Birmingham's The Magic Math open their double EP The Magic Math Humbly Suggest Living Is A Miracle with an enticing blend of violin and acoustic guitar driven alt-country esque pop/rock. The rest of the songs that pour from the imaginations of Van Hollingsworth and company carry you on a whimsically pensive journey that leaves you completely satisfied at the end and ready to immediately give the record a few more spins.
Hollingsworth began playing guitar at the age of ten, but admitted that getting into songwriting itself was a gradual affair.
"I was writing riffs and pieces of music when I was around fourteen, but I didn't really get into putting whole songs together and stacking up a whole catalog of them until I was out of college in my mid-twenties," he said.
He attended school at Belmont University, where he first majored in musical composition. He dropped the major, but songwriting remained his passion. He continued to compose songs on guitar, but tried to build collaborative relationships with various singers. He soon decided he wanted to go solo to build the sound that he was looking for.
"I always thought I would get into something collaborative, where I would write, but I also would have a lead singer to do some of the stuff that I couldn't do really well. I got old enough to where I realized I needed to start releasing songs on my own or it wasn't going to happen. I used to not sing very much. I play guitar and wrote instrumental music, but then I added singing later. I always enjoyed singing, but I was too afraid to that in front of people. It still frightens me. Then I also got more into lyric writing. I guess that's what got me into writing stuff and putting a band together," he said.
Memorable lyrics run the gamut on the latest album, which includes song titles such as "Living Is A Miracle," "You Can't Wait" and "King of the Rock Scene." Though Hollingsworth is an accomplished guitarist and his most complicated progressions and structures come through on his instrumentals, he admits that he's still in his "pop song stage" of his career, which he believes is important to keeping the songs in the forefront of his listeners' minds.
"Catchy phrases in the lyrics is a way to not be boring, which is crucially important, I think. You want to cut through this mix of so much stuff. You gotta figure out what you want to say that's worth someone's time. That was part of the thing of growing as a songwriter," he said.
"I just had to get in touch with what works for a song, what part of the billions of thoughts that go through your mind, what are song type of thoughts and figure out how to organize them into good writing. When you're into songwriting, that's what you try to figure out," he continued.
According to Hollingsworth, the band's name dates back to the Paleolithic era and the ancient study of the rhythms and complexities of music.
"It is magical because studying it is very alchemical and it was unlocking this mystery to the complexities of human emotion. To learn how to be the master of music you have to learn how to be the master of a person's feelings. The whole spirit of a crowd of people in a room, which is a really powerful thing. Music is like this mysterious force and you can study it and there are certain rules, but it's not all rules. It's also powerful and mysterious and learning to control it is a magical math," he said.
2012 will see Hollingsworth venturing into new musical territory with each recording. He hopes to continue making music that pushes the boundaries.
"I want to have a different style each time. I can already do that because I have such a large back catalog of songs that don't necessarily fit on that album I just put out, but I brought together songs that I thought would go together on an album. It will sound like another band with a different style and marketing concept and a new direction with each album," he said.
The Magic Math will be playing at Parkside Cafe with Nashville's Humming House on Monday, March 19th. The band will then embark on short tour that will include stops in Atlanta, Auburn, Tuscaloosa and Chatanooga. For more information, become a fan of the band at www.facebook.com/themagicmath or www.themagicmath.com.