Hello magical friends, and welcome to WZRD Radio! I’m your hostwitch Bess, and today we’re talking to one of the originals. I’d make you guess, but you’ve probably seen the episode title so you know it’s Draco and the Malfoys! We actually talked for so long that my magical patrons are getting a special extended edition of the episode, over on Patreon.
Bradley and Brian are such delights and I know you can’t wait to hear what they have to say, but listen to your music first.
This is Hogwarts Therapist and “no dark mark, no crime.”
That was “no dark mark, no crime” by Hogwarts Therapist [lyrics], Stephanie and the Quaffles with “Deathday Party ‘92” [lyrics], and “To Luna” by Leth I Fold.
And now, here are Brian and Bradley of Draco and the Malfoys:
Welcome to the show, Brian and Bradley of Draco and the Malfoys.
Brian: Thank you so much for having us.
Bradley: Hello. Thank you.
I am so excited to be talking to some of the original wizard rockers.
Bradley: Yeah. Happy to be talking to you ,Bess.
Yeah. Just before we were saying you all helped launch the genre, so unlike the others, you probably didn’t hear Draco and the Malfoys and go “that sounds really cool—”
“—I wanna do that too.”
Brian: No, but we did hear wizard rock and uh…
Brian: You know, that is our story too. I think that’s what’s so cool.
Bradley: Yeah. I think it might be a little different because it was specifically to like, make… make fun of them, kind of?
Brian: And make them…
Bradley: A little bit?
Brian: Yeah, yeah.
Bradley: And make them laugh, yeah.
Brian: Make them laugh, but also at their own expense.
Bradley: It was less…
Brian: And at our own expense too.
Bradley: Sure. And just, um… So the story is that Matt and I sort of found Harry and the Potters on the internet sort of independently, I think?
Bradley: Right around the same time. And Matt from The Whomping Willows was having, uh, house parties at his house and Harry and the Potters were from Boston—or from right outside of Boston in Norwood and also friends with someone that Matt knew, an artist named Soltero. So they hooked up that way and Matt invited them to play at the house party and that’s when we met them. And then they were going to play another house party and had to cancel. And I jokingly said to Brian “we should just make our own Harry Potter band.”
Brian: Yeah. I think I said, I think I said we should cover some of their songs so that people who were hoping they would play won’t feel as bad cuz we can play the song.
Bradley: Oh yeah. “Let’s just be a Harry and the Potters cover band.”
Brian: Right. It was just, “let’s just put a couple of songs into our set” cuz we—Brad and I would play all of these house parties too.
Brian: As a duo, like our own original music and very… silly covers and things like that. So I said “hey, we should throw a couple Harry and the Potters songs into our set for people who are missing them.” And then you said “well, we should write our own songs about Harry Potter.” I think I said “let’s write ’em from the bad guy’s side.”
Brian: And you snapped your fingers and pointed at me and went “Draco and the Malfoys” <laugh>. We called Matt.
Brian: We were like “hey Matt, we have this idea that we need you to talk us out of.”
Bradley: Yeah, I think I said the same thing to my wife too. I was like “I have this bad idea.” <laugh>.
Brian: Yeah, Sarah was next. Matt’s like “I’m not talking to you about that. This is awesome.” And Sarah said the same thing. We’re like “we got a bad idea, we need you to talk us out of it.” They wouldn’t.
Bradley: Yeah. So then we ended up not doing it for that show. We were like “wait, no, let’s wait and then let’s, like, open for them and make a bunch of songs making fun of them.”
Bradley: And also, like, we’ve always been wrestling fans and our favorite wrestlers have always been the fun bad guys. Always, always, always like Roddy Piper people more than Hulk Hogan people.
Bradley: And so I think that’s what drew us to the, the subject matter and like the, I dunno… Turning a show into wrestling a little bit has always sort of been something we’ve done a little bit,
Bradley: …in other bands we’ve had.
Bradley: So just felt like more, more of that a little bit or, you know, a fun thing to play with.
Bradley: So we waited until they were coming back and then we did that. I really honestly thought that it was going to be just for the parties.
Bradley: Yeah. Just the fun thing you do for the parties. Like you, you only make your special cookie recipe for, for when everyone’s getting together.
Bradley: This was not a band to, to keep going with.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah. We weren’t, we didn’t plan to take our cookies and tour the world.
