Thursday, August 2, 2012

Interview: Harry & the Potters

Posted By on August 2, 2012, 1:45 PM

Brothers Joe and Paul DeGeorge of the punk-rock Harry Potter homage group talk about all things, from Hogwarts to hootenannies.---

Harry & the Potters comedy-punk songs are centered around the writing of J.K. Rowling and include songs about Potter’s adventures like “Save Ginny Weasley” and “Luna Lovegood is OK.” The duo will be joined by The Potter Puppet Pals on Friday, August 3 at Kilby Court (741 S. Kilby Court, 7 p.m., $10).

Paul DeGeorge answers some of our questions via email:

City Weekly: So, I’ve actually never seen a Harry Potter movie or read one of the books. Is there hope for me?

Paul DeGeorge: Absolutely. I actually think you may really enjoy the Potter Puppet Pals performance. They're opening the show with a recap of the entire series done with felt puppets. They don't really have all the facts right, so you shouldn't expect to be a full-fledged Harry Potter expert at the end. However, you will be adequately entertained.

CW: If Harry Potter were to make music, why would it be punk? I’ve always thought it would be witchcore or broom pop, but that’s just me.

PD: For me, "punk" is a catch-all term that can be applied to anyone who is taking on the system or aiming to change the status quo. I think Bruce Springsteen is a punk. I think "Good Vibrations" is a punk song. It's music that challenges you. As a character, Harry Potter never shies away from that challenge. He is ready to address the concerns and injustices of the wizarding world when others are content to be more complacent. Despite all the quidditch talk, I think at his core, Harry is much more of a punk than a jock.

CW: You gave a lecture in 2005 at Texas A&M titled “The Power of Wizard Rock.” Can you distill a bit of the potion down for us?

PD: From what I remember, the lecture focused primarily on the DIY aspects of wizard rock ,presenting it as an alternative to the mass-marketed mainstream. I vaguely remember linking Voldemort and the Death Eaters to Clear Channel and all the media consolidation that was going on around that time -- particularly in regard to music. There were also some Bill and Ted's references to how a time-traveling band could bring harmony to the universe.

CW: What does JK Rowling think of Harry & the Potters? Have you met her?

PD: Never met her, but we did send her a trophy of a witch riding a broomstick inscribed with "JK Rowling, World's Greatest Witch." She sent us a thank you e-mail that was very nice. She also never sued us, which was also very nice.

CW: There’s a local quidditch club in Salt Lake City that one of our writers went to.  Um, I guess that’s not really a question. Retort however you’d like.

PD: Yep, Quidditch is great. I thought it sounded truly lame at first, but I've got to hand it to the IQA [International Quidditch Association] because they've done an incredible job of turning it into a legitimate and entertaining sport that doesn't fail to embrace the absurdity of the situation -- pretending to fly by running around with broomsticks between your legs. I've been to a couple of Quidditch World Cups and had a total blast.

CW: What are people’s reactions when you tell them you play in a HP-themed -- right way to put it? -- band?

PD: Oftentimes, younger people have at least heard our band name somewhere even if they aren't super-familiar with what we do. To older people -- like our grandma -- our job is "interesting," which is, of course, a nice way of saying, "I don't know why that is a thing, but I'm happy for you."

CW: Are there any artistic dilemmas that you have regarding making music from a singular muse rather than creating autobiographical or political or whatever art -- like many punk lyricists?

PD: I wouldn't say that they're dilemmas: more like fun challenges. How can we write parts of ourselves into these songs? How can we add our own viewpoints and commentary on the books while still inhabiting the character of Harry Potter? Honestly, those challenges make the band far more interesting for us than simply rehashing what happens in the books by way of our songs. I think that's what any good reappropriation artist does: They take an original work and utilize those recognizable symbols and characters and then infuse it with their own style, beliefs, points-of-view etc. So, we can write a song where Harry Potter wonders why his wand only costs 7 galleons and we're using it as a way to make a snarky joke about inconsistent copy editing. That's right, you can't step to our nerdiness.

CW: OK, I’ve asked a few of my coworkers to help me out with more HP-y questions, so here they are:

From Kolbie Stonehocker:
CW: What would be worse: Burping up slugs, or Ginny's Bat-Bogey Hex?

PD: I can't really remember what the Bat Bogey Hex does, but I feel like burping up slugs is one of the coolest schoolyard curses around. If I had to be cursed with one, I'll choose the slugs for that reason alone.

CW: If you had the Marauder's Map for a day at Hogwarts, where would you go?

PD: If you don't answer the Room of Requirement here you are crazy. Guys, it's a room that gives you ANYTHING you want!!!! I have no idea why this was not PARTY CENTRAL for the entire freakin' school.

CW: What's your favorite Wizarding World candy?

PD: I like the idea of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans conceptually. But I think it's sort of impractical for it to be totally random. Because if there is a flavor for everything, my guess is that the bad flavors would outweigh the good flavors, like, 100:1. So, either there's some magic going on that boosts the percentage of good flavors or wizards are just really into games of chance.

CW: What's the most pointless spell in the Harry Potter books?

PD: Hmmm … I just looked up all the spells on Wikipedia and the weirdest one I came across was Densaugeo, which causes the teeth of the recipient to grow at an alarming rate. Draco casts this at Harry at one point. Not sure why that's the one on the tip of Draco's tongue or how students even have the capacity to remember such ridiculously specific spells, but hey, it's a magical world, right?

CW: If you would use any of Fred and George's Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes joke products on Draco Malfoy, what would it be?

PD: I've always been enamored with their puking pastilles. When I think about it, that's kind of silly because that product basically already exists -- ipecac -- and if students aren't already using it to get out of class, then I'm not sure why they'd start simply because this one is more magic.

From Kelly Cannon:
CW: What house are you in?

PD: Gryffindor. Actually, a little Slytherin in there, too -- like Harry Potter --  but mostly Gryffindor.

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