Brighton band The Magic Gang have a plan to bring “great, raw songs” back to guitar music, they tell Kevin EG Perry
A lot of British guitar bands these days are just so bait,” says The Magic Gang bassist Gus Taylor (it means ‘obvious’, for anyone over the age of 30). “They may throw in a massive riff, but what they’re doing isn’t very – what’s the word? – tasteful. Ten years ago we had a really good indie scene in the UK, but there hasn’t been much that’s mattered since then.”
The Magic Gang aim to change that. Since getting together in Brighton and releasing their first single ‘No Fun’ in 2015, the four-piece have built a reputation as one of Britain’s most inventive new bands. Their brand of smart, ear-catching indie has made fans out of musical heroes such as Johnny Marr, taken them to Jamaica to record with reggae legends Sly & Robbie and seen them sell-out headline shows across the country at venues including London’s Scala. Former Maccabees guitarist Felix White released their third EP on his new label Yala! Records at the end of March, featuring the band’s distinctly British take on the slacker pop sound of the likes of Mac DeMarco, Weezer and Pavement.
“We’re not intentionally slackers, we’re just not the most disciplined of musicians,” shrugs guitarist Kris Smith. “As for the British thing… That’s probably just because we listen to The Beatles,” says singer and guitarist Jack Kaye, adjusting his Graham Coxon-like spectacles. “And because we’d rather sound like The Kinks than an American alt-rock band.” Having released EP3, The Magic Gang are on the road this week and again in May. After that, they hit the festival circuit and then will head into the studio to finish work on their debut record, tentatively scheduled for early next year. The band have already laid down a handful of songs they think might make the cut at Monnow Valley Studio in Wales. They’ve been working there with producer James Dring, who was behind the desk for the last Jamie T album as well as previously working on Blur and Gorillaz releases. “He gets the right balance of chaos and sweetness,” says Kris.
That blending of sweet melodies and pop hooks with an edge of excitement is what The Magic Gang do best – and what they think Britain’s music scene is crying out for. “A lot of bands are more concerned with making sure they sound cool rather than with writing great, raw songs,” says Gus. “Our songs stand up on their own.”