Post-wizard rock

The tale of Harry Potter is over in print and in film, so how much longer can it live through song?

by Griffin Fillipitch


What: Harry and the Potters and Koo Koo Kanga Roo

When: Doors open at 12:30 p.m., April 7

Where: Cedar Cultural Center, 416 S. Cedar Ave.

Cost: $10


Even if there is a Harry Potter movie marathon on ABC Family pretty much every weekend, last July’s release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” marked the end of a golden age for Harry Potter super-fandom.

It’s not ridiculous to assume that it would also mean the end for Harry and the Potters, the Massachusetts band known for writing and playing songs based on J.K. Rowling’s books and accidentally inventing the genre “wizard rock.”

“When we were starting out, we thought if we could stick around until the seventh book came out that would be cool.” We knew it would be awesome to play a big show on that night,” said Paul DeGeorge, who plays guitar and keyboard in Harry and the Potters. He started the band in 2002 with his brother Joe.

“That was our longest-term plan, but we never thought it would go much further than playing the occasional show at a library.,” DeGeorge said. “Pretty quickly, we discovered that there was a Harry Potter fandom out there. This community that is pretty well networked and engaged online and when they picked up on us, that changed everything.”

Now, 10 years later, that community has clung to DeGeorge’s band and wizard rock with almost the same fervor they have for the books themselves. It continues to surprise him even now.

“What a train wreck our Wikipedia page is. It’s so involved and lengthy that it is a little embarrassing to me,” DeGeorge said. “It’s almost longer than Nirvana’s Wikipedia page. Someone needs to go in and edit it down, to just like, ‘These guys play songs about Harry Potter.’”*******

DeGeorge and his brother have actually never considered themselves Harry Potter superfans. Or, at least they didn’t when they started the band.

“We were casual fans. We had read the books once, but we weren’t involved in online message boards discussing Snape’s sex life or anything,” DeGeorge said. “We just thought it would be a cool way to re-contextualize these stories, turning them into rock songs.”

A lot of other musicians felt the same way after Harry and the Potters began achieving an impressive level of success. On iTunes, the artists linked to their first, self-titled album include Draco and the Malfoys, the Whomping Willows and Ministry of Magic.

“I guess a lot of people got inspired by seeing us. Two dudes that can’t really sing or play instruments going on tour all around the country,” DeGeorge said. “It’s cool that people were inspired because that’s how I felt about punk-rock. I’d see bands who were real people, in small venues and living rooms, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I could pull this off if I had the right band.’ I think that’s how DIY and punk culture pass down from generation to generation. You see something cool that looks possible and do it yourself. I’m glad somebody was looking to us.”

Soon, it was more than die-hards looking to them. On the night of the final book’s release, Harry and the Potters played for a crowd of more than 10,000 at Harvard. That peak of popularity may have felt a little like the beginning of the end.

“We did have to re-evaluate after that book came out,” DeGeorge said. “It was actually almost three years before we started touring libraries again. We were able to find another way of extending the concept into a new direction: to tour with bands that aren’t Harry Potter-related but have a similar approach to music as us.”

They have found that band in current tour-mates and Minneapolis natives Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Both will perform Saturday at the Cedar Cultural Center.

Even if they have found a way to repackage the same Potter songs, they are not the only things kicking around in the brothers’ brains.

“Joe and I work really well together on conceptual stuff,” DeGeorge said. “We probably wouldn’t go into normal rock-band mode. But we do have these other very bizarre ideas that are really jokes just for us because they don’t have the mass appeal that Harry Potter does.”

These ideas include a band dedicated to videogame character Ms. Pac-Man, among other things. But whatever they are considering, it seems like their future may not include Harry Potter. Harry and the Potters have not overstayed their welcome, but they are not quite the touring and album releasing force of four or five years ago.

“It’s no longer a full-time thing. We’re not living and breathing it, and we feel comfortable that way. We still get far more offers for shows than we could play in a year. That’s a good spot to be in.”