Bradley Pockets isn’t just Armani White’s drummer of five years; he’s the heartbeat of the “Billie Eilish” rapper’s live show. Not only have they built a bond that sees White respecting Pockets’ family time, but they’ve both had other artists, like Jessie Reyez, treat them like family on tour as well.
“After the shows, we’re back in the green room. If we have a chance, we’re all playing Uno together or doing impromptu jam sessions. We did hot yoga with Jessie one morning in Minneapolis before our show,” Pockets tells REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Armani White’s drummer explains how “Billie Eilish” leveled up his entire show at Made in America, how they built a bond on the road, and how White didn’t let a Dubai trip stop him from attending Pockets’ wedding. Read the exclusive conversation below.
What was your first show drumming for Armani White?
The very first show that I did with Armani was a show we did on the 4th of July in 2018. It was down the Parkway. I met Armani at Firefly [Festival] about two days before that. We just vibed, and he hit me up saying, “I’m doing this show. Are you interested?” I had listened to a couple of songs of his, and then we went out to the show, and we just vibed. It was great energy, and his stage performance was like no other. So I’ve been a fan since the first day we performed.
When was the first time you, Armani, and everyone got your live performance down?
We recently came off tour with Jessie Reyez in October. We were working out the kinks. But the show where we had it down was Made in America last year. He brought out the air mattress and crowd-surfed on it. I don’t know if you all saw that. The crowd loved it. It was planned for the air mattress to come back onstage, but that didn’t happen (laughs). The crowd took the air mattress.
“The Yessie Tour” was the first trek you did with Armani from start to finish as an opener. What did you learn from that experience?
I learned a lot. The one thing you learn about touring is how to be a team player because at the end of the day, this is Jessie’s tour, so it’s not our show. However, we’re also essential to getting the crowd hyped for her. So, I learned about that and built relationships with the artists, tour managers, lighting techs, and sound guys. That’s because this is a small industry, and who knows? If you come across good people, they can eventually be on your team. Traveling from city to city makes you realize you don’t really get to enjoy the cities. By the time you get there, you go to the hotels, rest up, perform, and then after the show, you mingle for a little bit. Then, you’re right back on the road.
How did those experiences bring you closer to Armani?
Man, us being stuck in the Sprinter Van driving across the states and planning for the future builds bonds better. We all talk about our individual goals, where we see ourselves in music, and how we can help each other get there. We play Uno together. We have fun and kick it. It’s a brotherhood.
Was there anything you had to adapt to onstage specifically?
Jessie has a lot of stage design and props. All venues aren’t created equally. So, some venues are bigger; some venues are smaller. You must still pick your spot at smaller venues because her props are still going onstage. You have to figure out how to adjust where you’re not compromising their set and, at the same time, you’re still giving your all for your performance.
As a drummer, how do you make his records sound different live?
For the most part, for drums, you want to do what you can to keep the record’s authenticity. But you want to make it live and put your own flavor on it. So, what we do is figure that out during practice. We’ll figure out what songs we will use for the set, and then we’ll figure it out. This part may drop the beat, so I must do a drum solo hit. Or if a song is mellow, we’ll just lay back; we’re not going to play too heavy on this. It’s all about learning how to keep the authenticity of the music but, at the same time, still making it live and carrying energy. The drums are the heartbeat.
On Jessie’s tour, what was the camaraderie like between the two camps?
Jessie makes you feel like family. Her whole team is family. After the shows, we’re back in the green room. If we have a chance, we’re all playing Uno together or doing impromptu jam sessions. We did hot yoga with Jessie one morning in Minneapolis before our show. Their team took a liking to us — as we did to them. We built a bond.
That sounds like her team had your backs.
One time, we were in LA and had to adapt to having multiple bookings in a day. We had a show in San Diego that we had to be at soundcheck for around seven, but we also had to tape for a performance on “The Jimmy Kimmel Show.” If I’m not mistaken, we drove from Arizona to LA, went to rehearsal that morning, then, later that afternoon, we did the taping. That evening we had the show in San Diego. Remember when I said that Jessie’s team treated us like family? Since we were doing “Kimmel,” we missed the soundcheck, but Chino [de Villa], Jessie’s drummer, did the soundcheck for me and set the drums up and everything for me. By the time we left the taping, we literally got to the show in San Diego right when we came onstage. We felt like rock stars. We were speeding from LA to San Diego, hopping out of the car, jumping right onstage, and getting right to it. And that was one of our best shows in my opinion.
Five months before you hit the road with Jessie, Armani White dropped his breakout single, “Billie Eilish.” How did that song change his show?
It changed everything. That’s the song everyone is waiting on. At shows, we tease it as the intro, cut it, and go straight into the set. Everybody gets amped, and then we bring it back later down the line. “Billie Eilish” alone has changed everything. Before the song, we did Made in America in 2018, but we performed around noon. After “Billie Eilish,” we got a later slot and bigger stage at Made in America. The crazy thing about it is he got so much more coming.
You’re a father and a husband. Have you ever had to sacrifice personal life moments for the road?
Yes, you do. But our team is very accommodating, so everybody knows where I stand regarding my son and wife. If there’s a conflicting date, we work around it. For instance, I had my wedding on April 23, and Armani and the team had to go to Dubai the following day. But they came to my wedding, showed love, and flew to the spot the next day.
What do you have coming for the rest of 2023?
I will say that on Aug. 6, we will be in Montreal for Osheaga Fest. But stay tuned. This is just the beginning.