Wizard Rock band Harry and the Potters on their first album in over 13 years
With sounds echoing the DIY punk scene, mixing a sure uncooked musicality with humor, e-book references, and splashy stage performances, Wizard Rock — or Wrock as seasoned followers understand it — fueled the Harry Potter craze of the early 2000s. A music style outlined just by songs about Harry Potter, Wizard Rock was a lot extra than simply bands crooning about Potter in costume: the style calls again to an period of fan-driven fandom, an period when getting one of the best Harry Potter content material meant following particular person creators throughout boards and MySpace, an period earlier than YouTube even existed.
Main the cost again in 2002 was Harry and the Potters, a band made up of two brothers, Paul and Joe DeGeorge. Harry and the Potter was on the forefront of the Wrock group — and the Harry Potter fandom group generally — not solely performing reside exhibits and releasing albums, however inspiring different Wrock bands, internet hosting annual occasions, and co-founding fan-driven non-profit activist group the Harry Potter Alliance.
Lumos, their first studio album in 13 years, is accessible at the moment. It recounts the occasions of the ultimate Harry Potter e-book, brings again their iconic bed room indie rock sound, and affords a commentary on at the moment’s political local weather. We sat down with Harry and the Potters to speak about discovering the sound of the Deathly Hallows, DIY fan communities in a pre-social media world, and the evergreen activism of Harry Potter.
Polygon: Very first thing’s first — why make a brand new album now in spite of everything these years?
Joe DeGeorge: The timing was proper for us.
Paul DeGeorge: We lived in separate of the nation for the final decade. It was a bit difficult to work collectively on stuff in a concerted approach. However I suppose we additionally felt like if we had been going to maintain taking part in as a band, we needed to have the ability to play songs that felt related on this political and cultural second we’re residing in. For that, we actually needed to embrace this concept of digging into the seventh Harry Potter e-book, the place all of it type of involves a head with Harry and his associates combating in opposition to this authoritarian regime.
Joe: We had by no means actually totally written an excessive amount of in regards to the seventh Harry Potter e-book. It was all the time a aim of ours to jot down a document that addresses it and it felt very acceptable now to do it.
Lumos has a mixture of extra somber songs and extra upbeat songs that also convey among the darker themes of the e-book. How do you strike that stability?
Joe: It’s a enjoyable band to be in, as a result of we’re not constrained by any explicit style — at the very least not any typical musical style — we could be fairly versatile and draw from all types of inspirations and use all types of musical cliches to speak what’s acceptable on the time. The books are so wealthy; they’re vibrant and darkish on the identical time. It’s enjoyable to simply be higher musicians at this level in our lives and be capable to draw from totally different instruments and inspirations to carry all of it in.
I’m considering significantly of the penultimate music — “The Stone” — which is fairly totally different from the remainder of the album. For one factor it’s for much longer, it’s very darkish, and makes use of eclectic parts like orchestral sounds and voice tracks thanking Harry.
Joe: The thought for the final three songs the document is that it’s type of a Deathly Hallows suite. We’ve got a music impressed by every of these gadgets. For the Resurrection Stone that Harry makes use of, we wrote this piece surrounding the half the place Harry figures out the right way to use the Stone for its true goal. That’s additionally culminating throughout this remaining battle of Hogwarts within the story. There’s plenty of issues like we’re attempting to speak like storywise into that music that is perhaps a bit extra delicate and take up totally different house than similar to speaking it verbally or lyrically. There’s a gap introduction that’s a quote from a Shostakovitch’s Leningrad Symphony, which was written when Leningrad was underneath siege by fascists. And famously carried out by a dying and ravenous orchestra and broadcast to the Nazis. The remainder of the music — I was like, I need this to sound kinda like a dense smog. It’s actually darkish and gloomy.
Paul: It’s a bit little bit of that and a bit little bit of eager about the Mount Eerie document that’s about Phil Elverum’s spouse dying. These are the musical touchstones. I’m glad you pulled that one out. That’s actually the emotional core of the document and that’s the scene on the album cowl as nicely: Harry getting ready to stroll to his demise —
Joe: — however seeing all his associates alongside the best way.
Paul: That entire chapter within the e-book is Harry type of surveying Hogwarts, witnessing his associates combating on his behalf and feeling actually rallied by that. Then in fact, utilizing the Stone and seeing his dad and mom and Remus and Sirius. The voices you hear are literally all for essentially the most half individuals who have been part of this band or helped us alongside the best way or ultimately performed a job on this band over the past 15 years. We simply hit up all of our associates with emails and mentioned like, are you able to say a few these phrases or phrases? That’s meant to buoy Harry as he walks to his presumed demise.
Joe: We bought plenty of our drummers on there.
One other stand-out music is “Where’s Ron?” which has that enjoyable Potter Puppet Buddies music video. I know you’ve labored with Neil Cicerega and the Potter Puppet Buddies up to now, however what was it like creating this music video particularly?
Joe: We left it in Neil and Alora’s fingers to direct it.
Paul: We approached them with a unfastened concept. We thought that may be a enjoyable music simply because Ron is such a enjoyable puppet. We thought very loosely of similar to these scenes of Ron off gallivanting. That was all we hit them with. Then principally they got here again to us a number of months later and had been like, are you able to movie your self? We wish to put you in a portrait. That was it. That was all just about all of our involvement with that and giving them the enjoyable. They’ve toured with us on and off for years. They play our annual Yuletide Balls fairly incessantly up within the Northeast.
