Wrock Spotlight: Harry and the Potters

We at MuggleNet (or at least me, Emily, your new wizard rock correspondent… which is a position I may or may not have made up just now) are firm believers that wizard rock is, in fact, not dead, but a vital part of our vibrant, living, breathing, beautiful Harry Potter fandom. To celebrate this one-of-a-kind music genre, we will be highlighting a different wrock artist each month! It is our hope that long-time fans of wrock can come here to read about their favorite musicians, and newcomers can be introduced to their new favorite musicians. You will get to read exclusive interviews from artists who have ceased performing (but are still dear to us), as well as artists who are still wrocking. And who better to start it off than the band that started it all?

 

Harry and the Potters

 

Official Website

Discography

*This discography does not include EPs, singles, or compilations

Harry and the Potters and the Power of Love (2006)

  1. New Wizard Anthem
  2. Song for the Death Eaters
  3. Flesh, Blood, and Bone
  4. Save Ginny Weasley from Dean Thomas
  5. Felix Felicis
  6. Slug Club
  7. Smoochy Smoochy Pukey Pukey
  8. This Book Is So Awesome
  9. (Not Gonna Put on) The Monkey Suit
  10. We Save Ron’s Life Part 8
  11. Hermione’s Birds and Boys
  12. In Which Draco Malfoy Cries Like a Baby
  13. Dumbledore
  14. Phoenix Song

Voldemort Can’t Stop the Rock! (2004)

  1. Voldemort Can’t Stop the Rock!
  2. The Weasle
  3. The Missing Arm of Viktor Krum
  4. Fred and George
  5. Keeping Secrets from Me
  6. Cornelius Fudge Is an Ass
  7. Dumbledore’s Army
  8. These Dreams Are Dark
  9. Stick It to Delores
  10. S.P.E.W.
  11. The Human Hosepipe
  12. Luna Lovegood Is OK
  13. The Godfather Part II
  14. The Weapon

Harry and the Potters (2003)

  1. I Am a Wizard
  2. Platform 9 and ¾
  3. The Dark Lord Lament
  4. Fluffy
  5. Wizard Chess
  6. Problem Solving Skillz
  7. Back to School
  8. The Foil (Malfoy)
  9. Follow the Spiders
  10. Save Ginny Weasley
  11. 2 Weeks to Myself
  12. Gryffindor Rocks
  13. The Firebolt
  14. My Teacher Is a Werewolf
  15. The Godfather
  16. The Fourth Triwizard Champion
  17. The Yule Ball
  18. These Days Are Dark

Harry and the Potters is known for being the first ever wizard rock band and inspiring a generation of reader-musicians to write songs about their favorite book series. The band was founded in 2002 in Massachusetts by brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge. The brothers portray the personas of a younger and older Harry Potter and write songs from Harry’s perspective. And guess who had the opportunity to ask Harry Potter some questions for this article! (Chocolate frogs for all who guessed me.)

One thing I wanted to learn about was the band’s musical influences. According to Joe, HatP performances are heavily influenced by those of Bruce Springsteen. Harry and the Potters brings huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm to their shows. (I honestly don’t know how a human body can produce that much energy… attending a HatP show should be on everyone’s fandom bucket list). HatP has gone on tours in several countries, performing at venues ranging from major fan conventions to people’s backyards. When asked about which venues are his favorite, Joe replied that fan conventions are great because of the built-in community, but these might not be accessible to everyone. He said, “I think some of my favorite shows that we’ve done have been where we just told people to meet us in the middle of the woods somewhere, hike out with us, and have a sing along. We did that the night when the sixth movie came out and tried to get everyone inside of a cave, since the cave plays such an important role in that story. We didn’t quite find a cave. We found a chasm and figured that would be close enough.”

As far as musical influence, Joe cited They Might Be Giants, though he admitted they “could spend our whole lives trying to write a song like John Linnell and never come close. But you know what they say: If you shoot for the moon and miss, maybe you’ll get to Mars or Jupiter. But I don’t know why you’d even want to leave Earth. It’s the best planet.”

Happily, we have lots of wrockers here on earth who share their talents with us. Harry and the Potters has collaborated with a wide range of other talented musicians, including Brad Mehlenbacher of Draco and the Malfoys. Joe did me the favor of making a list of musicians who have collaborated with and/or had an influence on HatP, which he called “a useful resource for a future ethnomusicologist witch,” which I’m now claiming as my new title. You can view the list below in the full interview transcript.

