The Magic Gang frontman Jack Kaye talks Brighton bands and The Beach Boys with music critic Katie Leigh-Lancaster

Third year English Literature student. Co-host of ‘Indie Birmingham’ on BURN FM
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With an arsenal of sunshine-soaked anthems already under their belt, Brighton-based rockers, The Magic Gang, have become poster-boys for a new generation of indie. Following a string of critically-acclaimed EPs, the band dropped their self-titled debut album on 16th March, marking their first full-length release under YALA! Records.

The older tunes on the album are all the ones that still excite us when we play them on tour

Slacker-pop melodies are synonymous with The Magic Gang, channelling Beach Boys-esque harmonies into effortlessly infectious choruses. ‘Alright’, one of the band’s earlier singles, captures an energy that borders between angst and optimism, resonating throughout later tracks ‘Jasmine’ and ‘How Can I Compete’. The Magic Gang’s cult following is testament to the sing-along power of their tracks, even amassing devoted crowds during their support act slots for Sundara Karma and Spring King.

Having just wrapped up their headline UK tour, Katie Leigh-Lancaster chatted to vocalist and guitarist Jack Kaye about the buzz surrounding their debut album, and what The Magic Gang are up to next.

Katie: Congratulations on the release of the album! It must be an incredibly exciting time for the band. How does it feel, after months or recording, to finally release the album to the world?

Jack: Thanks! It feels like a big relief to finally have it out there. We’ve been looking forward to play some of the newer stuff live for a while and now the album’s out, we can do that.

The album is a mix of new material and fan favourites from your EPs. Some of your earlier hits, such as ‘No Fun’ and ‘Lady Please’, didn’t make it onto the album – how did you decided which tracks made the cut?

We really based it on whether or not we still love playing the songs. The older tunes on the album are all the ones that still excite us when we play them on tour.

The album was released through YALA! Records, launched by Felix White of The Maccabees. What’s the best bit of advice that Felix has given you?

He’s really just given us general encouragement. Rather than specific advice, he’s come along at an early stage and given us the confidence we need to keep pushing forward. He really believes in the band, which is the best you can ask for from a label, really.

You’ve toured with Wolf Alice, Spring King, Swim Deep and Sundara Karma, so you’ve spent a fair bit of time on the road in the past few years. What’s your best tour anecdote?

One that springs to mind is the time in Europe when I slept walked [sic] out of my hotel room. I woke up in the corridor and unfortunately I was in my underwear with no glasses on. I had to walk to reception to try and explain myself and ask for a room key.

That must have been pretty embarrassing! There’s a very Beach Boys-esque sound to your album, especially in the harmonies. I heard that your track ‘All That I Want Is You’ was inspired by Brian Wilson’s autobiography – how did that idea come about?

I’d just read ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, the Brian Wilson autobiography, and me and Kristian were working on the song. We decided to write all of the lyrics about different events in the book. There’s a bit about Brian Wilson meeting Elvis, and the pre-chorus is about Brian refusing to take meetings outside of his swimming pool.

(I’m pretty sure all Redbrick interviews should take place in swimming pools now as well). Brighton’s a really exciting place for music at the moment. Which Brighton bands do you think are ones to watch?

There are loads! I’d have to say our good friends, Abattoir Blues, first of all. Also, Sulky Boy, Manuka Honeys, Daniel Moore and Underwater Boys.

Your latest music video ‘Take Care’ is a very stripped-back and sleek video. You guys joked that it’s got some Sinead O’Connor ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ vibes, which I definitely see in it. What’s your favourite video that you’ve filmed so far?

I would actually say the ‘Take Care’ vid. It’s the simplest idea we’ve worked on but, in a way, I think it’s the most engaging. It just goes to show that you can get interesting music videos from simple ideas without lots of money.

We’re not even halfway through 2018 yet, and it’s already been a really exciting year for the band. You’ve just finished your headline UK tour and have some exciting festival appearances ahead of you. What do you hope that the rest of 2018 will have in store for The Magic Gang?

There’s quite a lot we’d love to do. We want to get out and play in places like Asia. We’ve never been to America either so that would be great. Asides from that, we’re very keen to start working on new songs!

The Magic Gang’s self-titled debut album is available to buy and stream now. The Magic Gang play Birmingham’s O2 Institute on Saturday 22nd September 2018. Tickets are available here.