Yes, folks… our plucky young church-going lady who writes the “White Chicks On Rap” column has certainly been busy this week. She managed to review two of the U.K.’s hottest acts (Dub Pistols and Elbow).
Check out our interview with the Dub Pistols, courtesy of our good friends at the Planetary Group.
The Dub Pistols formed about a decade ago when Barry Ashworth got together with Jason O’Bryan in west London. Chewing up hip-hop, dub, techno, ska and punk and spitting them out in a renegade futuristic skank, the Dubs began playing full live band shows and were soon on giant US tours. In the UK they got lumped under the big beat tag alongside the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim – maintaining a rock & roll attitude to their block-rockin’ beats.
Their debut ‘Point Blank’ album led to remix work for Moby, Limp Bizkit, Crystal Method and Ian Brown, and they did a track for the Blade 2 soundtrack with Busta Rhymes.
If you’d told a 15-year-old Barry Ashworth that he’d end up in the same band as his hero Terry Hall from The Specials, he’d have laughed in your face. But with the distinctive front man now a regular vocal presence – alongside UK hip-hop hero Rodney P and wicked young US rapper T.K. Lawrence – the Pistols have cemented their line-up.
The album sees guest appearances from Terry Hall (from The Specials) who sings on the Dub Pistol’s cover of “Gangsters”, an updated of The Specials’ 1979 hit.
“You’re Never Find” is a reggae fused cover of the Lou Rawls’ song featuring rapper Rodney P.
If you are looking for a perfect song to breakdance to, then “Cruise Control” needs to be on your boombox while spinning and doing the worm on your cardboard.
“Something To Trust” is a mencing track and the closest the UK is going to get to West Coast Gangster rap.
The opening track “Speed Of Light” is a very ambient and reminds me of Moby or Groove Armada.
CWG: For a while it was very hard for a UK group to break into the US and more US music was topping the charts in the UK. The UK music scene has always been groundbreaking (trip-hop, dub, electronica, rock). Do you feel the UK still leads the way musically?
DP: I think the chart topping thing has more to do with the power of the big US labels, being able to push their records with more money, expensive videos, bribes ha-ha! And more clout, than it has to do with style or being ground breaking.
I’m not sure the U.K leads the way, more goes its own way. The UK has always had a reputation for experimenting with different styles and seeing what comes out and I think that is to do with the many different cultures that run through our country..
But I also hear brilliant music coming from all over the place now and maybe that’s because of the Internet.
CWG: For a good 3/4 years the UK & US scene was filled with pop singers, boy bands and girl groups. Rock is starting to make a comeback. Why do you think that is?
DP: Again I think technology; people don’t have to listen to just 2 or 3 radio stations dictating what you have to hear through their cheesy play list.
Now, via Internet and digital stations, the choice is massive and the people have voted.
CWG: In the UK you were lumped with the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim. How did you feel about that and did you think it was fair?
DP: The Chemical Bros. had a massive influence on us way back and our first album was a lot more breaks/electronic lead so I know where that came from, but after that we really changed our style, but it has taken a long time to shake off tag!
Even though our last 2 albums have been totally different
CWG: 9/11 was such a major worldwide event, why do you think musically it was not really discussed? Did the events of 7/7/05 inspire you musically?
DP: I guess people were so deeply affected by the events of that day that
a. they don’t want to write about it and
b. people don’t particularly want to be reminded of it through music.
A lot of songs that we recorded for our second album ‘Six Million Ways To Live’ were misunderstood as being about 911 when they were in fact written years before. I think after that album we decided to try and put a bit more fun in the music. I think everyone needed cheering up.
CWG: You got to work with your idol, Terry Hall, who else would you love to work with?
DP: To many to name but here we go: Roots Manuva, Suggs, Noel Gallagher, Mick Jones, Ian Brown, Sizzla, Sia.
