1 August 2021

The Drawtones Interview

Keyboardist Rod Pooley (pictured above, right) answers questions about his band The Drawtones and working with Jim Mullen.

How did you first get into playing music?

As a young kid growing up, my parents had a gramophone player. My favourite track that they regularly played was Swinging Safari – Burt Kaempfert. Apparently I used to dance around the living room to this. I had two elder brothers and Mum was a housewife at that time seeking a hobby she could do at home. When I was 7, Dad bought Mum a spinet Farfisa Organ. I used to always climb on the bench and play it. My parents saw there was a love of music within me, packed me off to lessons and the rest went from there.

I started on organ first, then aged 10 started piano lessons with a London jazz pianist James Fagg. I studied both instruments right into my later teens achieving a performance diploma on organ aged 17.

I entered four national organ competitions and won them all, the most coveted being the Yamaha Electone Festival in 1988, aged 21 held at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, London. This was hosted by the late Richard Baker (BBC News, Friday Night is Music Night. Radio 2).

What music inspires you the most?

I listen to lots of great music past and present. The majority of my collection consists of jazz, soul, funk and some classical. Artists who have inspired me the most include Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Joey De Francesco, Cory Henry, George Duke, Grover Washington Jnr, George Benson and my hero Stevie Wonder.

How did you deal with lockdown and the pandemic?

The past 18 months during lockdown and the pandemic has felt like a holiday without choice to be perfectly honest.

Luckily for me I do have other revenue streams away from actual gigging. These include software writing for Yamaha TRX keyboard and organ systems. This could still be done from home and sent via USB on the PC.

Also several years ago I composed 160 piano compositions which sit on 2 music libraries. These are sold worldwide to TV, radio and ad companies which bring in royalties every 3 months via PRS.

Other than those the odd self employment grant has kept me financially okay I’m pleased to say. Great to finally be back on stage this week at The Pheasantry, Chelsea with my Hammond Jazz and Funk Groove Band “The Drawtones”.

What was it like working with Jim Mullen?

We recorded our new 5 track album Groovin’ Magic featuring Jim Mullen early June at Derek Nash’s Clowns Pocket Recording Studio, Bexley.

The day session with Jim was an honour and a privilege. It’s no wonder Jim has achieved so much. His vast experience, and flawless musicality was clear to witness within minutes of the session beginning. Annoyingly he just didn’t have any retakes all day, just an amazing musician and a true gentleman.

What other projects are you working on, outside of The Drawtones?

During lockdown I reformed, mainly by zoom meetings, the previous function band “Dirty Martini” I used to play with before The Drawtones.

The vocalist from the function band and I came up with the plan to have an extra special addition to the portfolio and formed alongside Dirty Martini and The Drawtones the new Damien Knight Acoustic Quartet.

This as I say is extra special because the double bass player Simon Thorpe and drummer Clark Tracey who make up the rhythm section along with myself on piano are both British Jazz Award winners on numerous occasions.

The front man Damien Knight is an exceptional Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett style classic crooner.

The Acoustic Quartet has its launch concert on Saturday 30th October 2021 at The Birley Centre, Eastbourne.

What plans do you have for the future?

Our plans for the immediate future are setting up some Groovin’ Magic album launch shows with Jim Mullen. The first of these has now been confirmed. This will be part of the Rye International Jazz and Blues Festival on Sunday 29th August 2021.

Other future plans apart from the acoustic quartet launch in October is also a new album with the acoustic quartet plus Dennis Rollins, trombone and Martin Shaw, trumpet planned for the end of 2021.

To follow The Drawtones visit their website: https://thedrawtones.co.uk/

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