Bradley: Yeah. And honestly, at the time I had kind of come out of a band situation that had… that had potential and had producers and stuff and it was… I came out of the experience not wanting to do this for a job. <laugh> And only like, very seriously wanting to only do things that were fun and not to make it. When, when we had this idea and when this sort of started going, I real—that’s what I liked about it. I was like “there’s no way this can be successful.” So I love it. Like, this is just for my friends, this is just here and then, like, that’s the thing that <laugh> got the most attention and sent me like around the country a few times and it’s so funny. Yeah. So it was a failed plan, but I’m happy about that.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah. So at the—at the time we had, we wrote maybe six songs, something like that. We, it was a short set.
Brian: “My Dad is Rich,” “Potions Yesterday.”
Brian: “Broomstick.” “99 Death Eaters.”
Bradley: I know “Broomstick” and “Potion,” maybe “Pansy.” That was one of the first ones I wrote.
Brian: Maybe Pan—Pan— Yeah. “Pansy.” Good.
Bradley: Yeah. “Potions” was definitely the first one I wrote.
Brian: Mhm. “My Dad is Rich” is definitely the first one I wrote. So, so definitely those two. Oh, and we closed with “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio.
Bradley: I don’t remember that.
Brian: Yeah. We closed with the cover of “Rainbow in the Dark.”
Bradley: Acoustic? Like, what did we do? Oh—
Brian: No, our, our first set was backing tracks.
Bradley: Did we program backing tracks to Rainbow in the Dark? What did I do?
Brian: I think we did. Yeah, I think I still have it.
Bradley: <laugh>. Wow.
Brian: Yeah. It didn’t have the keyboard thing, the “do do do do do do do.” Because we didn’t need much for the backing track. We just kind of needed drums.
Bradley: That’s right.
Brian: Our backing tracks at first didn’t even have bass on them.
Brian: It was just the drums.
Bradley: I just programmed the drums. Okay.
Brian: Yeah, we just had the drums behind us.
Bradley: Yeah. So then, then Harry and the Potters kept asking us to play with them. And then we put up a MySpace and, uh, Bob’s your uncle.
So I do always like to ask where the band name came from and it sounded like there was not much agonizing or debate.
Brian: Oh no.
Was it because the field was so wide open back in the day? Limitless choices?
Brian: Yeah, well, we didn’t even think—
Brian: —about it because we knew we wanted to be a direct response to Paul and Joe. You know, we wanted it to be a literal answer to them. So there was no other choice.
Brian: It was so obvious that we didn’t even consider anything else.
Most of my interviewees are newer to wizard rock. They don’t have memories of the early tours and the heyday of MySpace. Are there any stories you’d love to share from then? Really funny or something really interesting that happened?
Bradley: From the early days. I really think that just the whole story is my favorite one? Of just like… we just like did this thing. Like I had decided not to try to make music my thing…
Brian: Specifically touring was what did it for you, right? So I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but my recollection was that touring, to you, was like the worst part of it.
Bradley: Well, I love music and I think the reason, one of the reasons I didn’t wanna do it like that was just logistically? <laugh>
Brian: Mhm, yeah!
Bradley: Just the logistics. Like, as a drummer, just bringing my drum set. But anyway, to answer… Sorry, I’m gonna finish my, my first answer to your question, which was, for me, my favorite story was just me being like “I don’t wanna do this. I just wanna focus on the fun part.” And then I did, I focused on the fun part and then thousands of people just seemed to be like “Oh, the fun part!”
Bradley: And just like, seeing like a 14 year old girl post like “hey, I just stole my brother’s guitar off his wall and Googled how to play a G and a C chord and here’s a song about Flitwick” like…
Bradley: This is the best.
Bradley: So happy.
Brian: One thing that I really remember is, um, some of the shows were really big. We, we played a double header in New York day one and we worked our way west and… they were good. They were good library shows, you know, like a hundred, 200, 300 kids, like no joke. But then we got to Chicago and we played downtown at the Beat Kitchen.
Brian: And it was hours before the show. We weren’t even sound checked yet. And the Beat Kitchen was on an upper floor, maybe the second, third floor.
Bradley: There was a green room on the second floor that we were hanging out at.
Brian: Okay. For some reason we were up on the second floor, the green room, okay. Thank you Brad. I knew we were up looking down.
Brian: We looked out the window and there was a line that went all the way around a Chicago downtown block to get in. People had cakes…
Bradley: Yeah. There was someone—we could read it from, from the window. Someone was holding a Draco on the Malfoys cake, and we were just like…
Brian: Yeah. Yeah.
Bradley: And then a little bit next to them, I saw friends of mine that had come to see me from Chicago.
Bradley: just like,
Bradley:And then, and they, they were like “Bradley, what the f—”
Brian: Yeah, yeah. “What is this?”
Bradley: “What’s going on?” Like “we were just coming to see our friends show and like, this is a thing.”
Bradley: Yeah. It was— So thank you wizard rock for…
Bradley: …for that. That was a, a fun little moment. <laugh>.
