If you walk the streets of Denver on a day-to-day basis, it’s likely you have come in contact with Sour Magic, or Denver’s self-appointed “best-kept secret.” Either through sticker art, a poster or by chance meeting one of the five local band members, it’s likely you have been touched by Sour Magic.
At the heart of the band is Jay Waldrop, a passionate drummer who decided he wanted to make his own band and spread his creative energy. Through online postings, Waldrop found Drew Morse, a spunky bass player from Kansas City; Jonny Nasi, a reserved yet fervent keys player from Michigan; Mauro Hernandez; an impassioned guitar player from Venezuela and Kyle Osmun, an animated vocalist from New York. Despite hailing from all over the country, Denver holds a special place in Sour Magic’s heart. Each member discussed Denver as a chosen home and, similarly, the band as a chosen family. All have lived with music in their life, whether that be trombone in 5th grade, singing in theater shows, learning guitar from dad or just letting the revolutionary sounds of the past few decades wash over their minds.
Waldrop tentatively dubbed the group an indie psychedelic band. “We are still finding our sound, still looking,” he said, his bandmates nodding in agreement. With a wide spectrum of inspiration from Radiohead, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Herbie Hancock, Surfer Blood, Gorillaz, Tame Impala, The Strokes and even Red Hot Chili Peppers, each sound the band creates is as unique as the people behind it.
Though they specified Sour Magic is “not a jam band,” each song should certainly be classified as a jam. The chemistry between the members and their instruments is felt with each sound the group produces. At live shows or listening at home, you will find yourself tapping your feet and humming along to the complex melodies. For Sour Magic, no genre is off limits: the true passion of each and every member is the music itself.
“Music is how I’m feeling — I’m transferring emotions and thoughts into music,” Waldrop said. Hernandez commented on the ways that music can connect you with someone who is no longer in your life and even compared it to a form of time travel. “I was learning a George Harrison song recently and it felt like my dad was right there with me,” he said.
Osmun described “acting on instinct” or as a “vessel” for the music. “That feeling is the dragon. You’re chasing the dragon. You’re chasing that every time you go to write another song or perform.” This passion for the very idea of music translates into turbulent and emotion-filled songs.
Another core value of the band is creating a judgment-free ethos. Each member described their past performances as full of love, dancing and fun. The group desires to allow each listener to “do their own thing” and experience the magic being created through sound.
No idea is deemed too outrageous to at least be discussed by the band. They joked about the energy of “Sour Magic” existing at an earlier time and place and then reincarnating in their current physical forms. Despite smiles and laughs, it was clear that the weight of the concept was respected. “It gives us a good gateway into the brewery/sour candy industry,” Morse joked.
With a combo of level heads and enthusiasm, the band tries to achieve attainable goals and feels they have continually been able to do so. “The sky is the limit,” Waldrop said with a grin. All members of the group would love to commit to music as a full-time gig and hope that in the future their dream may come true. And they’re not slowing down the dream. Within the next year, Sour Magic will contribute to a collaborative vinyl that will donate all profits to charity alongside other bands. In addition, there is an album on the way, singles in the production stages to be released in December and music videos in production. Be sure to look out for Sour Magic at local venues for an evening of unfiltered expression.
All photography by Julia vonDreele