to listen to Harry and the Potters' "Dumbledore."
's Wizard Rock Playlist.
--CUW Harry and the Potters
The summer of 2007 was an insane year
for Harry and the Potters. The wizard
rock band, led by
brothers Joe and Paul DeGeorge, were at the head of all the insanity
created by the release of the last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter
and the Deathly Hallows.
CUW Harry and the Potters
Now, two years later, things have
quietened down a lot for the band. But they’re still keeping busy
with a well-loved charity (The Harry Potter Alliance) and a wizard rock subscription service (Wizard
Rock EP of the Month Club), as well as shows
for the odd Harry Potter event, like their concert on the eve of the
release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which, yes, will
take place in a cave. Well, a chasm, actually. Purgatory Chasm, to
be exact, in Massachusetts. After a sing-along-style acoustic set,
the band is planning on watching the midnight screening of the film,
with everybody else.
Paste: What is it going
to be like to put out an original record now? How does it feel to
have the books finished and the movies coming to an end, now that
they’ve been such a big part of your lives?
Paul DeGeorge: This new record
[Priori Incantatem] is made up of songs we’d released on
comps or 7-inches over the past seven or eight years or stuff that
had been unreleased that hadn’t been put on previous albums. So we
haven’t had that experience yet, of recording a new album since the
last book came out.
We’ve sort of scaled back since the
final book was published, as far as the amount of stuff we’re doing
with the band. It’s become less of a focus for us in our personal
and professional lives. I feel like we had our big huge moment and
that was in the run up to the final book publication. We never
expected to go that far as a band, you know? When you start a goofy
band like this you don’t expect it to become anything real
[laughs], something that people are calling you up for interviews
for, like seven years later. In a way, we’ve come to the point
where we don’t feel that we need to push the band anywhere; when
cool things pop up on our radar, like people want us to play this
show or that show and it sounds like it’s going to be fun, that’s
things we’re interested in doing now. But we’re not going out and
touring, like we were two or three years ago when we were playing
like 123 shows a year. Now we’re down to like 15 or 20 shows a
Paste: You’re involved
in a lot of charity work too, with Harry and the Potters and a lot of
other wizard-rock bands.
DeGeorge: That’s exactly
what’s become more of my focus, since we’ve stopped playing as
much as doing a lot of work along those lines. A couple of years ago,
back in 2005, I helped to co-found the Harry Potter Alliance, with my
friend Andrew [Slack, director of the Harry Potter Alliance], and
that was aimed at translating the excitement around Harry Potter into
real-world action on social justice issues and getting kids, in the
same way that Harry and the Potter was about getting young people
pumped about rock 'n' roll by using Harry Potter as a conduit, we
wanted to get people interested in activism. and for a lot of young
people they don’t have that in-road into activism until they maybe
get to college and there’s an Amnesty chapter or something. And I
think Harry Potter enables them to get in at a much younger age by
drawing parallels between Harry Potter and the real world. It’s a
tremendously successful endeavor, I think.
Paste: Has the charity
been involved in Darfur and causes like that?
DeGeorge: Exactly. The Harry
Potter Alliance will work on a number of social-justice issues.
Darfur was probably one of the ones we’ve got the most press and
acclaim for. We think of ourselves as much of an activist
organization as an educational organization, because for people in
high school, Darfur is not a prominent media subject; it’s not
something that’s covered in the press. So we can educate them on
what’s going on there by drawing these parallels, like when
Voldemort returns from the dead, the mainstream media totally ignores
it and the government, the Ministry of Magic, tells everybody, “Oh
no, everything’s cool, don’t worry, we’ve got it under control; there’s nothing weird going on.” And it’s the same thing
you see now with Darfur: You see all these governments, they’ve
recognized that there’s crazy stuff going on there and yet they’ve
done nothing about it.
Paste: What other causes
have you been focusing on with the Harry Potter Alliance?
DeGeorge: We’ve been focusing
a little bit on media consolidation. In the wizarding world there’s
only one source for wizarding news, which is The Daily Prophet,
and the single other source for news, The Quibbler, is a
laughing stock, but at times they turn out to be right. And they’re
the ones doing the real reporting sometimes. So we’ve looked at
that in the campaign. And we’re occasionally working on campaigns
around equal rights, equal marriage rights and things like that,
using the Dumbledore parallel. Dumbledore was obviously a very
accepting individual, and a couple of years ago we found out that Dumbledore
was gay, which was kinda of cool for that. [laughs] We’re currently
working on a campaign called “What Would Dumbledore Do?” which is in the run up to the
sixth movie here... And this whole campaign is aimed around getting the
whole organization of Harry Potter Alliance and Harry Potter fans
everywhere to talk about what Dumbledore’s taught them, life
lessons from Dumbledore and things like that. We’re aimed at really
getting participation from all corners of the Harry Potter fandom to
come up with 100 Things That Dumbledore’s Taught Us, and ways he’s
affected out lives, and things like that.
