Behind The Band Name: How Weed and Hugh Grant May Have Contributed to The Chainsmokers Name

Electronic duo The Chainsmokers, consisting of Alexander “Alex” Pall and Andrew “Drew” Taggart, found the name for their project partly from earlier days of smoking marijuana and a famous British actor.

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“At the time of conception … I was in college,” admitted Pall in 2016. “I enjoyed smoking weed, and you know it was just like such a ‘yeah the domain is open.’ I don’t have to have any, like, underscores.”

Taggart, who has never smoked a cigarette, added “It’s just a name,” and admitted that he would have changed their name if he knew how big they would become. Ultimately, The Chainsmokers came down to the fact that Pall once smoked and the domain name was available at the time.

“Honestly, we never thought it was all going to be this big,” added Taggart during a live Reddit Q & A in 2015. “Alex used to smoke. [It] seemed clever and the domains were open. We do love it, but no baby formula advertisements for us, sadly, ’cause of it.”

Hugh Grant and About a Boy?

Adding more mystery, and confusion, behind their name, in an earlier interview the duo admitted that they don’t smoke and that their name is actually linked to British actor Hugh Grant.

“There is a story, but we hate it, so we aren’t going to tell it,” they said. “But it has nothing to do with smoking —we don’t smoke—and everything to do with Hugh Grant.”

In the 2002 film About a Boy, based on the Nick Hornby book and starring Grant, Rachel Weisz, Toni Collette, and a younger Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class, Skins), Grant’s character does smoke often, though the duo never clarified if this was the actor’s link to their name.

Chain of Songs

Originally formed by Pall and DJ Rhett Bixler, who later left and was replaced by Taggart, the duo started out remixing indie band songs in the early 2010s, and even collaborated with actress and singer Priyanka Chopra on the 2013 single “Erase.”

Their single “Selfie,” which also premiered in 2013, was rereleased a year later by Dim Mak Records and became a breakout hit for The Chainsmokers, helping them hit the Billboard Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

The Chainsmokers have remained on a continuous run of success since, topping the charts and headlining festival stages worldwide. Releasing their debut album, Memories…Do Not Open, in 2017 and three more albums, including 2022 release So Far So Good, throughout the years the duo has collaborated with a number of artists, including Halsey on the hit “Closer,” which also earned them a Grammy nomination, and “Don’t Let Me Down” featuring Daya (both released in 2016), “Something Just Like This” with Coldplay in 2017, and more. 

Group Effort

The Chainsmokers’ Pall plays piano, co-writes, and produces many of The Chainsmokers’ songs, while Taggart is the primary songwriter, who wrote their hits “Closer” and “Selfie.” The group is often a larger team effort, featuring drummer Matt McGuire and keyboardist Tony Ann, who also co-wrote the group’s singles “Side Effects” and “Sick Boy.”

Photo: Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

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