But Harry and the Potters’s work extends beyond playing songs about books. The duo starred in the documentary films We Are Wizards and Wizard Rockumentary. They formed the Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club, an extended play syndicate that sent subscribers monthly wrock EPs from 2007 to 2009. They created the elusive and oh-so-delicious Snitchwich, oh, and they host a podcast called The Cephalopodcast, which is narrated by the Giant Squid.

They also co-founded the charity organization the Harry Potter Alliance with Andrew Slack in 2005, an organization that seeks to improve the world through fan activism. Joe explained how they got started exploring Potter’s relationship to our society’s issues through music: “The stories contain social and political narratives that can be mapped onto our world. This appealed to us, and we thought we could make some good punk songs using that material. For example, during our first tours, we would make all sorts of comparisons with Cornelius Fudge’s ignorance and social irresponsibility to that of the Bush administration.” After Slack approached the band to help form the HPA, wrock has continued to play a role in fan activism: “We would signal boost the HPA’s campaigns to our audience on the internet as well as invite representatives of the organization to our shows to build this new model of fan activism.” Currently, the HPA is hosting a 2016 Wizard Rock the Vote campaign, encouraging witches and wizard to get to the polls.

The Potter fandom has certainly evolved during the time HatP began wrocking in 2002, when “the fandom was abuzz with all sorts of speculation as to what would be in store for the next five years.” But enthusiasm in the fandom has not decreased, and there may even be a few things left to speculate on. Joe remarked that the band has “a song called ‘Ice Cream Man’ that we wrote after the books came out that ponders the unresolved disappearance of Florean Fortescue.”

And now that we have new content in the Potterverse, perhaps we will start seeing Cursed Child or Fantastic Beasts wrock songs. When asked his opinion on the controversial stage play, Joe replied that while it wasn’t the reading experience he hoped for, “The thing I like most about ‘the Cursed Child’ is that it leaves the canon very open in its use of alternate realities. I like to think that is a conscious nod from Rowling to her fans who have imagined and speculated so much over the years. It acknowledges the immense outpouring of fan theories through the years in the same way Dumbledore says to Harry at King’s Cross, ‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?'”

So what’s in store for Harry and the Potters in the future? Well, they will be performing at LeakyCon in October and the Edinburgh Snowball in November. And apparently they “are looking for someone to audition as Albus Severus Potter to front a new band to play with us in the multiverse.”

Full interview

So you guys were the originals back in 2002 and are still wrocking today. From your perspective, how has the fandom evolved in that time?

We formed in a moment of great anticipation.  The Harry Potter series was only four books deep at the time.  Voldemort had just returned.  The fandom was abuzz with all sorts of speculation as to what would be in store for the next five years.  I think more than anything the speculation around what Rowling would throw at us was what drove much of the engine of the fandom.  After the series was released we noticed a change.  People at our shows were still celebrating the stories and the world, but we were surrounded by a lot more closure, having had everything wrapped up relatively neatly.  There’s still a few things to speculate on of course.  We have a song called “Ice Cream Man” that we wrote after the books came out that ponders the unresolved disappearance of Florean Fortescue.

Harry and the Potters performs at all sorts of venues, from major fan conventions to backyards. What are your favorite venues to play?

I can’t really pick a favorite because every show and circumstance is different.  I will say my favorite thing about playing at some conventions is the sense of community there.  We try to build that at our shows bringing people together with an excuse to run around and scream and yell about how much they love a book, but with some conventions that community is almost already built in and it makes for a fun and meaningful show.  However these shows are not always accessible to everyone. As much as they try to have a low price point, not everyone can take the time or spend the money to be at one of these conventions.  Playing in other venues like libraries helps makes our performances more accessible to people, as they are free all ages shows that happen at reasonable hours.  But I think some of my favorite shows that we’ve done have been where we just told people to meet us in the middle of the woods somewhere, hike out with us and have a sing along.  We did that the night when the sixth movie came out, and tried to get everyone inside of a cave, since the cave plays such an important role in that story.  We didn’t quite find a cave.  We found a chasm and figured that would be close enough.

Your music is inspired by punk and DIY genres. Are there other wrock musicians who you have listened to or collaborated with that have influenced your music? Any “muggle” musicians?

We’ve had a lot of drummers collaborate with us.  I will list as many as I can and who the character they played in the band here and hope it is suitably accurate.  In brackets I will put notable other projects they have played that have had an influence on us.  With a lot of these folks we had played with their bands and then asked them to collaborate with us.  Maybe this might be a useful resource for a future ethnomusicologist witch.

