Exclusive Interview: Draco and the Malfoys Back with a New Album
by Karmen Allison · Published · Updated
If you were at LeakyCon on October 14-16 this year, then you probably heard the new album by Draco and the Malfoys. The new album, An Anthology of Slytherin Folk Music: Volume II has officially dropped. If you are a loyal Draco and the Malfoys fan, then you will know that it’s been 13 years since the last album, An Anthology of Slytherin Folk Music: Volume I.
With that in mind, it is no surprise that the wizard rock community is very excited about new music. We sat down with the lead singer and co-creator of Draco and the Malfoys, Brian Ross, to discuss the new album as well as his love for the Harry Potter stories. We had fun diving into the inspirations behind his songs and what drew him to the idea of creating Wrock music.
What Inspired Him to Make a Folk Album
In 2007, Brian’s dad played in a bluegrass music band, and Brian grew up going to bluegrass music festivals. At one point, his dad’s band needed someone to fill in on bass, so Brian filled in and fell in love with the music from there as he eventually became their permanent bassist. Then in 2008, An Anthology of Slytherin Folk Music: Volume I was recorded with that very band playing the music for it. They all performed it together at LeakyCon in 2009 and at the Yule Ball later that year.
Why He Decided to Make the New Album Another Folk Collection
I did decide late in the game that I was determined to have a CD in my hand at LeakyCon, so it was going to be something I had to be able to crank out myself.
Brian further explained that folk music was easier to record at home and that he spent three weeks doing nothing else other than writing for this new album.
His Favorite Song from the New Album
Brian answered this question by explaining that it would be very hard to pick a favorite — instead, he told us a little about the album in general. “Brawl at Flourish and Blotts” references a Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets scene with Lucius Malfoy and Arthur Weasley.
It feels like a keynote for how the album is going to sound and what it’s going to all be about.
“The Three Broomsticks Tonight” isn’t necessarily bluegrass other than the instruments used. Neither is “It’s Not Malfoy Manor,” which takes place after Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix before Draco returns to Hogwarts. “The Carrows” is an eerie song and not very folky until it builds into the bluegrass rhythm. It’s meant to reflect the insanity of The Carrows — chaotic and frantic, and then back into eerie. Brian wrapped up by speaking about what he believes to be the most popular song on the new album:
Everybody … is loving ‘Firewhiskey is Flowing.’
Why He Released the Album at LeakyCon
The last time they released an album was at the 2014 LeakyCon. Brian said it just felt like the right thing to do and continued with it.
Both from a practical standpoint and a – this is a bad word for it, but for the lack of a better word off the tip of my tongue – spiritual reason to do it at Leaky as well.
What Attracted Him to Harry Potter as a Fan
Brian told us about his lifelong love of wizards; he loved The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. As an adult, he discovered Harry Potter and was curious about a children’s book being a #1 bestseller. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had just come out when he decided to read the series.
It was like it was all over [from there], midnight releases, all of it.
If you enjoyed this interview as much as we did, be sure to check out the full transcript below for more. You can check out more about Draco and the Malfoys on their website. Be sure to give them a follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube for more news on the new album, future projects, merch, and all updates.
Transcribed by Meg Scott, Marissa Osman, Ryan McCormick, and Sandy Pascarella
Brian Ross: Thanks so much for doing this!
Karmen Allison: Thanks so much for reaching out! We love doing stuff like this. I thought it was really interesting that you decided to make another folk album. Growing up, my grandfather would take us grandkids to school and that's the kind of music he always played in the car.
Brian: Oh, awesome! Some old bluegrass.
Karmen: I love the banjo. I was interested to see what inspired [you] to make a folk album.
Brian: Oh, I love this question and I'm really happy you asked it. This is Volume Two of An Anthology of Slytherin Folk Music. How Volume One came about, was back in 2007, our dad had been playing in a bluegrass band for a couple of years, and we played music with our dad growing up, but he had never had a band before. So he started getting into bluegrass music, and he got a band together. He was over the moon about it, and we had spent a few summers going to bluegrass festivals with him. I loved the music, but I didn't have it in [my heart] yet. I'd gone every time, [and when] I went to the festival, I enjoyed the music, but it's not like I came home and started listening to bluegrass. But then the bassist of their bluegrass band quit and they had some gigs lined up, so he asked if I would fill in on the base for the Bluegrass band. I played with my electric bass, trying to make it sound like an old standup as well as I could. I thought I was just going to fill in for a few shows, and it went well. I loved it. I loved playing the music so much. I got a standup bass and became a permanent bassist in that band for four years, and I absolutely fell in love with the music.
