LSTN 11: Magic Kids
The members of Magic Kids seem young, almost too young to have produced the clean, retro hooks peppered throughout their new album named after their hometown of Memphis. But read on, because Bennett, Ben, Will, Alice, Michael and Alex aren't that innocent, after all.
Magic Kids gets compared to the Beach Boys a lot–are they actually a big influence? What are some of your favorite Beach Boy songs?
Will: Of course we love the Beach Boys, but it seems like a lot of comparisons like that can stem from lazy journalism or people just not having many points of reference outside other recent indie stuff they're used to. We definitely didn't have the Beach Boys in mind when writing and recording most of the album, but when bands like Animal Collective and Eat Skull get that comparison, it's definitely not surprising that we do. Beach Boys are such a pure distillation of certain ideas that they're like a color, or "cold" or "spicy"...lending themselves so well to describing things, almost to the point of being totally useless. The chicken of music flavors. Evocative in the most vague way. Our real favorite song is "I Live for the Sun" by the Sunrays. Pretty much every idea on our album was stolen from it.
Are you really all as cheerful as your music can make you sound?
Will: It's interesting that our music comes off as being so cheerful since that hasn't really been a conscious goal, but I think that impression might still say something about what we put into the music. Obviously we're not always happy people, and the songs on our album actually deal a lot with uncertainty, longing, loss, etc. Hopefully it's the fun we have making music that's exciting to us that still comes through. Just like how a dessert leaves a bad taste in your mouth if it's made only of sugar, hopefully it's everything else we've put into our music that lets the sweetness come through. We are really as good of cooks as the music makes us sound.
Who does most of the song writing in the band?
Will: This album was mostly me and Bennett obsessing over everything, with Bennett contributing the basis of more of the songs and me focusing a little more on arrangements, just as a matter of happenstance. We both had a lot to say about everything though, and there's no set status quo; there are a lot of great songwriters in the band. Al came up with "Good to Be" and between all the bands we've been in together we've seen everyone in different roles, so as this particular project is taking up more of all our lives, I'm excited about the possibilities of the next album being a less insular affair, and more representative of Magic Kids the band.
By the way, where’d the band name come from?
Will: A movie poster I got ten years ago at a junk store, in a mostly empty suburban outlet mall on its way out of business. The owner warned me that it was enchanted and would someday lead me and my friends on endless adventures across the globe in search of nonexistent treasure, but I ignored him and stole it when he wasn't looking.
What has been your favorite stop so far on tour?
Michael: I really enjoyed visiting City Lights Book Store in San Francisco. There was a community swimming pool in DC that was really cool.
Will: Yeah, anywhere with air conditioning was the best.
Any crazy fan stories?
Bennett: Pedro got so crazy that he hit me in the eye with the base of my mic stand.
Best food to have with you on tour?
Alice: Apples–they keep well and you can make them into other useful devices.
Ben: Weed cookies
Will: Nuts, dried fruit and Xanax
Michael: I'm with Ben. Veggie burgers are good too.
Alex: Instant hummus and dramamine. Muscle relaxers.
What’s the best karaoke song of all time?
Alice: "Always Be My Baby" by Mariah Carey
Will: that's what I was gonna say.
Ben: "Forever in Blue Jeans" by Neil Diamond
Michael: "Turn to Stone" by Electric Light Orchestra
Alex: Any Lou Christie song
Bennett: "So In Love" by O.M.D.
In that vein, if you could only play one song for the rest of your lives, what would it be?
Will: A flawless cover of "Purple Rain" would be a pretty cool party trick: "I don't really play music... come on, you know I only know one song... well, ok, I'll play it."
Michael: I could listen to "Luzia Luluza" by Gilberto Gil over and over because it's perpetually mindblowing.
Bennett: Let's just hope we're never in this hypothetical situation.
What’s the dumbest story you’ve ever told your parents?
Will: That I was dropping out of school to focus on music.