Ernie Kim as Ernie Macmillan [Tristan da Cunha], Andrew MacLeay as Young Olivander and Young Hagrid [Ed in the Refridgerators], Ben Macri as Charlie Weasley [Soltero], Bradley Mehelenbacher as Bill Weasley [Draco and the Malfoys], Jason Anderson as Baby Hagrid [Jason Anderson/Wolf Colonel, Tracks], Mike Gintz [Clickers, Clawjob], Phillip Dickey as Charlie Weasley [Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin], John Clardy as Ringo Weasley [Terra Melos, Fishboy], Zach Burba as Summer Santa [iji], Jacob Nathan as Lily Potter [Huge Face], Jimmy Kleiner as Jimmy Weasley [Solitary Snape, The Swedish Shortsnouts], Mike Harpring as the Ghost of Cedric Diggory [Good Luck, Universe], Lisa Schonberg as Severus Snape [Kickball], Rosie Richeson as Ginny Weasley [Night Witch]

All these people have had a direct hand in influencing our live show.  There is a good deal of crossover with a few other wizard rock projects.  Brad Mehelenbacher from Draco and the Malfoys has been drumming with us since 2006 and still manages to play a few shows a year with us.  Jimmy Kleiner plays in two popular Swedish wizard rock bands as well.

As far as other influences Springsteen’s energetic performances have been highly influntial in the way we approach our live shows.  Musically we’ve always loved They Might Be Giants, but could spend our whole lives trying to write a song like John Linnell and never come close.  But you know what they say: If you shoot for the moon and miss maybe you’ll get to Mars, or Jupiter.  But I don’t know why you’d even want to leave Earth.  It’s the best planet.

Harry and the Potters helped create the Harry Potter Alliance. How has wizard rock played a role in the growth of fan activism?

As readers of the Harry Potter books we were drawn towards Harry’s and Hermione’s rebellious nature and their efforts to organize, whether with S.P.E.W. or Dumbeldore’s Army.  The stories contain social and political narratives that can be mapped onto our world.  This appealed to us, and we thought we could make some good punk songs using that material. For example during our first tours we would make all sorts of comparisons with Conelius Fudge’s ignorance and social irresponsibility to that of the Bush administration.  I can’t say that we felt like we were making much of an impact in changing the world for the better by playing those songs, so when the idea for the HPA was presented to us we were excited to help set it in motion.  That all started when Andrew Slack, one of the founders of the HPA, saw our our wizard punk show and approached us to say he had a vision of a social mechanism that used peoples’ enthusiasm for the Harry Potter stories as an entry point to activism, much in the way our shows could be portals for Harry Potter fans into alternative music. We were equipped and excited to help in that mission. Through a few years of touring we had developed a fan base and ways to contact that base, whether through email or Myspace bulletins.  When we started working with the Harry Potter Alliance we would signal boost the HPA’s campaigns to our audience on the Internet as well as invite representatives of the organization to our shows to build this new model of fan activism.  I must say it is really wonderful to be a part of a community that thinks so critically about the stories they love and can apply ideas inspired by those stories to better our world.

The hot topic in the fandom right now is of course the Cursed Child. How do you feel about it and the other new content J.K. Rowling is releasing?

With regards to the Cursed Child, I was secretly hoping for an experience that would resemble the feeling of reading the original series, but that was not the case. Since I did not find it to be similar to that feeling, and I wonder if it is because The Cursed Child is a play, or because the play does not use Rowling’s verbiage, or because it’s been too long since the main narrative was expounded on, or because I’ve read too much fan fiction, or because I have been pretending to be a teen Harry Potter for 15 years, or some mixture of all of these. The thing I like most about the Cursed Child is that it leaves the canon very open in it’s use of alternate realities.  I like to think that is a conscious nod from Rowling to her fans who have imagined and speculated so much over the years.  It’s acknowledges the immense outpouring of fan theories through the years in the same way Dumbledore says to Harry at King’s Cross, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

With regard to the other writings Rowling has produced I cannot say that I’ve read very much.  I found Pottermore a little difficult to navigate and I miss having a compelling narrative to guide me through the wizarding world.  I really prefer reading her immersive long form prose and have not found that yet in Pottermore.  Apart from that, after reading through some of the new material I must say that I found Adrienne Keene’s critical response to Magic in North America Part I to be valuable.

What’s in store for Harry and the Potters in the future?

We are looking for someone to audition as Albus Severus Potter to front a new band to play with us in the multiverse.