I continue to find great music in the strangest of places. Valentine’s Day, myself and Mrs McCready are enjoying a romantic meal. She asks to listen to Jamie Cullum on BBC Radio 2. Cullum is on the approved list of people that get on my nerves. Nevertheless, I hear 35 Degrees by Pocket Dragon, which was a blast of sunshine on a cold night. I slowly become obsessed with their music and set up an interview.
Two hundred miles south, their bass player Philip hears his own band on the radio in the exact same way. This self-styled ‘gangster funk’ band have attitude, humour and laid back grooves. The other members are Callum (drums) Mikayl (guitar) Emma (vocals) Tomaz (keys) and occasional member Drew (guitar). I talked to Philip about the band via email.
Why Pocket Dragon?
Callum came up with the name. In his friendship group they used to call a lighter a pocket dragon. Perfect little name for a band! I’m dreaming of the day that we get our own Pocket Dragon lighters as merchandise. It’s hard to do that without promoting smoking as well though…
Where did the band meet?
So we all met at music academy in Surrey, except for Tomasz, who joined at a later stage. Some of us played together quite a bit in various bands and projects, but Pocket Dragon wasn’t formed until after we graduated.
Listening back to our first EP, you can clearly hear (at least I think so) that we just finished music school. Very muso music; we put in a lot of chops and licks, sometimes sounding more like a virtuoso fusion band! I mean I like that, but we’re starting to find our sound a bit more now with this second EP. It’s more about the songs, melodies and grooves than the jazz licks, which gives more meaning to the music.
I sense a lot of sadness in that. Is the band’s metaphorical glass half empty or half full?
We all went to music college (voluntarily), so if you’re asking whether we’re positive or negative about learning how to play music, definitely glass half full. If we were glass half empty we’d all be doing something else than music. I guess that goes for most people though.
If the band were a season, what would they be?
We wrote a song with the lyrics ‘Snowflakes in April’, about someone who was at a pivotal point in her life and times were changing. Those words kind of fall in between Winter and Spring don’t they? Living in England, I think most people feel like Winter folks of course. If we could choose though, we’d love to be Summer, haha! Playing festivals in the Caribbean, getting people to somehow dance to Jazz Fusion. Perfect.
So, are Pocket Dragon a jazz band, a funk band or a jazz funk band?
Well, the Jazz genre encompasses such a wide array of music that it gets hard to narrow it down these days. Our music is a mixture of weird soul, jazz and funk. We like to introduce ourselves as a gangster funk band. I can’t quite remember where it came from; we probably thought we were a lot cooler than we actually were.
And what are your plans for the rest of the year?
We want to play some more jazz festivals. If you know anyone that needs a gangster funk band for their festival line up, hit me up! We’d also love to do a small UK tour at some point.
Ok, so that’s all clarified for the readers of Stereo Stickman. Pocket Dragon are optimists, developing their sound. Perfect for a romantic dinner or a sunny day. They are a big band, with a warm sound. Unlike most dragons, you’ll hear them roar loudly and proudly in 2017.