Taking us on a road trip for their sophomore album, Fake Magic is back with their new full-length record, N.A.. From New York to California and making some stops along the way, Bryan Paccagnella and Greg Markham have finetuned their indie-comedy-rock style and started exploring other genres too. Last we heard from Fake Magic was 2019’s Hi-Fi which debuted their particular brand of silliness in a much looser style. N.A. shows them making some serious music while not taking it too seriously. We had the opportunity to sit down with them (socially distanced style) and discuss the new album, and where the Fake Magic magic comes from.
For new fans, what’s the quick story of how this duo came about?
“We’ve been pals since the second grade. We used to live down the street from one another in Richmond Hill, and now we both call Toronto home. We grew up playing a lot of garage and basement rock with our friends, and we take influence from a lot of music from that time, bands like Radiohead, Primus, Tool, Nirvana. We took divergent paths for a while, Bryan pursued a comedy career, and Greg played in other bands. A couple of years ago, it just so happened that our creative outlets dissolved around the same time, and we decided to start jamming together again. It’s all grown from there.”
You ride the line between comedy music and genuine indie rock. Do you see Fake Magic moving more towards one or the other in the future?
“We like maintaining the middle ground. Artists like Kirin J. Callinan, Alex Cameron, and Donny Benét tread that line. The Barenaked Ladies have tread that line. Tom Waits treads that line. Sometimes, our songs feel too sincere to go for the laughs and we don’t necessarily want to limit those impulses. While it might make us more marketable to plant firmly in either camp, we’ve always been fans of blending genres. We try to bring out the best in a song without taking ourselves too seriously.”
What drew you to lean into the silliness of your songwriting?
“It’s a natural tendency. We’re both big comedy fans, generally speaking. One of the first things we bonded over was a love for Weird Al’s album Bad Hair Day. Bryan incorporated a lot of music into his standup and sketch work as a comedian. We’re fans of Flight of the Conchords and Spinal Tap. We love the way South Park does music. There’s definitely a lot of comedic influences to draw on when songs feel like they’re heading down a silly path.”
How has the music on N.A. progressed since your debut, Hi-Fi?
“We’re always trying to ‘up the ante’ in terms of the music we create. We both saw Hi-Fi as a funny baby that popped out when we had enough material from regular jam nights, a happy accident, really. When we started honing in on material that would become N.A., there was an effort on both our parts to push the musicality of what Fake Magic could be. We think we definitely moved the needle, and it’s something we’ll continue playing with in future albums.”
How did you come upon the idea of a road trip album?
“We typically create piles of material that spin off in very different directions. Assembling N.A. was an exercise in whittling things down to songs that align to something. Early on, we noticed a trend centered around aspects of America (and Canada), suburban sprawl, populist politics, areas of open country, ‘wild animals.’ Songs like ‘Tonawanda’ and ‘Ohio’ are more on-the-nose in terms of their titles, but the whole thing felt distinctly North American to us. We thought a road trip across the continent would be a good way to express it.”
The video for the album closer “Always Nice” sees you two driving to the coast and showcasing your phenomenal dance moves. How did this concept come about?
“The dance moves just happened, there’s no explaining that part of it (laughs). Overall, we wanted to shoot something live-action and were trying to negotiate the West coast feel of ‘Always Nice’ with the limitations of the city we live in. The video is an attempt to reconcile the two worlds, providing a slice of west coast life in a place that’s far from it. It aligns the sentiment of the song as well, daydreaming about a far off place you can make it big, from nowhere near it.”
Like many indie artists, creating music is not your full-time job. What motivates you to keep making music, particularly in these difficult times?
“Music has been an outlet since we began. We’ve always treated it ‘like golfing’ as a ritual that helps us escape our daily lives. Rough times elsewhere in our lives have translated into fruitful periods of creativity. It’s not always a pleasure, when a DAW isn’t functioning properly, or an input doesn’t work the way it should, there’s frustration there. But, overall, music is a source of energy for us.”
Can we expect any more music videos in the future for N.A. tracks?
“We’ve got more stuff in the works. How it shakes out is still a little in the air but there’ll be another video or two, for sure.”
When venues eventually open up, what are your plans for live shows?
“While we both have a lot of live experience with other creative projects, we haven’t really done much live performing as a band, outside of our little basement setup. We’re both pretty excited to perform for people again, so we’ll likely be looking for smaller venues once COVID-19 hits the bricks.”
Any new projects on the horizon?
“We have a new album in the works. It’ll be out some time in 2021. It’s going to rock hard… That’s all we’ll say about it. Stay tuned!”