Over the course of just over a year, the Magic Numbers have risen largely through word-of-mouth from being a little known indie act, playing obscure small clubs in their native London, to being one of the best known bands in Britain.

Nominated for a Mercury Award, their eponymous debut album, which has come out on the independent Heavenly label has been the surprise hit of the summer, entering the Top 10 of the British Albums chart in the first week of its release In June, and gaining the band prestigous festival slots at both Glastonbury and T in the Park. A single, 'Forever Green', has sold well, receiving heavy airplay on most radio stations, and making the band in many quarters an immediate household name. The group's latest record, 'Love Me, Like You' has also earned the Magic Numbers many more new fans.

The Magic Numbers consists of two pairs of siblings. They are lead singer and guitarist Romeo Stodart, 29 and his sister bassist and keyboardist Michele, 22, and Angela Gannon, 21, who plays percussion and melodica and her brother Sean, 29, who plays drums.

The group take their inspiration from many sources, including singer songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, 60’s groups such as the Beach Boys, the Lovin Spoonful and the Mamas and Papas and epic rock acts such as the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev, but in Romeo Stodart's syrupy vocals and Michele and Angela's sweet backing harmonies they also carry a sound which is defiantly their own.

Pennyblackmusic spoke to Michele and Angela before an in-house gig at London's Fopp record store.

PB : Why did you choose to call yourselves the Magic Numbers ?

AG : When we first heard it we thought "Yeah, that works. It fits."

MS. : All the other names we used up until that point were really terrible.

AG : We were called the Guess at one point.

MS. That was really bad. We called ourselves the Super Heroes as well for a while.

AG : We were the Brokes too. It was really bad.

MS : Some of those names appear in our first video.

PB : How long have the two of been involved with the band ? Romeo and Sean worked together before that, didn't they ?

MS : They have been playing together for about nine or ten years. The four of us have been together for coming up to three years now.

PB : And it just clicked immediately between the four of you ?

MS : We rehearsed in the studio together for six or seven months before we started to gig. Our first gig was so accidental. We just fell together on a stage in the tiniest venue, and I forgot my guitar strap so I had to sit down to play, and within three songs we knew it worked.

PB : Your first two singles were on 7" vinyl. Your first single was 'Hymn to Her'', while your second 'Anime Solas' was a joint split single with Hal. They both came out out in very limited editions. 'Anime Solas' was a tour single. Why did you decide to make that first one so limited ?

MS : I think what we wanted to do was to keep that real intimate thing with the crowd and with the fans. We were gigging for about a year and a half, before we put the single out . People would tell their friends, and then those friends would tell their friends, and that was something we wanted to keep, that initial run of contact with fans before it got out of control. It's great tto know our number one fans and to be able to remember that period through them.

AG : That single was a good introduction to us as well. It has got lots of different elements to it, minimal bits at the beginning, slightly less minimal bits in the middle and a big ending.

PB : How do you feel about people paying silly money for it ? 'Hymn to Her' is now selling for about £25.

MS : I"d heard it was selling for about £50. It's crazy.

AG : It's really mad. It's a nice feeling. It's like 'Wow."

PB : How long did it take to write the album and record it ?

MS : We were doing a lot of touring at the same time, so it was
done in little skips. It was like two weeks here in this month, one week here, three days there, and then around Christmas we worked at it for two months solid and we really nailed it within that period. We went to the studio early, and often stayed until 7 in the next morning working on the percussion parts.

PB :A lot of the songs are boy/girl love songs. Do you ever feel weird singing love songs with your brothers?

MS : There are only two duets on the album, which are "This Wheel's on Fire', and 'I See You, You See Me.' Angela sings with Romeo on the first song and they are not related, so we got away with that one. Romeo and I sing the other one, but it isn't really a love song. It is kind of in the way it is done, but in that song Romeo is going through his heartache, and I am going through mine, and he is talking about his relationship and I am talking about mine, so it's like we are both helping each other out through it.

AG : There's definitely a brother/sister sentiment going on.

MS : There's no sex. No, no, no...((Laughs)

AG : (Collapses in a fit of the giggles).

PB : Are you pleased with the reaction to the LP so far?

MS : Oh, completely, yeah.

PB : It went Top 10 in its first week, didn't it?

MS : It got to number 7, which is amazing. It's been great seeing everyone's reactions and people singing along to it, and also winning the Mercury Prize nomination.

AG : That's given it a big boost.

PB : Are you fed up with touring yet?

MS : Not really (Laughs) ! Lots of bands tell us you're going to get really sick of it. The moment we get on stage is the moment, we look forward to the most though. We like to play music.

PB : That's the fun part.

MS : Exactly, that's the way we talk to the fans as well.

PB : There seems to be a very strong connection between you
and your fans ? With many bands, it's like "We are on stage and you are down there", but with the Magic Numbers it is more intimate.

