Shushing librarians and antiestablishment punks don't typically have much in common. But "Harry and the Potters," the only known band in the world devoted exclusively to a literary series, are making libraries the "in" place for underground concerts.
Slipping into grey sweaters, Gryffindor-themed ties, and, of course, their hero's trademark glasses, 18-year-old Joe DeGeorge and his 26-year-old brother, Paul, churn out garage-rock songs like "The Missing Arm of Viktor Krum" and "Platform 9 and 3/4." Touring public libraries and bookstores across the country via The Potter Mobile - a silver 1998 Ford minivan with a lightning bolt emblazoned on the hood - the duo's mix of simple melodies and charmingly quirky lyrics draw a crowd of soccer moms and their children, trendier-than-thou hipsters, and the just plain curious.
"We felt like the 'Harry Potter' books did a lot to get kids to read, and in that vein, we really did want to say that reading is awesome, so awesome that it rocks," Paul explains. "I feel like when we play a show in a library, it oftentimes gets kids to the library who may not otherwise go.... Rock music is inherently cool, so hopefully a little of that rubs off on the reading."
Punk and Potter seem like an unlikely combination, but Paul explains that Sid Vicious and Britain's beloved underage warlock may have more in common than you think. "There are a lot of tendencies in 'Harry' that fit in line with the punk mentality," Paul says. "He's got problems with authority. He's not afraid to stand up for his opinions. He takes matters into his own hands and he's got a real do-it-yourself attitude. That's been a cornerstone for the band."
The Boston group formed in 2002 as the result of a concert that flopped. "We were having a show in my backyard and a bunch of bands canceled," Joe confesses. "We wrote six songs in, like, an hour, then we played a show for, like, 10 people. It was pretty fun."
Harry and the Potters went over so well that the two muggles recorded a demo to send to area libraries before spending a walloping two weekends recording their first album.
Within weeks, the band was playing enviable venues such as backyard sheds and hot-dog jamborees, but the continued success of the Potter franchise brought an onslaught of wand-toting, Mohawk-sporting fans as well as bigger, better gigs. With two albums, a tour of Britain, and material for a coming third CD under their belt, the group now plays clubs and crowded book-release parties. (See www.eskimolabs.com/hp/shows.htm for the duo's tour dates.)
As to what Potter's creator thinks of the band, the verdict is still out. Neither of the DeGeorge brothers have met J.K. Rowling (yet), but they remain optimistic. "I'm hoping that she'll just come to one of our shows one day," Paul states. "If she came to a show and rocked out with us, that would be enough. We could hang it up after that."
Until then, the world's most popular rocking wizards will continue using the mic to spread their pro-literacy message. The band is set to play a slew of shows surrounding the film release of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and take the rest of the year off for touring. After that, it's off to Clark University for Joe and back to the world of chemical engineering for Paul. But you can bet that someway, somehow, the music will still go on. Even Voldemort can't stop these rockers.