Behind the Band Name: A Flock of Seagulls

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

A Flock of Seagulls may have one of the most poetic band names in new wave music history. After forming in Liverpool in 1979, the English pop band saw success around the world. Their hits include “I Ran (So Far Away),” “Space Age Love Song,” “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)” and “The More You Live, the More You Love.” The band also won a Grammy Award in 1983 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “D.N.A.”

Though they’ve had multiple band changes over the years and briefly disbanded for two years from 1986-1988, A Flock of Seagulls has reunited for projects since the late 1980s, most recently partnering with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra for 2018 album Ascension and its 2021 follow-up, String Theory. Below, we explore the meaning behind the band name A Flock of Seagulls.

Behind the Meaning

Founded by frontman Mike Score, the band’s name was actually inspired by another musical act, English punk rock band The Stranglers, particularly their song “Toiler of the Sea” on their 1978 album, Black and White. The song follows a man taking to the open seas on a ship, facing treacherous waters that ultimately leave him shipwrecked on the beach where it becomes a “home for the flock.”

We ventured overland / Fought with the aliens / The young ones used their hands / Pointed the way to a flock / A flock of seagulls!” they sing in one of the verses. A Flock of Seagulls is also inspired by Richard Bach’s acclaimed 1970 book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which was later adapted into a 1973 film and a soundtrack written by Neil Diamond that won a Grammy Award in 1974 for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special.

Score felt compelled to name his band A Flock of Seagulls after reading the book, and cites The Stranglers as his “favorite band.” “We were at one of their concerts [the singer] yells out, ‘a flock of seagulls,'” Score recalls of seeing The Stranglers in a 2017 interview with Worcester Magazine. “We were in the front row. He looked like he looked right at us and called out, ‘a flock of seagulls.’ We took it as a sign.”

Score also revealed that the band’s original name was Level 7, but he decided to change it after English jazz-punk band Level 42 released their self-titled debut album in 1981. But Score says that the name A Flock of Seagulls stuck when he noticed that it piqued people’s interest.

“We knew we were going to have to change our name,” he says. “Strangely enough, from that moment on, everybody noticed us. Everyone was like, ‘Wow, what a strange name.’ I think the name made people want to hear what we were about.”

He also attributes the band’s U.S. success to their hefty touring schedule and musical originality outside of Score’s attention-grabbing hairstyle featuring a combover that stretched past his nose with pieces of hair in the shape of a wing on either side. “I think, actually, we were quite individual sounding, quite individual attitude toward the rock and roll situation,” Score explains. “I think [in the U.S.], the kids wanted a bit more outrageous, a bit more rebellion against what was going on here. They looked at us and said, ‘That’s where I want to be.'”

(Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)

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