An Interview with Harry and the Potters, Part 3

Welcome back to another installment of my seemingly-endless interview with Harry and the Potters! In actuality, it took about 45 minutes, and this installment begins about 20 minutes in:

Wrock Snob: So, why exactly did the EP of the month club shut down, and was moving to a purely digital platform considered, and if so, why was that approach not used?

Paul DeGeorge: It shut down because it was a lot of work – a lot, lot of work. And it was pretty much just me, doing all the work. Yes, a digital approach was discussed, but ultimately I felt like the technology wasn’t totally there at the time – I think if we did it now it’d be easier to pull off digitally.

Joe DeGeorge: It would have been a lot more accessible.

Paul: Yeah. I feel like Bandcamp was kind of developing around then…

WS: Mmm-hmm, but it was shaky.

Paul: Yeah. And the other thing was that with the EPs, I always told the bands “We’re going to distribute this physically for basically a year, and after that you guys can do whatever you want with the recordings.” I didn’t want us to retain the rights to them indefinitely, so some bands have released their stuff digitally since then. I wanted the digital rights to kind of be retained by the artists, initially. I mean if we were to ever do it again, it’d probably be digital, but yeah, it was just kind of a lot of work, and by 2009, like, that year, the sales were probably only half of the previous year, so it didn’t quite have the return – we still made a lot of money for the charities, but I guess I just wanted to do something else, rather than trying to wrangle wizard rock bands to send me recordings, and doing so many damn CD pressings. [Laughs] When it also seemed like no one wanted CDs anymore, so…

WS: Was the song “Harry Potter” really recorded in just one take?

Paul: Yep.

Joe: Yeah.

WS: Nice.

Joe: That’s a live vocal track on there.

Paul: Yeah, it’s totally live. Um, maybe added a little reverb, that’s about it.

Joe: Yeah, that’s in the mix.

WS: Favorite wizard rock albums or bands in general – besides yourselves?

Paul: Hmmm. Kreacher – MC Kreacher, is really really high up. Love –

Joe: Mermaids Above Water.

Paul: That one’s Snobby’s favorite ever.

[All laugh]

Paul: Tight!

Joe: We’re on the same page there.

Paul: That one is tight. Not super accessible, though. Really deep concept. Um…

WS: [sighs] Was that a water pun?

Paul: [almost guiltily] Yeah it was…

[Joe laughs]

Paul: Let’s see… Mary and the GrandPre’s –

Joe: Oh yeah.

Paul: Maybe the best live performers I’ve seen, and they’re really captivating and goofy and weird.

Joe: They have a really strange performance.

Paul: They have a lot of interesting meta-commentary on the books and the culture – it’s much more sophisticated than a lot of other bands when they work in that realm.

Joe: They have a good playful vibe.

Paul: Yeah, not super-serious. [Pause] Ummm… I mean, there’s more obvious ones like Justin and Whompy and Dracos – I like to rep the more obscure when I can, try and highlight those.

WS: I can’t sympathize with that at all.

[Paul and Joe laugh]

WS: Of your own releases, which is your favorite?

Joe: I like the Scarred for Life 7″. That was conceptually really sound.

Paul: I like the In The Cupboard EP.

Joe: Yeah, that was probably my favorite to record and release. That was probably the most fun we had recording.

Paul: Yeah, I also like the Power of Love album – that’s the one I always recommend to people. I feel like it’s the most accessible and it’s the place we put the most effort in, and I think that’s reflected in how it sounds.

WS: If you could open for any band, who would it be?

Joe: Probably They Might Be Giants.

Paul: That’s where I was going too. I think that would be –

Joe: They Might Be Giants performing Lincoln!

Paul: [Laughs] Performing Pink Album.

[Both laugh]

Paul: Yeah, I just think that would be a good fit, versus, like, Springsteen – he doesn’t even have openers, so, not even an option, so – Giants!

WS: Fugazi?

[Both laugh]

Paul: Terrible match.

Joe: That would be fun, but –

[Wrock Snob laughs]

Joe: I don’t think it would go over very well.

Paul: Don’t think so.

WS: Just play “Blood of a Prince” ten times.

Paul: Yeah. [Laughs]

WS: Have any wizard rock bands influenced you?

