The Magic Numbers: The songs are getting a new meaning over the years

Nederlandse versie

Tekst: Dennis de Waard 

After four years of silence and a couple of solo-projects, The Magic Numbers returned last year with their fourth studioalbum ‘Outsiders’. The band are two duo’s of brothers and sisters from London: Romeo & Stella Stodart and Angela & Sean Gannon. The band’s indierocksound that had similarities with the sound of Belle & Sebastian was replaced by a more hard hitting bluesrock sound. With the new album ‘Outsiders’ out, The Magic Numbers prepare for a European tour, with five dates announced in the Netherlands. We face-timed with singer, songwriter and lead guitarist Romeo Stodart and talked about the theme of the new album, the tour and Romeo’s creative process of writing songs.

Hi there Romeo, so the new album is out and you have a couple of tour dates planned in the Netherlands!
Hi! Yeah, that’s right! It’s exciting to be coming back to the Netherlands. It’s been a while since we played there, and it’s also exciting because we’ve got a new record to present. It’s cool coming back to play four or five shows in a row.

The title of your new album is ‘Outsiders’. Is that how you would see yourself, as an outsider?
As a band or as a songwriter? Both are correct by the way!

As a songwriter.
Yeah, as songwriter and as a person, I quite feel like I’m an outsider. It’s a feeling I have had since I was a kid. You know, I was born in Trinidad and since then I have moved numerous times. As a kid that was hard to process. Every time I was getting used to an environment, we would move again, so it was hard for me to make friends. As a songwriter feeling as an outsider, it means that it sometimes feels hard to connect to people.

When you eventually started the band in London, did you still feel like an outsider?
Yeah, that feeling just sticks with me, it’s just who I am right now. 

How do you find the inspiration to write about your feelings as an outsider?
For me, it’s taking a walk. I try to take a walk every day and I just look around. I look at people, I look at nothing. A lot of the times the songs come to me while taking a walk. The best thoughts I try to write down.

Romeo reaches out to grab his guitar and shows it via the camera with a grin on his face:  And I always take this one with me!

During your inspirational walks, does the music come first or do the words come first?
The music always comes first. It starts with an idea in my head, then the words will show up. I just record some stuff and send it to the rest of the band and see what they think of it.

With The Magic Numbers being around for almost twenty years, has your way of writing songs changed?
I’d say yes. You become a bit older, your perspectives change, the world around us changes constantly. I also have a kid now. You know, you’re constantly changing as a person and also as a band. That gives me new inspiration. I’m still an outsider, though. That isn’t changing.

Also, the music has changed a bit. ‘Outsiders’ became a rockalbum like you’ve never made one before. More hard pounding rock, it became more raw, where your first records were more folk-ish and indierock. Was it time to do something else?
No, I wouldn’t say that we radically changed our sound. We as a band however, became much better musicians. Twenty years of touring, writing and being in a band has made us a closer band and we have become more confident in playing on stage. Because we became more confident and better at what we do, the music was able to progress with us. The new album is still sounding like a typical The Magic Numbers-album, but more raw and mature I guess.

And being in The Magic Numbers for that long of a time, how do you look back on your first songs?  
The songs change with us. The way we play our older stuff right now is much more different than the original versions. Also the words may sometimes get a new meaning. That’s the fun side of it all, the songs are a thing of their own and they could potentially never be really finished, even after fifteen years. It’s also cool to see that as an outsider, I see people show up at our shows who connect with the songs. They’re outsiders as well, and I’m happy to sing songs for them so they can connect with it.

If your songs can change musically, would you also consider changing the words?
That’s an interesting one. But no, I don’t think I would do that. Our audience would have no idea what is happening and they wouldn’t be able to sing with us haha!

The Magic Number are coming back to the Netherlands in April:
15 april – Paard, Den Haag
16 april – Nieuwe Nor, Heerlen
17 april – Q Factory, Amsterdam
18 april – Burgerweeshuis, Deventer
20 april – De Helling, Utrecht