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Tue May 10, 2011
Woonsocket's Draco and the Malfoys
By NATALIE JABLONSKI
PROVIDENCE, RI –
In their Woonsocket apartment, Bradley Mehlenbacher and his half-brother Brian Ross known to thousands as Draco and the Malfoys play a stripped-down version of their song, "Potions." They're one of the big names in a genre called wizard rock music that's based on the popular Harry Potter book series.
This may come as a surprise but there are actually hundreds of wizard rock bands out there. Ross and Mehlenbacher got started six years ago, when they met the members of pioneer wizard rock band Harry and the Potters. Ross says he and his brother liked the idea of starting a similar group, but with a twist.
"All of our songs are written from Draco Malfoy's perspective, he says"
Malfoy is Harry Potter's arch nemesis. He continues, "They're mean, they're elitist, and they're so much fun to write."
Obviously reading the books helps to get the songs. For the uninitiated, songs such as "Slytherin World" and "Voldemort is Awesome," lose their well awesomeness. But Mehlenbacher says they try to make them accessible.
"There's definitely a lot of weird inside jokes," he says. "Here's a lot of minutia that you have to be a giant fan to get. But for the most part, most of our songs are very broad."
Six years ago the band put their music on Myspace and went on tour with Harry and the Potters. Once Harry Potter fans discovered wizard rock, Draco and the Malfoys gained popularity. They've gone on several U.S. tours, and once played for fifteen thousand people on the night the seventh Harry Potter book was released. And Ross says their fans are all kinds of people though, a disproportionate number of college-aged girls.
"It sounds so bizarre," says Ross. "We wouldn't have believed this ourselves. But now I'm saying it as though it's an obvious fact. It's not an obvious fact but Harry Potter fans are the most fun people we've ever met. They're always just looking to party, or an excuse to dress up in a costume, and they're all completely off the wall."
Still, the past six years have been a serious creative endeavor for the pair. They were musicians long before Draco and the Malfoys, but Ross says being restricted to one subject is actually liberating.
"We can explore musical creative avenues without having to worry about what we're going to write the songs about. That makes it easier to focus on how we want the songs to sound, and what kind of music we want to be playing."
Their sound ranges from pop to punk rock to country bluegrass. Despite their success, Mehlenbacher says they have sometimes faced skepticism from other musicians.
"A lot of our friends who were in regular bands at first started to turn up their noses at it. I think a lot of them came around when people saw, you're playing shows and people come, and it's fun."
Draco and the Malfoys count themselves among the craziest of the crazy Harry Potter fans; but they also retain a degree of perspective.
"We have to approach the whole thing with a lot of humor. I mean we're writing songs about the Harry Potter stories. There's only so seriously you can take yourself when you're doing that."
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Listen to more stories and interviews in our series, One Square Mile: Woonsocket.