What began as a joke about Harry Potter starting a rock band has turned into a musical project for Norwood, Mass., brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge spanning 15 years and spawning an entire genre known as Wizard Rock.
"In just a few days, my brother will have spent half of his life in our band," said Paul DeGeorge. "There were definitely thoughts about what is the longevity for something like this. Will people care about Harry Potter after the last book comes out? It turns out, yes, people still do care about Harry Potter. It's the kind of cultural work that made a huge impact on people's lives, and so our band has been one of the ways that they can stay connected to that."
The band will take to the stage today for the first ever MAGICon at Greylock Glen in Adams, near where the fictional American school for wizards, Ilvermorny, exists in author J.K. Rowling's fictional world. This particular location was recognized in Rowling's more recent, post-Harry Potter work, and DeGeorge says the band, who performs numerous songs from the Harry Potter character's point of view referencing events within the Harry Potter books, prefers to stay away from this new era for lyrical fodder, mostly because he doesn't think it would be very interesting.
"It would be like him reading a textbook in-song," DeGeorge said. "Harry was never one for textbooks, really."
The brothers initially thought the band would mostly play to kids, but quickly found the fan base was more in the teen and young adult age. And their fans have along grown with them. DeGeorge was 23 when he started the band, closer to Harry Potter's age in the books — now he's more the age of the teachers at Hogwarts.
"I was at an ACLU fundraiser function a week or two ago and there was an intern there, and she said, `Yeah, I saw you at the Kansas City Public Library when I was 11!'" said DeGeorge. "Now she's graduated college. People really did, in the same way they grew up reading the Harry Potter books, grow up with us in the background."
In the live show, each of the brothers split the job of portraying Harry Potter. Joe is Harry Potter Year 4 and Paul is Harry Potter Year 5.
"It's a little weird and I wonder how long that can keep going on," DeGeorge said. "Fortunately, apparently, I've maintained my boyish looks."
DeGeorge currently lives in Lawrence, Kans., where he runs the art gallery Wonder Fair. Joe is on tour with the Providence, R.I., band, Downtown boys, following an appearance at Coachella. Later this year, that band will tour Europe and Australia in support of their new album on Sub Pop.
That schedule limits Harry and the Potters touring dates, but the brothers still manage to work together on that and other projects.
"We've got a band together called Black Wampum, taking the concept of playing all songs about Harry Potter and instead we're playing only songs about quahogs," DeGeorge said. "They're not as good as oysters but they're easier to pick for free. That's why our family really got into quahogs, I think."
That band plays several shows a year along coastal New England and is currently looking into a vinyl release that would include clam juice in the press process.
The brothers also collaborate on a podcast called "The Cephalapodcast," about a giant squid character that Paul says is one of the most fun things that two have worked on together.
"He's a very creative but lonely squid, so his outlet to communicating to the world is largely through this podcast," said DeGeorge. "He makes songs and he has philosophical dialogues with himself."
But Harry and the Potters is what they remain best known for, at least right now, and the brothers have current vision of that ending. And while the subject matter is very particular, the sensibility is part of a wider effort by the DeGeorge Brothers to express their sense of humor. That's what links their work, whether they are singing songs from the point of view of Harry Potter or about their love of quahogs — it's the same passion and delivery regardless.
"It's definitely making things that are high concept and often sound stupid, but when you execute on such a stupid conceptual project, it earns respect from people who are like, well that's a stupid idea but at least they went and really did it," said DeGeorge.
And while it seems like Harry and the Potters is inevitably a finite project, the real magic for the DeGeorges has been the experiences it has allowed them to have, like a night time show at Purgatory Chasm in 2009 or annual performances in Sweden.
"I can't say that we ever had a real master plan or anything," DeGeorge said. "The band has given us so many weird and interesting opportunities and that's what we continue getting out of the band. We wait on the `what's a really cool thing to do' opportunities."
And there are definitely things still on that bucket list.
"We're still waiting to play at a minor league baseball stadium. We've had a few inquiries, but nothing's come through yet."
If you go ...
What: MAGICon a Harry Potter and Ilvermorny fan event, celebrating all things magical
When: 1-6 p.m., Sunday, June 18;
1 - Gates Open
1:15 - Reading from Jana Laiz, Author
1:30 - Quidditch Demo and Interactive Play with Boston University Quidditch
2:45 - Costume Contest Awards
3:00 - LIVE MUSIC STARTS with Morrighan's Flight
4:30 - Harry and the Potters rock the gazebo
Where: Greylock Glen at the foot of Mount Greylock. Free shuttles from 5-7 Hoosac Street in Adams will be provided.
Cost: $15-$20, children 12 and under free