AG : At the moment we recognise people and it makes it a lot closer.

PB : Having said that have you played outside of Britain yet?

AG : We have just got back from Japan.

MS : We played the Fuji Music festival. It was great. It was wild,

AG. : Everyone there was so polite. They really listen. There's nowhere else like it in the world.

MS : We have played America as well . We did Texas and San Francisco.

AG : We have been to a few places in Europe too.

PB : Did you expect 'Forever Lost' to do so well ?

MS : I think we never expect anything. If we did we would be completely cheeky, (Laughs) but I think all four of us knew that that it would be like our first proper single and breakthrough record. People really connected to it. There's really serious lyrics, to it, and a happy/sad medium. You get lifted up with it. It's a great festival song. It's really great to see everyone sing along and clap along to it, but I never expected it to go the way it has.

PB : Did you release 'Hymn to Her' and then 'Forever Lost' because you wanted a slow build up ?

AG :.We wanted to release 'Forever Lost' as our first single but.....

MS : The timing of it was wrong.

AG :.'Forever Lost,' is a perfect summer song.

MS : I was like "It can work in the winter. It can." It in fact got
postponed from May to June to July, but it turned out for the best really.

PB : How did you feel about being turned into Yellow Submarine style cartoons in the accompanying video ?

AG : (Laughs) I like it..

MS. : I thought it was funny.

AG : We are officially immortalised now.

MS : Gorillaz with a twist ! It's the little things in it, like Sean with the empty beer cans, and everyone with their headphones on.

AG : And me putting a sticker on a mouse (Laughs0.

MS : It was great fun to do. We had a lot of fun playing around with ideas. I never thought the record company would have
gone for it but we have been lucky as we have full control on all the artwork, and all the video treatments. They have been really good with that so hopefully it will stay that way forever.

PB : . How would you describe the band's sound to someone who hasn't heard you yet, ? Before I went to my first gig the first review I read said "The Donnie Darko soundtrack meets Lee Hazlewood?"

MS : Yeah, that could work. I can see that..

AG : I would call it a dark happiness. It's sad but it can be uplifting in a way. That is the kind of music that all four of us like too listen too. You put on a sad song, and it makes you happy.

MS : I think the music we are making is really honest.

PB : I have never met a band that is so happy. You are always smiling. It's nice to see.

AG : We are doing what we want to do. That's why.

MS : I can't understand any band out there that's making the music they love, that are meeting people, getting to go all over the world, and touring their songs not being happy.

AG . We have our dark days, but what's there not to smile about ?

MS : It's hard going on tour because essentially you are never on your own. There is no escaping anything.

PB : It is 24 hours, and the only time you get to yourself is when you get into bed, if you are lucky enough.

MS : And that's when you probably break dowm the most when you're in bed.

AG : For our next headline tour we have requested seperate rooms because we always share. Everyone shares, but if we are going to be on the road for three months we will need our own space.

MS : How would I describe our music ? it's like country, soul, pop and....

PB : I would say, its very 70's rock as well.

MS : It's 50's as well.

PB : 50's ?

MS :There's 50's rock n roll there (Laughs).

PB : The look is very 70's as well, but not in an offensive way.

AG : Yeah, right (Both laugh) !

PB :.In a Neil Young carefree and lazy way (Laughs).

AG : Carefree and lazy ? It's that simple. We can't be arsed.

PB :.I believe you toured with Brian Wilson. Where was that ? Was it in Britain?

AG : .It was in Eastbourne and Brighton.

MS : He was really nice.

PB : Did he have any advice ?

MS : He was really quiet and kept himself to himself. He is probably not really there due to all the medication he is on.We had been fans of the Beach Boys for years and to be on tour with him, and to be in the area of his legend meant a lot to us. It was weird meeting him and shaking his hand. and talking to him. He is so child like in what ever he does, He screams out song titles and things like "I wanna do Johnny B Goode tonight." He is so excitable, but you can always see the love of music in him.

PB : How do you think it will work when you start playing bigger venues ? Do you think, you will lose some of that magic ?

AG : I hope not. I hope, because of the way that we are, that it will still come across. Even at Glastonbury, which was huge- it was a huge tent-you could still feel it.

PB : Have you started writing the second album yet ? Have you any ideas for it yet?

MS : Yes, we have got loads of ideas. We have got about 30/40 songs on the go at the moment. We have just got to find the time
to go into the studio and practice (Laughs). Hopefully we will be able to play them before we record them.

PB : What are your future plans ? You're going to be touring a lot.

AG : Yeah, definitely, we are booked up till December.

PB : . Anything else you like to add?

MS : I would just like people to keep buying the record and to really enjoy the Magic Numbers, and to connect with us as a band.

PB : Thank you for your time.

AG and MS : Thank you

The photographs that accompany this article originally appeared at www.virtual-festivals.com

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