CWG: Rap is seen as an American style of music. What does rap mean to you and how does rap translate in the UK? In the US, you have East Coast, West, Coast, Southern, gangster. Do you think the UK rap scene will translate outside of the UK?
I don’t follow US rap music particularly closely, and I have no interest in the ‘rap’ music that is pushed by major labels, all about bling with foolish lyrics and ridiculous videos, I understand that that music is just a commodity in the same sense that boy bands and pop idols are.
Hip hop originally was an art form, and rap just an element of a bigger picture involving graffiti and break dancing, That is completely lost in translation now.
I think UK hip hop however, is in a really healthy state as it has retained the original spirit of the genre and reflects a reality that people can relate to. UK artists tend to talk about how their life actually is rather than pretending to be something they are not.
As to whether the UK sound should translate outside of the UK?,
I don’t see why not, as long a people are open-minded I’m sure they will find things that they like about the scene and artists the can get into. I recommend you start with Rodney P, Roots Manuva and Skinnyman and see how you get on….
CWG: What is your process when remixing a song?
DP: When remixing, we try to work with artist we can relate to. It is very difficult to remix something you don’t like and utterly pointless, as you end up with two versions of a song you don’t like!
We use the elements we like, basically, and replace the others. One of our remixes I was most proud of was of Ian Browns ‘Dolphins were Monkeys’, it was one of those tracks where everything just came together naturally.
If you happen to be across the pond in the next few months, go and check the Dub Pistols out in person!
European Tour Dates:
Apr 25 2008 – Club Vinyl (TBC) Warsaw
Apr 26 2008 – Krakow (DJ Show) Krakow
May 4 2008 – Black Rabbit (Dj show) London, South
May 7 2008 – The Pussy Parlour (Dj Show) Brighton
May 9 2008 – Stir @ Heaven (Dj Show feat Rodney P) London
May 23 2008 – ATM Festival (Live show) Marselle
May 24 2008 – Spring7 Festival (full live Show) Austria
May 31 2008 – Refract Festival (Live Show) Belgrade
Jun 1 2008 – Sunrise Festival Bristol
Jun 6 2008 – Swindon (Full Live Show) Swindon
Jun 6 2008 – Coalition (Live show) Brighton
Jun 7 2008 – Flylife (Dj show feat Rodney P) Birmingham
Jun 8 2008 – Rockness (Dj Show) Inverness
Jun 11 2008 – Supercharged @ Audio (DJ Show) Brighton
Jun 20 2008 – Revolution Bar Milton Keynes
Jun 21 2008 – Sphink (Barry Ashworth Dj Show) Sopot
Jun 27 2008 – Glatonbury (Dj show with Barry ashworth & Rodney P) Sommerset, Southwest
Jul 4 2008 – Montendre Festival (Live show) Montendre
Jul 5 2008 – Solidays (Live Show) Paris
Jul 6 2008 – Beatherder Festival (Live) Leeds
Jul 11 2008 – Moho (Live show) Manchester
Jul 12 2008 – Lounge on the farm festival Canterbury
Jul 13 2008 – Rise Festival (Live Show Feat Terry Hall & Rodney P) London
Jul 19 2008 – Camp Bestival (Dj soundsytem show) Poole, Southwest
Jul 20 2008 – The Glade Festival Bristol, Southwest
Jul 23 2008 – Cannes (Dj Show feat Rodney P) Cannes
Jul 25 2008 – Iron Works (Live Show) Inverness
Jul 26 2008 – Wickerman Festival (Live) Scotland
Aug 1 2008 – Reggae Ska festival Paris
Aug 2 2008 – Diverse Festival (Live show) Poland
Aug 9 2008 – Mr C’s Club (Live Show) `Dorset, Southwest
Aug 14 2008 – Super Bock Surf Festival (Live Show) Sarges
Aug 16 2008 – V Festival (Barry Ashworth Dj show) Chelmsford
Sep 27 2008 – Costas De Musicas Festival (Live Show) Lanzarote