The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show causes a media circus annually, but this year was arguably one of the biggest yet. The sartorial procession traveled across the pond to London's Earls Court, a 20,000 person venue with a stunning art deco-style exterior (fitting for a fleet of Angels). Per usual, the event had a week-long lag before its TV broadcast, which left ample time to surmise what surprises were in store. One curveball was the music. While last year's show began with indie pop duo Hunter Hunted (followed by a memorable performance by Taylor Swift), this year's pre-show extravaganza kicked off with the up-and-coming synth-heavy rock band Magic Man.
The Boston-based quintet started off as a lo-fi twosome made up of frontman Alex Caplow and guitarist Sam Vanderhoop Lee, two childhood friends who became bandmates while on a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program, an organization that lets you volunteer on farms in exchange for room and board, the summer after their freshman year of college. They ended up finishing the three-month-long overseas stint with an album. "It was a happy accident," Caplow tells InStyle. Lee adds, "It ended up we didn't do as much farming as we had thought."
It's a good thing they didn't. Three years later, with three more band members in tow, the next iteration of Magic Man broke onto the indie scene with their five-song EP You Are Here, immediately earning praise for their energetic, triumphant rock anthems. Now, with a full-length debut album Before the Waves ($10; iTunes) loaded with infectious tracks that get six-foot tall supermodels gyrating, the group is poised for big things in the coming months. We caught up with Caplow and Lee in N.Y.C. after their performance for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Pre-Show. Here's an excerpt from our chat:
How does it feel to have performed on one of the sexiest nights on TV?Lee: We should've done a bunch of magic tricks.
Caplow: In lingerie, obviously.
Did you get to hang out with the Angels at all?Lee: Unfortunately the show was in London this year! And we were here.
You two have been friends for years. What did you listen to growing up? Lee: I feel like when we started playing in band in high school, we listened to a lot of The Killers, Arcade Fire, and Postal Service. It became a part of what we started playing in our own band. I listened to a lot of Explosions in the Sky too.
You started working with Alex Aldi (Passion Pit, Holy Ghost!) on Before the Waves. What's the biggest lesson you learned from him? Caplow: Alex was essential to help us with the mixing and final production—he brought it to the next level in terms of sounding crisp and as big and perfect as it was in our heads. I think we attribute a lot of our sound to how much fun we’ve had playing live and rocking out at these sweaty basement parties and taking more of a rock band approach than being the bedroom pop duo that we started off as. During our first shows, I felt like I was singing karaoke to a backing track, and as we added more members it became more of a rock band. That energy is something we wanted to take on. We started thinking bigger and making these anthemic songs.
We have to ask: How'd you get the name Magic Man?Lee: It comes from a guy we met when we visited this circus festival in France during our farming trip. He was one of our first friends—a young French kid about our age who fancied himself an amateur musician and called himself "Magic Man."
What tricks did he perform?Lee: He did a lot of "pick a card" type things, but they never ended up working out quite well. Maybe it was a language barrier.
Caplow: He had a good spirit, but he could probably use some work on his actual magic.
Watch the music video for "Paris" below, and click here for an instant replay of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Pre-Show.