In April 1984 after many different bands , sessions and travel I put an advert in the back of the Melody Maker music weekly the same week another ad for a drummer caught my eye.. so off I went to a big warehouse converted into a sprawling personal rehearsal space in the heart of west London where the image of Mick Jones in a crombie sitting at a piano is a memory firmly etched in my mind. I had been to quite a few auditions , I treated them as confidence boosting exercises, a way of networking and improving any chances of that elusive break, along with years of playing with reggae, funk and soul bands. I turned up and did whatever it was that was required to be asked back again, it mainly entailed jamming around with Mick and Leo and, if i remember rightly, a keyboard player. Don was not yet a member at that time and most of the audition would have been finding the groove with Leo and showing my different variations. Then I was asked back for a third time after thinking I had failed to get the job. Mick couldn’t make up his mind between me and another drummer and took me on as percussionist while we jammed and hung out for a few weeks. he then sacked the other guy (unfortunately i dont remember his name ) in front of me ,which really put me on my toes.. but the moment I had the drummers seat I knew i was there , Mick wanted me in his gang and life would never be the same again..
Another new year rolls in and we are off and running after the hibernation that is January recedes..I do value that first month in some ways, its the one time where there are no live shows, usually a few dj shows, accounts need doing, rest needs to be taken care of… sleep, that wonderful redeemer of energy. new music to be written ,remixes on the go and new projects started plus all manner of things to catch up on. It used to mean a fresh urgent start and all kinds of cunning plans hatched but now I just take it easy and make the most of a gig free diary with some creative relaxation and some quality time with a special friend… its a time to remind yourself the value of following your dreams.. some proper rest and recharge, before starting this week with a couple shows that kick the year off in an escapades style, London Jazz Cafe and Amsterdam Melkweg .
The years start has not been without mishap as another Mac crashed and died, 2 years after the last one. luckily a lot of stuff saved and reachable through target disk mode but it put a halt to some creative flow with a big transfer and rebuild with main duties for my back up Mac , the restored one from 2 years ago…! anyway Apple for life, thats how it goes, not going to change now am i.. Still it gave me chance to refresh with some new software- been having some fun with Traktor and a Nunmark 4trak mixing console, executing some little mixes and getting some vinyl sorted and recorded. Look out for some new special mixes coming this way.with plenty of gigs lined up and some interesting new things in the pipeline looks like another exciting year … Greg x
2013 – the 20th year of dreadzone… well, what a year , a new album release, a wedding , a grandson, festivals , touring, remixes, videos..it feels like its been a very special year . We got to release a single and make a video with Mick Jones finally.. played Glastonbury, Wickerman , Secret garden party and some great festivals all over , made a cool short film about our twenty year history and went out and did the Escapades tour in support of our 7th studio album. The wedding was Leo and Paprikas finally doing the deed and Spee became a grandad. It seems everyone in the dread family has had some special moments in 2013…
After a busy 2012 making the album this year has all been about the new Escapades release which has gone down so well with many people.The tour has been a great success with quite a few sellout shows. Huge love and respect to all the team- Leo, Spee, Earl, Chris, Bazil, Simon, Rob and Jack..to Tim Bran and Mick Jones, Don Letts.. big ups Seymour Milton and David Foulkes from Scratch Pictures ,all the remixers, Bazil, King Yoof ,Teddy Killerz and our own R.E.I.N…Thanks to all the promoters and supports on the tour and everyone who came along to see us.. and to all in the House of Dread,Dreadzone Facebook and Twitter, thank you for all the support… a huge amount of Life love and unity to all. We have a special connection that grows with each passing year due to the mutual support of all involved..and to the people behind the business much respect -David and Laura Farrow and Gill Ellis and all at DMF and Essential. Love to Sarah and all the lovely ladies , children and families ..merry christmas to all, see you in the new year for more Escapades..
here is a short photo collage of some moments of 2013 put together in i photo with an instrumental mix of Places:
As you might already know we released our 7th studio album in September. It’s an understatement to say I’m blown away by the fantastic response, I didn’t imagine it would be so widely well received. I am yet to really hear a negative response to this record. It seems like the only negative is when some people feel we should make more tunes in a particular style of a certain period of the band. We consciously steered clear of certain methods, samples and vocal styles, with the emphasis on coming with something new and challenging, but with a familiar progression. The key was the involvement of the main players from our 20 year history and a genuine emotion runs through the songwriting , which has taken on a maturity due to subjects close to the heart..
What makes it more complete and rewarding is to take it on the road with the Escapades tour. That kicked off in September at the Scala in London with an amazing show for an album launch. Some of the responses at the shows have been totally off the scale, its hard to choose the best out of them but we will try as we always like to highlight the outstanding ones. The new tunes are fitting in just great in the set and we are looking to add more as we continue into next year.
