Love it or hate it, the name of Boston-based punk band “The Fagettes” is sure to start a conversation.
And that’s exactly the reaction they’re going for.
Formed in 2010 by Melanie Bernier and Ryan Major, The Fagettes have already stirred up plenty of buzz in the Boston underground music scene and beyond. Their catchy, lo-fi rock sound and retro style may call back to the ’60s and ’70s, but The Fagettes’s unique fun and flair is all their own.
“Me and Ryan always wanna see how much we can get away with,” quips Bernier, adding seriously, “I know the name of our band will strike listeners in a variety of ways. Some hate it, some love it – and that’s okay. As long as our band can stand behind it, that’s all that matters.”
Their name – and all of the potential problems behind it – is just one example of the playful dichotomy that defines the essence of The Fagettes. On one hand, it’s easy reduce their image to rebellious kids gleefully shouting about “water, tea, and alcohol” in leopard print spandex. On the other, there thrives a group of conscientious young musicians fully aware of the political implications of punk.
As is probably evident given their name, issues of sexuality and gender are always at play in The Fagettes’ work and image. Bernier cites Lydia Lunch, Jayne County, David Bowie, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, and Divine as major influences on their lyrics, vocals, and performance style. “We sing about being straight, being gay, being both, being neither,” she says, noting that the band often plays fast and loose with gendered pronouns as well.
I first saw The Fagettes perform at a femme punk show, but Bernier is reticent to categorize the band too specifically; “I think that to classify my group into a sub-genre because we have two women is too limiting, and undermines the fact that women in punk should be the norm – and increasingly is the norm. I generally dislike labels anyways, and that’s a value we all share as a band.”
But if she had to? “I guess I’d describe us as a lot of hair, ‘tude, and guitar.”
This “hair, ‘tude and guitar” band has made their presence (and their politics) known in the Boston community, participating in fundraiser concerts for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Planned Parenthood, and several Don’t Ask Don’t Tell parties. Bernier and David Goodrich, another Fagettes member, recently launched Rock Slop, a Cambridge art collective and soon-to-be record label, as part of an effort to bring the Boston area art and music communities closer together.
This summer, The Fagettes are headed out on the open road to tour the U.S. and will be releasing their first 7″ in August. You can download their first two EPs, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, for free right here. For news and more information on upcoming shows, including two events right around the corner in the NYC area, check out their official blog.