Then once I started playing it, I started understanding it better. It was a little bit later in my life [and] I'd been playing music since I was 11 or 12, and it had been all rock'n'roll from 1987 to 2007. That's a long span to just play one [type of] music. But I didn't know you could fall in love twice like that. And so in 2008, we released An Anthology of Slytherin Folk Songs, Volume One, which was mainly recorded with that bluegrass band as our backup band. We just put a couple of mics in the room; it's a pretty lo-fi recording of it all, but it worked in this situation. It was organic and the band loved playing it with us. We played at the first LeakyCon together as a bluegrass band in 2009, and we played the Yule Ball maybe that year or the year after as the bluegrass band. [The band] got to see what the Harry Potter fandom was about, and that was pretty wild.
Now, let me speed up a few years and answer your question. [laughs] There were a few things that were going on. First, I needed to record the album at home. The original wizard rock way to record your album was to do it yourself. You record it in your house, you mix it yourself, you just do it yourself. I didn't have the time, the means, or the desire to do any studio situation. I wanted to just do [everything] myself.
That is sort of "art from limitation" in a way. There was no way I was going to record drums, so that took electric guitars out of the situation, but I didn't mind that. I'm working on some solo material too, and it's all bluegrass instrumentation; it's very folky as well. It'll have a really similar sound. But I had maybe three or four of these songs a little bit written [already], and a couple of them... I hadn't necessarily intended that they would be in this folk instrumentation, but the others definitely lent themselves to it. So I just leaned into it, and I was like, "I've got all this stuff here. I've got the banjo, I've got the standup bass, I've got my acoustic guitar, I've got my harmonicas." I just wanted to release what I love to play. When I'm writing, I write on an acoustic guitar. I mostly perform on an acoustic guitar. I just wanted to share what's been on my musical heart lately.
Karmen: Yeah! I think the folk genre is definitely getting more and more popular these days.
Brian: You hear Banjo and a bunch more stuff than you ever used to, right? For sure.
Karmen: Even Taylor Swift was going back to her roots and doing a folk album, so I think that it's coming back in. I just recently decided I would like to learn to play the guitar, so I bought an acoustic.
Brian: [gasps] Good for you!
Karmen: The first thing that I got told by my father and grandfather was, "Okay, learn to play it and then learn to play the banjo. [laughs] With my family, the folk genre is very high. You kind of answered my next question, which was: What made you decide to make the new album another folk one? But I guess you already answered that, saying that you just love the genre and love the music.
Brian: 100%. I did decide late in the game that I was determined to have a CD in my hand at LeakyCon, so it was going to be something I had to be able to crank out myself. I wouldn't have wanted to make an album if it weren't going to be like this. I don't think I have ideas for future Draco and the Malfoys releases that are not necessarily going to be folk albums, but for now, this just seemed like an obvious answer to the, "How do I get something at LeakyCon?" question and it and it works well because it's been a long time since we released Volume One. We didn't release it with the intention... We didn't necessarily intend that there would be a Volume Two, but it just made sense. As soon as that idea clicked in my head then it was just all engines go. I'd spent three weeks doing pretty much nothing else.
Karmen: [There is] another thing that y'all do so interestingly. I love when artists or bands do each CD in a different genre. I think it's so neat when people do that, and so I love that you guys did that. I just think that's so neat and you can reach a lot of fans that way. Maybe someone doesn't like pop music, but they listen to your folk album because they like folk, and then they like your music so then they listen to the pop album! I always think that's interesting. You mentioned wanting to have a CD in your hand for LeakyCon. Is this something that you've been working on for a while, or did you just recently decide it's time for the next one to come out?
Brian: Well, we actually had a few projects in mind. We're launching another one at LeakyCon that is not this album. We've got a lot going on. So it's not like we haven't been working on other stuff, we have been, but I hadn't worked on this concept until the first week of September. As I said, I'm looking at the track list now - and I'm old, so I have to hold this out like this, far from my face to read it - two-and-a-half of these songs were written before the first week of September. It was really fun to just show myself I could do it. I didn't know it was even possible to write and record and get something to the duplicator in three weeks. [I] just figured if there was a way to do it, I was going to get it done.
Karmen: And if the inspiration is hitting, [you] might as well just let it flow.
Brian: That's right. And that's part of what was cool about the concept too. The first Anthology of Slytherin Folk Music was about fifty-fifty between traditional songs that were handed down [through] generations of Slytherins, and the other half - or maybe even more than half - were Draco and the Malfoys songs that already existed on previous releases that we just did in a folky, bluegrass style with the bluegrass band. "My Dad Is Rich" is on there, "99 Death Eaters" is on there... So some of it was rehashed a little bit. The new CD is all new music. There's one song on there that got released on a charity compilation, but this is a new version of it. Other than that one song, this is all brand-new Malfoys material. That makes it different and a little more exciting for me.
