Seriously, y’all, how fucking underrated are the Magic Numbers? Their self-titled was one of the best debuts of the decade; and they’ve made interesting and wonderful records in the years following; up to and including this year. I dunno what more I have to say. I guess I could also add in that Michele was an absolute sweetheart. I got to meet her and Romeo after the Magic Numbers show at the Metro not long after this interview and she was super-wonderful there as well. This feature’s okay. I think you can tell I’m a fan, which is surely a good thing, right?
– DJY, October 2014
It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from The Magic Numbers. Too long, fans will surely add. Thankfully, bassist/vocalist Michele Stodart is quick to clarify on the line from the U.K. that the group were never going to split.
“We all just went away after the tour of the second album [2006’s Those the Brokes],” she observes, “and, y’know, get a break from the band, and each other. There was also our dream of building our own studio, which we’ve always wanted to do. We bought lots of equipment and built it up over about a year and a half – it was amazing because we finally had our own area, our own rehearsal space.” It was here where the band recorded their third album, The Runaway, up until late 2009. Set for release in a matter of weeks, fans are to expect the unexpected when it comes to the band’s new explorative sound.
“When we were rehearsing these songs,” explains Stodart, “we felt like they were too easy; that we could have just gone straight in and recorded them. Let’s try and actually make an album, instead of worrying how we’re going to do it live. So we kind of played around with the set-up of the four of us – thinking ‘okay, this doesn’t need bass; you don’t have to play the drums; [brother and lead vocalist] Romeo doesn’t have to play guitar.’ We mixed it up. It’s still the band, but on the record it’s more than that.”
Another one of the variations included on the record was Michele and vocalist/keyboardist/percussionist Angela Gannon (who completes the lineup with drumming brother Sean) contributing lead vocals to individual tracks. Michele has contributed lead vocals previously, but this the first time a song with her on lead has been chosen as a single. “It’s quite funny,” she comments with a giggle, “and it’s kind of a big deal, too. I’m not too sure how it’s going to go down, but it’s gotten a pretty good reception on the live front, so that’s been a lot of fun.”
On that note, conversation switches to the band’s live shows. This is a band that have established a rock-solid reputation as a must-see live act – they once sold out a 2500-capacity venue in the U.K. even before their 2005 self-titled debut had been released. Recently, the group have gone back on the road to try out the new material as well as pull out some old favourites for patient fans who haven’t seen the group since 2007 at the latest. One of their biggest profile appearances recently has been the annual Glastonbury festival – and Michele couldn’t have been quicker to sing its praises.
“It was amazing,” she recalls fondly. “It was probably one of my favourite Glastonburys because it’s the only one that I’ve been to that wasn’t muddy! No need for wellies whatsoever [laughs]. We kickstarted the festival on the Other Stage and we were so surprised. We didn’t think there’d be many people out to support us, seeing as we’ve been away so long – I was backstage fretting that there’d only be ten people out there and they’d all be passed out. We head out, and it’s packed! That was a really pleasant surprise – an amazing experience.”
Although on somewhat of a smaller scale in comparison to Glasto, a great festival experience is surely on the cards for the band when they take to the stage at the upcoming Splendour in the Grass festival in Woodford. Michele is jolted with excitement when she realises it’s in a matter of weeks – “We’re really looking forward to it!” she enthuses. “We’re only there for a week, but it’s going to be amazing. I hope the weather’s good, obviously; and we’re hoping to explore more of the country while we’re there.” Stodart recalls the band’s enjoyment of their 2005 tour as a part of the Big Day Out, claiming it was a “great chance for us to just spend a lot of time hanging out with the other bands and really take in an overseas country properly for the first time.” There’s little doubt that there will be plenty of great experiences for the band in their whirlwind Australian visit.
As for her own personal projects, Stodart also reports on working on her debut solo album (although it “might be awhile” before we hear anything from it), and also giving birth to her first child – a girl, Maisie. “She’s perfect, really,” says Michele. “She’s really, really cute. A lot of hard work, but she’s still perfect.” Motherhood has certainly had an overwhelmingly positive effect on Michele, but she believes it would be against her nature to dedicate her life to raising Maisie alone.
“It’d kind of be easier to do that,” she says when asked if she would ever pack the whole music thing in, “but I just know that I wouldn’t be happy. Now I’m trying to fit everything in – which is hard work, but I know that what I’m doing is the best for me and for her right now. Music is too big a part of my life for it to be extracted, and I know that she wouldn’t get the best mum possible. Even now, I’m here in the studio working on one of the b-sides for the single while she’s asleep. It’s a different kind of perspective that I’ve got, but I don’t think I could ever give up music.”