Rounded glasses. Green Eyes. A magic wand in his hand, a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead, and a sort of a dumb expression on his face. You know who I’m talking about.
The f…lipping Harry Potter.
We all know the little wizard with spectacles has definitely conquered a half of the world, creating a huge fandom phenomenon which has spread like a desease throughout almost every country and every section of the entertainment – video games, millions of websites and socials, t-shirts, parties, clubs… -.
BUT not everyone knows, and I personally discovered yesterday, that…
The f…lipping Harry Potter has inspired a music genre. The so-called Wizard Rock, or briefly, Wrock. A mode started in 2002 and starring ten years later more than 700 bands, devoted to Mr. Potter.
FILK MUSIC – From Led Zeppelin to Scandinavian Gothic Rock
This mixture between fiction and music has actually its origins back in the early 1950s with Filk Music, a musical culture tied to fantasy fandom. It is wellknow how one of the greatest rock bands ever existed, the Led Zeppelin, were inspired in many of their songs as well as in their characteristic topoi by the famous fantasy epic trilogy “The Lord Of The Rings”, by J.r.R. Tolkien. Zeppelin’s songs such as Ramble On (1969), Misty Mountain Hop (1971), The Battle Of Evermore (1971) and Over The Hills And Far Away (1973) contain explicit references to the poem in their lyrics.
Apart from rock, already in 1965 songwriter Donald Swann had set the same poems into music, publishing two years later the song collection The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle (approved by Tolkien in person). Then, in early nineties, a literary genre typified by gloomy atmospheres and a combination between horror and romantic elements, influenced and developed a new branch of music, the Gothic Rock (the scandinavian one, not to be confused with the british goth rock post-punk/new wave-like from the eighties, wich has nothing in common with gothic literature).
But it had never happened before that a single novel would influence music as much as to found an enterely new genre. This is the really first time.
WROCK – THE WIZARD ROCK
Wizard Rock is totally centered on Harry Potter’s universe, either in lyrics and performance. It can be considered as a sort of a branch of indie/pop-punk rock typical of adolescents, with rough-edged riffs and lyrics totally based on the saga (often by one of the cìmain characters’ point of view). The bands play on stage cosplaying, or in other words dressing as Harry Potter’s characters. They often perform at fan conventions, and usually prefer to play at ‘cultural’ places such as libraries, educational institutions and literary events.
They have a particular way to produce their work: all Wrock bands follow a “DIY”, “Do It Yourself” ethic, with many bands self producing their recordings and distributing them through online social networkin channels (font Wikipedia).
On 2008 was released a documentary on wizard rock scene, The Wizard Rockumentary: A Movie About Rocking And Rowling, produced by the newborn GriffinClaw Productions LLC.
Even if the first HP-based song was release in 2000 by Los Angeles pop-punk band Switchblade Kittens (Ode To Harry, from Gene Weasley point of view), Wizard Rock actually deveoped in Massachussets between 2002 and 2004, when two Potter’s fans, brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge, formed a indie rock band based on the novel, dressing up in Harry’s wizard-school Hogwarts’ uniforms (Paul, elder, who had the idea, like Potter at year 7, and Joe at year 4): white shirts under grey crew-neck sweaters, red-and.yellow striped ties, and the famous wire-rim glasses. They quickly wrote down 7 songs based on Rowling’s novel plot, and started to go on stage dressed up like that (they were 23 and 14 years old). In 2003 they recorded their eponymous debut album under Paul’s own record label Eskimo Laboratories. They eventually came out the year after with a second album, Voldemort Can’t Stop The Rock!, intensifying their tour throughout Usa (during this tour, Paul received a letter from Warner Bros notifying they were breaking copyright laws; they later settled an agreement about merchandising, allowing Harry And The Potters to continue their career). In 2005 DeGeorge brothers went on tour in Europe, recruiting other guys to play the drums. In 2006 they released their third album, Harry and the Potters and The Power Of Love, confirming their success both in Europe and in America and Canada, particularly on the web (they sold their music mostly on myspace). On tour they starred a fellow wrock band born as a parody of them, the Draco and the Malfoys. In 2007 the band celebrated the release of Harry Potter’s seventh book (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows) performing at Harvard Yard on 21st June, at midnight. In 2008 they inspired the Wizard Rockumentary.
After so many years (“the longest joke ever” said Paul DeGeorge) and after the saga conclusion, Harry And The Potters have given birth to an international phenomenon, with over 750 bands following their strange…or, at least, quite peculiar example.
The good thing is that with the other wrock bands they raise money for First Book, a no-profit organization supporting child reading, through the club “Wizard Rock EP of the Month”, in which they release an EP every month featuring every time a different wrock band.
DRACO AND THE MALFOYS and the others
Draco And The Malfoys were formed in 2004 in Rhode Island by half-brothers Brian Ross and Breadley Mehlenbacher as a parody of Harry And The Potters. They started to play at parties, and played at a friend’s of them Rhode Island house, Matt Maggiacomo, during a Harry Potter show (Maggiacomo played with his own wrock band, The Whomping Willows). They performed at libraries, bookstores and clubs around Usa and Canda, supporting Harry And The Potters band on 2006 tour and collaborating with them later on. As ABC news reported, Ross and Mehlenbacher (32 and 27) was obsessed with HP saga the same way as DeGeorge brothers, but they seemd to better recognised instead the absurdity of the bands.
Anyway, they released four studio albums: Draco And The Malfoys (2005), Party Like You’re Evil! (2007), It’s A Slytherin World! (2009) and Anthology of Slytherin Folk Songs (2010), and performed at Wrockstock 2008, at a YMCA summer camp in Ozark foothills, with The Whomping Willows, The Moaning Martles and Tom Riddle And Friends. They recently split-up on December 9th 2011, with a message on their facebook page to their fans.
At least, on 2012, after ten years after the first Wizard Rock band was formed, other 750 have joined this strange ad quite absurd movement.
How far can a passion, even literary, lead their fan? Are those guys original, genious, cool, or just a bit foolish and possibly stupid? Are they only loosing their time on absurd attempts, or are they well interpretating the spirit of our strange era, with its desperate need of something to believe in?
However, coming down from Hogwarts back to the real world, my spontaneous question is:
DO THEY EARN ENOUGH MONEY TO LIVE??
They’re often on tour, and they’re not still adolescents at all. Is it just a hobby for them, even if very serious either important, or does it turn itself into a proper job? I mean, people from the fandoms are usually so obsessed with their passion as to spend a lot for it, and Wrock’s got a great success among them. So does Wizard Rock allow to make some money? The question makes it quite interesting…
Anyway, as I think I clearly expressed before, I’m not really a fan of Harry Potter’s saga; but I love music, I love indie rock and original melodies. So, yes…I admit those f…lipping wrock bands are not that bad, after all.
I leave you with a couple of songs (and some funny pics…). What do you think about them? Do you like them or not? Let me know by comments if you like 🙂
See you soon! Stay tuned…and don’t make mess with your little magic wands.
HARRY AND THE POTTERS
DRACO AND THE MALFOYS