In other news we have completed another great collaboration with our movie making friends Scratch pictures. Not only did they make us look super cool in our Too Late video which featured Mick Jones
and then deliver us an excellent trailer for the new album-
the latest work is a comprehensive look at our 20 year history with interviews footage and music..
So pleased with the way it all came together,the interviews, editing and all the elements.. especially the ending which captured natural moments of humour, a fitting conclusion that defines what we are all about, laughing, loving the work we do and the music we play. Lots of love and respect to our new friends Seymour Milton and David Foulkes from the amazing Scratch Pictures http://www.scratchpictures.co.uk/
Some more key dates to go and then a break for Xmas and New year and then we will resume Escapades in February with more UK touring and trips to Paris and Amsterdam. If anyone is about in Edinburgh on New years then we are there with the Dreadzone Soundsystem feat myself Earl 16 and Spee for some dub wise hogmanay dancing.
thanks for reading this far..
Its been a while since my spring update ,what a great summer its been.. I’m aware that my blogs are not quite as frequent and eloquent as I would like but nevertheless there are times when I need to say something and that time is now…!
Next week we release our 7th studio album ‘Escapades’ and our 10th as Dreadzone if you include compilations and live albums.. and my 15th as an artist counting BAD and Screaming Target .
Very excited about this one in particular as it feels like one of our best and was made in the aftermath ‘rush’ of the Big Audio Dynamite reunion in 2011, so the Escapades that we set to music have a fresh sense of adventure about them. Its another step forward but I could say that about a lot of our albums, we strive to re invent ourselves with every record, couldn’t imagine going over old ground. Some of the new album will sound familiar but there will be parts that are like new members of a family that you have to get to know. Also this is an album where relationships take more of a centre stage.. if life deals you those cards you have to play the game and tell the story like you see it. We can only be honest with what we write about, Eye on the horizon was like that and this is a step on, another day, another drama.. a good, bad and dread love story..
Anyway on with the show.. This album was made in Mick Jones’ studio. We plotted up in there like the BAD story was never finally over, we played, created and even got Mick to join us on one track with Don Letts capturing lyrics for another song that only he could articulate. We were moved to write about current issues and burning concerns but wary of cliche… we want to wear our heart on our sleeve and feel no shame about being in love with the impossible.. Sometimes you have doubts but there was no hesitation in seizing the moment. With the strength of the main dread cast of players from our 20 year history we have nailed what feels like a true Dread album. Tim Bran, fellow founder co-producing, writing and playing, Leo Williams, original bassmaster general and my partner in our 3 decade strong rhythm section . Spee vocalising the best of the Roberts/Graham words and melody partnership along with Earl 16, the legendary voice giving flesh to the songs. Chris Compton with his unique guitar lines, my son Marlon with more guitar and killer keyboard licks, Lena Cullen, a new addition with the finest of female vocals and of course Mick Jones with one perfect guitar and voice, the original inspiration and root of where we have come from… this is Escapades .
Greg x Sept 13
As well as being inspired by my original band I feel passionate about them in a way that the fans do. There was always a part of Micks original blueprint running through our music and ‘Too Late’ is us manifesting it..Big Audio Dreadzone..I hope that Dread and BAD fans alike can see that and support it. .
The bright blue cloudless skies of the first week of March, like today, take me back to the same time in 1993 when we set up in a studio in Queens Park after signing our first deal with Creation as Dreadzone and set about making our first album 360.
Yes its the 20th anniversary that I’ve been reminding people about, but more so today as that start to the first album felt like year zero. I am pleased and proud that we have made it this far, intact and adventurous enough to keep pressing forward, despite our many ups and downs, with our eye on the horizon, as it were, and looking forward to releasing our 7th studio album Escapades very soon.
Still waiting to announce the actual release date due to mastering, artwork being finished and samples cleared through legal channels, so can’t divulge a date until we are absolutely certain. Since the start of the year I have been in a kind of hibernation after coming back from the far east , the cold weather and quiet gig times bring on a reclusive mood that serves as a rest period and a chance to try out some new ideas and experiences. I have been busy building a Dreadzone history blog to put our past in perspective, will have that link here soon. I have only done the first four years so will post it when its a bit further on. So there is a feeling things have turned full circle, 360 you could say. Todays bright spring like feeling felt like another new day of the next step,with the world keeping on turning , regenerating and re inspiring with the changing seasons.
This christmas I availed myself of family connections to stay at a very special place in Bali Indonesia.
A new destination for me and one that delighted and enlightened. After growing accustomed to the quite formal surroundings of Malaysia the Hindu inspired ways of Bali were a rush of colour and sensation. The resort itself is a shrine to the classic designs of the region , renown as constant source of cool interiors and subtle decor. The original owner was an inspired French architect.