Paul: Yeah, I think so. Power of Love has a response song to Draco and the Malfoy’s “In Which I Kick Harry Potter In The Face” – “In Which Draco Malfoy Cries Like a Baby” – so I think that that’s a good example of how we were playing off of a dynamic there. We recorded that… after we toured with them?

Joe: Noooo.

Paul: Hadn’t toured with them yet, right.

Joe: It was right before.

WS: Have you ever had difficulties or creative differences when collaborating?

Joe: Not too much… I can’t think of anything specifically.

Paul: Not really musically. I mean we kind of write music with each other in mind, you know?

Joe: Yeah.

Paul: Trying to impress each other, make each other laugh or whatever, and that’s sort of the standard, and if it meets that criteria, then we push the song along.

Joe: Yeah, we don’t really have much creative differences – we come from the same influences a lot. Paul’s got a good pop sensibility, and I… just go for the weird!

WS: What were the songs played at that very first show? You said that there were a few, many of which are now staples, but I haven’t seen an actual list. Do you remember that?

Both: Yeah.

Joe: We had “Platform 9 3/4s”, “I’m a Wizard” –

Paul: “Problem Solving Skillz”.

Joe: “Problem Solving Skillz”. Did we do “Wizard Chess”?

Paul: I think we had “Wizard Chess”. [Pause] Um, the troll song?

Joe: Troll song. [Note: “The Troll (Big and Ugly)”]

Paul: “Diagon Alley”.

Joe: “Diagon Alley”. “Quidditch in the Snow”.

Paul: “Quidditch in the Snow”. Unreleased. Terrible.

Joe: Never to be released.

Paul: Terrible, terrible song. Uh… “Fluffy”?

Joe: “Fluffy”? Maaaaybe? I don’t know, I don’t think we had written that… Maybe?

Paul: I think we had “Fluffy”.

WS: Of those songs, which was the first one you wrote?

Paul: “Platform 9 3/4s”.

Joe: Yes.

Paul: You can see footage of that in the Finding Hogwarts movie.

WS: Oh really?

Paul: Yeah. There’s footage from the first show – we let them use it. We didn’t let them see “Quidditch in the Snow”.

[Wrock Snob laughs]

Paul: It’s funny because we sang it like [Paul begins goofily singing “The bus don’t go to Hogwarts” in a dopey sort of voice – if anyone really wants to hear that, I can probably cut it out and post that as a snippet appended to the final one of these interviews].

Joe: That’s how we still sing it…

Paul: Pretty goofy.

WS: Why have you never played Wrockstock?

Joe: I was just in school during the time.

Paul: That was a lot of it. We don’t usually do shows when we don’t get travel compensated and stuff like that, and that had never been an option there, something like that. We had certainly considered it, but just, logistics really.

WS: Could you talk about how and why your lyrics evolved from “I’m a lonely boy, I live beneath the staircase” to the likes of “Song for the Death Eaters” or “The Weapon”?

Joe: Well, I think some of that has to do with the parallel between the books and the maturity level of the audience reading them, and the books kind of mature as you go through the series, and are really sequential.

Paul: Yeah, and I would also say that like, those first albums we wrote really quickly, they’re not super sophisticated, you know, in some cases they’re just like “Hey this is funny, cuz it’s… here’s a thing.”

Joe: We didn’t really have a particular audience in mind, apart from, like, playing for kids in libraries when we wrote those first songs.

Paul: Yeah, I think as we saw an audience take shape, we felt like we needed to maybe write things that were a little more robust, interesting, sophisticated –

Joe: Not that we’re interested in pandering to our audience.

Paul: No, but just like, respecting the audience. I think for the first album, we really did think like “This is just gonna be for, like, a bunch of 11 or 12-year old kids who like Harry Potter”, and then we saw that wasn’t really the audience. That’s part of the audience, but we wanted to write to a more broad audience, and obviously taking cues from They Might Be Giants, who write successfully fun songs for young kids but equally sophisticated songs for adults.

Next week in our penultimate installment, we discuss what other Harry Potter characters the DeGeorge brothers could see themselves musically embodying, the time-travel mechanics behind their stage personas, and hear quite possibly the most amusing tour story the fandom has to offer. The Army got involved.


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