Falling Under the Spell of So Many Wizards
The perennially cheery indie popsters on Harry Potter, fleeing Iraq and living in the moment.
Through the front doors of an intimate and tucked away gem of a venue erupted a room filled with anticipation for what would be the whimsical bombast of LA’s fast-rising indie-popsters, So Many Wizards.
With an energy and presence supported by a wave of faithful fans, the front rows of the room were ravenously occupied, which soon converted the rest of the crowd to follow suit. I found myself inching forward, closer and closer, even before the music started to play. The warm laughter from the five-person band was what first reeled my attention to the stage, which drowned out the sounds of glasses clanking and people chit-chatting. This was a noticeably cohesive group preparing to beat some eardrums and once they did, we were all ears and, consequently, all faithful fans too.
SMW started off as lead-singer Nima Kazerouni’s solo project which then evolved after meeting second member, drummer, Erik Felix in Long Beach two years ago. The two soon grew into an official five when Geoff Geis (bass), Frank Maston (lead guitar) and Melody Carillo (guitar) were brought alongside by Kazerouni to make the complete sound that is So Many Wizards.
When asked where their name came from, there was an air of lightheartedness as the quintessential question was prosed. “Nima really likes Harry Potter,” Felix said as the rest of the gang laughed. Their quips continued by referring Nima as their “Grand Wizard,” which felt quite fitting due to a respect amidst the band towards the man at the helm, who gratefully refers to his brood as “handsome and beautiful people.”
Their passion threads together from the individual stories that lend a distinct spirit to this diverse ensemble. One very instrumental and dramatic story is that of Nima, whose family had to flee the Iran/Iraq war when he was younger. While they journeyed from country to country and crossed through the Mexican border (not before being detained for three weeks), Los Angeles was marked as their final destination and ultimate safe place. It’s easy to see that such crazy times (or, to use his phrase, “gnarly times”) shaped Nima, and probably fueled his oft-discussed love of Don Quixote, who’s known to be full of hope and courage while being hopelessly delusional. With such familiarity, it’s no surprise the name “So Many Wizards” is more than just a fanciful phrase. It’s rooted from a an epic tale of self-discovery.
En route to further establish their name, So Many Wizards just released their first ever full-length LP, Warm Nothing. There’s a tone of humble delight when inquiring about this very big deal as we caught up after their whopping nine track set. The compilation is simply feel-good, happy and true to the band’s core—carefree and welcoming. Most importantly, it emphasizes their aim to live presently.
“It’s got a super positive message: we want you to feel good. We feel good when we play it,” says Felix. With influences ranging from early ‘60s surf pop to post-punk, all the while evoking the Shins with hints of Real Estate, SMW’s melodious reverb takes listeners to a place filled with nostalgia laced with that summery feeling that life is going well.
The charm behind Warm Nothing rests in the intertwining and balancing of dreamy innocence and intense honesty. And whether it’s by the heavy rock-pop beats or the airy pulses of electric guitar, this album succeeds by its excellent ear for arrangement and song structure. The album title describes the adoptable wonder that is So Many Wizards. “Warm Nothing is when when you get caught up and you don’t realize it’s happening and it’s like that good feeling …when you’re doing something you love,” says Kazerouni.
I asked if they could foster this type of musical profundity as long as possible, to which they answered in an volume notably high and resounding, “Yes, yes, yes. We are doing this for life.”