Seven villas are arranged around a central open plan traditional building which also houses an epic dining area and a state of the art cinema. An olympic length pool sits alongside the black volcanic beach which glitters in the sun. A great place to spend with my sons and their mother made even more special by the fact we had the whole place to ourselves.
The people are so friendly and welcoming and the local Gamelan has a dreamy trance like hum to the music with the strange scales resonating calm and wonder. An early morning prayer ceremony with chanting, bells and offerings was a privilege to watch and take part in. All the places we managed to visit were endlessly fascinating and the sunsets all quite unbelievable.
I realise I was lucky to be given an opportunity to stay here given the type of location and the connections mean I also have a need to share and help promote this wonderful experience. it’s ideal for group holidays ( would love to take our group one day ! ) and celebration getaways. Admittedly it is not along the lines of backpack trailblazing but the rich surroundings were the perfect setting to relax in after a year of hard work on the road and in the studio making our new album.
One more exciting escapade to round off the year.
Back in Kuala Lumpur now to see the new year in at a relations flat overlooking the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. heres wishing everybody a Happy and prosperous New Year x Greg
Sitting in a bar in Kuala Lumpur as I write this, a year later after being here and returning for a family visit. Another year coming to a close and one where we spent a great deal writing and recording a new album , playing all over Europe and sorting things on the home front. A re-release of Second Light kicked off the year with a 4 star review in Q , a soundcloud was created for many rare goodies then a spring tour led into a season of great shows interspersed with full on studio work.
A big thanks to all who helped make this year so productive- our management team DMF for support and organisation to make the album and keep all the tours together. Mick Jones for providing space and inspiration to create, my son Marlon for his talents on keyboards and guitar, Leo Williams for bass and moral support and Tim Bran for reconnection with the zone for production and playing skills. Spee for his energy and our writing partnership giving rise to the songs, Earl 16 for the voice to realise the melodies, Chris Compton for his ever inspiring guitar work and new dread Bazil fitting straight in the line up with dedication. Another addition was Rob Guthrie, stepping up to Loki’s spot with tenacity, Lena Cullen was a heavenly addition to our vocal range, Don Letts provided some lyrical input and not least Simon on live sound and Jack on merchandise. And let’s not forget all the many great people who came to our shows , bought our music or just listened and liked.. and while I’m about it big up my bad self for a year when good use was made of the energy after 2011 had left me on such an incredible high looking down.. Looking forward to an even better 2013 and the release of our 7th studio album called ‘Escapades’ and the 20th anniversary of Dreadzone.
Good things come to those who wait … Seasons Greetings and love to all X Greg
keep meaning to do a blog update, i start one and don’t finish because I’m too wrapped up in making the music, playing the shows and doing updates on FB and Twitter anyway. however it is September now, whoops.. and this year has moved faster than even last year did.. and what a year that was. it has bled over into 2012 with all manner of feeling and has played a big part in shaping a new album. inspired to take the moment, we began in April with a bunch of ideas that had been on the boil.. buoyed by the involvement with Mick and the gang last year we pressed and was invited to use the bunker in Acton where Bad rehearsed. Carrying the bad dream through from last year had some expected obstacles; lack of dates, Mick off doing the Justice Tonight tour and not least we had to tend to the dread flame that had grown with Eye on the horizon. It felt right to be there as well, like saying here we are mate, we love making the music..and his place is perfect for that. To be fair if Bad want to do something its entirely up to him. Its his baby.. but it was great to get him and Don involved on a couple of occasions. can’t say what came of that yet but its all part of it.
The idea was to be quick about it, so the playing,shaping, writing and recording began in earnest at the start of April and was fully formed by end July ,in between bouts of festivals and shows. Three days a week in the bunker, programming in our own dread studio and listening / editing at home. Ah the logic and ease of the laptop workspace.. Throw in some quality time at a top studio and we were ready for the final phase. August saw the mix process under way, Tim Bran at the controls and as co producer from June. its best to only outline the scene at the moment rather than talk about the music. Given the wave that we rode last year I can truly say that the songs reflect an extra dimension that can arise from seizing those brief moments of inspiration one dreams of and shake them for all that they are worth ..see what pearls of nectar fall down from the tree of life.
erm anyway , the current state of play is still final mixes edits and tweaks.. and listening.. making it all run smoothly. Soon come.
To stay updated check the links on the right and click on Twitter
Second Light will always remain a very special album to me. It’s impetus was sparked in the initial rush of acceptance of our debut 360 and it’s musicality from having the confidence the reward of that brings. We never set out to bring a unified theme to the whole album but as our scope expanded we would look in many different places for sample sources. The cornerstone of the album Little Britain was actually originally started in 1990, capturing an extract of Carl Orffs Carmina Burana over a simple rhythm . It wasn’t until 4 years later that we had shaped it into a proper tune. The same for A Canterbury Tale, after discovering the English composer Vaughn Williams. I was drawn to classical music as a source of rich melody and stirring themes along with Celtic and Asian influences.
