During what turned out to be the United States' final game of the World Cup earlier this year, the receptionist at Willamette Week came upstairs to pull me away from the office television. "You need to see this," she said. A pair of faceless druids sheathed in black cloaks were kneeling before the front desk, offering me a plastic light saber and a business card with the image of a medieval sword on the front and a YouTube address on the back, which led to a video of man with bulging eyes spewing fantastical sub-Tolkien nonsense. It dawned on me that I had been warned of their arrival: A few days earlier, I received an email from someone identifying themselves only as "The Messenger," who promised I would "be visited by a masked figure bearing gifts." At the time, I assumed it was spam.
A week later, another "gift" arrived in my mailbox, with the same business card taped to the envelope. Inside was a roll of film, with a $10 bill attached. Apparently, these druids had severely overestimated my amusement with gimmicky marketing shenanigans. But then, I started seeing that sword logo on fliers all over town. I began to hear rumors of these mysterious beings hosting rogue dance parties around town during MusicfestNW. Finally, Jared Mees of Tender Loving Empire clued me in: The band is from Boise, they're called Magic Sword, and they're apparently awesome. I finally looked them up. Turns out, I should've listened earlier: The two-person production crew plays epic sci-fi electro-pop that sounds something like John Carpenter producing the next Justice album, and indeed, it's pretty rad.
Tomorrow night, Magic Sword invades Portland once again, this time to play a Comic Con after party at Rotture. To try to delve further into this still-enigmatic crew, WW contributor Mark Stock—who first encountered the Sword at Boise's Treefort Festival back in March and subsequently had his wig blown back—sent a few questions to the one known as "The Keeper."
Willamette Week: Magic Sword has been described as more of a collective than a band. Are you guys creating in other mediums in addition to writing songs?
The Keeper: Music was just the beginning. Each album (or volume) will include a comic book that will tell the story of the Magic Sword.
You guys nearly blew the amps up at Treefort last spring. Are you employing some of your DJ instincts when playing live?
It's not really about reading the crowd….but trying to help them feel the story we're trying to tell. We try to create a journey rather than just a setlist of songs.
Are you still DJing?
Whenever we can find time between battles.
Are there particular musicians or other artists that have informed Magic Sword's work?
Definitely! We are heavily influenced by soundtrack musicians of the late 70s and 80s—John Carpenter, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream—but also love Judas Priest and Dio.
There's a really cool mix of high voltage electronic rock and fantasy in your forthcoming record. Are you deliberately merging these pretty distant worlds or is this simply what happens when you put the mask on?
Absolutely! To us they're not that distant. They each create a mental image of epic face melting fantasy. We get the same feeling from a Priest record as we do from a scene from The Keep. The goal was to create music that made people imagine something fantastic, like it does for us. We want people to swing an imaginary battle axe (or a real one if they have it) in their living room while listening to the record.
SEE IT: Magic Sword plays Rotture, 315 SE 3rd Ave., with Shades and Psychic Rites, on Saturday, Sept. 20. 9 pm. $5. 21+.