Brian: I also remember this, this one day in particular, and this might have been our second tour, but this is still early days of wizard rock. Technically this is ‘07, but I remember we did a double header in Dallas. So a double header for me—
Bradley: That was the first tour.
Brian: Oh, it was the first tour?
Brian: Okay. Okay. Cool. Thank you. Okay. , it was ‘06. So a double header for me meant I would play two Draco and the Malfoys sets, right? And you know, it was work to set—we did everything ourselves, all of it. We traveled with our own PA system, we did everything. All the setups, the sound checks. Rarely if we showed up at someplace like the Beat Kitchen? Yeah. We would—
Bradley: There would be sound guys…
Brian: There would be a PA system there. It would be a little bit of a break for us, but mostly it was a lot of work, right? So a double header for me meant a couple Draco sets and a couple strikes of the set and build it back up. For Brad, it meant playing drums twice and two Draco sets. And we played this double header in Dallas and the first show was outside—
Bradley: In August.
Brian: This was a summer tour. This was August outside in Dallas. And ugh, it was maybe a hundred degrees out.
Brian: It was really—I’m not exaggerating, I’m not saying that for hyperbole. It was, I think it was a hundred degrees out. It was high nineties…
Brian: Felt like a hundred, no breeze. We got through it, it was brutal. And again, for Brad? Draco set and then—if you’ve ever seen Brad play the drums, he doesn’t, it’s not like when you see Ringo Starr play the drums, he’s just kind of sitting there and you see his hands go? That’s not how Brad plays the drums. He looks like Animal from the Muppets playing the drums. It’s a lot of energy that pours out of Brad when he’s playing the drums.
Bradley: I’m gonna pick up, Brian.
Bradley: Um, so we, we got through that first one and I was thinking “okay, the second one they told us it’s in an indoor place.”
Bradley: Like, it’s in a, like a DIY kind of punk rock indoor venue and it’s Texas, so everything will be air conditioned, right?
Bradley: That’ll be a break. But this was a little tin shed with no air conditioning—
Bradley: —and, tin. Metal. and with like, couple of big fans. But it was like actually 120 degrees in there <laugh>.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah.
Bradley: And that was the second show and I got through that one okay. But the thing that did not was Joe’s keyboard, like malfunctioned in a way that I’ve never seen a keyboard malfunction. And it was because it was too hot.
Brian: And humid.
Bradley: And it went out of tune.
Brian: The keyboard!
Bradley: when he was playing C, all of a sudden he’s playing an F sharp chord. Like I’ve never known an electronic instrument to malfunction like that. And yeah, we just like got through the rest, the last third or half of the set with like, I don’t know, Joe not really playing? He might have figured out like how to transpose on the fly?
Here’s, here’s how they picked up.
Bradley: Thank you.
Brian: Yeah. At first Paul was retuning his guitar cuz the, he made, he made the assumption that anybody would make and he’d be like “Oh, it’s human in here. My guitar is slipping outta tune.” Bradley: Right.
Brian: “Because it’s humid and the keyboard can’t be outta tune. So there’s something going on here. Let me just tune to the keyboard.” So he kept retuning his guitar to the keyboard for maybe two or three songs. And then Joe grabbed a keytar. He had a keytar with a lunch.
Bradley: That’s right. Okay.
Brian: So he grabbed the keytar and played that instead of the, the keyboard.
Bradley: That makes sense.
Brian: Yeah. But I remember during your set, I ran out to the van and got it running so that the AC would run in there and get it nice and cool. And after the set, you just ran into that van and you just collapsed.
Brian: I have a memory from a little bit later, that still a few years ago. So this was probably in 2015, maybe it was after “Cheat to Win” came out and “Cheat to Win” was in 2014, so that’s my frame of reference because this story involves the song “I Know Every Spell.”
Brian: So <laugh>, we were playing at a library in Ohio and there was—Oh, oh, oh, oh, I, I do have more to talk about with the early stuff too. This is gonna tie in—some of my favorite times when we were playing live are when kids start taking it really seriously and get mad.
Bradley: Oh yeah.
Brian: Get mad at us for singing mean songs about Harry. And sometimes they really turned on us. Like one of those Washington shows in the first tour was one of those, right? Where it was madness. They were just like, pissed at us.
Brian: Half the crowd’s getting it, but then the younger kids are like, “<angry sound>” They’re so mad.
Bradley: But there, there’s, there’s the connection to the wrestling.
Bradley: That’s, that’s what I wanted. I was so happy about that.
