The Magaus have achieved a sound that is so hard to achieve in the modern age. A musical identity that breaks the mold of the modern boundaries and shows that there are no limitations to songwriting. This band has taken a set of ideas and gave them a modern twist to provide us with a decorative and long-lasting artistic display. The bands latest single "Seaglass and Springsteen" showcases this perfectly and The Magaus are a band that you absolutely need to invest your time into.
Band Members – Erik Miller (Vox), Matthew Jenkins (Guitar), Daulton Rissinger (Guitar), Luke Prusinski (Bass), and Brandon Ossont (Drums)
Your sound has really evolved since forming into a much more uniformed punk rock approach. How have you intentively challenged your genre approach? Was this a purposeful action to move into new territory or was it a natural change?
Matt– I feel like it was a very natural transition into our new sound as a band. Our previous and first EP “Good Beer” was a combination of many old ideas throughout the years, and wasn’t a very cohesive project in terms of genre. With our upcoming EP “One of Us is Lying, we were able to take our time and really hone in our sound as The Maguas.
Tell me about your latest single “Seaglass and Springsteen “? How was the recording and writing process? Where does the lyrical inspiration come from specifically?
Brandon – The writing of Seaglass and Springsteen was a very organic process. The original demo version was truthfully a simple acoustic track that relied heavily on Erik’s raw vocal power. However, once we sat down with Nik at The LumberYard, he was able to work the entire band into the mix and create a very beautiful, dynamic piece that still allowed for Erik’s vocals to shine. Oftentimes when I’m writing lyrics, I find myself writing around one particular line or phrase. That line serves as my inspiration for creating a story for listeners to experience and interpret. In this case, most of the lyrics were worked around the title phrase “Seaglass and Springsteen”, and relied both on anecdotal and fantasized experience. We definitely take a lot of pride in our lyrical storytelling and feel it has really shined through on this new EP.
Is the new single a good taste of a new era for the band? How do you feel the new music reflects the current state of the band? Are the lyrics becoming more personal? Is a new musical direction forming naturally in terms of the band being a more cohesive unit than ever?
Daulton – I think that our music is never very stagnant. We’re constantly evolving in our sound and I think our new music reflects that. I don’t know if it reflects what our future music will sound like only because we tend to write how we feel at the moment. This EP has so many different vibes and that reflects our writing style. We’re very open to how we approach writing and I don’t think we ever want to back ourselves in a corner and write what we think our songs should sound like. We just want to write what we think is good music.
The band has also seen steady success and a growing fan base since forming, why do you think this is? What is it about your sound that captivates new listeners?
Matt– Absolutely. I think it really comes down to constantly engaging with the fans while creating new music and content. I also think the new music is a lot more powerful and deeper lyrically than most of our previous songs, which is making a bigger impact overall with our audience.
Daulton – I think we’ve made a deliberate attempt to use a variety of avenues when it comes to building a fanbase. Not only do we look at ways to find potential fans, but as Matt said, we really make sure we engage with the fans we have already. And it’s truly amazing to watch our music have such a deep emotional connection to the fans we have. We try to write music that is meaningful to us and powerful to us and it’s very fulfilling to see our fans respond with such emotion back.
Erik – Truthfully it’s just a lot of hard work. Aside from our music, there is a ton of brainstorming and, more importantly, eventual action behind the scenes that got us to where we are now and will get us to where we want to be. Brandon takes the reins on the behind the scenes for the most part. He’s an absolute workhorse and I couldn’t be more thankful for all he does for this band. You can’t just throw music up and hope something happens, and we try our best to come up with unique and efficient ideas, and then put in the work to make it happen.
What is your biggest problem with the music industry?
Brandon – I truly believe the music industry has come a long way, especially for making things more accessible to independent and up and coming artists. The ability to upload your music to something like Spotify and potentially have your music placed in front of millions of listeners is something that I truly value. However, the world of streaming can be a confusing and tricky place, and there are certainly still people in the “industry” who target those young and hungry artists in order to try and make a quick buck.
Brandon – My advice to those up and coming artists looking to grow on Spotify would be to invest in music marketing courses and understand the industry more prior to your release, rather than invest in a sketchy “quick streams” scheme.
Brandon– We’ve been very fortunate to find some diamonds in the rough along the way who truly provided valuable insight to us about the world of streaming. I highly recommend checking out services like Band Builder Academy or Simple to help get you started on the path to success!
How do you measure success in the band? Do you feel some new bands can have achievements in mind that are generally just unrealistic and lose track of themselves in the early days? How do you keep your goals realistic and achievable?
Luke – I think the goals we set as a group are more personal than anything else. Of course, we have lofty dreams of where we’d like to be, but I think we do a good job of having measured expectations. When everyone gets together to write a song or release a work we all have our individual expectations of where we think it should go and how we should market it. I think we set a bar that’s attainable and keep asking, “okay now what’s next?” Instead of just wishing for a song to blow up. The only thing we can do is keep on track with the music we want to write and the interaction we’d like to have with the media and continuously push ourselves to make more opportunities happen.
Have you ever found it challenging to improve upon the last release? Do you find it tough criticizing your own work and stripping it down for constructive criticism?
