The Magic Gang are the most exciting indie band in Britain right now. Their effervescently optimistic brand of feelgood rock landed them on iTunes’ New Artists 2017 list and our List for 2018, as well as a nomination for Best New Artist at the NME Awards, following a stellar trio of EPs and two fantastic singles in ‘Your Love’ and ‘Alright’ over the last couple of years. So where did it all begin? Surprisingly just “as a bit of a side-project” says frontman Jack Kaye, who talked to Records Executive Sam Law about their upcoming debut album, the summer festival circuit, and even bassist Angus Taylor’s appearance on the hit CBBC show Raven.
“We were all playing in different bands with different people” when the gang met up at university in Brighton says Jack, when asked about their early days. But it “very quickly became sort of a main priority, and we just started taking it seriously. We put one song online and it kind of went from there,” he says, referring to the surprise double single No Fun / Alright, which the band released in 2015. Although notably moodier and slower-paced than their later work, those tracks showcased the gang’s talent at crafting indie anthems and cemented their chemistry together.
From there, it was easy to for the four musicians to focus on this blossoming band. “We played a show and then we kind of realized sort of from the very beginning that we were going to take it quite seriously,” Jack explains. A debut EP dropped in 2016, landing the gang much wider recognition. “We were lucky enough to get quite a lot of good support slots, so we started supporting bands like Wolf Alice and stuff like that,” Jack replies when asked where it went from there. “And then when you do that you kind of take on a bit of a fanbase as well. So we had a bit of a boost quite early on to be honest, and then from there that was it.”
But now, after touring Europe and the UK as support for larger bands, The Magic Gang are looking forward to their first headline UK tour, which kicks off at the O2 Institute in Birmingham on March 22nd. How excited are they for it? “I’m buzzing about it, yeah, it’s great!” enthuses Jack. “It’s the first tour we’ve done where it looks like it’s going to be sold out before we start the tour, which is a huge step up for us. And some of the venues kind of feel like a massive step-up as well, so it’s really exciting.” Notably, the gang look to be taking on London’s Electric Ballroom and Glasgow’s legendary King Tut’s on the 28th and 25th March respectively. Later in the summer, they’re booked to play at Reading & Leeds, which “is always a great one to be at,” says Jack. “I’m very excited.”
But perhaps the most exciting event in the gang’s near future is the release of their self-titled debut album, due out on March 16th. When asked about ‘Getting Along‘, the fantastic first single from the album to be dropped ahead of the full project, Jack replies that “it sounds really kind of cliché to say, but it’s our favourite song we’ve done so far. And it feels like people have been really into it. So it’s been great.” Here at The Edge we’ve been enamored with it, describing the track as “a pulsating indie beat that typifies their often upbeat sound.”
How about the rest of the album? “I mean there are definitely a couple on there that people will be surprised by,” Jack replies. “There’s stuff on there that’s more piano-based than people would really expect that we’re really excited for people to hear. So it should be good.” There’s even a song that has strong Dido influences, Jack explains. “Yeah there’s like a really slow-burn piano tune towards the end of the album that we got really exited about. […] Dido’s kind of been like a tour-band favourite for a long time, so we’re into it.”
When drawn on the recording process in their live-in studio in Oxfordshire, Jack describes how “it was pretty quick and painless, we kind of got into the studio and had two 10-day sessions, and we kind of just tried to bash a lot of it out live.” There are good signs pointing to the gang’s chemistry playing into much of the album’s music, as Jack recounts how “there’s a lot of stuff on there that is just us playing together. Which is kind of exactly how we’ve always wanted to do it really. And I feel that this is the first time that we’ve really managed to nail that, which is good.”
To promote the release of the album, the band are playing a number of shows in record stores up and down the country from March 15th-19th. How did that come about? “I’ve seen other bands do it when their album comes out,” Jack replies, detailing how the shows will be “like a full band setup, like a normal show but in a record store.” That said, he’s still looking forward to the unusual set of gigs. “We’ve never done anything like that before, that’s really exciting as well. Kind of a weird one that, because I’ve no idea what to expect. I don’t really know what the vibe is.”
It’s clear from talking to Jack that touring is the lifeblood of The Magic Gang. Specifically, he points to the band’s love of playing in Manchester as to why they love performing so much. But why Manchester? “I have no idea! You know it’s weird, you know there just seems to be something up north where people really get into it and, that’s kind of where our fanbase has grown the quickest.” Of course, it doesn’t hurt that some of the gang’s biggest gigs have been up in the north. “In Manchester we’re playing to like 900 people so there’s just something about it, I don’t know what it is but it just seems to have really caught on up there. And the people fucking love it. Like I think people love music up there so, it’s just great to play along and people really sing along and get into it.”
But what about a return to Southampton, after their fantastic set at Common People 2017? “Do you know what, we’re doing another tour in September/October time and I’m sure there’ll be a Southampton date on that” – fantastic news for fans all along the south coast. “Southampton’s another favourite place for us. We’ve done Joiners a couple of times and it’s always been great.”
Of course, The Magic Gang aren’t all touring and songwriting. It turns out that bassist Angus Taylor has another claim to fame to put alongside his place in Britain’s most exciting indie band. “Yeah Angus was on Raven, I don’t know how old he was but he was a kid,” Jack chuckles. “He got eliminated, but I think he was looking like he might win, which is a shame.”
As for their most interesting moment on tour? That came about not through wild partying, but through sleep. “I’m a pretty bad sleepwalker, if I’m honest,” Jack discloses. “I left the hotel room in Holland once, and was in the corridor in my underwear, and had to go down to reception in my underwear and get my keys because I’d locked myself out. So that’s not even related to going out and getting drunk or anything crazy in that respect, it’s just crazy as in ridiculous.” Regardless, the band loved their time in Europe, and are looking for “a headline tour there, and then hopefully America as well at some point this year” once their UK tour is complete.
But at the end of the day, The Magic Gang are always crafting music that their fans will surely love. “We’re always writing, all of us are always writing, like individually or together, so I think the second album will probably come quicker than people expect,” says Jack. “If we’re not playing or recording then it’s kind of our responsibility to keep the flow going in terms of like songwriting as well.” So with a debut album, a UK tour, and even more songs on the horizon for The Magic Gang, it certainly seems like a magical time to be a fan of Britain’s next big indie rock band.
The Magic Gang is released on March 16th via Warner Music. You can pre-order the album here.