Interview with Harry and the Potter’s Paul DeGeorge

Paul DeGeorge and his brother Joe started the band Harry and the Potter in 2002. Since that time the duo have been the subject of a documentary titled “We Are Wizards” a film that delves into the impact of the Harry Potter book series on its fans. The group has also been credited with the creation of “Wizard Rock”. Media Mikes had a chance recently to talk with Paul about a variety of things related to the band.

Adam Lawton: What led you to starting Harry and the Potters?
Paul DeGeorge: It kind of started with reading the books. My brother and sort of pop culture at large turned me onto the books. I just thought there was something about the Harry Potter character that was similar to some of my punk rock heroes. I figured it would be cool if Harry had his own punk rock band.

AL: Can you tell us what some of those influences were?
PD: I would say as far as punk rock goes Fugazi as well as Adam and his Package were both real big influences. The thing about Adam and his Package was that they played really fun and goofy punk rock songs that were also smart. I remember being in college reading their tour diaries which made it sound like anyone could get out on the road and have a band.

AL: How did you guys get involved with the “We Are Wizards” documentary?
PD: We had received an email from the directors of the film telling us that they were interested in us being a part of a film they were planning that was going to talk about Harry Potter fans and different theories and phenomena’s related to Harry Potter. We said sure we would be interested and then one day they showed up to film us at our parents house.

AL: How was your experience with the filming?
PD: It was fun! Every two or three months the guys would pop up at a show or something and start shooting. As with most documentaries they use only a small portion of what they shoot. They shot some of our coolest shows ever played and I wish I could see some of the footage. I remember they were at one show in Brooklyn and it was a bigger show at a newer venue. At night I guess it’s a pretty intense place so they had their normal security crew there who were these huge dudes. These guys were patting down every 12 year old that was trying to get into the show. It started to freak everyone out so we moved the show to the space next door and it was really great. The place we had the show at now has shows pretty regular and is called Death by Audio.

AL: What is your take on being dubbed the originators of “Wizard Rock”?
PD: I guess we were in the right place and right time. (Laughs) We didn’t set out with any purpose to create a genre. A lot of what our band is about fostering the DIY punk spirit of doing things for yourself.

AL: Other than the show you already mentioned are there any others that stick out?
PD: We are all about pushing the boundaries of what you would expect a concert to be. From the start we were trying to do rock shows in libraries. The library is already a safe all ages places for anyone to go to. No one gets turned away at the library. We don’t want people to be turned away from our shows and the library is that kind of space for us.

AL: Can you tell us about the Harry Potter Alliance?
PD: The idea behind the Harry Potter Alliance was to form a real world Dumbledore’s Army and become the heroes that we read about. The books are really empowering and tell the storey of teens who all stick together to help change the world. We wanted to use the premise of the books to get youth involved with social activism and social justice issues. We try to draw parallels out of the books and relate them to real social and political issues. One of the current campaigns we are working on is that we are trying to get Harry Potter fans to lobby Warner Brothers who control all the merchandising related to the films to make their Harry Potter chocolate fair trade chocolate. Chocolate is notorious for really bad working conditions especially along the Ivory Coast where about 2/3rds of the worlds chocolate comes from. The main idea behind the campaign is to educate Harry Potter fans about the fair trade issues. We also have the opportunity to use our power as Harry Potter fans to maybe affect change on a large corporate level. We can use our leverage as an organization to get our message into the press which will hopefully influence Warner Brothers to change their business practices. We really want to tryand use Harry Potter as a tool to create global citizenship.

AL: What other upcoming plans do you have for the band?
PD: We just finished a two month summer tour and we are going to take it easy during the fall. I think the biggest thing on the horizon for us as of right now is we are in the planning stages for our annual Christmas shows. We have been doing these shows for a few years now in our home base of Boston, MA. This year will be our 7th annual Yule Ball in Boston. Last year we branched out to New York and Philadelphia which we plan to do again this year. We might possibly being do one other city but I can’t say too much about that just yet.

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