Joe: We’ve been associates a very long time. They got here to see us ages in the past once we performed at a center faculty on the south shore of Massachusetts.
Paul: They’re from Massachusetts too. I’ll share one enjoyable factoid. I took Joe to his first rock and roll present which was Bizarre Al Yankovic on the Warwick Melody Tent, August,1999. He was 12. We come to search out out many, a few years later that our drummer, Brad Mehlenbacher who performed on this document was additionally at that present six years earlier than we met him. And so was Neil Cicierega — and additionally Neil’s future spouse. So this Bizarre Al present within the Windfall suburbs again in August 1999 had some type of actually optimistic affect on the Harry Potter fandom.
Given the present political local weather there’s been plenty of comparisons — individuals on social media, essays, etcetera — to the Harry Potter books, particularly e-book seven. Lumos continues this pattern. Do you suppose this continued comparability to Harry Potter is one thing evergreen?
Joe: I suppose the books are simply so wealthy that there’s issues acceptable for anytime at any historical past layered in them. I suppose it’s all the time acceptable to be type of utilizing these tales. There are nonetheless individuals who have so many issues in frequent with these tales, like these tales are a gathering level for lots of people. They’re an awesome instrument to make use of to have these types of discussions.
Paul: It’s a shared language now.
Joe: It’s nice to have a spot that’s like a bit bit exterior of our universe that we are able to have an outsider perspective on it and a recent look on occasions occurring in these books. But in addition see how they’ve direct parallels to the histories we’ve lived in our society and that we’re making now.
This isn’t your first foray into extra political and charitable territory. Are you able to inform me a bit about forming the Harry Potter Alliance?
Paul: We take into account it a fan activism group. That was a novel concept on the time that we helped to begin it. There’ve been loads of previous fan charity efforts, however we didn’t wish to similar to elevate cash. What we needed to do with type of like elevate consciousness and lift activists, actually being impressed by Hermione actually on the core of it, like Hermione taking this proactive strategy and forming Dumbledore’s military throughout their fifth yr of college and creating this coaching floor for younger activists to combat again. That was actually the core of the inspiration and that’s continued to at the present time. The HPA has chapters in every single place of youngsters of their faculties and group doing that work.
The foremost factor occurring now’s that the Harry Potter Alliance has the annual management convention known as the Granger management academy, which is absolutely cool. It’s a weekend lengthy intensive coaching floor for younger activists — tremendous cool, tremendous superb. I’m simply so glad it exists. Though now we’re in a tradition that very incessantly is framing like a up to date social justice points onto cultural works, that was a reasonably novel concept 14 years in the past when Harry Potter Alliance began and we caught plenty of oh, actually? Isn’t Harry Potter for teenagers? That’s type of evaporated now, it seems like. I imply,don’t get me unsuitable, there’s nonetheless challenges to being a nonprofit known as the Harry Potter Alliance. However the stigma and baggage that fandom one pat round it has type of been ameliorated over the past decade or so.
Wizard Rock comes from this time interval filled with fan-generated Harry Potter content material, proper when the books and unique motion pictures had been nonetheless popping out. Are you able to inform me a bit about this type of pre-mainstream fandom, pre-social media time? How’s it totally different being a fan creator now?
Joe: Nicely, we did use some social media.
Paul: We had been thriving on MySpace.
Joe: That frankly seems like the nice previous days earlier than surveillance capitalism.
Paul: The one factor I really feel like has occurred as fandom has mainstreamed is that it’s additionally gotten extra company. You possibly can see that within the Harry Potter world, the place there was once similar to a handful of merchandise. Now there’s a lot stuff on the market for individuals to purchase. It was once followers main the best way and creating fan artwork and different goofy issues like Home sweaters on Etsy. Now no matter you need is on the market and out there at Scorching Subject or elsewhere. Like Vans simply launched an entire line of Harry Potter footwear that appeared fairly lazy to everyone.
Really the artist who did the art work on our document texted me a photograph of a jacket with simply the Deathly Hallows image on it. I simply wrote again instantly like, Dan, we tried so goddamn exhausting over right here that make stuff that’s cool they usually simply put this crappy brand on this factor they usually’re charging 80 bucks for it. I was similar to, man. I nonetheless suppose there’s loads of alternative on the market for followers and fan artists. It’s only a query of navigating this rather more company fandom world now in 2019.
What do you consider the additions to the Harry Potter canon — for example the Improbable Beasts motion pictures and the Cursed Baby?
Joe: We don’t actually touch upon these. They’re exterior of the canon we work with. We’re involved primarily with Harry Potter’s perspective. That’s the limitation of our band.
Paul: Frankly, as a fan I have nearly little interest in them. A part of that’s being burned. The opposite half is rather like, I don’t really feel like I don’t want them. I really feel very happy and comfy with what does exist. There’s nonetheless loads of room inside what does exist for people like us and for different individuals who wish to proceed to create in that world and for individuals to return and browse. Man, what a pleasure it’s to return and reread the e-book. That was a part of the enjoyable of creating this new document for us was simply rereading them once more.