An Interview - Me with The Magic Numbers

Cast your minds forward several weeks, and picture the scene. It’s Sunday night at Glastonbury, Michael Eavis has just bought you a pint, Kate Moss has dumped her boyfriend for you, and you have clean shoes and a sunburnt nose (Hey, it COULD happen!). As the surprise replacements for Kylie, The Magic Numbers take to the stage with all the humility and respect Liam Gallagher could have used this time last year. As 100 000 people begin to cry with joy at the beautiful melodies somehow seeping from these four companions on stage, you realise life really can be perfect.

At least, that could have been the case if these decisions had been left to Romeo Stodart, frontman of would be Glasto headliners The Magic Numbers; ‘As soon as The Killers turned the slot down I said ‘Lets DO it.’’ In the midst of a gruelling schedule, Romeo gives Gigwise the chance for a quick chat as he wonders home through the London suburb of Ealing, an unlikely place to write an album drenched in west coast harmonies and bittersweet heartbreak. ‘We feel separate from everyone else in London,’ he explains, ‘we’re away from everything and the others only live around the corner.’ And this is certainly no bad thing. With angular guitars replaced by Beach Boys harmonies and fashionable 80’s haircuts replaced by, well, less fashionable ones, the Magic Numbers have created a unique sound in 2005’s guitar pop arena.

Much of the bands charm and on-​​stage chemistry comes from the unlikely pairing of two sets of siblings. Romeo (guitar, lead vocals) and Michelle (bass, vocals) Stodart were born in Trinidad but were relocated to New York in their teens: ‘That was a big change for us’ he recalls ‘after living on a tiny island it suddenly felt like we were living in a TV set’. Another move, this time to London, saw the duo hook up with Sean (drums) and Angela (percussion, more vocals) Ganon, and The Magic Numbers began their mission to mend broken hearts and heal all who hear them.

After two years of endless gigging and signing to Jeff Barrett’s Heavenly label, momentum was certainly beginning to build. Last years live appearances, culminating in three sold out shows at London’s Borderline in December, began the whispering and rumours which has only recently escalated into hype and hysteria. ‘From our first gig we’ve had a connection on-​​stage, so it’s from our live gigs we feel we really make an impact’ explains Romeo, ‘people can take the album home now, which is great, but live we get to really promote it.’ This will certainly ring true with anyone who’s witnessed their four beaming faces deliver such a fine collection of timeless pop songs live on stage. Capturing these performances in a studio was always going to be a challenge.

Asked to elaborate on his recent claims that they’ve made a ‘real, classic debut album’ Romeo confirms that it really does sound ‘just right.’ ‘It’s captured our live spirit, and the fun we had in the studio. When you spend that much time together you really get to know each other, and it’s great that you can hear that on the record.’ Recent single ‘Forever Lost’ would certainly verify such a claim. With its infectious melody and production straight out of Phil Spector’s book of tricks, it leaves you safe with the knowledge that making this piece of music was fun, a feeling you don’t get very often.

So what lies ahead for The Magic Numbers? It’s a challenge to find a festival without their name on the line-​​up, there’s dates with the one and only Brian Wilson in July and a 14 date headline tour in October. The album looks set to chart well and the frenzy surrounding them is growing all the time, so will they be THE band of the summer? ‘Well, we’re playing at loads of festivals, and with the single doing well you never know,’ Romeo claims confidently. And why shouldn’t he?

As the conversation draws to a close, Romeo kindly invites Gigwise to the band’s album launch that night. As hangovers and questions creep into our minds the following morning (were we really dancing to Al Green at 6am this morning at Heavenly’s offices!?) the only cure is to settle down and give in to one of the most beautiful albums of the year. Buy it now.

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