band names:
Lord of the Hundreds
And bands that are just begging to have a cheese named after them: