“Potterversity” Episode 24: “Wrock On!”
Wrock out on this episode about musical fan creations in the Potterverse.
We are all about fan culture in this month’s episode. Emily and Katy talk with Paul Thomas (University of Kansas) about his book I Wanna Wrock!: The World of Harry Potter-Inspired “Wizard Rock” and Its Fandom, published by McFarland & Company in 2018. Paul is himself a wrock musician in the band the 8th Horcrux. He first got involved in wrock as a way to impress his crush, who is now his wife and fellow bandmember, Trina. As a result, he’s a participant observer in the wrock phenomenon, fully qualified to discuss how, why, and where musically minded fans have expressed their ideas and feelings about Harry Potter. He talks to us about the challenges of taking both insider and outsider perspectives and also the joys of being a wrocker.
Paul helps us understand the history of wrock, the songs at the foundation of the movement, and its many musical and literary influences. You will want to check out some of this early wrock music, including songs by Switchblade Kittens (“Ode to Harry Potter”) and (of course) Harry and the Potters. He explains how their popularity took off, the typical themes and characteristics of wrock groups, and what unites and divides these musicians and their work. He emphasizes the centrality of wrock lyrical content and its connections to filk, punk, and fan fiction. Most of all, wizard wrock brings Potter enthusiasts together and builds community.
We discuss the role of performativity as a vital, identity-affirming but also identity-bending feature of the wrock community – and its link to cosplay. As these bands put forth a set of shared beliefs, they welcome the audience in, potentially changing reality during those performances to allow full immersion in an alternate world. Paul talks about meeting the kind and funny members of Draco and the Malfoys, a contrast to their Malfoy-esque stage identity. Paul also shares with us his own personal influences as a wrock musician (including Weird Al Yankovic, They Might Be Giants, Green Day, and Weezer). He also gives tips for would-be wrockers out there. Definitely check out the 8th Horcrux’s music!
Stick around for Owl Post, where we read listeners’ thoughts on our Secrets of Dumbledore episodes!
What are your favorite wrock groups or songs? What would you like to hear more about from our podcast? We’d love to hear from you! Please send us an email at PotterversityPodcast@gmail.com, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.