When Magic Sword debuted at Treefort Music Fest in 2013, no one but the band’s members could have known what the audience was in for: two space knights playing the kind of high-fidelity synth rock that embodies everything glorious about 1980s epic science-fiction movies. The unabashed bombast of intricate guitar solos and dense synth melodies allows the music to transcend the band’s gimmick: performing in disguise, in the fashion of the Residents and Slow Magic.
“It’s kind of liberating,” says synth player The Keeper about performing incognito. “I find myself taking on the character more as time goes by. I also think it helps the audience get into the story more. It’s easier to get into the story when the characters from the comic are on stage rather than just a couple dudes.”
He’s referring to the comic book created by artist Shay Plummer following the recent reissue of the band’s 2013 debut, Magic Sword, Vol. 1.
“We read all kinds of comics when we were kids, but the darker comics had more influence,” says The Keeper. “The goal from the beginning was that the music would be the soundtrack to the comic book. We like to bounce ideas back and forth off each other as we’re creating, so they kind of influence each other.”
As geek culture moves into the mainstream, Magic Sword could be one of the first acts to garner crossover appeal without the gimmick overshadowing the art.
“The way we perform has been influencing some of the new music,” notes The Keeper. “We want the live show to develop in the future into more of a performance-art piece rather than just a concert.”
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Magic Sword’s upcoming show in Denver will add one more notch in its ongoing relationship with this city. The group’s earliest gigs outside of its home town of Boise included an appearance at the Underground Music Showcase in 2015. The band befriended such local acts as Bollywood Life, Crystal Ghost, Frugal Father, Brother Tiger and Rumtum, so connections with the Mile High City’s music scene have been in place for a while. For his part, The Keeper was already a fan of a legendary Denver band of yesteryear.
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“Back in high school, a friend gave me a DIY cassette of the Warlock Pinchers,” he says. “I guess they used to come through town a lot. Unfortunately I never got to see them. I listened to that tape every day for almost a year. I was really into all kinds of music, and loved how they mixed up punk with a kind of hip-hop delivery of the lyrics. It was also hilarious.”
Next Thursday’s show at the hi-dive takes place the day before Magic Sword’s new Size Records EP, Legend, is officially unleashed upon the world. Legend will have an accompanying comic book, which is due out in the middle of May; it’s the first in a series of EPs with comic-book counterparts.
And while that series could be seen as a gimmick all its own, Magic Sword’s exploration of visual performance elements, as well as other art forms and narrative, elevate the band members to something like heroes in their own right.
Magic Sword perform on Thursday, April 28, at the hi-dive.