Rock On Philly Catches Up with Magic Man

Rock On Philly had the chance to get in touch with Magic Man about their upcoming tour and how things have changed since we last chatted with them in the spring. Get ready for their show on Wednesday 10/29 at the TLA with Smallpools! You won’t want to miss it!

Rock On Philly: You’ve been busy since we last talked to you! How have things changed for you since Before the Waves dropped?

Alex Caplow: It’s a been a crazy whirlwind but we’ve been looking forward to this phase for a long time. With the album out, we’ve had some amazing opportunities such as our debut late night TV appearance on Seth Meyers, and now a national co-headline tour with Smallpools. With all the songs out, fans can now be familiar with our whole set rather than just a few songs, which makes a world of a difference when they’re singing along the whole show.  

ROP: You were on tour with Panic! at the Disco all summer (and totally nailed your set in Philly, by the way). Were these the biggest audiences you’ve played for? What did you learn from touring with Panic!?

AC: Definitely the biggest crowds and venues yet—being so far away from much of the audience meant we had to amp up our energy even more, which was a great learning experience. We typically played outdoor venues when the sun was still up, so there was no smoke and lights to help set the mood, just 5 kids on stage with instruments trying to win over the crowd. Personally, I learned a lot from watching Brendan perform flawlessly every night—he’s incredibly hard-working and motivated me to aim even higher, though I never think I’ll be able to do a backflip or pull off leather pants.

ROP: WXPN just released an article citing a Spotify study which shows UPenn students are huge Magic Man fans. You also played a killer set at Penn in the spring and walked away with a university-load of new fans. What do you have to say to that?

AC: Penn was the biggest audience we’d played for at that point, and we were honestly worried no one would be interested in the unknown indie rock opener for a huge DJ like David Guetta, but to our amazement, the stadium was packed with students when we went on, and the crowd went nuts. You never know what you’re going to get with a college show, but this show was pretty special. We even rode to the stage in our own golf carts.

ROP: You’ve defined your genre as synthrock over synthpop. With synthpop/rock gaining so much popularity recently, what do you bring to the table that makes you stand out?

AC: The truth is that no matter how hard you try to be unique, you’re always going to remind someone of another band, whether it’s because they hear your actual influences or just coincidence. It makes perfect sense that a generation with easy access to music software, combined with the trendy return of 80’s synth pop, results in a ton of bands making synthpop. The key for us has been to fight the urge to distance ourselves or obsess over unique production, and rather focus more on the song underneath, the structure and melodies and feeling. At the end of the day, we’re trying to do the same thing songwriters have been striving to do forever—write songs that resonate with people, songs that stick in your head and don’t feel dated to a specific time or trend. We don’t think we’re entering uncharted territory, but we do take pride in the consistency across our album, as well as our live show and relationship with our fans, and hopefully that’s enough to win some hearts. 

ROP: What role do your epic remixes play in your songwriting process?

AC: Remixes are a fun outlet for ideas and experiments that wouldn’t quite fit in our own songs, but still carry similar instincts and weight of our music.  It allows us to flex new muscles and stay creative even when we’re on the road. Starting a remix is like finding a pallet of awesome premixed colors, and getting to paint your own piece with them.

ROP: Speaking of songwriting, tell us about Before the Waves closer “It All Starts Here.” Big climactic songs like that deliver a powerful finish to an album, and you made it look so easy. How did writing that song compare to the others, because it feels so distinct as compared with the rest of the album.

AC: I think we always knew it would be the closer on the album, which really helped us make sense of what should precede it, and generally what kind of album we wanted to make. We needed even our poppiest, straightforward tunes to exist in the same world as this long, building, non-pop song. It’s always been a part of me, from the first time I heard Deathcab’s “Transatlanticism” or LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends,” I knew I wanted to write something that carried you from beginning to end on the same straight track, a long, propulsive crescendo.

ROP: What are you most looking forward to on your return to Philly?

AC: My newly engaged sister and her fiancée will be there (Philly locals)! Psyched to see them and toast to their future, etc.

ROP: We’re really looking forward to seeing you play again. Any secret weapons in this particular show we should look forward to?

AC: Sweet new merch line, new songs, new haircuts, watch out!

There’s still time to enter our ticket giveaway! Contest closes Sunday 10/26 at 7pm! Or buy tickets here! Just be there!

Photography by Katie Antonsson.

1 Comment

  1. JessHanes

    November 21, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Be sure to check these guys out live at the Fonda in LA on 11/19 with Small Pools and Panama Wedding!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.