Paste: When you’re
writing the songs, do you have a process or get a lot of suggestions
when trying to decide what parts or aspects of the book to write
DeGeorge: We write about the
stuff that entertains us. If there’s some sort of turn of phrase
that she uses that we think is really funny, then we might write a
song around that. Or just cool events in the book. Obviously there
are these big overriding themes, and we’ll write songs that relate
to that. But as far as the stupid, silly songs go, well, the last
songs we recorded were for an EP, and the songs focused on tiny
little inconsistencies, like really what hardcore fans would find
funny, like when Harry buys his wand, and it costs him seven
galleons. And then later, in the sixth book, Slughorn is talking
about unicorn hair being worth 10 galleons a hair. And a unicorn hair
is a very common wand core. So if your wand core costs 10 galleons,
and a full-blown wand costs seven, then that really doesn’t add up
economically. That stuff really gives me a jolt. [laughs] I think it
would for somebody else, like, we got involved in this hardcore
Harry Potter fan community, and they really revel in the detail, and
I was like, this is too funny, because they actually care about that.
I guess I do too; I really love that minutia. It’s all in the
details, like The Hold Steady.
Paste: You play with a
lot of different wizard rock bands. Are any your favorites?
DeGeorge: There are people who
have become our dearest friends, like Draco and the Malfoys and The
Whomping Willows, those are the guys we hang out with all the time
now. One of the dudes in Draco and the Malfoys [Brad Mehlenbacher]
has been our drummer for the past three years. I also have plenty of
other favorite bands that we don’t play with as frequently. I run
the Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club, and so because of that I get to
hear quite a few bands. We’ve already mailed out six of the CDs, so
half the year is already done, and two of the CDs we’ve mailed out
are two of my favorites that I’ve ever heard, in all of wizard
rock. One of them is very underground, Mary and the GrandPres.
Paste: After the
DeGeorge: Yeah, after the
illustrator! They’re not assuming a character here; they’re just
writing some of the most bizarre and weird music. Imagine if there
was an Elephant Six band doing wizard rock. Very weird and lots of
ukulele. It sounds like stuff recorded on a four-track, really funny
stuff. Good harmonies. And the other one is MC Kreacher, and we just mailed off their
disc last week, and it’s totally maybe one of the best wizard rock
discs ever made. He totally inhabits Kreacher with hip-hop.
“Wiz-hop,” we call it. Kreacher the perfect gangsta wiz-hopper;
he’s got so much attitude. It’s really good.
Paste: Are most of the
band involved in the foundation as well, like the HP Alliance and its
DeGeorge: The Wizard Rock EP
Club, all the proceeds from that will go to, this year it’s the HP
Alliance, but in past years it’s been shared between Harry Potter
Alliance and First Book, which is a national literacy organization.
The EP Club’s been going for two and a half years and we’ve
already made over $30,000. It’s pretty awesome.
Paste: What’s it like
knowing that the films are coming to the end? There was already a
gaping hole for many fans after the books finished. In a couple of
years the films will be done too.
DeGeorge: It’s funny, I don’t
feel like our band revolves the films so much as it does the books. I
feel like the fandom, the people who are really dedicated to Harry
Potter, the films, they’re great and fun, but I think it all comes
back to the books. The books will live on and in years to come, it’s
going to be the book to read to your kids when they turn
seven, or once they’re old enough. There’s going to be this whole
generation of kids who grew up with Harry Potter, and in 10 years
they’re going to have their own kids, and they’re going to be
counting down the days ‘til they can read that first Harry Potter
book to their kids. So it’s going to be living on in that way for
years and years to come. I don’t worry about Harry Potter
disappearing off the face of the planet like Twilight will in
a couple of years. [laughs] You can print that: I don’t care!
I’ve never read it, though; my girlfriend’s read it and she’s
like, “You can’t read this, you will not be able to handle it.”
Paste: How did you
celebrate the release of the last book?
DeGeorge: That summer was just the
craziest summer of my life, honestly. We did the most hardcore
touring; we were on the road for, like, 11 weeks straight. And the
only break we took in those 11 weeks was three days we took off after
the last book came out in the middle of the summer. The book came out
Friday night and we took the weekend off and then we were back on the
road for more touring. We had never thought our band would last until
the seventh book, and we decided if we did we had to throw a good
party. We were able to organize this show in Cambridge, Mass., which
actually occurred on the Harvard campus where they have graduation.
Totally Hogwartsy, like being on the grounds of Hogwarts. It was a
huge, outdoor, free show and 10 or 15 thousand people came to the
show, the show ended at 10.30 and everybody scurried off to wherever
they were getting their books. it was this huge party, it was a great
feeling; it was one day where instead of playing a library, we were
Bruce Springsteen or something.
Paste: How do you feel
about the movie coming out? Are there certain things you’ll be
looking forward to having seen the trailers?
DeGeorge: Well, actually, this
is the movie I’m most excited to see, after seeing the teasers. I
loved that the first teaser I saw didn’t even have Harry Potter in
it. It was just all Dumbledore and Voldemort. It was really cool. I’m
pretty pumped about this. For the first time it seems that they
really went for the dark angle, which is pretty rad. This is the move
I’ve been really, really pumped about seeing. I’ll be there,