The band of tricks

Northeastern synth pop group Magic Man will light up the Varsity Theater on Tuesday.

Sam Lee, left, and Alex Caplow will be performing on April 26 at Varsity Theater.

Image by Photo courtesy of CJ Moy

Sam Lee, left, and Alex Caplow will be performing on April 26 at Varsity Theater.

by Yena Lee

When Alex Caplow and Sam Lee were young, they used to have pasta races at lunch to see who could eat their food the fastest. 
Though pasta race outcomes have been long forgotten, the duo lasted throughout childhood and beyond. After their freshman year of college, Caplow and Lee went to France, and there, Magic Man was created. 
They released their first self-produced album in 2010 on Bandcamp and received attention from sites like Pitchfork, but not enough for them to pursue music full time.
After playing college shows and basement parties, a record label approached the duo when they were about to graduate.
Neon Gold, a label that has worked with the likes of Passion Pit, Ellie Goulding and St. Lucia, offered Magic Man an opportunity to make some studio sounds once they finished college.
“[It took] a year of negotiations. For a long time, I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Caplow said.
Eventually, the label took the group’s first album down because it sounded too different from their style.
“A part of me still craves to write more experimental, super chill … music like that,” Caplow said.
In 2014, the duo became a five-piece and released their first major label album, “Before the Waves.”
Now, the synth pop band is back to its original lineup as a duo and finishing up its new project. Caplow said they wanted it to capture the live energy from their previous tours, so they unearthed the bass, guitar and drums from under layers of synth.
“We built the songs up from starting by recording drums opposed to adding in drums later, which I think really helps root them in,” Caplow said.
Although the new album’s release date is up in the air, the band, along with The Griswolds and Panama Wedding, started their “Hotline Spring” North American tour earlier this month. 
The duo has played some college shows since its last big tour, but they’re itching to get back on the road. 
“I miss traveling and seeing the fans. I miss performing. It’s going to be really nice to try out the new songs,” Caplow said. 
Concert-goers are in luck because Magic Man will be performing some songs from their upcoming album. 
“People like taking videos at concerts now. I know that a lot of the videos being posted are of the new songs; I know that fans are going to hear them for the first time in like a [expletive] cellphone video with the sound quality terrible,” Caplow said. “A part of me cringes when I know that. … I wish they could have the perfect first listen experience. Then another part of me says, ‘You know what, they’ll eventually get the real deal.’ ”
Although the new album might feel like a change from their last one, Caplow said it’s a fun record with a lot of driving energy. 
“We’re always striving to write the perfect pop song, a feel-good all the way through. [A song that] makes you want to listen to it [again] the second that it finishes,” Caplow said.