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
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.”