It’s Not Cool – It’s Magic
For two brothers that defied collaboration for years, the eventual team-up is leading to new things and even better sounds. Photographer / Thomas Van Der Zaag
The Magic has chemistry only capable of family. When I sat down with the two brothers on a rather rainy day in September, drinking water out of watermelon cups and getting attacked by the photographer’s mischievous cat, there was this back and forth attitude of playfulness that filled the room. For two rather timid musicians, they hold themselves with a downright cool exterior but bubble below the surface with excitement and ideas.
It’s no wonder “magic” is meant to eclipse the word “cool.” It’s also a word embodied by the two brothers – Geordie and Evan Gordon – who are bringing showmanship back to music. Describe it how you will – electro, funk – but the band is total pop with tinges of these adjectives mixed in.
Their debut album “Ragged Gold” holds an electronic feel, a sound that triggered the attention of Richard Leavens, the man behind Woodhands and Rural Alberta Advantage, to push for the record. Leavens sought the duo out after finding their original EP at Soundscapes.
The album itself is an “infamously long record” said the two, as it took nearly five years to complete. Having been involved with other bands, the two just dabbled over the course of several years – making little bits and pieces as they could. An eventual push by Leavens to drag the brothers out of their home recording studio and lay it down sealed the record, which as of right now has only been released in the UK.
Despite the long winded road to an album, it’s “been a very natural and clear process” said Evan. “Geordie has the song sketched out, then we just go in and before we know it, it’s done.”
This dynamic took years for them to figure out. Just like our off-kilter conversation, the path to The Magic wasn’t linear.
The two brothers, with a four and a half year age gap, weren’t pushed into the music nor did they set out to work together. For a long time the two worked individually, creating bands in their hometown of Guelph.
In piles of old magazines and people’s old photo albums, emerged the Bar Mitzvah Brothers, Geordie’s first band. The ensemble unloaded their equipment weekly into the upstairs practice space of the Family Thrift Store, a Guelph store run by Ray Mitchell, whose daughter played in the band.
“If you didn’t go to practice for two weeks there would be stuff everywhere,” said Geordie.
While it wasn’t a Gordon-brother’s project, you could say it was a kick-start towards an eventual collaboration as many of the band members overlapped between the brother’s projects.
You could also trace The Magic back to the sibling’s travelling roadshow days spent with their father. The trio hit the road as James Gordon and Sons, touring fall fairs and the like.
Geordie explained the house never had a “Joe Jackson-like” drive to push the boys into music. “There were instruments lying around and when we picked them up, that’s when we learned,” Evan added. Their present day music doesn’t sound like their folk tune days, but even as the duo joked around that afternoon, Evan suggested Geordie bring back the fiddle.
It wasn’t until their father’s 50th birthday, a time when Geordie was involved in a rockabilly band, that their pairing was really solidified.
“I asked Evan to guest this one time. He had his band, I had mine,” said Geordie.
“All at once, we just really locked in and we became this super pair,” said Evan. “For a while we weren’t really close but I guess when we got older it changed.”
Close enough to even share a bed when they’re forced to on odd-number tours.
While the two are the front-runners of The Magic, it’s not just the pair that appears on stage with their 30-feet of gold tinsel. Backing them are Sylvie Smith on vocals, Aaron Curtis on drums, Tim Bruton on guitar, Jordon Howard on guitar as well and Andrew Collins and Martin Eckart rocking the saxophone. A group made up of not only musicians but long-time friends.
The Magic also overlaps with the brothers’ involvement in Islands. As friends of frontman Nick Diamonds, the two have been involved with this band for a number of years. They headed out on Sept. 18 for the Islands first European tour in three years. They even played double duty on a number of shows – opening as The Magic and finishing as Islands.
Expect their own headlining tour across Canada and parts of the states in November and December; a chance for the two to get a real feel for their audiences and put on a show. Geordie even promises to dance the entire show, “You’ve got to be looking like you’re about to pass out so the people are thinking ‘oh right I should join in,” he says.
Right off the cuff the two are already working on their next record. For fans this could be a spoiler alert – but their next album could be a double record. It’s due in part to their indecision on the type of sound they want. Don’t expect another electronic sound – the songs being produced right now “have been really stripped down – just RnB and soul.”
“The reason I started this project is because everything I’ve done in the past had its own written in boundaries,” said Geordie. “It tends to be more solo artists that have more varied sounds – I don’t want to think of that as a solo thing.”
Even the band can’t tell you what to expect from them next.
But expect some songs about Geordie’s recent move. “I’m assuming, now that I don’t have a home, I’m going to write some ‘going home’ songs. A bunch of songs for the past two years were about how I knew I had to leave soon but I was stuck. Now I finally did it and I’m thinking I shouldn’t have left,” he says laughing.
“You’re like a prophet of your own life,” adds Evan.
A prophet perhaps but it’s Evan that believes in The Secret – yes, that prophetic book from Rhonda Bryne. A philosophy that despite cliché, seems to be getting them places.
“No joke I do,” laughs Evan.
“Believe in something that will happen and great things will come out of it.”