Paul DeGeorge (Harry Year 7) and Joe DeGeorge (Harry Year 4) comprise the wizarding rock band, “Harry and the Potters”. While the magical world gets treated to the Weird Sisters, we muggles have our own wizarding rock to enjoy on a hot summer day.
HP Warcry caught up with the DeGeorge brothers (all right, we played e-mail tag) recently to bring this fine interview to you.
To get started, for those readers not familiar with the story of ‘the band’:
On a summer day in 2002, Joe had planned to hold a rock show in his backyard, but the bands backed out. That morning the DeGeorge brothers quickly formed “Harry and the Potters” – they wrote seven songs inspired by the popular book series and rehearsed in the backyard shed. Later that evening, “Harry and the Potters” made a successful debut in front of six guests and have been going since.
So let’s start there with the questions.
Out of curiosity, what were those seven songs?
Paul: Actually, 5 of them have ended up on our first CD and they weren’t really changed all that much. Those are I am a Wizard, Platform 9 and ¾, Fluffy, Wizard Chess, and Problem Solving Skillz. One of the other songs was about the troll. We play it live sometimes, although I think the only thing similar to the original version is maybe one or two lines. The last song was about playing quidditch and it was really bad. I guess that shows we have some sort of limited quality control.
Paul, I have read you are a scientist. That’s so cool – what kind of science is it, and do your coworkers tease you about rockin’ out to Harry Potter? (Do they know?)
Paul: I work for a vaccine company as a process development engineer. Basically I figure out methods for manufacturing the vaccines that the company has developed. The people I work with know about the Potters, but I’m not sure any of them get it – unless they’ve seen us perform. Some people think it’s a cool hobby, I think most don’t know what to make of it.
This one’s for Joe – Joe, what are your future career plans?
Joe: Science! It’s magic. It’s our universe. I have never been able to picture my future without a direct relationship between myself and the study of our universe. I’d like to spend time unlocking the secrets of life. So, more bluntly, my answer is “Biology.” Specifics, I can decide later, I’m not exactly farsighted.
These two albums are packed full with grand wizard rock. Did you have to cut any songs off the albums, and if so, what were they called?
Paul: We cut a few songs from the from the first CD. One was called “Diagon Alley.” It was really short and not very good or funny and didn’t really fit onto the CD in a nice way. Another was “the Wrath of Hermione” which we thought was too annoying to put on a CD that people might listen to repeatedly. People tend to like it though and it’s a good dance party track, so we play it at shows quite a bit.
Growing up, what music were you into?
Paul: They Might Be Giants, Springsteen, Nirvana, Pixies – those are probably the four cornerstones of my musical upbringing.
I’m thinking I hear a bit of They Might be Giants influence in the samples. Who are your musical influences these days?
Paul: I still love all the bands I named above. On top of that Pavement, Andrew WK, Guided by Voices, Jonathan Richman/Modern Lovers, Les Savy Fav, Archers of Loaf, Buzzcocks, Lifter Puller, more. You get the idea. Indie stuff.
The song influences content wise are obvious. Are there plans for a new album? If so, will you wait until after book seven?
Paul: We’ll have to see what Book 6 is like. We’ve been tossing around the idea of making a dance party record that everyone can crank up in their respective common rooms. I just got an awesome new drum machine toon.
Since the lyrics are written, any plans to do “Weasley is our King” or The Hogwarts school song?
Paul: This 14-year old kid (Tony Gong) who came to one of our first shows recorded a version of “Weasley is our King.” It was pretty great and we’ve been meaning to cover it. If you see us on tour this summer you can try requesting it and see if we’ve learned it.
Are there any music videos in the works?
Paul: Nope. We’re not a video band. We’ve never worked in that medium before. We did shoot a bunch of footage during our summer tour last year and we’ve been meaning to edit it into a nice short documentary type thing, but I’m not sure if we’d ever release it or if we’d ever get to it.
What has been your favorite show so far?
Paul: There have been so many really special shows. Just last week we played a really awesome and intense show at our hometown library and that was very nice. And then the next night we played an amazing show at the NY Public Library on Manhattan and that was incredible too. Every show is a party.
Where would you like to perform but haven’t yet?
Paul: Somewhere ridiculous. Fenway Park maybe? Or a rooftop. We haven’t done that yet. Or a parking garage. Yeah!
For all the librarians out there, how far do you recommend scheduling a show in advance?
Paul: That’s a funny question. Usually it’s not the libraries that have the problem scheduling shows in advance. It’s us. I’ve had people ask me if we’re available a year ahead of their target date. We just can’t plan our lives that far in advance. I think two or three months works best for us. That’s about as far into our future as we can see.
Do you have groupies?
Joe: We’re a boy band.
Now for some fun stuff – Favorite Harry Potter book?
Paul: Order of the Phoenix. It’s dark and depressing and nothing good happens. Just like Empire.
Joe: I like Order of the Phoenix also. Even though Harry Potter is a total jerk in this book, he achieves a real punk rock state of mind and starts doing things for himself and sticking it to the man. He’s able to recognize corruption and to fight for righteousness. This provides good fodder for a wizard related rock band, since many thematic elements in rock music are reflected in the events that occur in the Order of the Phoenix.
Which movie and why?
Paul: Prisoner. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but it alluded to Back to the Future II (when Marty travels back to 1955 and has to hide and watch himself do all this other stuff) and I love anything that reminds me of Back to the Future.
Joe: Wizard People, Dear Reader. It’s the first Harry potter movie, but you watch it with the volume down and put on an alternate soundtrack, which is Brad Neely narrating (book on tape style) in a gravelly voice, changing names and loosely distorting the plot line, while the action is played out on the screen. It’s probably the funniest thing ever, and the best derivative work of the Harry Potter phenomena that I’ve seen. Can I plug it?
You guys travel a lot, which airport is most rockin’?
Joe: As a band, we’ve only been to three different airports, Logan, Raleigh/Durham, and Gatwick. I don’t like airports. Too bureaucratic. Bureaucracy and Rock do not mix. They are polar opposites. As a result, most of our transport is done in our Potter Mobile, which is decorated with a lightning bolt on the hood. This way you can tell when the wizard rock is approaching.
This is the obligatory “I am stranded on a desert island question.” (I promise this will be the only lame question I ask!) If Harry, Ron, and Hermione were being held by Voldemort, and thus, unavailable – who would you want with you on the island and why?
Paul: Hello! Dumbledore! I would pick Dumbledore over all those stupid kids! He’s hardcore.
Who’s worse: Rita Skeeter or Dolores Umbridge?
Paul: This is like asking me “Who’s worse: Scott McClellen (current white house press secretary) or Fox News?” Well Scotty is the one who spews the bullshit, but Fox News are the ones who actually get people to believe it. There will always be evil and stupid people in the world, but I think the media has a near-sacred duty to keep them in check. Rita Skeeter is worse.
And finally! You’re trapped in a room with Voldemort. What’s your wand of choice, and more importantly how do you take him down?
Paul: Forget the wand. We’d challenge him to various board games. Bill and Ted were totally able to escape Death doing that in Bogus Journey. Voldemort and Death have a pretty similar style.
Thanks guys for taking time out of your busy summer schedule and chatting with us.