Don't Be a Squibb
A geek's delight, Boston's Harry and the Potters are coming through town on their first national tour. The band, obviously, has a J.K. Rowling fixation: Brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge each portray Harry, the former as Harry in his Seventh Year, the latter as Harry in his Fourth Year.
They now have a total of three garage-pop/indie rock full-length CDs out -- a self-titled one from 2003, 2004's Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock, and this year's Harry Potter and the Power of Love. And yes, all of their songs are about Harry Potter; indeed, they are written as if by the young Gryffindor seeker. (Sample titles: "Cornelius Fudge Is an Ass," "In Which Draco Malfoy Cries Like a Baby," "My Teacher Is a Werewolf".)
Currently the band is touring, playing all-ages shows at unconventional venues like libraries, art museums and, here in Houston, an indoor soccer stadium. Wack caught up with Paul DeGeorge over the phone while they were somewhere in Utah between Provo and Salt Lake City.
HP: A couple of years ago, a friend of our family got me to dress as Hagrid and go to an elementary school book fair. The kids really believed I was Hagrid, so much so that this one little girl followed me around with love in her eyes for about half an hour. She asked me if I was married and everything. Have you had any similar experiences?
PD: It's usually the very little kids, but it's very strange and surreal when they mistake you for being the actual characters. And in our case, with both me and my brother dressed as Harry, it must be even weirder for them -- all of a sudden there's two Harry Potters. I have no idea what's going through a six-year-old's brain when we play, other than maybe "Whoa, it's music! I'm gonna dance!"
HP: What's the age range at your shows?
PD: It's mostly teens and twentysomethings, all the people that have sort of grown up with those books. They're out in the largest numbers, but lots of hip parents bring their kids down, either 'cause they like what we do, or they want to show their kids an indie rock band that plays songs about movies their kids like. And so that's how we get to play for five- and six-year-olds who can't even read -- they've seen the movies. And we even get older folks, all the way up to geezers. Grandparents sometimes come without kids. That's really awesome when that happens.
For a lot of high school-age kids, this is the first or one of the first shows they've ever been to. When you're that age, it's hard to convince your parents to let you go to a show, but with us, they can say, "I'm going to a show at a library." And they come all pumped -- you remember how excited you were to go to a show in high school. It makes us want to do the best we can every show, because we know there are people there who have never been to a show before.
HP: I see that you're on the road with Draco and the Malfoys. What's it like touring with your archnemesis?
PD: There's been sort of a surge in Harry Potter-related bands...With the Malfoys, they're from Rhode Island and they saw us on the Internet and they invited us to come play at a house party. So we went down there and everybody had a good time, and then they wanted to have us back to do a Harry Potter-themed show, so they put together that band pretty much as a one-off, it was like "We'll be Draco and the Malfoys and we'll make fun of Harry and the Potters." And their set was riddled with curse words and stuff, 'cause it was a house party. But we thought it was hilarious, so we got them to clean up a few of their words and started having them play with us around Boston. And one of them is a fantastic drummer, so he sits in with us after the Malfoys set.
HP: Do you all interact in character?
PD: Yeah, we do. We boo them while they play, and if something goes wrong with their drum machine or something, we'll say things like, "Who you got drumming for you? Some squibb?" (For those of you who flunked the Hogwarts entrance exam, a squibb is a person born of magical parents who has no magical abilities of his or her own.)
HP: What is a successful show for Harry and the Potters? Money? Rocking the house? Inculcating a love of reading? All three?
PD: Every night is an awesome challenge to create a unique experience for people. A lot of them have never seen a rock show, and they've certainly never seen a rock show at a library. We really want them to go away feeling like this was the best night of the summer. I think a lot of bands think that way, but I've gotten so tired of seeing bands just get on stage and phone it in. They're up there and it's like they're just doing a job, supporting their record. It's never been about that for us. We don't have to support our records, because our records are not in stores. We love it when we can go home and see our MySpace comments page with 20 comments on it like "Here's pictures from tonight! We had such a great time! It was the show of the summer! I stole my mom's car and drove five hours to see you guys!"
Harry and the Potters appear Friday, August 11, at Kicks Indoor Soccer, 611 Shepherd, 713-426-1107.
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