The Magic Gang are on a four man quest to inject the sounds of lost eras into the ears of today’s young people and remember the romanticism of music past. If you hadn’t yet realised, they’re doing pretty damn well.
“We’ve been lucky to kind of do everything in a more traditional way.” starts Gus, in a tone that suggests that they wouldn’t do it any other. “We’ve had a lot of time, two years/three years maybe, to release music and to go on tour and support lots of bands and build up a fanbase that way.” The boys are no strangers to living life on the road, a practice that has made them proud of their housekeeping. “I think that we’re really good at not upsetting people. Well, I think so.” Paeris laughs, as the band have earned quite the reputation as tour companions. They even try out some East Midlands slang and pronunciation to fit in with the Nottingham crowd, before shyly brushing off any compliment of their Brighton lilt.
Having spent the past couple of years living in each other’s pockets; whether it’s in their party house of musicians, sharing “little mandates” with Warner label-mates, Morad Khokar and Felix White, or on the tour bus, The Magic Gang share a brotherly connection that comes from a shared desire. Avid fans of The Beatles and diving into the records that filled their childhood and adolescence with sound, nostalgia connects the four and their overspill of emotion and sound.
“I think from a songwriting point of view, we’re able to go back and take bits that we like of older bands and pick just little bits and little tones and whatever, then re-contextualise it into something kind of now, I suppose.” explains Paeris, “Nostalgia is a very useful tool, I find.”
It’s as though when you put on a Magic Gang EP, you simultaneously slip on rose-tinted glasses that transport you to an era that you only previously recognise from dusty vinyl and black and white TV sets. Their sweet, surf-pop odes flutter with heartfelt lyrics and classic riffs that weave between nifty melodies.
“There is a very fine line between being like a pastiche, like there are bands that y’know take so much of one thing that it is almost like a throwback for a retro band.” Gus adds, “We don’t want to be a retro band, we want to be contemporary. We listen to all of that kind of music, but it’s more about cherry-picking the best bits from other eras.”
Somehow, The Magic Gang make poetic odes to a loved one, cool again, and chanting choruses utterly irresistible. They make slightly gawky rhythms attractive and classic boy band harmonies swoonworthy. The songs have a “coming-of-age” nature about them, one that “pulls on the heart-strings”. Sometimes they are shy and observing, a snippet of purity and innocence,for a personalised mixtape. Whilst others are bold declarations of emotion – ready to be sang at a school prom or blasted from a boombox on the front yard. All are glossed with the Magic Gang charm and conjure euphoria of once forgotten daydreams.
Whispers of a debut album have been following the band for the past year or so, and with three appropriately named EPs, and two recent singles under their belts, they’re worthy rumours. Again, tipping their hat to the traditional values of musical greats, the boys explain; “Where we’ve been fans of bands, you don’t really look at the EPs, that’s kind of for when you’ve listened to the first album maybe and you’ve thought ‘oh that’s good’ and you want to delve a bit further in.” Confirming that the album is on the way, subtly in the form of a casual and swish “Yeah, we’ll just bash it out.” Paeris explains, “We’d kind of like to make it kind of pay tribute to what has already been done and then fill the rest of it with new songs. So there will be a couple from probably each EP.”
“With it being a debut album it needs to be a documentation of the band, from the birth up until that point.”
Latest single, ‘Alright’, summarises where The Magic Gang are right now. A reinvention of an old favourite, the slacker pop single is one of the more stormy cuts. Guitar heavy and throwing a bit of a rock n roll ramshackle tantrum, it’s possesses all of the effortless togetherness that makes the band what it is. One of the most exciting guitar bands of this generation? For sure. The nicest guys in the game, too? Probably.
Love is fully at the heart of the band. Yep, that word. When mentioned it causes small bursts of giggles and squirms from the boys, almost like they were dreading being asked. “It’s a great feeling!” Gus laughs, throwing his hands into the air. Their melancholic but sugared approach to the emotion is an element that declares The Magic Gang songs as timeless as they capture delicate moments. “A lot of the songs aren’t necessarily about like a typical love partnership. A lot, well most of them are about people. Be that friends or Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys… or obviously, ex-girlfriends!
“I think we all like writing either in the shoes of someone else or about someone else. Sometimes when you’re singing something, people interpret it in their own way. I think a lot of people take it as ‘ooh they’re all love songs’, but they’re actually not.” they decide, before adding, “But they are?”
When we catch up, it’s a chilly and grey September afternoon, and outside of the dressing room, which by the way, is neat and tidy; offering a healthy selection of tortilla chips, dips and a crate of water, the rain begins to fall heavier and heavier.
Yet, The Magic Gang have a particular sunbeam energy about them. They’re like the embodiment of their songs, or vice versa, with a particular lust for life and an exciting aura of positivity for what’s to come. When we check the time and realise that we’d gotten lost in a conversation about conspiracy theories – what really happened in the bunker with Hitler? – the boys are twenty minutes late to pick up their Nando’s and Wagamama’s orders. So, they tie their merch tees around their heads and start into town.
A little rain is never going to dampen the spirits of a band with their heads so high in the sky.
Words by Tanyel Gumushan