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  • The Magic Conch

    An interview with singer Andy Gray
    by Mike Huberty
    January 2019

    The Magic Konch - photo by Kyle Hilker

    The Magic Konch
    photo by Kyle Hilker

    With a name inspired by Spongebob Squarepants, you know you’re going to get something fun and slightly ridiculous with MAGIC CONCH, a 4-piece classic rock-style band with a few jam band tendencies from Madison. Their recently released self-produced album, Wumbology features Jack Peterson on lead guitar, Andrew Slade keeping the beat and Mark Ziegler bringing up the bottom end. We talked to singer and rhythm guitarist Andy Gray about the new record!

    MI: What are the bands that you guys really gelled on, that inspired you together?
    : Rush, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Steely Dan, Mastodon, Black Sabbath

    MI: If people want to get the proper Magic Conch experience, what’s the song they should start with?
    : “Witchcraft”, the song is written about a relationship that abruptly ended, as well as the witchcraft that the subject of the song was figuratively subjected to throughout the relationship. In essence, the tune looks into one of those classic situations wherein someone is charmed enough to ignore some less desirable qualities in a partner.

    It doesn’t reach too far into any specific genre and it showcases a lot of what we’re capable of as a band. There are a variety of tempos and moods that we play with during different movements in “Witchcraft”, and on top of that it’s a great tune to dance to!

    MI: So, what does “Wumbology” mean?
    : Just like the band’s namesake, Wumbology is a reference to an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, making a one-time appearance in the series. In short, it’s the study of Wumbo, which is the opposite of mini. According to the show, it’s first grade material. Beyond that, we’re not entirely sure what it means. We’ll leave it up to the kind folks listening to find their own meaning in Wumbology.

    MI: What’s been your favorite live show?
    The most memorable moment goes to a house show we played in an old basement in the neighborhood near Camp Randall Stadium. When we played Bulls On Parade by Rage Against The Machine for the first time ever, the crowd reached a level of energy that has yet to be matched to this day. Multiple people knocked around my microphone stand, which I had to hold in place with my foot on one of the stand’s legs. All the while our bassist was almost crushed by the main speaker that was resting on a big plastic storage bin and simultaneously being jostled by the rowdy crowd. Suffice it to say they got really, really into it, and it was a truly unforgettable culmination of positive and rambunctious energy.

    MI: What’s the rest of the live show like?
    : We like to play a mixture of our high energy original tunes and classic rock covers from such groups as Led Zeppelin, Rush, Thin Lizzy, as well as from newer groups like Queens of the Stone Age, Alice in Chains, and Foo Fighters. In terms of our stage presence, expect a lot of goofy dancing along to the funky riffs and a couple dad jokes here and there between songs. And when we’re not on stage, you’ll likely find us dancing in similarly goofy fashion to the other bands’ music at any given show; we like to foster a great live music environment everywhere we go.

    MI: What do you feel separates you from other Madison bands?
    : There are a lot of terrific groups in the Madison area to enjoy on a cold Wisconsin night, and perhaps one thing that makes us stand out is our willingness to conceive songs that try to tackle a genre unique to the last song we’ve written. Plenty of local bands follow a similar avenue in the creative process, but our style really jumps all over the map to the degree that the variety has become a staple of our band, as assessed by many of our beautiful fans.

    MI: What are you guys looking to do in the New Year?
    : We’re hoping to get a brief tour together in the Spring. In an ideal world we’ll also be able to play festivals like Bratfest or Summerfest after our return, given the right opportunity to squeeze in. By the end of the year, we would love to have another album in the works, since the writing never really stops. At any given time we have about 5-6 unfinished songs in the works until one of them is finally completed.

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