“It’s less about wanting to live up to what the fans expect and more about living up to our own expectations of expanding as artists and doing more” – An Interview with Jack Kaye of The Magic Gang

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The day before The Magic Gang‘s sophomore album, Death of the Party, was released, I sat down on the phone with lead singer, Jack Kaye. In this interview, we discuss attitudes towards the album and what’s to come in the near future. If you’re a fan of the band and are hoping to see them live, check out the dates they currently have to offer in October, and read more below about their upcoming live-stream, taking place on September 2nd.

So, your new album Death of the Party comes out tomorrow. How excited are you? 

It does. Very, very excited, also very, very nervous.

The release date was pushed back, like many other albums that were due to be released over the last few months. Do you think this has affected your attitude towards its release in any way? 

I mean, I’d say it makes you slightly more apprehensive because it’s been longer so you have more time to think about it. It feels less, kind of, impulsive. You live with the songs a little longer, and there’s more of a build up.

Why did you decide on the title Death of the Party?

Well it’s named after one of the songs on the album, and it was one of the earlier songs that was written, and we kind of felt like lyrically it was in the right direction. So, it kind of became the starting point, so we used that song and the philosophy of the lyrics and stuff like that to lead us. It felt fitting. And, also, I just think it’s a great title.

I noticed when listening to the album that it’s a bit more experimental than your debut from two years ago, and you’ve mentioned how ‘Death of the Party’ was your lead in the writing process for it, but was your writing process for this album any different than for your debut? 

I would say it was a little bit more balanced […] I think this has got more of all of our voices on it. The song-writing is a lot more shared, and people were contributing more. So, I suppose you get that different sound just in that sense, because you’re getting all those different voices coming into it.

When listening, I found that ‘(The World) Outside My Door’ really stood out, as to me it conveyed a pressure to succeed. Are you worried about living up to your fans’ expectations, being a sophomore album?

That’s really interesting. I mean, [in]that song in a way there are definitely themes of overcoming challenges that you put in place yourself. I think that all those kind of pressures ultimately come from, like I say, what you put on yourself. I think that if you overthink things in this industry then you become your own worst enemy, so it’s less about wanting to live up to what the fans expect and more about living up to our own expectations of expanding as artists and doing more. Maybe that theme is there a little bit in that song, and also on a more personal level, like day-to-day pressures as well.

Album promo obviously can’t happen in its usual capacity this year. But that hasn’t stopped you guys from interacting with your fans, because over lockdown you’ve been doing some personalised love songs and your quarantine covers. How did these recordings work since you were all separated?

We kind of just got used to doing everything remotely, so we got very used to first of all Zoom meetings, like everyone’s been doing, but then also just this idea of writing and recording and sending each other drums, or bass, or whatever, and having each other add to those. We quickly adjusted to this idea that we weren’t going to be in a room together, and learned to kind of move forward remotely. And it did travel over, because we’ve been writing a lot as well, we’ve managed to do all of that remotely as well.

Did you ever find fan interactions difficult, and trying to keep fans engaged in the lead up to the album, since it’s all online? 

It was something we thought about. Obviously when the tour was halted we were a little bit worried about how we were actually going to promote the album. We suddenly lost that whole tour of connecting with that many people each night. I think we were quite quick on our feet. Angus was coming up with lots of great ideas to communicate with people over the internet and different ideas of, I don’t know, group activities to make sure we had that contact going. And then once we had gotten into that zone of doing it like that, one thing lead to another and once we’d realised that you can actually write songs and collaborate with fans, it felt like a very fun thing to do.

Out of the quarantine covers that you did, which was your favourite personally? 

Of the covers, I didn’t play on it, but I really liked the ‘Club Tropicana’ one that Angus did first.

I was hoping you’d say that because I was the one who suggested it on Twitter!

Oh, no way! Oh my God, full circle. Amazing, great work. It was included on the NHS Compilation that was made. A friend of mine came round and he had that on vinyl and we listened to it. It has been a little while since that was recorded, so I kind of heard it with fresh ears and I thought, “that’s actually a really lovely cover”.

You’re doing a live-stream on September 2nd, can you just speak through exactly what you’ll be doing? 

We’re going to, if all prevails, be taking phone calls from fans for 7 hours, so hopefully we get lots of people calling in, and we’re going to try and sell some albums during the 7 hours. We will have some kind of target and we will try and hit that target. Every time we sell, I don’t know, X amount of records, we’re going to do a tune on karaoke as well. And we’re going to have loads of guests as well, so it’ll be Justin from The Vaccines, Felix from The Maccabees, who are hopefully going to join us on karaoke each time we hit a sales target. We want to take as many phone calls from people as possible.

You’ve booked to play a few gigs in October – how are you feeling about this? Playing new music live for the first time must be daunting anyways, but especially with this lack of live music we’ve had recently. 

Yeah, it’s really strange. The freaky thing about it is trying to imagine what capacity it’s going to happen in and how it will look, and how much space there will be in the room, so it’s really hard to envision at the moment. It’s far ahead enough for me to not be too worried, but we will have to see what happens. I suspect there will be lots of other things going on around that time, if people are allowed to, so it’ll all become clear.

Yeah, you’re doing a couple album signings, aren’t you? You’re coming to Bournemouth sometime soon?

Yeah, that’s right, we are. We had to massively cut down, obviously. Normally you put a record out and you get to do a whole tour of those, and somehow people have managed to make these one or two happen, which we’re really grateful for.

Would you say you’re more excited to play a live show or see a live show first? 

I’m going to have to be very selfish and say play a live show.

If you had to sum up the album in 3 words, what 3 words would you use?

I would say, “dancing, deep, thought”

So with these live shows that are hopefully going ahead in October, if you had to choose one thing, what would you say is the most important aspect of a live show to you? 

I’d say unity. For a short period of time, being on the same wave-length as most strangers in the room.

Yeah, that’s definitely something I’ve missed about live shows. 

Yeah, for sure, me too.

Death of the Party is out now via Warner Records. Tickets can be bought for The Magic Gang shows here, and more information about the livestream can be found here.

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Live Editor 2019/20 & second year English student. Can usually be found procrastinating my degree at a gig, or trying (and failing) to complete my Goodreads challenge

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