July 13, 2007 -- As millions of Harry Potter fans flock to movie theaters and bookstores this month, a smaller -- but just as devoted -- group of enthusiasts is hitting libraries, doughnut shops and house parties to hear a new genre of music.
Meet Harry and the Potters and Draco and the Malfoys, just two of nearly 200 Harry Potter-themed bands -- including the Hungarian Horntails, the Whomping Willows and the Remus Lupins -- who are touring venues across the country bringing their own style of "wrock" -- that's wizard rock -- to a generation that has grown up reading about the magical world of wands, spells and dragons.
For the last five years, brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge have dressed in the full V-neck sweater and maroon and gold tie fashion of wizard-school Hogwarts and rocked local venues as Harry and the Potters.
Admittedly, their lyrical musings for songs like "Save Ginny Weasley," "Wizard Chess" and "Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock" come from their love of the popular books by J.K. Rowling. But when the DeGeorge brothers couldn't agree on who would get to "play" Harry in the band, both citing a self-proclaimed resemblance to the fictional character, the two conjured up a magical plot of their own.
"Harry Potter travels through time and starts a band with himself," said Joe. "I play Harry Potter in year four [of school] and my brother is Harry Potter from year seven."
Seem logical? Maybe not, but the concept of time travel does play off a theme from Rowling's books, and perhaps more importantly it allows both 28-year-old Paul and 20-year-old Joe to dress up like their favorite wizard hero. An idea perfectly fitting, considering their songs expressing the angst of "snogging" with love interest Cho Chang, and mysterious Christmas presents -- "I got a mysterious gift from my dead dad / It was an invisibility cloak -- how rad!"-- are sung from the perspective of Harry Potter himself.
The songs' details won't be lost on their audiences. More than 325 million Harry Potter books, in 65 different languages, have been printed worldwide and you can be sure the band's fans are avid readers. The frenzy has taken a firm hold on children, teens and adults alike, and this band doesn't discriminate. Harry and the Potters shows are open to all ages, with many performances held at local libraries. Kids are some of their most unabashed fans.
"I remember a bunch of 6-year-olds head-banging and doing the best primal dance moves they could muster up," Paul recounts of one show. "Being in a band that can bring that out in people pumps me up a ton."
Jesse Farrell, a friend who is touring with the band managing equipment and merchandise, can attest to Harry and the Potters' magical effect.
"They don't get chased around," Farrell said, "but when they roll up in Harry Potter outfits … you've got hundreds of teenage girls screaming."
Harry and the Potters said 600 people turned out for a recent show in Portland, Ore.
The band has caused such a stir in the cauldron of the Harry Potter craze that it's even sparked the creation of "rival" band Draco and the Malfoys, appropriately named after Harry Potter's antagonist Draco Malfoy.
Band members and half-brothers Brian Ross and Bradley Mehlenbacher admit that their band was originally conceived to parody Harry and the Potters, who were performing at a local house party. But their Slytherin-themed costumes (green-striped ties), and anti-Potter lyrics -- "You may have freed our house elf, and brought doubt to our family name/ but your parents still got toasted by a big, green, glowing flame" -- caught on, and another Harry Potter-themed garage band was born.
Their love for the Harry Potter book series is no less than that of the DeGeorge brothers, but Brian and Bradley seem to better recognize the absurdity of the bands, even mocking the idea that Paul and Joe represent two differently aged versions of the popular wizard.
"We look like nothing like Draco Malfoy, and are clearly too old to be going to Hogwarts," said Brian, 32, of he and his brother Bradley, soon to be 27. "So we say that we're Draco from years 19 and 15 at Hogwarts."
All those Potter fans out there know that Hogwarts is only a seven-year school.
Ross contends that the rivalry between the two bands is all for show. In fact, the Potters and the Malfoys are touring together for a month this summer and often collaborate on albums. It's a catchy concept, two bands portraying the most beloved and hated characters in the Harry Potter series, both celebrating their passion for the fictional wizard world with catchy tunes and kid-friendly rock concerts.
Both bands usually charge $5 to $10 for tickets to their shows, though some performances are free. Like so many other indie bands hoping to make it big, both have put their songs on Apple's iTunes for download and have created MySpace pages.
To say that J.K. Rowling is their hero is an understatement. Paul DeGeorge would love the opportunity to meet the famed author because, he explains, "it would be like meeting God in a way, she's the creator of it all."
A creator, in a sense, she is. Rowling's books have turned the Harry Potter franchise into an empire, spawning feature films, video games, toys and even wizard-themed snack food. Kids, teens and adults are packing into theaters and bookstores, for screenings of the fifth movie and to anxiously await the release of the seventh, and final, book of the series. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before Potter-themed bands emerged.