This Friday at Independent Public Ale House, a band called Glass Mansions is playing. If they don’t sound familiar, you might know them by their old name: Death of Paris.
For the past six years, the band, led by singer Jayna Doyle and guitarist/keyboard player Brent Arambula, had built momentum with a heavy touring schedule and a propulsive blend of rock and electronic dance music. They were planning for 2016 to be their busiest year yet in terms of touring, but on Nov. 13 last year, much like the rest of the world, they watched in horror as the terrorist attacks in Paris unfolded. Everything else on the schedule was on hold while the band dealt with something they never expected to be a problem: their name.
“The night the terrorist attacks happened, we knew it was going to affect our name in some way,” Doyle says. “We spent that night and the next week trying to figure out what we should do. Will we have to change the name? How will we go about doing that? We decided to black out all of our band’s social media pages, so that it didn’t seem like we were trying to exploit the tragedy. We just kind of laid low and kept talking to each other and getting people’s opinions, and we decided that it would be for the best moving forward to change the name, because we don’t want to remind people of the tragedy every time we play.”
Arambula adds that with the increased scope of their touring, they were going to be encountering a lot of music fans who hadn’t heard of them before. “We felt like a lot of people would’ve been asking if we’d gotten that name from the attacks. And rather than continually having to explain ourselves, it just felt right to move forward with a different name.”
It’s no small thing for a group that’s spent six years building equity in their name to change it. There are social media pages, music-streaming and purchasing sites and merchandise factors to consider. But Doyle says that compared with what happened that night in Paris, this decision was nothing.
“It’s worth it at the end of the day because it’s for the best,” she says. “It was done for the right reason. Us changing our name is so petty in the scheme of this attack. The least we can do is change our name in out of respect.”
Even so, the change is “a very scary thing,” Doyle says. “It’s like we’re starting over in a way. We’ve gone through lineup changes in the past, so we’ve had moments of starting over and getting our footing again, but it’s a little different when you change your name, because we’re the same band. But we wanted to move forward on the right foot.”
In fact, the band’s new name was at least partially inspired by the feeling of fragility that Doyle says she felt after the Paris attack.
“‘Glass Mansions’ created this image for me,” she says. “This large house that’s so strong and sturdy, but it’s glass, so it’s fragile and breakable. We liked the play on that. And coming out of this experience, thinking about how being onstage doing a show, you feel a sense of confidence, but you’re so very vulnerable. We’re all strong but we’re still vulnerable; we’re still fragile. That why we’ve been posting ‘We’re all glass mansions,’ on our different pages when we’ve talked about the name change, because we all have that mix of power and vulnerability.”