Karmen: Obviously, the theme of your songs is in the mindset of Draco [who is] not Harry Potter's biggest fan. I also will admit that there are times when I'm watching the movies or reading the books [where] I'm like, "Harry, I just want to strangle you." Do you feel this way towards Harry too, or do you just find it fun to step into Draco's mindset?
Brian: I guess I have my moments where I feel that way about Harry, but I just like writing humorously, and for me, it's fun to write humor when it's mean. I don't know what it is, [maybe] it's just an angle on the humor that if you're being funny at somebody, it just makes the humor a little bit funnier. Especially when they're fictional characters and you're not going to insult a real-life person. It tends to make it even funnier because you can laugh at it easier, maybe. The new album is also about fifty-fifty songs handed down, but a lot of them are from Draco's perspective. Some of them, you don't know they're from Draco's perspective until the last verse comes, and then it's got an "I" in it and you're like, "Oh, yeah, that's how Draco's involved in this story." I went back and there were a lot of anecdotes that we hadn't written about yet, and there still are there. There are many, many things that happened to Draco, and [that] Draco does in the books that we haven't written a song about.
Karmen: We have discussions on MuggleNet all the time. You can read the books one time, and then when you read them again, you catch new things that you didn't catch the other times...
Karmen: ... so there's always new stuff you can come up with, I'm sure.
Brian: I've got the Jim Dale versions of the audiobooks on my phone, and I've got them in my ear on a regular basis, just going on a loop right through the books, and what I love about that is you get a real sense of the rhythm of the language and how musical the writing is. It's got rhythm and rhyme to it. It's really, really a musical story.
Karmen: Right, yeah. You touched on it a little bit, but one of the things I love most about listening to these songs and the lyrics is that it is so funny. But as you said, you're funny "at them." It's humor [where] you're like, "I feel like I shouldn't be laughing at this, but it's so funny!"
Karmen: My favorite song [of yours] is "My Dad Is Rich" because that one is just like, "This is not funny... But it is." I cackle.
Brian: Yeah, I don't think I'll ever write something quite that mean again. I don't know if I could. [laughs] I see Elizabeth's chat: I love "This Land Is My Land." That's off of Anthology Volume 1, or what we'll call Volume 1 now.
Karmen: I did wonder, what is your favorite song from the new album?
Brian: Ooh, good question. I'm not going to be able to answer that question definitively because they've all got their moments - and it was a labor of love, so I do love all of these songs - but I would love to talk about what I love about them and plug a few of them, sure. [laughs] It opens up with this song called "Brawl at Flourish and Blotts," which is an example of one of those anecdotes that I had never even thought about writing a Draco and the Malfoys song about. It's about what happens in Book 2 when the kids are in Flourish and Blotts to buy their books and Gilderoy Lockhart is doing all the signing and Lucius Malfoy comes up and starts it with Arthur Weasley. He's almost daring him to start a fight, and they do. They really get into it. They mess the place up pretty well, and I thought that would make a really good thumping bluegrass song. That opens the album. It feels like a keynote for how the album is going to sound and what it's going to all be about.
"The Three Broomsticks Tonight." Now, there's an example of a song that's not really all that bluegrassy or folky at its heart. There [are] a couple of those on this album where what's making it folky is the instrumentation, the fact that it's all acoustic. It's got a banjo, an acoustic guitar, and a standup bass, but the structure of it is more like a love ballad in a way. That's a pretty sweet song. The other one that fits that description [of] "not bluegrassy" - if you played this with electric guitars and drums, it would probably suit the song well - is "It's Not Malfoy Manor," which is another anecdote that we never wrote about. [It's] about the period of time after the end of Book 5 when Lucius gets sent to Azkaban and before Draco goes back to Hogwarts, where he's living at home at Malfoy Manor without his father for the first time. [laughs] Again, it sounds like it's a really sad song, but all of the verses are silly. "The Three Broomsticks Tonight" is not from Draco's perspective; that's just a love song handed down. And honestly, there's not a whole lot Slytherin about it either. [laughs] I'm not sure exactly how this fits the rule, but it's the exception that proves the rule, right?
