A couple weeks back, I got to meet up with Magic Man before they opened for Sir Sly at The Rock & Roll Hotel on H St. in Washington, DC. Usually Alex Caplow (vocals) and Sam Lee (guitar) take the lead on interviews, but I dragged every member of this energetic quintet, which also includes Daniel Radin (bass), Justine Bowe (keys) and Joey Sulkowski (drums), into a quiet corner to get inside their heads before they took the stage.
“The triumphant adjective,” Alex added, “is a reference to one of our favorite bands, Explosions in the Sky, who posted an ad that said ‘Seeking a drummer for sad, triumphant rock band,’ which we thought was very cool.”
Their triumphant sound is just part of the reason Magic Man has seen such success since they started touring last fall. Looking back on their recent tour with Walk The Moon, Alex mentioned they had gotten a lot of enthusiastic fans and, of course, plenty of fangirls.
“You never think you’re actually gonna experience that because you think it’s just in the movies or the big bands that get it,” Alex jokes, but there’s more than a hint of humility in his voice.
Beyond the fans they’ve collected on the road, their friends and family are still huge supporters of everything Magic Man does. Even though they hear a lot of “I’m your biggest fan”s and “I’ve been following you guys all the way”s, the support means a lot to them.
“All of our parents got to see us at these really great venues in our hometown.” Justine quietly reminisced. “I think that probably for quite a few of our parents that was a really validating moment to see us on some bigger stages.”
The other part is their contagious on-stage energy, which the band says they derive from watching their tour mates in Grouplove and Walk The Moon do their thing.
“If you saw that 15 minute performance at the VMAs by Justin Timberlake, that’s the ultimate goal,” Joey added.
As far as their musical inspirations go, they told me if Magic Man were the love spawn of two other bands, the dad would be The Killers and the other dad would be The Postal Service.
In between talking about their favorite cities (the band unanimously agreed DC was at the top of their list), the best places to eat on tour and their favorite part about life on the road, Alex and 1/3 of Sir Sly touch their naked bellies together just as he’s telling me how great it is meeting these other bands on tour and spending week after week together and, as Alex put it, “breaking down barriers.”
But even after all of these back-to-back tours, the band says they’re not all that tired.
“I think it’s physically very tiring,” Sam admitted, “but it’s so fun that we all manage to get through it at the end of the day.”
We wrapped up our conversation with a story of an encounter Justine had that night with a ghost in the women’s bathroom at the venue and a long discussion about the sorts of question they hate being asked in interviews.
The tour with Sir Sly and Bel Heir is over and the band is taking a break for a while to spend time with their families and friends, but you can expect Magic Man to return strong early next year with a tour and a full-length album.
You can check out photos from their show last month at Rock and Roll Hotel below. DC: Magic Man will return to the same venue when they roll through town with New Politics on Sunday, January 26th.