THE MAGIC GANG
Not even serious onstage injury can knock the wind out of chirpy indie-pop mob’s sails.
For Fans Of: Teenage Fanclub, Mac DeMarco, The Housemartins Get This Track: Your Love
Anyone watching Brighton four-piece The Magic Gang perform last summer couldn’t have failed to notice frontman Jack Kaye merrily bobbing around onstage, despite his right leg being entirely encased in an enormous plastic leg brace. “I was pissing about on the barrier and I somehow dislocated my knee and fell on the floor,” says Kaye, recalling his onstage mishap at last year’s Barn On The Farm festival. “They put me in a leg brace for six weeks, but we still carried on. I played Latitude wearing it.” Such is the never-say-die spirit of The Magic Gang (Kaye, co-singer-guitarist Kris Smith, bassist Gus Taylor and drummer Paeris Giles). Formed in 2013 when they all gravitated to Brighton from their native Hampshire, their relentless gigging has won over their own legion of fans, thanks as much “We’d rather sound like The Kinks than Pavement”: The Magic Gang (from left, Kris Smith, Gus Taylor, Paeris Giles, Jack Kaye). to their upbeat spirit as their soaring guitar pop. “We never set out to be a happy band,” points out the bespectacled Kaye as they tuck into lunchtime pints of Guinness in a North London pub. “But we smile a lot onstage and people picked up on it.” “Our whole schtick is that we’re these four fucking idiots,” adds Taylor, as they all crack up laughing. Such chemistry doesn’t come overnight. Until recently, the band lived in an eightbedroom shared house in central Brighton. Part of a freewheeling collective of groups (they sing the praises of former housemates Abattoir Blues and Sulky Boy), they bonded over a shared love of The Beatles and The Beach Boys. “We all started off in different bands,” explains Smith. “Then we thought, ‘Oh shit, we’ve got four creative powerhouses here.’” Written and recorded at home (“We had very reasonable neighbours,” deadpans Taylor), a string of vinyl and digital releases quickly saw them signed up and appearing on daytime Radio 1 playlists. The only downside to their carefree existence to date, it seems, has been the nonstop descriptions of the group as “slackers”. “We only recorded at home because we didn’t want to hang around for someone to pay for us to do it properly,” explains a momentarily serious Kaye. “We’d rather sound like The Kinks than Pavement.” Their self-titled debut album seems set to end such confusion. Recorded with producer James Dring (Jamie T/ Gorillaz), it’s as tightly wound as the Arctic Monkeys’ debut, except with the urban grit replaced with a South Coast romanticism. So while the bittersweet indie of Your Love tugs at the heartstrings like peak-period Blur, Take Care is a multi-layered piano ballad worthy of Todd Rundgren. “We don’t take ourselves seriously, but we’re deadly serious about the music,” acknowledges Smith. “It was fun living together, but it feels like we’ve entered a more professional zone,” adds Kaye, as a second round of drinks arrive. More professional perhaps, but never dour. Brace yourself for The Magic Gang.