Then there's this other song that I wrote called "The Carrows," which is a creepy song about that period of time when the Carrows were in charge of discipline at Hogwarts. It starts slow and mysterious [and] builds up into an all-out, fast, bluegrass jam. [It] gets frantic and chaotic, and that is meant to reflect the insanity. I feel like the Carrows, at any moment, could just really snap on somebody, so that's what's happening in the song. It's getting completely chaotic and frantic and scary, and then it blows up right there and goes back into a creepy slow thing. It tells the story of what the school is like when the Carrows are in charge. I guess I've babbled enough about some of these songs at this point. But yeah, I love them all, of course.
Karmen: Yeah. I love "The Carrows" [and] how it was very eerie. It does build.
Brian: Eerie, that's a good word for it. Nice.
Karmen: My favorites were "Brawl at Flourish and Blotts" and "Firewhisky Is Flowing."
Brian: Oh, yeah, everybody that I'm getting feedback [from] is loving "Firewhisky Is Flowing." Some of these are based on traditional bluegrass tunes, or Celtic [tunes]. Bluegrass music and Celtic music are pretty much the same things. For our music nerds in the audience, they have the same scale, the tunes are very similar, the melodies are the same, and the chord structure and progression are the same. The difference is that Celtic music mostly happens on the front beat, and bluegrass has the backbeat. What that means [is], "Firewhisky Is Flowing" has got this melody that goes [sings melody]. In Celtic music, it would be [sings melody while clapping on front beat]. Right? In bluegrass, it goes [sings melody while clapping on back beat]. I'm clapping at the same rate, but I'm clapping on the offbeat with the bluegrass. It's called the boom chuck. It's got a [imitates beat], right? So this is more of a traditional Celtic song, but it's swung around with the bluegrass backbeat.
Karmen: I feel like if the song is going to be called "Firewhisky Is Flowing," you have to have that Celtic vibe going with it.
Brian: Right, right, right. And that's the other thing about both of those cultures, there are a million bluegrass songs about whiskey, and there are a million Celtic songs about whiskey. [laughs]
Karmen: Do you have an all-time favorite song from all the albums that you've put out? One that stands out?
Brian: I would have to say "My Dad Is Rich," just because it's the keynote for our existence as a band. It just sums it up pretty well in a minute and 52 seconds. That song just launched it. I feel like, without that song, nothing would be different. But that song was there, and that song was, in a lot of ways, the catalyst that changed our lives.
Karmen: I feel like if you had to play one of your songs to describe to somebody what your band is about, that's the song that can describe it all.
Brian: 100%. No doubt. Certainly my first go-to. You get the whole point of the band when you hear that song.
Karmen: What made you choose to go from Draco's mindset?
Brian: Oh, so this was way back in the beginning, right? This was 2005, and we had met Harry and the Potters, and we knew them. Our friend Matt, who is the Whomping Willows, was having house parties that featured live music at his place for years, and he and Brad discovered Harry and the Potters. So Matt invited Harry and the Potters to play at the house, and they did, and we loved it. We all hit it off, we got along great, we had an awesome night, and they were fantastic. They were still playing the backing tracks back then. It was a really good night. They also played another show with our Muggle band in Providence, so this was before Draco and the Malfoys existed. But again, we were just tied in; we were just getting along really well.
So in February of 2005, they were supposed to come back and play again at the house show, and they had to cancel it because they ended up getting booked to play a series of shows - I think in Scandinavia or somewhere in Europe - and so Brad and I were talking. We were like, "Hmm," and I said, "Hey, maybe we should play a couple of Harry and the Potters songs for people who are sad that they couldn't make it," and Brad said, "Hey, how about we write our own songs about Harry Potter?" And I said, "Ooh, we could write them from the bad side," and he snapped his fingers and pointed at me in one motion, you know that thing? [snaps fingers] And [he] said, "Draco and the Malfoys." And it just made so much sense, so we decided... Well, we called Matt, and we said, "Hey, we have an idea we need you to talk us out of," and he's like, "No, no, that's a really good idea, you've got to do it." So we ended up wanting to do it, but we wanted to do it with Harry and the Potters. We didn't want to do a Draco and the Malfoys thing without them.
They booked back at the house show in that April, so this is April of 2005. They came back to Matt's place and did another Harry and the Potters set, but it was preceded by the first-ever Draco and the Malfoys set, which was just five songs we had written in the meantime. It was "My Dad Is Rich," "Potions Yesterday," "Broomstick," "Pansy," and maybe one more. I don't know off the top of my head, but I think there's at least one more. We thought that was it; we thought that was the one time. It was a joke. It was just to make Paul and Joe laugh. It was to make everybody laugh. It was to make fun of Paul and Joe too, not at their expense, more [like to] make fun of them at our expense, in a way. There'[re] just a lot of interweaving ideas of the humor that were in there, but we had a great night. We thought, "That was fun, that was a one-time joke." And they were coming back from a summer tour - now this is moving into August of 2005 - and they said, "Hey, we're coming back and doing a homecoming show in Norwood, Mass[achusetts]. Do you guys want to open it up as Draco and the Malfoys?" And we were like, "Yeah, okay!" So we went and did that. We opened for them, and everybody afterward was like, "Hey, where are your CDs? Where are your T-shirts?" We're like, "No, we're not a band, this is a joke. This isn't a thing. Now this is a two-time joke." So that's where we left it again, and we thought, "Okay, it's a two-time joke! Great!"
