Arts & Entertainment, The Muse

Boston’s newest brand of magic

It’s has become increasingly clear that one of the biggest pop/indie act to come out of Boston in recent years is Passion Pit. They have blown up, and their music has permeated popular culture from commercials to being featured in Rolling Stone to appearing at major music festivals. But in their wake, there are still many excellent local bands that haven’t yet gotten national attention. Boston is quite possibly one of the hardest scenes to break out of, but these bands are working toward national recognition.

Magic Magic is a Dedham-based band whose popularity is snowballing, even overseas; they quickly became press darlings on a trip to London. Their sound is a mix of a gigantic rhythm section comprised of two drummers, a bass and lead singer John Murphy’s guitar with Brendan Hugh’s murky and delayed lead guitar. Murphy’s vocals have a child-like quality to them: high, haunting and mesmerizing. The cryptic lyrics are ‘trying to put the pill in the mashed potatoes,’ as he puts it. The Muse caught up with 3/5 of the band members at their practice space ‘-‘- John, Brendan, and drummer Mike Hlady.

The Muse : How did you guys get started?
John Murphy : The band started with me and Mike. We used to play at the V&M Bowling Alley. First show, first line up was May 17th, 2006. We played at the Lilly Pad with The Popsicles and Full Source.
Mike Hlady : With Greg Scanlan
JM : Yeah, we’ve obviously had a number of people play with us.
TM : Bassists in particular?
JM : Yeah, Bassists in particular. We didn’t have a solid line up for a pretty long time. We got Brendan and then it was us three primarily. Dylan (Second drummer) played; we thought we’d add a little more to our live shows by having Dylan come. After some time, when he had a stake in some of the songs, he joined the band.

TM : How do you guys write songs?
JM : There are as many ways to make a song as there are songs we have. Some of them are written on napkins, lyrics first, riffs first, some are two different songs or two different parts, some of them we write and don’t know what to do and then sit on them, some we write on a whim and record, we like recording so’hellip;
MH : It used to be we would make the recording before we knew the song.
JM : Like the first album (LP) was me and [Mike].
MH : And people would come in and learn the parts. Recently, we’ve been making samples and playing with them.

TM : Who comes up with the lyrics?
JM : Me for the most part, but Brendan writes too’hellip; I wanted to make music with other people though, not just by myself, because then it’s moody. We’re really focused on trying to make material together. It’s more genuine when band members have a stake in the writing process. It’s more personal for the band.

TM : And about having two drummers? The London press made a big deal about it.
JM : It’s weird. Yeah, it’s not a shtick. I always forget about it.
Brendan Hugh : When they ask ‘So what’s your band all about?’ I’m like ‘Yeah, we have a guy who plays drums.’ It’s not the first thing that pops into my head.
JM : Two drummers was a good idea because we were tired of going to shows and not being entertained. Playing live’hellip; we thought it keeps you engaged.

TM : What about being compared to Arcade Fire?
JM : A lot of people think the album is dark, which is weird. A lot of it, in my head, is pretty light-hearted stuff. The Arcade Fire thing is weird because we have to admit, secretly, that Mike and I were so in to it, but we never made songs to try and be like it. And it comes back, and you’re like what the fuck? I was totally defensive about it. We did everything in the world to not make music like Arcade Fire.
TM : I think a lot of it is about how big your songs are, kind of like Arcade Fire.
JM : That was the thing that got me about Arcade Fire. I don’t think all our songs are huge. There are some of them, and they’re big.
MH : I still don’t think it sounds like Arcade Fire. We make, like, happy music.

TM : What do you think about Passion Pit?
JM : Their songs are catchy as hell, and they’re all on the radio. (In whiny voice) They’re so much better than anything on the radio.
MH : They did it. They gave everyone what they wanted.

TM : Where do you want to be in one year?
MH and BH : Touring.
JM : We’ll have a new album officially ready by spring. It all just really relies on the record and how people take it. Bottom line: the album speaks for itself. We just wanna keep making stuff. Keep recording. Keep making records.

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