It’s been a defining twelve months for The Magic Gang. They’ve released three intoxicating singles, played some of the most esteemed venues in the UK in support of Wolf Alice and Swim Deep, and gained legions of – mostly mosh-hungry and teenage – fans. As they prepare to take to the stage at The Lexington for their final show of 2015, there’s a chance for them to reflect on just how far they’ve come – from unassuming beginnings where ‘making it’ as a band wasn’t a priority.
“I don’t think any of us really felt like that at the start,” begins drummer Paeris Giles. “Basically, the formation of the band was just [recording] one song – we weren’t even a group at that point, it was just kind of more friends recording a song – and putting it up online, and that seemed to gain quite a lot of interest. We basically formed on the basis of that attention, as opposed to us really trying to make something work – it just seemed as though it did somehow.”
It most certainly has worked, as the cheery foursome from the New Forest – and now based along the south coast in Brighton – have rightly become one of the most buzzed about new bands in the country, helped in no small part by their stints on the road with indie royalty.
“I don’t know if it’s a rite of passage,” says frontman Jack Kaye. “I don’t know if everyone’s as fortunate to get that opportunity, but it’s definitely helped us out no end and it’s enabled us to play to an audience that we wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, so we’re really thankful for that. When you do a headline tour and you’ve got loads of kids turning up, it’s obvious that the reason is because you’ve done those support slots.”
The Magic Gang’s shows are fast becoming known for their feverish party atmosphere, something the bespectacled Jack’s eyewear has thus far survived – but he has had close shaves in the past. “One of the first bigger shows we did was when we supported JAWS at The Institute in Birmingham. I got down off the stage toward the end of the set and went over to the barrier, and someone took my glasses off my face.” He doesn’t sound best pleased. “I managed to get them back but that was the closest I’ve come to disaster.”
It’s a walk in the park because obviously we all live and breathe fashion.
Here’s hoping he doesn’t come any closer. “You’ve got to think about the image of the band,” he says, amused at the thought of the stir he might cause should he switch to contact lenses. But just how much effort have they had to put into their distinctive retro look?
“We’ve always really dressed this way; we just kind of wear what we want. Cause we’re friends and all like similar things, we didn’t have to force ourselves to look like anything,” explains bassist Gus Taylor. Easy, no? Well, Jack is quick to point out one potential stumbling block. “We have to remind ourselves to look at each other before we go on. We’re not naturally wired to think about that so it took as a while to realise that if we were wearing the same t-shirt, one of us might have to change.”
“Apart from that,” says bassist Kristian Smith, “it’s a walk in the park because obviously we all live and breathe fashion.” The rest laugh in agreement.
Band identity all in check, a feverishly anticipated debut EP is next on The Magic Gang’s agenda. Partly recorded at the legendary Tuff Gong studios in Jamaica as part of Converse Rubber Tracks’ global studio takeover, it’s a delightful guitar-pop triumph.
The sound of the record is perhaps best summed up by James Taylor, frontman of tour mates INHEAVEN. “The Beach Boys meets Weezer” was how he recently described The Magic Gang. Fans of both bands, the boys aren’t going to contest that, Jack and Gus with little more response than that it’s a “nice” sentiment. Are they lost for words? Or do they just agree so strongly that no more need be said? Either way, no one’s ever put it better.
One has to wonder if The Magic Gang’s effortless cool is anything down to their Brighton base, although they seem to play down its importance as far as marketing the band is concerned. As Gus explains, “We just live in Brighton; it is a great place to live and it’s a great place to play music. I don’t think we really wave it around like a brand…anything like that.”
“It’s one of those places where when you put the word ‘scene’ after it, it becomes so broad that sometimes it doesn’t mean anything because there’s so much music [there],” adds Jack. “That being said though, we are within a group within Brighton, and that’s our scene, that’s us – it’s a little bit more specific than ‘Brighton’.”
Regardless of where they call home or what their ‘scene’ is, The Magic Gang have proven themselves to be the real deal. With that EP imminent, another exhilarating tour surely in the offing at some point, and their sights set on the biggest festivals of them all – “We wanna play at Reading Leeds,” states Jack in no uncertain terms – 2016 will no doubt see them continue to justify the hype, and thrive upon it.
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