Brad, by the way, is an incredible drummer. He has toured professionally as a drummer in real high-end bands playing for legendary people, so he's really good. Paul and Joe recognized that when we played shows with them before, because that's what Brad was doing sometimes. They saw him play [and] they knew he was really good. So we got an email from Paul in September or October asking a couple of things. First was whether we would want to contribute a song to a compilation they were putting together called A Magical Christmas of Magic, and number two was if we would want to play at the first Yule Ball, which was in Boston. Cambridge. And then, at the end of the email, it said, "Also, give me a call because I have something I want to ask you about." And I was like, "Well, that's weird because you just asked me two things in this email, and now I'm going to have to call you to get this other thing you're going to ask?" I had no idea what [was] going on here. I just knew this must be more important than the other two questions. So I called Paul, and he asked if we would want to go on tour with them in 2006 as their opening act! [He said] Brad could play drums for them and we'd have a Malfoy set. That opened it up. And [with] me being there, I'd be able to watch the sound levels and stuff during their set and just keep an eye on things. They always had somebody who was doing merch, but it's hard to do too many things at once. It was just another ear on the thing. So that was it. We were like, "Okay, now we're a band." So that's really how it happened.
We put up a Myspace [page] where we put some of what we [had] finished recording. [We] started putting together our album because we wanted to have a CD for the Yule Ball in December. So again, there was a situation where we had to crank things out fast. But overnight, we had turned into a band, and as soon as we put that Myspace page together and people started to see it, wizard rock blew up. There were other wizard rock bands before us. The Parslemouths had done it because Harry and the Potters had toured a couple of years before we met them. There were a couple that had sprung up here and there. But what happened when we put Draco and the Malfoys up on Myspace, there were instantly, every week, another hundred wizard rock bands. They were everywhere. We could make Draco and the Malfoys. "Oh, well, we can make Ron and the Weasleys," or, "We could make this," "We could make that," and it just completely snowballed and turned into a genre and a movement and that's when our lives started to change.
Karmen: So going off of what you just talked about, you mentioned that you guys have played for other bands, and I thought that was interesting too. What is it like to switch from playing Draco's mindset [to] playing [in] another wizard rock band where it's different songs and [a] different kind of genre?
Brian: Oh, it's all about the music. When I play in other wizard rock bands, I'll sing some harmonies and some backup, but I'm not the person singing the song. It's more like the story I'm telling is through my guitar or bass. I often will play bass with Tonks and the Aurors and play guitar for the Whomping Willows. Those are my two mainstays [and] the two most common collaborations I have. I don't think about it too much. I am a huge Whomping Willows fan. I love Matt's music. We grew up together and we have very similar yet slightly different music sensibilities. Most of his songs just hit my sweet spot really hard. I love playing with the Whomping Willows.
Karmen: How would you describe [this] if somebody was a newcomer to wizard rock and they didn't know anything about it?
Brian: It's songs about the Harry Potter stories. Many of them are from a particular character's perspective. Some are just from [the] perspective of a student who's at the school at the time of Harry Potter and knows [his] story. So [wizard rock] just talks about what's happening at the school from a general perspective. But a lot of wizard rock bands write about the fandom, being in the fandom, and what it's like going to a con or reading the books and things like that. I think that's one thing that's cool about wizard rock too. Reading a book [is] a solitary experience, typically, and reading the Harry Potter stories, it's a powerful [experience]. They're really good, right?
It's like we all had the same profound experience by ourselves alone. And then you go to this place where there's music about it, and everybody suddenly automatically has something really important to them that they have in common. It creates this bond with the audience that isn't like going to most concerts or shows. It's not about the artist as much. It's not about Draco and the Malfoys, [it's] not about Harry and the Potters, it's about something bigger that we all share, and we're all celebrating it together. Those walls that exist at a normal concert between the performer and the audience [don't] exist at a wizard rock show. We're all on this even level where we love something much bigger, together. [The artists] just happen to be the ones singing about it.
