Over the phone during a break from work on a Friday afternoon, Ryan Major lets out a short but telling sigh before he begins to respond to this interviewer’s question. Yes, his band The Fagettes has changed its name to The Barbazons, and yes, with any luck, the members won’t have to keep talking about it much longer.
“To me it seemed like a good idea before the record came out [to change the name], because I was really sick of having conversations about the band name before anyone has heard the music, and I was hoping to shift the convo away from that,” he says.
Major’s got a point: The group’s decision to rebrand themselves has already been eloquently explained in a statement by Melanie Bernier on the band’s website (“The more it limits us, the more it shrivels into a lump of youthful indignation to carry in my back pocket,” she writes of their previous moniker), and, more importantly, they’ve got a dynamic debut album, Avec Plaisir, dropping this week.
On the record, Major (vocals/guitar) and his bandmates Bernier (vocals/percussion/sax), Matt Garlick (guitar), Jake Gilbertson (bass), and Peaches Goodrich (drums/vocals) sound unburdened in more ways than one. Major credits the addition of Gilbertson and Garlick with helping to breathe new life into the group, allowing for a richer exploration of their creativity on Avec.
“For me, it was really inspiring to have another guitar player to play off of,” says Major, while noting how Garlick’s technical skills complemented his own writing-centric approach. “The arrangements are more nuanced than they would have been otherwise. It got me thinking in different terms. There’s a country song [‘Two Whiskeys’] at the end that’s just two guitars, percussion, and a little bit of electric piano. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to break the formula at that point, prior to that.”
Major also admits the new roster has helped unshackle him as a live performer, so he can engage with the crowd purely as a singer. And when that’s hitting, nobody cares what your name is.
“I’m just going to play rock and roll songs and play shows and write tunes. That’s where my interests are,” he says. “I’m just looking forward to the future where that will be hopefully what we’re known for.”
THE BARBAZONS ALBUM RELEASE PARTY W/DOUG TUTTLE, BEWARE THE DANGERS OF A GHOST SCORPION. FRI 4.24. MIDDLE EAST DOWNSTAIRS, 480 MASS AVE., CAMBRIDGE. 617-864-3278. 7:30PM/18+/$10. THEBARBAZONS.COM