Matt – So far, with our upcoming second EP, I feel like we’ve improved greatly from our last release. Thanks to the Lumberyard and our producer/engineer Nik Bruzzese of ‘Man Overboard”, we were able to make something that I personally am super proud of. However, our next EP’s to come following “One of Us is Lying” are going to be more challenging to match. My goal is that for every upcoming album, we can bring something new and fresh to our sound, while still embodying the soul of The Maguas that people have come to love and enjoy.
Luke – Criticism is one of the first things I go to when we write. Obviously I enjoy the music we create, so I’d rather spend my time critiquing the songs and trying to make them even better instead of sitting around saying everything is amazing. One of the most enjoyable parts of creating something is being able to look at it and say “okay now let’s make this even better” and music is one of those areas that I believe rewards that innovation and creativity.
When did you first become engrossed and committed to music?
Matt– I fell in love with rock music in my early teens, and ever since then, I knew I wanted to be in a band and create music.
Daulton – From a young age, I always had a love for music. My parents bought me toy drums and guitar at like 3 years old and I haven’t slowed down since. When I was about 9 or 10, I started to take lessons and from there it became an obsession. Fun fact – luke, Matt, and I all took lessons off of the same teacher. Shout-out Johnny Yzkanin.
Luke – I was wrapped up in music with my first CD. My grandfather gave me a copy of Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons and I spent every subsequent car ride singing candy girl with my tiny 5-year-old voice. I absolutely adored singing and music became a huge part of who I am as a person. I sang in choirs all throughout grade school and took private vocal lessons in high school. I have a naturally high voice and I always coveted the booming lower registers other guys had, so I took up the bass guitar to get that low end.
Brandon – When I was a kid, I used to sneak into my brother’s room and play an old, broken snare drum under his bed that he had gotten from our grandfather. My grandfather was an excellent drummer even well into his 70’s! I inherited his kit in the 6th grade and restored it back in 2018 prior to the band forming. I spent many years learning songs by ear and developing my own style, mostly inspired by Jake Bundrick of Mayday Parade. I was also involved in the school orchestral band in grade school and later played percussion for the St. Joseph’s University chapel choir while in college. Music has always been a huge part of my life, but once The Maguas formed it became much more of my identity.
Erik – my entire family is into music in one way or another. My mother is a music teacher, my great grandfather was a musician, my grandfather, uncle, cousins, my dad was a musician… the list goes on. I’ve always been around it and I’ve always loved it. I started with piano lessons when I was really young, maybe 6 or so. I eventually stopped and then picked it back up in middle school with the band. Throughout the years I played trumpet, drums/percussion, the tuba, and eventually, I sang in the choir as well. Drums were always my main instrument and singing was the only thing I took lessons for regularly (with luke and because of luke actually). I just kept singing ever since and now that’s my role as a member of the Maguas.
What is the future of independent music do you feel, is the major market taking over again, or will D.I.Y ethics remain as strong as they are now?
Matt – I think D.I.Y is becoming more and more popular as the years go on. All the tools necessary to produce and release an album are so easily accessible, that it’s inevitable that the D.I.Y mentality will continue to grow and thrive. Especially with the easy access to distributors such as Distrokid, basically anyone can upload something to a platform like Spotify or Apple music without the help of any independent or major labels, which is really exciting for the independent musician.
You can travel back in time to catch any gig, where are you going and why?
Matt– MTV’s Nirvana Unplugged show, because it seemed like such a surreal night, and it’s one of my favorite concerts to watch from start to finish.
Luke – Rush’s a farewell to Kings tour. I would kill to hear Geddy in his prime.
Daulton – I could name about a thousand, but two stand out in my mind. The AC/DC and Metallica show in Moscow in 1991. That many fans and the magnitude of that show was just on a different level. The other show is any of the shows that Judas Priest and Iron Maiden played together back in 1982. I watched the taped priest performance over and over again as a kid and it would be so cool to actually see it live.
Brandon – I would love to travel back to the years of Warped Tour. Growing up and seeing all of those bands on one day a year was something to behold and I wish we were able to live that time over again. I would’ve also loved to have had The Maguas play a run of Warped Tour. Hopefully, something similar rises from the ashes someday!
Are there any plans for more new music this year and how do you plan to evolve as a band?
Matt – We’re always writing new music, and have tons of new songs already in the works planned for our new projects after “One of us is Lying”. Be on the lookout, there may be even something coming soon after the EP is out.
Daulton – we’re constantly writing and we’re always looking to make new music. We always have plans for the future, but why ruin all the fun surprises. I guess you’ll have to stick around and follow along!
Who do you consider your contemporaries and what do you do differently to set yourself apart from them?
Brandon – We often market our music for fans of bands like Jimmy Eat World, My Chemical Romance, Rise Against, and Bayside, especially when it comes to our more “anthemic emo rock” style songs. I think when you look at that list of bands, each has its own distinct sound that separates them from other artists. I believe in our case, the unique sound of Erik’s vocals truly sets us apart from other artists in the same genre, simply because there aren’t many people who carry the same timbre as Erik’s voice. It’s a characteristic that has truly helped define our sound and we’re very excited to explore the depths of his potential.
Interview by Rob Kent