Karmen: I think it almost has the same concept as an inside joke. There are a lot of lines [where], if you weren't into Harry Potter, you wouldn't understand a lick of what's going on in wizard rock. But because you're a fan, you can catch little subtle lyrics that you're going to find hilarious because we know the background story behind it and all. It does provide an insider joke.
Brian: It's not even a conscious thing, but our songs do end up having these little moments in them that [make it so] you have to be paying attention to the books to even get what we're talking about in certain situations [or] in certain spots. If you're not as familiar, if you've only seen the movies or whatever, you could still get the larger idea. It's just that you won't pick up on all of the subtle jokes. You won't enjoy it as much, which is what's great for somebody who's really into it; they get the Easter eggs, they get the little pieces of candy that are sprinkled throughout.
Karmen: Yeah, definitely. Personally, the first song that came to my head was "Pansy." If you haven't read the books, you may not understand it as well just because she wasn't in the movies that much.
Brian: That's right. That's a good point.
Karmen: But as someone who's read the books, it was hysterical because you're like, "Oh, that's funny!" You understand the background information. [It's] almost a behind-the-scenes look, I guess.
Brian: Right! There are wizard rock bands [singing] from the perspective of Peeves; he's not even in any of the movies. You've got to be a fan to get some of this stuff. There's a band called The Marauders. Who are the Marauders? You wouldn't know if you just saw the movies.
Karmen: I think I get mixed up on [it]. I have to do a read every year because I watch the movies so much that I forget what happened where. One of my cousins was recently watching the movies with her friends for the first time. She's never seen them [and] never read the books. She was asking me who the Marauders were and I was like, "Oh, yeah, they're not in the movie."
Brian: Right! We get stuff like that. There's no explanation for that. I feel like there'[re] so many sad, missed opportunities too. One of the ones that, every time I hear this part of the book, as I'm listening to it, I'm sad it's not in the movie is when Gilderoy Lockhart hires those dwarfs to come sing Valentines to the students. Oh my God! "The hero who conquered the Dark Lord" serenade of Harry in the hallway! I mean, that feels like it's made for a movie scene! I guess part of it is when you love a book, you're never going to be happy with the movie.
Karmen: The next question I had was, what are you most excited about for LeakyCon?
Brian: Oh, it's always the wizard rock show. It's always the main thing. That Friday night wizard rock show is always the pinnacle for me. I thought that we were never going to play another Whomping Willow show again because he said there was never going to be another Whomping Willow show. [Although], we also said the Draco and the Malfoys were retired in 2011. So there's precedent for this kind of thing. But I'm excited! Without giving too much away, we are going to have a different instrumentation with the bands. It's going to be a lot more intimate, so that's exciting. It's going to be special. It's not going to be a wizard rock show like you've ever really seen at LeakyCon or any of the cons we've played. So that's going to be really exciting.
On Saturday, we have what's called the Wizard Rock Cafe. I'm still working on finding some artists to feature. The idea of the Wizard Rock Cafe came out of the house shows that we were hosting. The Wizard Rock House Show series was going on a couple of years ago, and the idea was to give an opportunity for folks who played music who weren't being featured on the Friday-night MainStage to have a venue. So in the meantime, there are two [LeakyCons], and Leaky's done a good job of splitting things up so that it creates more space for people. They've done a little bit of the work that this was intended for, but what we did in Orlando is, we turned it into a big wizard rock sing-along and jam with everybody who plays on the MainStage, brings an instrument, or just wants to come and sing. It's like a celebration of wizard rock, and that's happening on Saturday.
Then, Sunday afternoon is the official release party of An Anthology of Slytherin Folk Music, Volume Two where I'm going to play it front to back. The guys from our band will join me to whatever extent they can make it. I know Matt and Jay [are] running the Pitch in Pros, their record labels booth, so depending if they can split away. Either way, I'm going to play it front to back and I can't wait! I cannot wait for everybody to hear the songs from this. Every day I've got something I'm super excited about for Leaky.
Karmen: I loved the album. I thought it was really good and. as I said earlier, I loved the folk aspect. [They're] really catchy songs. Even the slower songs like "Azkaban Prison Blues" and like you mentioned, "The Three Broomsticks Tonight"... They're still catchy, and you can still get into it.
Brian: Cool, thank you.
Karmen: What made you decide to release your album at LeakyCon?
Brian: It just seemed like a great opportunity, and it had been so long. The last time we released an album, we released it at LeakyCon. It was 2014. So it seemed like the appropriate place to do it. If [we were] going to crank one out, it should be in time for Leaky. It would be a missed opportunity if we didn't. Both from a practical standpoint and a - this is a bad word for it, but for the lack of a better word off the tip of my tongue - spiritual reason to do it at Leaky as well. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
Karmen: Especially if the last one came out [there], it's like a rewind, and flashbacks, and those memories.
