Photo By Ken Marcou 

The Magic City is escapism in music. The Boston-based modern rock band takes its moniker from an imagined convergence of Boston and London, and its sound echoes the spirit, style, and vitality of both cities. Debut single “Roadrunner Vs. Your Mother” arrived in November 2023, followed by “A Series of Chemicals” – both serve as a tone-setter and seductive invitation to what’s to come in 2024. As the great Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

How did the band form and what does the band name mean?

Mike Quinn [vocalist and bassist]: I think it started with Dave [Jackel, vocalist and guitarist] and Adam [Anderson, guitarist] getting together to try something new, and then they asked me if I’d be interested in playing bass. Ken [Marcou, drummer] came on as drummer shortly after. 

David Jackel: Adam and I were talking, and he brought up the idea of us starting a new project that went back to basics, more punk rock. I was on an early ’80s goth and post-punk kick at the time – Siouxsie, Echo, Flesh for Lulu – so that really appealed to me.

Previous musical projects? How'd you first get into music?

Jackel: I’ve played in The Daily Pravda with Ken and Adam since we were in our early 20s. I started making music when I was a teenager. My friends and I would bring our acoustic guitars to school and play alt rock radio hits in the back of the bus, a lot of Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction – maybe Nirvana too? I think my first real performance was at a coffee shop called Josie’s in Red Bank, NJ.    

Quinn: I’d go to parties in high school and play songs on the piano (if one was available). I’m not sure people liked it! But there were usually a couple girls watching, which was nice. I was finally able to start joining bands back in college. Since moving to Boston, I have played in Dragstrip Courage, Reverse, The Daylilies, and others. 

First concert that you ever went to? (Locally and National acts)

Jackel: National – Porno For Pyros, Irving Plaza, NYC, 1996. Local - Dragstrip Courage (Mike’s old band), T.T. The Bear’s, Cambridge MA, sometime around 2000.

Quinn: National - Depeche Mode, Violator Tour, Great Woods Performing Arts Center, 1990. Local - I don’t remember who played! But it was definitely at T.T. The Bear’s in 1997 (the year I moved to Boston).

What's your writing process like?

Jackel: When inspiration strikes, I hum the melodies into my phone voice memo recorder, and eventually flesh out the song concept in Logic. My primary instrument is guitar, but I’ve found that writing with the piano keeps me from falling back into using comfortable chord changes.

Quinn: My process is very similar. I’ve been able to accelerate the pace of my songwriting over the last three years thanks to mobile technology (lyric ideas are entered into my Notes app immediately, melodic or chord ideas into Voice Memos). Had I not gotten into this habit, I’m not sure if I’d have finished any of my current songs. 

What other artists or songs inspire your music?

“Velouria” - Pixies
“Save me” - Queen
“Arabian Knights” - Siouxsie and the Banshees
“Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away” - Suede
“The Good Life” - Weezer
“Life on Mars?” - David Bowie
“Turn it Around” - Lucius
“Turn You Inside Out” - REM
“Lily” - Kate Bush
“Sulk” - Radiohead

Quinn: Radiohead’s The Bends is the best rock album of the 1990s, with an unmatched combination of outstanding pop song writing, performance, and production. They continued to be great, but these 12 songs are 100% perfect and I don’t think they achieved that again on a record from start to finish. Weezer’s Pinkerton was so primal while still showcasing the songwriting; it changed my entire perception of how I wanted to perform. R.E.M. had a similar impact on me, and their late ‘80s records in particular compelled me to teach myself how to play guitar. Then I discovered The Pixies and realized I needed to turn up louder. I caught Lucius live about 10 years ago when they were touring on the first record. Incredible harmonies. If I could someday sing 20% as well as they can, I’ll die happy.

Jackel: I played David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” for my daughter the day she was born. I wanted it to be the first song she heard. Six years later, it’s one of the few songs that inspires her and her little sister to go completely silent and listen with reverence.  

What's the live experience like and your philosophy on playing live? Do you think the music live should be identical to the recorded version or should it be its own thing?

MQ: When we play live, we want to connect with the audience. Of course, we want to do that on our recordings as well, but it’s a different connection when you’re able to look people in the eye, and when the audience is able to observe body language, expression, etc. With that in mind, I think it’s definitely natural that live music sounds different from recordings. In addition, amplification changes everything… you get a very different aural experience when you’re standing 20 feet in front of a 10,000-watt PA than when you’re listening on airpods on a subway train.

Jackel: When I’m watching a live band, I love the unpredictability of it all. The mistakes humanize the experience. Some years back I witnessed a Vines show collapse when two of them got into a fist fight and stormed off-stage. It was kind of a rush. But on the flipside, I’m always looking for ways to maximize our sound quality and streamline our on-stage setup. I built an in-ear monitoring rig so we can hear ourselves too – with three singers this is a must.  I like to play with live vocal effects, and I just added a mini Juno synth to my setup.   

Has the band toured? What has the touring experience been, best shows?worst shows?

Quinn: We see ourselves on the road at some point. We’ll be focusing on recording and playing shows locally this spring, and from there, who knows what comes next!

Jackel: We’re so new at this point that the farthest we’ve toured is outer Boston. I’d love to take this band on the road across the US, and hopefully to the UK and Europe after that.

What's up next for the band?

Quinn: We start recording our full length record at the end of March, and we’ve got several shows in the works for April and May. We’re gonna have a lot of fun this year! 

Jackel: Music videos.



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