Brian: It was like the kid who really likes Hulk Hogan—
Brian: —and he’s mad that Hulk Hogan’s getting beat up by this guy. And I remember that we played “Your Family is Poor” and this group of kids are like, “Weasley is our king! Weasley as our king!” And I said “If Weasley is your king, I hate to see what the peasants look like in your world.” It was like that kind of interaction.
Bradley: Yeah. It was so good.
Brian: So those were always some great moments. So fast forward and we’re having this same kind of experience with this particular group of kids. This was more like an 80/20 sort of situation—
Brian: —where almost everybody knew what we were doing, but this one group was like,
Brian: Not having it. And so we had this little banter that we’d do before we played “I Know Every Spell” where we’d talk about spells—
Bradley: Yeah, “what’s your favorite spell?” Yeah.
Brian: —and ask people what their favorite spell is. And we know you get answers from the kids, “I like this spell.” “I like that spell.”
Brian: And this one kid from the group that was like not having us, he walked up to us.
Bradley: Oh yeah.
Brian: Everyone was kind of back a little bit. He walked up to the stage and looked at us with his hands on his hips and said “I know a spell.” And I, I said “Oh yeah, what, what’s your spell?”
Brian: It was awesome. It was the best.
Bradley: Yeah. Just to share, um, at that first tour we played the Harry Potter convention and that was one of the hardest, but also best and also just like, I don’t know, set the template for this thing being a positive influence in my life to help me get through things. Which was, uh, we played the first, our first Harry Potter convention, which was Lumo, right?
Brian: Lumos in Las Vegas, 2006.
Bradley: Yeah. And we did a sound check and during sound check, Brian got a phone call and gave me the bad news that a friend of mine, uh, had died that was like, I, two years younger than me and, yeah. One of Matt and I’s very best friends, uh, Andy. And, uh, it was unexpected obviously, and it was rough and it was like right around sound check <laugh>.
Brian: Yeah. It was at sound check. Yeah.
Bradley: Yeah. And yeah, I was just like… and Brian was like “What do you, whatever you wanna do. Like, if you want me to just sing, like” and, but then I… a couple of things like I think I just decided like, no, I’m here to do this. And I think there was “Fun Night” by Andrew W.K. was on the sound, like they were testing the sound system with that song and I’m like “it will be a fun night” like <laugh>
Bradley: And I was determined to just like, have a good time and, and get through it. And like the other thing that I was thinking about is my hero, Weird Al had had a, um, similar thing happen where, uh, his parents had died unexpectedly and he found out like kind of at a sound check and uh, had said like out loud to himself, like “I’ve had so many people tell me how much my music has helped them get through tough things, so let me try it.” And then he had a really good, you know, he had a show and he did it and was like “let me just think about anything else.
Bradley: for 40 minutes.” And then we ended up having a freaking fantastic show.
Brian: It was.
Bradley: Like was, I really felt…
Brian: We didn’t know what a Harry Potter con was.
Brian: We didn’t have any idea what we were stepping into. And we, we walked around the hotel to waves of applause after. I mean, everybody had been at that show and everywhere where we went they were like “Oh, it’s Draco and the Malfoys!” It was unbelievable.
Bradley: Yeah. And I’m, I’m in Harry and the Potters or, you know.
Bradley: I was playing with them and it’s never really a competition, no matter what we say,
Brian: Sure. Yeah, of course.
Bradley: you know? On stage or whatever. But like, it really felt like the Malfoys won the night.
Brian: Yeah. It was, it was the Malfoys’ night.
It’s time for a music break. Here’s “Down With the Ministry” by Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills.
That was Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills singing “Down With the Ministry,” Candle Wix and “Ravenclaw Groove,” and “I was a Muggle Yesterday” by The ArithRomantics.
Let’s get back to that interview.
So we talked a little bit about learning to be more flexible with whatever happens during a show.
What other advice might you have for new wizard rockers who are just joining the scene now?
Bradley: I’m glad you said the word flexible cuz like, that’s what I love about today, like making music today and especially wizard rock is that like, if you look at what other people are doing and you’re like “I can’t do that,” then that’s fine. Find the, the thing that is blocking you from doing that and find a way around it. There’s so much flexibility and ways to make things. I think that wizard rock… There was a discussion of like “what is wizard rock? Is it just… does it have to be about Harry Potter?” And I really think it’s a community thing more than anything. And it’s a story thing. It’s not that these stories are so amazing and this is the best thing ever, so we need to explore and, and make songs about this amazing piece of work. It’s not so much that, it’s just that it’s stories that everyone knows.