Brian: Yeah, exactly. We had never released an album at a con before because, usually, we'd released them in time for a summer tour. But we stopped spending our entire summer living in a van, so this seems like a great spot to do it.
Karmen: What attracted you to Harry Potter in the first place, as a fan?
Brian: I love all these questions you're asking. I've had a lifelong love for wizards. Even as a little kid, I thought wizards were the coolest thing possible. And then when I was 12 years old I read The Hobbit, and when I was 13 years old I read The Lord of the Rings, and all the rest of my life I read fantasy. So [during] the rest of my growing up, I'd go to the local bookstore and go to the fantasy section and look at every book for hours. [I was] looking at every one, picking them up, reading the cover. "Oh, this is Piers Anthony. Who's that? Let me see what his books are. Oh, he's got this whole series! Well, let me get the first book of that, [and the] first book of that, oh [and] let me get this. Robert Jordan, who's that? Let's keep grabbing things and just picking them up!" [I] absolutely fell in love with fantasy. Also, Star Wars is basically about Obi-Wan Kenobi, [and] the force is magic, right? You're levitating stuff with your mind- it's magic, and Obi-Wan [is] this old wizard - Uncle Owen even calls him that - ”That wizard's just a crazy old man.”
Then I'm an adult now, later on in life - because I am old for a Harry Potter fan - [and] all of the sudden these books went to number one on the best-sellers list, and it was about wizards, and it was number one on the best sellers list because kids were reading it. I was like, "What is that? I have to see what this is." When I read the first book, [Harry Potter and the] Goblet of Fire had just gotten into the stores. I don't know what year that makes it, but I got [and] read the first book in a night after I got it, and I went back to the bookstore the next day and got Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and the big, thick, hardcover of Goblet of Fire. It was like it was all over [from there], midnight releases, all of it.
Karmen: I think [it was] the magic aspect for me too. You mention Star Wars. My uncle likes to give me a hard time and tell me that Harry Potter is a rip-off of Star Wars because the trope is the same, and then I have to argue that it's called the hero's journey trope, [and it's] in any movie ever.
Brian: George Lucas would be the first one to admit that Star Wars is just based on an old spaghetti western.
Karmen: That's the most traditional trope used, but I just thought it was funny that you brought up Star Wars, [because] that's his constant thing to give me a hard time about. I think it's because I'm obviously really into Harry Potter and he likes to [unintelligible] on there.
Brian: Well, there are parallels.
Brian: Luke's an orphan [and] he lives with his Aunt and Uncle. But back up 20 [or] 30 years from there, and who is an orphan who lives with his Uncle, who's fated to just bring down the Dark Lord? But before he can do that, he has to destroy this thing into which the Dark Lord has put his spirit and survives in there, and [he has] to destroy that thing first or [he] can't destroy the Dark Lord?
Brian: So it's Lord of the Rings right there, it's the same story. That description fits both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, and that was pretty specific. And there are so many - we got trolls, we've got the ringwraiths, and the Dementors [and] dragons. The thing is that you can't write fantasy and not have it be like The Lord of the Rings. That's the way it goes.
Karmen: Right, exactly. She's even said that she did all [the] lore research, and you're not going to have an original idea. George R. R. Martin didn't create dragons for Game of Thrones.
Brian: Exactly. It helps to use familiar creatures because we understand what you mean by them. It wouldn't work if you were trying to just invent a ton of brand-new things. Giant spiders- there's another one from Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
Karmen: Giant Spiders! There's another author that I was reading and she put in giant spiders, and I'm just like, "Why is this a thing that everyone wants to use because my worst fear is spiders."
Brian: Oh is it? You and Ron have that in common.
Karmen: Yes. I always say, “Why can't it be, 'follow the butterflies?'” I use that quote all the time. I'm just not a fan of the spiders. What is your favorite book in the series?
Brian: This is going to go against the grain - I'm going to get some hate mail about this - but the one that I enjoy the most is, [Harry Potter and] the Order of the Phoenix.
Karmen: That is my favorite too, I'm with you!
Brian: So much happens! It's got so much in it. We meet - I'm not even going to be able to pull [this] all off the top of my head - but we meet Luna, and we've got the whole Umbridge thing... There's just too much, it's got everything in it, it's everything. My favorite moment of that book is the mic drop from Dumbledore at the end when Cornelius Fudge shows up at the ministry, and Dumbledore tells him that he'll give him half an hour and then after that, he can write him and letters will reach him at the headmaster's office at Hogwarts. That is such a good payoff for all that Dumbledore puts up with through that whole thing. There's just so much going on in that book. To me, it just advances the story in so many good ways at the same time. We get Thestrals, [too].
