Rock 'N' Rowling
Paul DeGeorge describes Harry and the Potters as an indie rock outreach program. He formed the band with his younger brother, Joe, when all the bands flaked on their DIY backyard show six years ago.
The duo penned seven bouncy keyboard and guitar-driven indie pop songs in less than an hour, the beginnings of a catalog that now encompasses three albums, an EP, and as many as 60 songs. The pair perform (accompanied by a drummer) dressed like the titular character of the Harry Potter books in glasses, tie, oxford and sweater singing songs based on characters and situations from J.K. Rowling's series, and they've experienced similar exponential growth. They've even inspired an entire genre, dubbed "wizard rock," with bands such as Draco & The Malfoys, The Whomping Willows and The Remus Lupins.
The idea to perform in libraries came naturally to Paul, who used to book bands while in college during the '90s, and preferred offbeat venues. "We thought, 'This is perfect.' There's this age group that is so into Harry Potter, and libraries have such trouble reaching out to these teenagers," he says.
This will be the fifth summer that Paul and Joe (eight years Paul's junior) have crossed the country, ever since Joe turned 16 and could legally drive. "Our parents pulled their hair out for that entire summer," Paul says with a chuckle, from his home in Norwood, Massachusetts. A chemical engineer, Paul probably caused mom and pop their own distress when he quit his job to manage the band, while Joe attends college. "Fortunately, they understand the nature of the project and that it's based around a book that's having its moment right now."
Paul's certainly no stranger to musical evangelism. It was him who turned Joe on to bands like the Pixies and They Might Be Giants, and it's one of the reasons he likes playing for a younger audience. Many of the kids they play for are just entering their teens like Joe was when Paul introduced him to underground music.
"Hopefully, people can see that and realize that music is made by actual people and you don't have to be special or anything all you have to do is grab an instrument," Paul says. "And maybe you can inspire some people to check out some other bands that were off their radar."
The pair recently returned from their second tour of England, where the fans were much more rambunctious than in the U.S. "Joe got crowd-surfed three different times," Paul says. "They picked him up and started passing him around. It was totally outrageous."
It's part of a busy summer, from the movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which premières July 13, to the book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, out July 21. Harry and the Potters have a full schedule each day, on top of their already-packed tour schedule. And they'll need time to read the new book.
"We gave ourselves three days off after the book drops," Paul says. "We'll get some reading done probably in one day, and then we'll probably be in the van banging away on the keytar."
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