We all know these stories. I can make a very deep Flitwick joke and a bunch of people will know, will know it. And like that’s the… that’s the thing I love about it so much is that we all share something even though we don’t really know each other. Yeah, we’re all singing these songs about these stories cuz we all know these stories. Like, that’s what music has been for. And it’s kind of only recently been about like a personal, these are my feelings. Like it’s, let’s talk about these stories and how we relate to them. And it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing and there’s a billion ways to do it. You can play shows, you don’t have to play shows. You can put a lot of effort into recording and how it sounds, or you can put absolutely no effort into it. And what we have as a community is a gift. And that gift is a bunch of people, like you Bess, and a million other people that just like it. There’s just so much positivity. My advice to, to anyone is “make stuff and share it” and you’re gonna get at least one person to be like “Hey, thanks for making this.” And that’s, it feels so good. And that’s the point, I think.
Brian: Yeah. And that’s where, that’s where it starts.
Bradley: Yeah. It’s just like anything goes be positive. It’s the most supportive place. I love it.
Brian: Yeah. And trust your own instincts and your own tastes as far as your content goes. If I think of something and it makes me laugh, then it’s in. I don’t think about “is anybody else gonna think this is funny?” All I have to know is I think it’s funny. So that’s the joke.
Bradley: Yeah. And my another piece of advice is if you’re not sure where to start, like if you’re trying to write a song and you’re trying to think about like “what will people like?” Don’t think about people as like a big group. Just think of a couple of people.
Brian: Think about your brother.
Bradley: Yeah. I… the best things that I write are written with like three or four or five people in mind.
Bradley: It’s you, it’s Matt, it’s, you know, like Jay. It’s, um, the first row or two of 90% of wizard rock concerts where it’s the same people that you see. Like those, I I think of them, you know?
Bradley: Like I think of specific people in that crowd. Like “oh, Alex will love this joke.” Like,
“oh my god!” You know?
Bradley: “I can’t wait to say this word and then look at Ashley’s reaction” or whoever it might be—
Bradley: —you know? it’s absolutely fine to play for one person and usually that’s the best stuff.
Brian: Yeah, yeah. The more you start to think about mass appeal, then that starts to get in your head. What happens then is that you start thinking so large and so broad and when you’re writing music, the more narrow and specific it can get, the more effective the writing is. So that’s why for me, it helps to actually not even thinking about an audience all that much.
Brian: It just helps, like, do I like this? Is this making me think something’s funny?
Bradley: Music is a really good place for me to practice focusing on positive and leaving the negative and not having that kind of thing inform my decision making. By which I mean making decisions based on making good things happen rather than making decisions on trying to avoid bad things from happening.
Bradley: So when I think of just writing a song and making you laugh, Brian, like, I can think about what makes you laugh.
Bradley: But then when I think about “oh, I can’t make that joke, or I can’t do this because the giant crowd, like someone will not like this.” Like, if I make decisions based on ‘someone will not like it.’
Bradley: Sometimes you have, like, sometimes it’s like, “oh wait a minute. Like we were talking about the “My Dad is Rich” thing. Like sometimes you’re gonna, you know, you don’t want to make people upset. So definitely worry about things like that. But as far as like, ‘someone’s not going to find this joke funny, so I won’t put it in,’ if I find it funny, if I think these three people will find it funny, it’s in.
Brian Mhm. Yeah, yeah.
Bradley: Obviously as a, as a white straight cis dude, I need to, like, acknowledge that there are things, certain things to worry about, but it can be an eye on it. It’s, it can be just like stepping around a puddle.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah.
I also like to get really practical advice.
“This is my favorite recording software” or “when you’re going to a show, always bring your…”
Bradley: Oh sure. Yeah.
Brian: Oh good. Yeah, we could, oh, we can give musician advice all day.
Bradley: We live in the future where if you want to write a song and you have an Apple phone, you have Garageband. And if you don’t have an Apple phone, I’m sure that there are things…
Bradley: That are analogous, that are just as easy to use. And Garageband is incredible for writing songs and, and jotting down ideas and having an idea and putting it in.
Brian: It comes on any Mac device.
Brian: Or Apple device, not just the phones. I don’t have an Apple phone, but I have a, a Mac laptop. It comes free on that—
Brian: —as well. It’s just free software and it’s multi-tracking software and it works great. What’s great about it is it, it has the sounds built in, so you tell it “I’m recording an acoustic guitar” and you go under the acoustic and you can play with all these preset settings where it’s like “natural strum,” “flat picking,” blah, blah, blah. You just try out all those preset things and see what sounds good and it helps you just make your sound.
Bradley: You also don’t have to play an instrument.
Brian: That’s true.