Karmen: Yeah, I agree. That one's my favorite, and it's my favorite movie of the series too because I always said the same thing. I feel like it's the major turning point, even with just Dumbledore's Army. You get the full revolution getting started. I think it's a huge turning point in the series, and it is very controversial.
Brian: We get the Room of Requirement, Sirius dies... It is a huge book. Harry Potter himself is a little angsty in that book, and I think that's why it turns people off, because they're not proud of Harry in a lot of his moments. But I think rather than just reading the description of what's going on with Harry because that's from his perspective, look at how he gets reacted to, and look just look at how patient and understanding Dumbledore is at the end, there in his office, when Harry's flipping out and destroying his things. Dumbledore understands, [and] if Dumbledore understands why Harry is acting and feeling the way he's acting, then we should understand as well because Dumbledore is the wisdom in the book, right?
We experience wisdom through Dumbledore, and if Dumbledore is wise enough to react the way he's reacting, we should see that there's something there. And how he's acting at the beginning too. [In] that conversation they have at the end, Dumbledore says he understands how he's been acting the entire year. From explaining why he didn't get made a prefect to why he wasn't talking to him all the year. You know that was [was our introduction to] Occlumency too? The Occlumency lessons! Oh my God, the more we talk about it, the more I think about this book, and the more comes out.
Karmen: There's just so much that happens.
Brian: Quidditch is really good in that book. The whole Quidditch arc [is good], and we get Quidditch back because we didn't have it in Goblet of Fire.
Karmen: Right. It's my favorite movie of the series too. Even though it's drastically different from the book, I still think the movie holds a lot. Would you say that it's your favorite movie as well, or would you pick a different one?
Brian: I don't know that I have a favorite movie. Here's where I think the movies did really well. The sixth one [did well] because of a couple of things. I love the humor of Lavender Brown when she's crushing on Ron and does the whole breathing the fog on the [window]. Oh my God, it's awesome. The best improvement they did on any character or moment or anything from the books to the movies was how well they did Slughorn. He is so good a character in the movies. I wish that that character from the movies was in the books. He's so good. When he's doing that little eulogy there for Aragog, it is dynamite! He's so good. So I would say six would probably be my favorite.
Karmen: And I think the sixth movie brought us the Harry sass that we were missing.
Brian: [Laughs] Yeah, that's right.
Karmen: We [got] the whole pinchers scene where he's standing there with Aragog... I think we got the Harry sass we were missing. That one brings the humor out. I agree, though, I think the Slughorn in the movie was astounding. That's all the questions I had. Do you have anything you'd like to add?
Brian: I guess not. I could plug where you could find the music. I would be remiss if I didn't say that you can find the new album and our other albums at evilwizardrock.com.
Karmen: And then do you have any socials you'd like to [add]?
Brian: You can find all of our socials right there on that website as well. You could search us out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but we have it all linked right there at evilwizardrock.com. So while you're there getting the new album anyway, that's where you can find our socials.
Karmen: Sounds great! Liz, do you have anything you'd like to add?
Liz Young: I don't! This was great to listen to. It's honestly been a hot second since I've listened to any wizard rock at all. I've been a little bitter because I moved away to graduate school the day before Harry and the Potters were playing at a library five minutes from my house.
Brian: Oof. That's brutal!
Liz: I haven't been as in tune with the community as I could have been over the last couple of years. I've enjoyed listening to the tracks off [of] the new album. I do really enjoy the fire whiskey one, [it is] my favorite [laughs].
Brian: Excellent! As I said, the two of you are not the first to say that.
Liz: I don't think I have anything else. I was just here in case Karmen had a struggle-bus moment, but she kills it every time, so- [laughs].
Karmen: Thank you! This was great. I enjoyed getting to hear more about the songs and the thought process behind them. Thank you for reaching out and being willing to sit down and have this interview.
Brian: Likewise! Anytime. I appreciate your time.
Karmen: No problem. Well, I hope you have a nice time at LeakyCon; I'm sure it will go swimmingly.
Brian: Thank you, I appreciate it. Will we see you there?
Karmen: Unfortunately not. Liz and I were talking about it, and we were bummed that we were not going. But we've made it a point that we need to go next year. I've never been to a convention and I've always wanted to.
Brian: You'll love it!
Liz: Oh, they're so fun, Karmen!
Karmen: [I] definitely have to go!
Liz: I've had to miss them all recently because of COVID and it's been a major bummer. So maybe LeakyCon next year. Leaky Con 2023 for us!
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