My Pet Dragon, a melodic-rock outfit out of Brooklyn, have been creating a buzz in the indie rock scene following the release of their second album, Mountains and Cities. Like the bands they draw influence from: Radiohead, The Flaming Lips and Smashing Pumpkins to a name a few, MPD create genre-bending music with carefully crafted melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. Heralded by Roll Magazine and Filter Magazine as well as MTV’s John Norris as a band to watch, MPD has committed to creating music that is true to themselves and accessible across a wide range of audiences. The full effect of their music can only be experienced through a live performance; whether it’s lead-singer Todd Michaelsen’s soulful crooning, Mario Padron’s The Edge-like bass riffs or Reena Shah’s awe-inspiring dance steps (an incredible asset to each live show), each of the five MPD band members transposes so much character into the music that it’s like finding a window into their souls. On the heels of the release of Mountains and Cities and with a schedule of shows across the country, My Pet Dragon stands ready to breathe fire into everyone from classic rock aficionados and indie-rockers to star-crossed lovers and hopeless romantics.
I had the opportunity to speak with MPD’s Todd Michaelsen and Reena Shah for a short interview, check it out below:
Where did the name My Pet Dragon come from?
Todd: It came from my childhood. When I was 5 or 6 years old I used to have trouble sleeping and almost every night I would take out all of my toys and stuffed animals and fight this imaginary dragon creature that appeared above my bed. The dragon was my nemesis but ‘fighting’ him always seemed to cure my insomnia and so this idea of a pet dragon always stuck out to me. I always knew that I would use it in a song or band name.
What are some of your musical influences?
T: I grew up listening to my parents’ records and it was a lot of classic rock: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, etc. But as I grew up and formed my own musical tastes I listened to a lot of 90’s alternative like Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, and Nirvana. I’m also a huge David Bowie fan; I like people that are not afraid to wear different influences on their sleeve and who are always innovating with their music. I think that’s why our music sort of samples from many genres: jazz, electronica and everything in between.
You guys have a unique aspect to your live performances with Reena’s traditional Indian dancing. How does that factor into the live show?
Reena: I’m trained in Bharata Natyam, which is a traditional Classical Indian dance form and I bring elements of that into our performances. It’s my own interpretation of the lyrics and the music. There is something fun and unique about our live performances that people really enjoy. We all bring ourselves into the music we create: energetic anthemic rock.
You two are married right? How did you guys meet?
T: I was living in Bushwick, Brooklyn and we met actually through our drummer Raj.
Todd have you drawn any influence in your songwriting from meeting Reena or being exposed to Indian culture?
T: Well, I’ve actually always been drawn to classical Indian music even before I met Reena or Raj. I’ve always been enamored by that droning, trance-like sound that’s so much a part of it. But Reena and I got engaged while we were travelling in India and for me it was a life-changing experience.
That’s really cool. I’ve always wanted to go to India, I’ve actually never been despite being of Indian descent.
T: You gotta get out there! I’m telling you, Mumbai is incredible. It makes New York City look almost boring. There’s so much to do and see there that it’s hard not to be influenced by it all.
There have been many couples in music groups together that have ended up separating for whatever reason: Jack and Meg White, Sonny and Cher, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne from Arcade Fire. Does that ever worry you and Reena?
T: Not at all. If anything I think being in a band together has strengthened our relationship. It’s the shared love of music that connects us. When I met Reena I said to her “I’m a musician through and through” and I could tell that she herself had that same artistic passion also. I think even if we weren’t married we would be creating music together; the relationship does not define our music. In fact, a lot of people don’t even realize we’re married when they see us perform.
What is MPD up to now?
T: We’re planning an entire east coast tour this winter. On November 28th we’ll be back in Brooklyn playing at Brooklyn Bowl with Red Baraat and Gato Loco in celebration of Reena’s birthday. We’re really excited about developing our live performances. I think people will get a better idea of what our music is about by seeing us live. We feel like a whole new beast after performing at so many places and it’s taking us in a whole new and exciting direction.
Where do you hope MPD will be 5 years or 10 years from now?
T: Right now we’re really hands on with everything from booking shows to getting press coverage and we want to stay 100% involved down the road. In the end, it’s all about connecting with fans and that is what is most important to us. In ten years, whether we’re still playing in clubs or bigger venues we want to keep that intimacy with our fan base; that is what drives our passion for creating music that people can love and relate to. For now, we’re just enjoying taking things day by day and we’re proud to have such awesome fans.
Be sure to catch My Pet Dragon performing tomorrow, Monday, November 28that Brooklyn Bowl with Red Baraat and Gato Loco. My Pet Dragon goes on at 8:00 PM, you can get tickets in advance on Brooklyn Bowl’s website. Doors Open at 6pm. Don’t miss out!
Watch the music video for My Pet Dragon’s hit single “Moonshine” here.
Official Website: www.mypetdragon.net