Bradley: You can set a drummer, you can just pick a drummer and have him start and you can kind of give him, like, guidelines play louder, play more simple, and then you can go over to the guitar and just hit with one finger the chord that you want. And then with the other finger to strum the guitar. Actually, no. Just, you can do it with one finger. So I’ve, I’ve been writing a lot of songs like that just like in my car waiting in a drive through or something just like, uh, work on stuff and it’s always there and it’s lovely.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah. As far as songwriting itself goes, I have a voice recorder on my phone, and I don’t know if your phones have this, but mine has this thing called Hot Corners where I—you can swipe up from the corner and it just goes to an app and you can set what app it does.
Brian: So I swipe from my bottom left corner and my voice recorder app just comes up and it’s great because it’s a free app is just called “Voice Recorder.” And it does that, it records your voice, literally. But the other thing it has, is it has speech to text. So if I have lyric ideas then I just hit ‘speech to text’ and I can just talk into it and then save it for later and then I can read through it. But if I have a melody idea, then I can hum it or sing it into my phone.
Or if I have lyrics that I have a melody for, then I can sing them into my phone. Or if I’m coming up with something on the guitar that I don’t wanna lose, I can just swipe up on my phone and just capture it. And I’ve got like 250 voice memos on my phone. So when I go to sit down to write, I’ll just randomly hit one and see what I’ve done. You know, you don’t always have time to… you don’t always have time to work something out when you get something in your head. And also when you have time, you’re not gonna necessarily get hit with some kind of inspiration coincidentally, while you have time blocked. So to kind of use technology to bridge both of those opportunities is, is good for me.
Bradley: I’m gonna give like a little bit of practical advice too, of, if you’re like never, never done music at all and you have no idea what you’re doing and you don’t know… It’s so hard to know what to hang onto. Like you’re just floating in the ether. Like there’s so many choices and so many things that can go wrong and you don’t know where to go. Say you like open up Garageband, you set the drummer and you’ve started him going and you wanna sing over it. Just a little thing to hang onto would be… I’m gonna say the one and I’ll just explain really, really fast that when you are listening to a song, you can count usually to four and then start counting to four again. So like 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. And if you keep your mind on the one and land on the one in your brain, like tap your foot and land on the one and keep your eye on that and then sing your song and do that and keep your eye on the one, you’ll be a lot more likely to have something that you’re like, that’s pretty good.
Because if you try that and you don’t know what you’re doing and, and you’re not confident and you just… it’s really easy to be like “this isn’t music, what is happening?” Like “what did I just do?” And feel bad about it. But if, if you have a little bit of a hand on a handhold <laugh>, um, to keep you a bit steady, just that one, just like every four beats, just like kind of feel it in your gut and then you’ll, you’ll lock in and you can fly off the space from there.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah. Here’s what I use for some gear. You, you specifically mentioned gear. So I use to, to record, I use this little box called a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. And what the two is, it’s two inputs, that’s what the “I” refers to and it’s a usb, right? So it plugs right into your USB port and it has two inputs on it that can either take the kind of plug that comes out of a microphone or it can take the kind of cable that comes out of a guitar or whatever. So it takes either one and it has little preamps just built into it so you don’t have to think about it. And it has a little knob on it, right? That you can adjust the volume, the input volume. And the great thing about it is that around that knob is a little LED halo.
And if that halo reads red, it means that too much sound is coming in. And if you’re not seeing any, you need to turn it up. And then when it’s perfect, it starts showing green. So you can just know just at a glance without knowing anything, you don’t even need to hear it, literally. And you could know that a decent signal is getting into your computer because it’s green and not red. So you know it’s strong enough and you know it’s not too strong. So it really takes a lot of the guessing out of it for me. And then that USB just plugs into your computer and whatever software you’re using to record will just recognize it super easy. It just, it just always works for me and it’s really simple. And you can isolate the track so you can record two things at a time because you got two inputs. So I can record the vocal on one track and the guitar on the other and play both at the same time and just get a decent base—you know, basic tracks for something right away. Just sing and play. Then if the vocal’s too loud, I can take it down because it’s on its own track.
Speaking of your recording process, what are you working on now? Both individually and as Draco and the Malfoys?
Bradley: Yay! The answer to individually slash as Draco and the Malfoys is… the answer is yes.
Bradley: We’re kind of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below-ing right now. Um, and Brian, you’ve announced yours, so I’ll let you talk about it.
Brian: Yeah. What—what often happens with, with siblings and not just in music, right? Is that we’ll both have sort of different things we wanna be doing…
Brian: And different things like we’re sort of into or, or have in mind as our little pet projects and you know, that happens with bands too.
Brian: Where somebody will have sort of a, an idea for… for what to do and then somebody will have an idea for what to do. And what’s great is that we can be flexible and be like “Well
Bradley: Let’s do both!
