Belle and the Dragon couldn’t capture that John Travolta magic.
Belle and the Dragon’s new video “Trees,” shot in Barrio Logan, evolved from the confluence of two situations: An inability to emulate John Travolta’s swagger; and a lust for the perfect vegan taco.
“Originally I wanted to steal the opening scene from Saturday Night Fever,” explains guitarist/vocalist Sameer Bhattacharya, “but after trying to edit the footage together realized I wasn’t going to capture that magic. Then one night I was running the song through my head and I saw it like a kaleidoscope and was immediately inspired.”
As for the perfect vegan taco?
“While we were recording [album] Birthrights in April 2019, I was asking [drummer] Noah “Wuv” Bernard where to find some killer vegan tacos, and he introduced me to Salud! in Barrio Logan. I fell in love with the neighborhood. The art, the vibe, the low-riders driving by. All the colors come together into something dynamic and alive.”
Bhattacharya, longtime resident of Encinitas and veteran of the bands Flyleaf and P.O.D., put Belle and the Dragon together using Wuv, from P.O.D., and Flyleaf bassist Pat Seals. Dave Hidek signed on as producer and they cut the debut album at Professor Bombay Sound.
The band name, explains Bhattacharya, “comes from the Book of Daniel, chapter 14, where Daniel debunks the two Babylonian gods, Bel and the giant serpent who they called a dragon, using practical means. Daniel didn’t need any supernatural influence to aid in his investigation. I love that.”
Of course, by that point, he was a longtime veteran of San Diego playing. “It was surreal, when Flyleaf was co-headlining with P.O.D. at the House Of Blues. I remember the show itself being great, but since we had just played L.A. the night before and I was living in Studio City I decided to drive instead of stay on the tour bus.”
“What a mistake. I got caught in traffic and caused us to miss out on a proper soundcheck and the tension that had been building all tour snapped. It was the best, worst, and oddest experience rolled into one day.”
And in better days, he took to the ocean as well. “Shiprocked is a cruise full of rock bands. It’s a lot of fun for us in the touring world because it’s like a family reunion. A lot of bands we play with at the big festivals.”
“I was fortunate enough to play it in 2018 with P.O.D. Wuv was already booked for Shiprocked as a Stowaway (a group of incredible musicians from established bands who get together to become the coolest cover band ever). We were all able to play with the Stowaways and do a Belle and the Dragon set. It was serendipitous, because Stowaways needed more players and Belle and the Dragon got to play on the ship.”
The virus situation hit him as hard as anyone else, although he avows: “Since the quarantine I’ve been organizing the studio, reorganizing the studio, writing new songs, and going live on Facebook every Friday at noon.”
And future plans?
“California says no concerts until 2021, so next year there will be new tours and a new album.”