Draco and the Malfoys have been one of wizard rock’s top bands since the beginning – they formed as a foil to the DeGeorge brother’s Harry and the Potters, and have been one of the most popular bands ever since. They’ve toured, released a number of albums and EPs, played countless conventions and wizard rock shows, and have been featured in mainstream media on a number of occasions.
While wizard rock fans around the world still listen to the Malfoys daily, and their shirts can be spotted whenever there’s a wrock show, the band themselves decided to call it quits back in 2011, with Brian and Bradley making their final live appearance together at that year’s Yule Ball.
After a few years of radio silence, a new Draco and the Malfoys song suddenly appeared on the recent Wizards and Muggles Rock for Social Justice compilation. The Malfoys also teased their fans with promises of more to come via their Twitter and Facebook accounts, and today they finally made good on that promise by releasing a new single AND announcing the release of an entirely new album due next year.
Today Brian Malfoy answered a few of our questions about their musical hiatus, their new album, and the state of wizard rock in late 2013.
First things first – where did you go, and more importantly, WHY did you leave?
It was a combination of things, as you can imagine, that led to our decision to name Yule Ball 2011 our last show. Some of it was stuff going on in our personal lives, but we felt like we had hit a wall. We hadn’t released an album in years, and had even written a song called “Out of Ideas”… we knew we didn’t want to keep touring, so it felt like the right move at the time.
So even though your namesake “should’ve done more stuff in the books”, I take it you’ve come up with an album’s worth of new material in the past few years? Or have the new songs been a recent development?
Well, here’s a little back story… Brad is an amazing musician- obviously! But our whole lives, he didn’t write much music, if any. The idea of an entire universe of subject matter to choose from and find something meaningful to write was a battle he always had. Then we formed Draco and the Malfoys and all of a sudden, this rule that you write about Harry Potter from Draco’s perspective freed him up, and he’s written the bulk of our material.
So, as he’s been playing music and coming up with song ideas, he’s gravitated to Draco again. He’s been telling me for months now, “I have this new song for Draco… I came up with another song idea for Draco…” It turns out, there is a lot we’ve left unexplored when it comes to the character.
That’s great to hear! It’s also something we’ve heard from talking with a lot of other wizard rock bands, that having specific topics and subjects is what helped the musicians write their songs. Should we expect the trademark Draco and the Malfoys snark in the new songs?
Of course! The overall theme of the album is summed up in the title, “Cheat To Win.” Firstly, we touch on how nobody is without “sin” themselves (if you’ll allow me the use of the word to make a larger point- I don’t mean to imply any religious context). It’s about understanding that we have a certain point at which we will bend/break some rules to reach a desired end, whether it’s saving ourselves or someone we love and then considering things that are less crucial. Where is the line? We all have one. So the point is not to judge us for being proud to admit that we’ll compromise principal over result sometimes. We don’t judge people for it, and more importantly we don’t judge ourselves.
Then the next point about “Cheat To Win” is that if you’re not cheating, you’re really not trying your best, not pulling out all the stops. ”Play fair unless you’re losing” is an approach we’re fond of.
I like to focus on these larger themes because I tend to be the one who writes the more anthemic songs like this, “Party Like You’re Evil”, “Slytherin Pride”, that kind of thing. But Brad has really gone in and started exploring some very rich material that will satisfy the red meat craving of canon interpretation and character exploration that our fans love.
“Canon interpretation” means we’re not going to get any experimental songs that’ll satisfy Dramione shippers then, right?
Haha, not exactly.
What we’re finding is that we covered book 7 pretty well on the Family EP, as far as a lot of the specific capers and situations that directly affect Draco throughout the story go.. but what we haven’t explored is his growth as a character as these things unfold. Where does he end up as a result of all of these events, in book 7 as well as 1 – 6?
But don’t worry, it will have its share of ridiculous stretching that will make fans of songs like “A Very Voldemort Christmas” happy too!
Lyrically, that’s great to know. Music-wise, you guys have done a lot of different things. The Family EP definitely had it’s own musical style and structure, and you’ve gone everywhere from rock to bluegrass over the years. The single you’ve released sounds a lot like “classic” Draco and the Malfoys (if there is such a thing!), would you say that fans should expect the same with the entirety of the new album?
Oh great question! The jury is still out as to how some of the songs will play out. If you listen closely in Cheat To Win, you’ll hear some mandolin creeping in there, but I think it’s fair and accurate to consider it “classic” Draco and the Malfoys style. We are trying to sort of pull a lot of these styles together, in a way that stays simple. We think it can work out great when we’re recording. Live… that will have to be sorted out when we come to it.
How often do you plan on playing live in 2014?
To some degree, we’re going to have to hold onto SOME of our secrets…
But to try and answer how I can, we have one big surprise coming still, and once that’s out, we’ll be more forthcoming with our show plans. We don’t plan to be doing any kind of real touring, but we won’t be strangers either. We’ve got a lot of new stuff we have to get out and play.
Fair enough! We’ll leave that for when you make your next big surprise announcement!
Things have definitely quieted down on the wizard rock scene since your farewell show (I guess now it’s a “we’re going to take a break for a while” show). While there’s still some good music coming out, it’s not at the levels we saw from 2007 – 2009. Where do you see the wizard rock scene going in 2014?
Well, we are a bit out of the loop ourselves, as far as what people are out there doing right now. But since we started ramping up for this announcement, we have been contacted by quite a few larger fandom players and events, and through some of those conversations, I do get a sense that Wizard Rock is still a very relevant aspect of the fandom. I think we all still largely control where it goes from here.
You guys have released a number of albums, played huge shows, and toured extensively. What advice would you give to bands who are just getting started?
I hope I can be helpful here…
Here are a couple of rules of thumb that have worked for us:
We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re writing songs about Harry Potter, ffs.
We love to wear our influences right out on our sleeves. When we’re writing and we come to a spot and say, “you know what would work here is something like what Alice Cooper did on Teenage Lament ’74, but with a rhythm more like what the Hold Steady did on Southtown Girls” we mash those things together in our own style and let it ride. Lots of people will say things like “That sounds just like They Might Be Giants there,” and we’re like, “Cool! That’s where we got that idea!”
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
Exactly! Listen to your favorite band’s influences and you’ll hear it happens everywhere. Violent Femmes fans listening to Velvet Underground will hear Gordon Gano’s vocal approach in Lou Reed, etc. It’s what makes a genre of music… when it’s not being defined by lyrical subject matter! :)
Completely agreed. To me, one of the absolute best things about wizard rock is that you can play any style of music you want, and fans are often introduced to new and different musical genres they might not have listened to (like bluegrass, for instance) if it wasn’t for wrock.
It is definitely pretty unique to Wizard Rock. It is great as a musician to be able to explore vastly different styles with the same band.
To wrap things up – can fans expect more exploration from Draco and the Malfoys beyond this new album, which is due in early 2014?
We have a bunch of concepts for albums and EP’s that we intend to get to. This seemed like the best first step to getting it all rolling. We’ve overcome inertia. For us, that’s the hardest part. We’re hoping to pick up some momentum and keep it rolling.
Awesome, and I think I can speak for wizard rock fans everywhere when I say that we hope you keep it rolling as well.
Thank you! We really appreciate it!
Are you guys excited about a new Draco and the Malfoys album and shows? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!