Photo by John Margaretten
For a band that was formed just a couple years ago by a bunch of high school friends who liked to jam cover songs in a garage in the San Fernando Valley, Mahgeetah have done all right for themselves. They released their debut album Heavy Baby this past September, but have already shared the stage with the likes of The Lumineers, Sleepy Sun, and Tea Leaf Green. Now, the band is gearing up for a big 2013, with one of the first major events being a Noise Pop show opening up for Ramona Falls, Social Studies, and Harriet at Brick & Mortar on February 27th, and I had the chance to exchange a few emails with Ryan Fisher, Mahgeetah’s singer and guitarist.
If you know where the band’s name comes from, then the answer is “Yes, you probably will like Mahgeetah” (if you don’t get the reference, keep reading). Mahgeetah is ready to take their amped-up spin on classic Americana to the masses. Check out “Twin Lakes” from Heavy Baby below, and then read the interview and get full details on the band’s Noise Pop gig (plus one other local show) after the jump.
I gotta ask: Is your name a reference to the My Morning Jacket song? If so, what about that song in particular merited naming the band after it?
Yeah, “Mahgeetah” is one of those songs that when it’s mentioned, it doesn’t come across so much as a hook or chorus but more an announcement or christening and it had a huge impact on us. It also suggests a sound or image that isn’t quite concrete. It’s almost the name of someone or somewhere, or it could just be a melodical way of singing “my guitar” – either way it’s still one of the heaviest things we’ve ever heard.
The previous question was just an educated guess on my part, because your music seems to share some of the same influences as MMJ. What would you say were the guiding principles or influences on which the band was founded?
We’ve known each other since high school and would often get together in garages or house parties, grabbing guitars, and running through all sorts of covers from Dylan to the Rolling Stones to Radiohead. It wasn’t quite like we all set out to be in a band. We officially didn’t form until after each of us graduated from college about 5 years later. I think the collective admiration for a handful of records and groups allowed us to feel that we could probably make music together.
If you had to pick one non-musical influence that shapes your music, what would it be?
I feel it’s probably fair to acknowledge that each of us have lived similar lives with similar upbringings. We’re roughly the same age, all from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, went to high school together and all headed north for college. I guess we’ve all been growing up together and living through these transitions and shared experiences together, which definitely creates a clear foundation of who we are at the time and doesn’t leave much to feel isolated.
It’s a new year and by now we’ve all read about 80 “Best of 2012″ lists, but I’m curious – what would the members of Mahgeetah collectively call the best albums of 2012?
What are Mahgeetah’s plans for lucky ’13?
February is shaping up to be the biggest and busiest month in our life as a band thus far. We’re extremely excited to be going to Los Angeles and playing The Satellite with Incan Abraham. It will be the first official homecoming show for us. Also looking forward to playing with our good friends and great band The Stone Foxes in Oakland, and are just absolutely thrilled to be a part of Noise Pop this year with Ramona Falls, Harriet and Social Studies. The bill’s fantastic. We really dig all those bands. Other than that, just continuing to play shows, travel around a bit, and make another record.
Where and when did y’all record Heavy Baby?
We spent a few months off and on in 2011 and 2012 at Radical House Studio in Bayshore with engineer Chuck Gonzalez.
Heavy Baby is still less than six months old, but have y’all started writing any new material yet? Plan to debut anything new at your Noise Pop gig?
Yeah, even before Heavy Baby came out, we already started working and arranging some new songs, which usually happens at Tim’s house in the Sunset over multiple cups of tea and ham and cheese sandwiches. We’re currently working on a new batch of tunes and looking forward to recording them later this year. Over the last couple months, we’ve played two new songs that will make their way on a future recording, but for the time being, we just really enjoy playing them, and they really have become important staples to our live show. We may have another one ready by Noise Pop, we wouldn’t rush anything.
Ramona Falls, Social Studies, Harriet, Mahgeetah
Brick & Mortar Music Hall
February 27, 2013