It’s shaping up to be a busy summer for English Alternative four-piece, The Magic Numbers. With the release of their brilliant new single, “Sweet Divide”, ahead of the release of their fifth studio album, Outsiders, their return to Leicester on the 19th May is not to be missed. We sit down with them and talk about expectations, festivals, hiatus and family.
‘This record is the sound of our gang.’ This is of course, Outsiders, due for release on the 11th May. The band, comprising of two brother/sister pairings, have been an exciting presence within the alternative-rock scene for almost two decades, since their formation in 2002. Their self-titled debut album was shortlisted for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize back in 2005, and the release of 2006’s Those the Brokes cemented them as a band demanding of our attention. After a four year hiatus, they are back with an album that promises to be their most electrifying and confrontational yet.
‘There’s a lot of the fun side of us on Outsiders. From the moment we first stepped into the rehearsal studio, working on the songs, there was a sense that we were comfortable and at ease, bouncing off of each other. Sometimes it’s hard to find those moments with everything else going on, but thankfully, we have always managed to grab that feeling when it’s the four of us playing music. I think it really comes through on this record.’ This certainly comes through on their latest single, “Sweet Divide”. There is a sense that the band have achieved a harder edge with their new material; the guitarwork is vigorously present, and the vocal harmonies are stronger than ever. Something has changed.
‘I think the difference in sound this time around just stems from a load more confidence. I think we’ve finally managed to capture that harder edge from the live show on record. Also, Romeo really didn’t want to use too many layers to shape the overall sound on this record so there are fewer elements, but each part with more conviction. For instance, on “Sweet Divide”, it is just the one guitar plugged straight into the amp, and it was a performance all the way through. There’s a real wild abandonment in the playing.’ The confidence really comes through on the single, and the album will surely display such courage in abundance. After years away from the studio, it becomes even more impressive that their sound feels larger than ever.
‘It’s always good to get back in the studio. It’s been a really exciting time; when we go through the songs in a rehearsal space and it all starts coming together in the studio. We started recording in our studio in East-London for the main basis of the tracks, then Michele had been working with Dave Izumi Lynch for her second solo record and we soon fell in love with his studio and the great atmosphere that he creates. I think we would all agree that this record has been the most enjoyable to make.’
This personal enjoyment in the music is yearning to be shared with the listener. Once again, the band prove they’re supremely skilled in the realm of grand choruses. Big, sing-along choruses are a consistent element of their songwriting, and prove to have remained a strength. ‘There’s something really powerful about hitting a great big chorus with the three of us singing a three-part harmony – there’s magic in that for sure. There’s never been a conscious decision to write big choruses but when they do come along we don’t shy away from them. The song is still the main focus for us as a band. Does it still sound great without any fancy threads, just last night’s makeup running down its face? Why, yes it does? Then great!’
Such choruses are perfect for festival crowds, and as some may remember, the band headlined Leicester’s Summer Sundae Festival back in 2007; the year after the release of Those the Brokes. An appreciation of music festivals to promote and attract fans has grown over the years, and is still something very important to The Magic Numbers. ‘I think festivals are incredibly important in attracting new fans. As a festival-goer myself I have found many new bands that I would not have normally been inclined to listen to. There is definitely something about seeing a band live that really shows you what they are made of.’
For the first time, they hit The Scholar on the 19th May to remind fans exactly what they’re made of. ‘There are a lot of venues that we have never been to on this tour, like The Scholar, so that’s always exciting… we are definitely a band that feels very at home on the road.’ It would be easy to miss family being out on the road, but family is always close at hand. ‘Being in a band with family is probably the best way to stay grounded. There is no one better to call out pretentiousness than a brother or sister.’ The band have been on an incredibly long journey together, and could not have become closer in the process, and their latest album may very well prove the summit of a profound career.
‘I can’t quite believe it’s been thirteen years since the first record. I have to say recording that record was a real learning curve for all of us… I think I will always look back at that moment fondly, the realisation that we could actually do what we dreamed of.’ To reach the heights that The Magic Numbers have met over the course of their career is a dream that many aspire to, and with their upcoming tour, fans are given the chance to share in their dream once again as it expands for a fifth time – with the release of the hotly-anticipated ‘Outsiders’.
The Magic Numbers play Leicester’s O2 Academy on the 19th May.