Brian: let’s do both of them.” And—
Bradley: “You do that one, I’ll do this one.”
Brian: Exactly. And that’s sort of how we tackled the albums in a way too, is like “Okay, I’m gonna go write these few songs, you write these few songs.” We, we rarely sat down together and were like “Okay, let’s write a song.” It was mostly like…
Brian: I would mostly write some songs. You would mostly write some songs and then we’d just kind of play on each other’s songs. And that’s kind of how our methods work. That’s how we’ve always kind of worked.
Bradley: So we’re now kind of doing that for album now.
Brian: Yeah. With about three weeks spare before I had to get it to the duplicator, I decided I wanted to have a CD at LeakyCon. So, so I kind of cranked something out. But what I love about it is that it goes right back to the beginning of wizard rock. I didn’t go into a studio, nobody else touched it. I did everything myself right here in, in the apartment. My, my own recording, my own writing, mixed it in Garageband, mastered it in a free software, like everything just done right here and, and just really, just diy, you know? Uh, I used a a Shure SM58 microphone, which is like, the hundred dollars mic that you find in all the clubs. Um, nothing. Nothing—
Bradley: Hey Brian, hey Brian, what’s the album called?
Brian: Oh, so this album—we all have this issue. We’re, we’re with… we’re with people who relate, um, to the, to the, uh, ‘squirrel distraction’ of the conversation. Um, all right. So the album is, you know, I was talking about how I, I love acoustic music and so the album is “An Anthology of Slytherin Folk Music, Volume Two.” So it’s, it’s similar in some ways to Volume One and it’s very different in, in some ways too. So whereas the first volume, it had some songs that were sort of traditional Slytherin songs handed down, and then the other songs on the album were previously released Draco and the Malfoys songs that we did in a folk bluegrass style, there are no songs like that on this one. It’s either it’s handed down Slytherin traditional music, or it’s new songs from Draco’s perspective that haven’t been released on any Malfoys albums before, but do fit the genre—
Brian: —of folk slash bluegrassy stuff.
Bradley: Yeah, it’s really good.
Brian: So we’ll play some songs from it at our set. And then on the Sunday of LeakyCon, we’re gonna have an official release party for it where we’ll play it front to back, the whole thing.
Bradley: I’m bringing my banjo.
Brian: Ah, yeah.
Bradley: And so our set at Leaky is going to be us and Matt and Jay playing… somewhat acoustic. I think I’m playing snare drum and brushes. And we’re gonna do a mix of Malfoys classics and new stuff from the new record. And while that’s happening, uh, we’re gonna be talking about the karaoke that we’re going to be doing a little bit later, and we’re gonna tease that we’re going to have karaoke night, and then after we play half, you know, half the set or so we will have Karaoke Night. And I was thinking: if Draco Malfoy ran his own karaoke night, no one else gets the microphone. Like Draco Malfoy running karaoke is just us singing and we chose to sing Jimmy Buffet songs.
Bradley: We’re just gonna be singing Jimmy Buffet songs for the second half of our set. But wait a minute, we’re Draco and the Malfoys. We only sing songs…
Brian: About Draco Malfoy,
Bradley: About Draco Malfoy. So I wrote parodies to every song on Jimmy Buffet’s “Greatest Hits: Songs You Know by Heart.” And they’re all from Draco Malfoy’s perspective.
Bradley: And it’s called “Songs You know by Hogwarts.” I’m not releasing it as an album right now, like I think probably in the future, we’ll, we’ll put our vocals to it, but it’s a karaoke album. Uh, the main way that I think we’re gonna release it is, I’m making karaoke sing along videos to all of these songs and they’ll… they will be available to everyone to sing at your own private karaoke party. So that’s what I’m working on right now is finishing all that. I’m almost done. I have more music to do for it, but, uh…
Bradley: The videos are done.
Brian: That’s one thing I wanted to make sure you made clear, is that you’re also producing all of the backing music.
Brian: It’s not like you’re taking the Jimmy Buffet karaoke tracks that you can find online on YouTube or whatever. You’re creating from scratch your own—
Brian: —backing versions of all of these songs.
Bradley: And I did this on Garageband.
Brian: Yeah, exactly. Which makes it very unique. It’s, it really has your sort of spirit. You can hear your… you can hear your musical humor, not just your lyrical humor.
Brian: But you hear all the musical stuff that is so funny when you listen to it. You know, it just has all these little jokes for your ears all throughout it. Or, or just really weird sounds, you know? Where Jimmy Buffet would have steel drums and make you feel like you’ve got sand between your toes on the beach, your, your sounds are just so fun and playful and bring something completely different.
