Bands You Should Know: DRGN KING (Exclusive Interview)

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Flashback to CMJ Music Marathon 2014!! Check out Part 1 of my interview with Dominic Angelella of Philly band, DRGN KING. We met up at Rough Trade NYC before trekking down to Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg for Jamaican Jerk Wings, Lagunitas IPA, and gum-flapping fun in support of DRGN KING’s new record, Baltimore Crush:

The Eargazm: So first things first. Can you give me your name and your hometown and where your involvement in DRGN KING came from? I know you’re a founding member of DRGN KING. What would you say is your part of DRGN KING?

Dominic Angelella: Well, I’m Dominic Angelella. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland; I currently live in Philadelphia. I started DRGN KING when my friend Brent Reynolds, he’s like a hip-hop producer and this experimental producer guy, and we met I guess four years ago, maybe a little bit longer than that, and I’ve been kind of playing with a bunch of different bands, like a sideman and songwriter and stuff like that, and we really clicked and started making music together. So I went over to his studio and ended up being over there a couple times a week and then we started a band. So it was like it started off very experimental; we’re just trying out new stuff —

ZB: Wasn’t it like six months from when you guys first linked up, so when you guys really started laying down stuff?

Dom: Oh yeah, we probably started making music about five years ago, and the first year was just like throwing shit against the wall to see what worked. And then probably about four years ago is when we started releasing music. So it was a slow process, but it was like that was when we decided we were ready to just start putting out songs and stuff like that, so the first year was pretty like, just, you know.

ZB: So your sophomore album Baltimore Crush is out.

Dom: Yeah.

ZB: What can we all expect from the record? I’ve heard the record but this is for ‘the people’. Have you been keeping the songs kind of close or do you guys play them in gigs?

Dom: We play them all the time. This record was kind of fleshed out live. Like by the time–our last record came out in early 2013, we’re already playing songs from this record at that time. So the recordings were sort of informed by live performance, a lot more than the first record. The first record is like a studio project, but this one was we had a band, we were going out and playing these songs and changing them and then bringing them to the studio, so people that play heard a lot of these before.

ZB: So what’s changed since your debut, Paragraph Nights? What’s stayed the same? What I mean to say by that is: what bits of that record are ingrained in what you guys do as a band?

Dom: Well, I mean before Paragraph Nights, I was in a lot of just like straight rock bands, and so there are elements of that in that record especially songs like “Holy Ghost” and other ones, and so when we started touring, I mean it made sense to me to just do like a straight-up guitar-bass-drums lineup, even though that was different than the record, and so this one’s a little bit closer to the live thing than the last one was. Also, this one was kind of written with an overarching concept in mind, whereas the last one was sort of just a group of songs. This one is really all the songs are about the same thing basically.

ZB: You just answered another one of my questions.

Dom: What was that?

ZB: Later I was going to ask you that for me, that description of the record kind of the idea would be about nostalgia, about time traveling, about being disenfranchised youth, really informed my enjoyment of it. I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the record as–no, I probably would have enjoyed it in a different way had I not known that prior.

Dom: Sure. Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it and that’s the purpose.

ZB: So my question was going to be did you always intend for the record to be about those themes, or was that the through-line that you saw through all the songs you put together?

Dom: When we were putting out Paragraph Nights, I sort of had a bunch of these songs as I was realizing that they were all about the same thing, and so I was just kind of, Well, let me just finish a couple more that are about this and try and tell some kind of story.

Dom and company were fantastic to speak to. Part 2 will be published this Monday, and we’ll delve deeper into the influence of Philly DIY, the CMJ Experience, and how the Perry Shall album artwork came to be. Enjoy The Eargazm!

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