Music Editor Jodie Leith chats with Paeris Giles of The Magic Gang about their new album Death of the Party, adulting, playing faster for Scottish crowds, Teenage Fanclub, and the fear of sounding like an episode of Skins when singing about parties.
Until the release of Death of the Party, The Magic Gang were known only for their self-titled debut album. The quartet (composed of Jack Kaye, Kristian Smith, Gus Taylor, and Paeris Giles) has since described it as “12 love songs”; a candid description for a catchy album probably better catered to teens drinking enough Dark Fruits on a night out to finally build up the courage to Snapchat the person they secretly fancy.
Yet with their newest album, Death of the Party, it’s clear that the group have shed all previous notions of bright young indie for something darker and more mature. The album itself is a kaleidoscope of eras and genres, tied together by the theme of loneliness of young adulthood. Where the first album felt conventionally radio-worthy, concentrating almost solely on indie-pop sounds, Death of the Party hosts influences of northern soul, disco, and Motown. It contains Beatles-esque harmonies and channels the songwriting prowess of greats like Lou Reed and Alex Turner. It’s mature, yet encapsulates the naivety and uncertainty of your twenties.
Drummer Paeris kindly snuck out of the pub for a chat about the album and, in return, I tried my best to make my Glaswegian accent as understandable as possible for an Englishman a few pints in.
The Glasgow Guardian: How’s the band spent their days over lockdown?
Paeris Giles: It was nice to not have anything expected of us for a bit. We just used the time to write as much as possible. Because we’d announced the record, we were like, “Oh shit.” We need [sic] to find ways of making sure we didn’t fall away in people’s minds and keep the interest levels up. So, just trying to have as much engagement with fans as possible; writing songs for fans and doing covers. It does sound really terrible and lazy; I know so many people got it so much worse. It was just good to recalibrate and enjoy music again, and sort of miss doing it, weirdly.
GG: It’s a strange time to release an album, especially not being able to tour. How’s that been?
PG: Yeah, in a logistic album-selling way it’s a bit different obviously. On the first record, we did an in-store tour. What I miss this time around is actually meeting fans. Being able to hear “Oh I loved the record” or “I loved this song” - you get an enormous amount of feedback from so many different people. I guess we’ve had a bit of that online. Music is so subjective, it’s nice to get the range of opinion. And to be honest, I miss playing live. It’s literally just you and the people who enjoy your music. It sounds a bit cheesy, but the payoff is seeing the people respond to the stuff you’re doing.
GG: You had such a huge reaction to your first album. Yet this album is a lot more introspective and darker; how did the shift in perspective come about from your debut album?
PG: We did a lot of touring around the first record and when that all stopped, we were like: “Right, so what’s the next subject matter?” When we did the first record, still living in Brighton, we were still very much students and had that same sort of mentality. All of that ended quite abruptly; we were like: “Okay, so now we’re like … adults? Shit.” Okay, we do this band thing; we’re very lucky. But day-to-day we’re not doing a great deal. If you’re not very active, it brings on a lot of negative thoughts. To me, the record is basically navigating your twenties and what’s expected of you. When you’re a student and you have all your mates around you, there’s no need to think about things on that level; at least that’s how I found it. We lived in a big house with our mates who were also in bands and thought it was great. And then you have to sort of grow up and it slowly dawns on you.
GG: The tracks Make A Sound and Death of the Party both recount the same party from two different perspectives: frontman Jack has a great night and guitarist Kristian hates it. What’s it been like accommodating different perspectives in terms of songwriting?
PG: What we found was that those two songs were written without the other person's knowledge; it was a happy accident. It still feels weird to talk about a party… you know Skins? Maybe it’s more of our generation, but to write about a party feels a bit cheesy and reminds me of that. But it turned out great. It’s nice to have a bit more structure when you’re coming into a second record, as opposed to the first one, it was … I don’t mean greatest hits; I think they were all amazing, but I think the fans probably wanted all those songs together in one place. As opposed to now, where it’s a bit more structured in terms of what we were going to write about.
GG: Think has a northern soul inspired video; Take Back The Track is heavily influenced by disco legends like Chic and Sister Sledge; and you’ve also cited songwriters like Lou Reed and Alex Turner as key influences. The album’s a complete eclectic mix. How did the blend of genres happen? Did you all discuss genres you wanted to include?
PG: Not really, it was just like the two songs you mentioned before. Kris said: “I’ve always wanted to do something like this, so let’s try it.” Especially with Take Back The Track; it’s basically the same thing the whole way through. We haven’t even played that live yet … Oh, wait. We did a session for Sunday Brunch. I broke my wrist, so I was there just playing a drum machine, which sucked … but, yeah. We just hadn’t done anything like this before. We thought if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Everyone around us seemed to be into it.
GG: Growing up, what shaped and moulded your taste in music?
PG: Personally, I just used to love The Cribs when I was 15. I had their record, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever, and I fucking loved that at the time. Listening back to it, when you’re a bit older and you’re like: “Fucking hell ... this is still amazing.” I love that song Be Safe. It shows how good they are: if it’s able to resonate with you as a younger person and still maintain that allure.
GG: You’ve mentioned previously the Arctic Monkeys’ record Tranquillity Base, as being a key influence on the new album. I got to know The Magic Gang standing next to you guys at TRNSMT during the Arctic Monkeys set. Did you enjoy TRNSMT?
PG: We loved it. The thing is we’re not even big Arctic Monkeys fans at all. To be honest, we actively didn’t like them, or that record. Then we heard [Tranquility Base] properly and thought: “Fucking hell; we love this.” It’s quite rare that we all have that intense feeling about one record. Seeing them live is nuts, cause it used to be T in the Park, right? We just loved it. It’s funny you were next to us because we were just … on one.
GG: You played TRNSMT that year, didn’t you?
PG: We did. It’s weird cause we played Scotland a few times on our first headliner tour and basically barely sold any tickets. People just didn’t get it at all … they didn’t like it. I remember we supported Sundara Karma and we were like: “Look, let’s just play everything like loads faster. They seem to love having an excuse to get a bit aggy, so let’s just play everything quicker.” From that moment on it's been the best place. We fucking love Scotland and we’re trying to sort out a Glasgow date to add on to the tour, hopefully, to come back.
GG: Speaking of your love for Scotland, I’ve heard a lot about Teenage Fanclub as having a huge influence on the band. Do you personally like them?
PG: When we started, we really liked the whole, like, 90s sort of like singer-songwriter stuff. Obviously, Orange Juice and Josef K and shit is all 80s …
GG: Postcard Records?
PG: Yeah! We love all that stuff. With Teenage Fanclub, at the time, we didn’t really get it. Then Kristian actually listened to it properly and was like: “I think we’re all actually really going to love this.” You know that song Metal Baby? I fucking love that. We love them now.
GG: Just to round things off, what’s your personal favourite track from the album and why?
PG: My favourite one is Fail Better. It reminds me of the older stuff we used to do which was a bit heavier. I really like Kris’ lyrics in it. You know, when I said about navigating your twenties; he’s basically just talking about really mundane, boring stuff but in quite an engaging way. I just think the backdrop of music is great … I just think that song is amazing. Sorry, can I say that about my own stuff? I’m not the biggest fan of everything we do but I really like that song.
The Magic Gang’s latest album Death of the Party is out now and tickets for their upcoming tour dates are available online.
Find them online at:
Spotify: The Magic Gang
No related posts found!