Bradley: They like more eight bit kind of. Nintendo bleeps and bloops
Brian: Yeah. It’s almost like that. Like you’re playing a Jimmy Buffet video game sometimes.
Bradley: Yeah… A few years ago I wrote a parody of “Boat Drinks” by Jimmy Buffet called “Goat DrinksD and we’ve never officially released it on anything. I think we’ve played it a few times. And, um, and, um, I always really liked it and then thinking about what to do with it. And then I thought “I wonder if any other, can I make any other Jimmy Buffet parodies?” Like just sort of poking at it a little bit with a stick from far away. And the more I poked it, like, they just kept falling out of my brain. Like… some of them took a few more pokes than others, but it really didn’t take long until I had all 13 and I was like “I, I think I can do this.”
Brian: Yeah. There’s a lot of ripe fruit there. Surprising.
Bradley: Yeah. And that all sort of fell out in a really fun way.
Here’s our final music break, beginning with Swell Rell and “First Years.”
That was “First Years – Welcome to Hogwarts” by Swell Rell, The Dolly Shakes and “This Party is So Dead,” and “I Wanna Be a Wizard” by Danny Dementor.
“This Party is So Dead” was a special request from my magical patron Geoff, who said it’s dedicated to “everyone who went to the wizard rock show at Denver LeakyCon! That party was so NOT dead, thanks to all of you.”
And for the record, if you were at that show, your hostwitch is so jealous.
Here’s the last part of my conversation with Draco and the Malfoys.
Thank you so much for talking with me today.
Brian: Oh, of course.
This has been an amazing journey from the very first days to something that hasn’t even happened yet. Where can WZRD listeners find you online? And at Leaky!
Brian: EvilWizardRock.com kind of is a website…
Brian: That kind of takes you everywhere. All of our social links are there, that’s sort of home, home base.
Bradley: And you have, do you have a, a separate one too, Brian?
Brian: Oh, yeah. I have my own website as well. It’s BrianRossMusician.com. B-R-I-A-N-R-O-S-S musician.com. And you can find a bunch of my other stuff on there, including my album of songs about Star Wars, “A Galaxy Far, Far Away.”
Bradley: Uh, besides the EvilWizardRock.dot com for Draco, I have BradleysUkulele.com and that’s home of Bradley’s Ukulele, Roast Beef, and Pizza. I started it as a ukulele play along kind of thing, and then realized that I wanted a… I just wanted a place for all the stuff I do. And so there’s a lot of New England restaurants that are like, you know, “Supreme House of Roast Beef and Pizza” and they sell a million things, all of which are kind of mediocre, but the whole thing is fantastic. So I thought that is me
Bradley: So my website is “Bradley’s Ukulele, Roast Beef, and Pizza” at BradleysUkulele.com.
Congratulations to Lan for being the first one to guess last episode’s theme of “bands performing at LeakyCon this year!” It was a tough one, and I’m so glad so many of you got it.
If you heard a song today and you thought “I could listen to that again” then go to the transcript at WZRDRadioPod.com, follow the link and buy a copy of your very own. It’s the best way to support your favorite musician, and without our wizard rockers, we wouldn’t be here.
If you want discounts on WZRD merch, the inside scoop on everything that’s coming up, and bonus gifts and episodes, then you want WZRD Radio’s Patreon at Patreon.com/WZRDRadioPod. It’s just two muggle dollars a month and also supports the Yes All Witches grant as they give money and mentorship to queer and BIPoC wizard rockers.
If you want to keep up with WZRD between episodes, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at WZRDRadioPod. If you don’t believe in social media, you can also comment on the transcript or email me at WZRDRadioPod@gmail.com.
And now, here’s Draco and the Malfoys!
Brian: This track is “Brawl at Flourish and Blotts” and it is the opening track of the album. It sort of sets the key note of the album, so I think it’s a great one to share. Because it’s thumping, it’s very bluegrassy, it hits all the sweet spots. It’s anecdotal, so it’s a song about the Harry Potter stories from Draco’s perspective, so it’s sort of in the Draco and the Malfoys tradition, and it features all of the instruments that I ended up using on this album. So it’s got very prominent harmonica, it’s got a banjo solo, and it’s got layers of guitars, and the stand-up bass. It’s all really thumping and rocking, and it’s all original music. Some of the other songs, they’re sorta based on traditional songs, like the first anthology was as well, but this one, though it does follow sort of a traditional bluegrass melody, it is original. It’s not sort of taking another tune and reinventing it, it’s its own sort of entity. So I think it’s a great intro to both the album as a first track and just one to listen to…it’ll very clearly give you the idea what the album’s all about when you hear it.