Film sources such as the work of Powell and Pressburger, Lindsay Anderson, Alexander Kordas Thief of Baghdad and pirate films seemed to be a narrative glue that started to merge it all together..and the Dub vein that ran through our sound was the result of time spent in our previous group Screaming Target with Leo and Don Letts , which is where we first met Tim Bran working at Island Studios. All this fused perfectly with rhythms inspired by a progressive UK dance movement that kick started the group in the first place. Considering our heritage with Mick jones and BAD this multi culture clash felt natural and somehow helped to give the record its feel of that.
Taking advantage of funding by our publishers we plotted up in a studio unit in Queens Park with some good green and let our creative instincts roam free. Only when we were finished did we sign to Virgin. The buzz of major backing and exposure was indeed a fine time, I will always give thanks for the turn of events . For a brief moment there we were golden and in the most perfect place. As time moves on through changes this album continues to be the foundation that we build our house of dread upon.
Second Light Gear Info
Made with Akai MPC60, Akai S1000/ S950, Roland MKS80 Super Jupiter, Roland Juno, Oberheim Matrix ,Roland SH101, Roland 303 909 808 and Atari Notator & Leo Williams Bass
Made in 1994
back to life..
jan and feb is usually in limbo for live musician playing but full of loose ends and new tasks to do since my return from KL,some dj shows, getting a new live set in order, trying to find the original parts for older tunes is proving quite impossible ,up to my ears in floppy disks,samplers and zip drives…old technology refusing to comply and the fact that nothing was put to tape, so the dream of doing a second light set has all but vanished , but will be highlighting it as a feature in a revamped set..also more importantly been working on a batch of exciting new tunes everyday to get to a stage where we have a killer selection,ready to go into a proper studio for some concentrated creative time with the dial all over the dread range and beyond for an album that is pencilled for later in the year.
First part of the year as well for new beginnings and finally getting to grips with my flat, giving it the final clear and de clutter and making it a real home, the space is feeling right now. Got one of my castaways back with me for now, Marlon in the place, expecting some killer musical ideas from him too.
what else is new?.. got a soundcloud now for dj mixes remixes and rarities, and updated youtube, spending time on spreading the word on the Second Light re release on the 5th March with new artwork,boss liner notes and bonus cd from the glastonbury 95 set where we dropped the John major resignation speech over fight the power. Maximum is on there as well, one of my fave dz tunes. Blog about second light on its way. Its a sunny day, spring is in the air .just off to the studio x
This year marked twenty years since I first came to Malaysia. My wife Daniele , who I am now separated from, was born here. She is the mother of my two sons Marlon and Blake who now live here with her since 2006. I have been coming backwards and forwards on and off over the years to stay at family homes, mostly for xmas and new year and still continue to do so , the boys as well make regular trips to the UK.
In many ways the country was a key ingredient in the original founding days of Dreadzone, a refreshing eastern calm of varying shades informing some creative feeling. It is a simple place to come and relax , a gentle blend of heat,good food and friendly people , a cultural mix of Malay majority, Chinese know how and Indian backbone, with many Western workers living here ,all content with it’s union of Islam and big business, an easygoing snapshot of the east.It is not known as mini Asia for nothing. As i type, the call to prayer is wailing across the rooftops, many a morning I would be woken at 5.45 with the first of the day.
This year some precious time was spent with family in a cool house in Kuala Lumpur with some time in the island of Penang at a hotel which is part of Daniele’s fathers company that she works for. I had to take it easy with the rich food as i have had some recurring gallstone business so that will be dealt with on my return..Not much else to say except a pleasant recharge of the battery was welcome and now I fly back ready to take on the challenge of a busy coming year.
Happy New year or Gong Xi Fa Cai (or even Gong Hey Fat Choy) as they say here…
blog for the end of the year..
and what a year its been, one of the best in recent memory, a splendid rollercoaster of BAD, Dreadzone and love…The Good the Bad and the Dread. Admittedly not a huge amount of shows for the dreadz , and a love story that must maintain a respect for privacy . But being back on tour with BAD really ramped up the inspiration (see previous blogs) for pushing the elements forward..along with the Best of Dreadzone release and a good measure of beauty and intelligence the whole experience couldn’t fail to be a game raiser, a spark to ignite this coming year..
Changes are afoot not least in our own history dept. March sees the release of a re mastered version of Second Light complete with a bonus disc on Virgin EMI. To tie in with this it feels only right to revisit the album in a live context, if not the whole thing then at least a large chunk of it, played in the spirit of our early incarnation . this could see us reviving our more linear electronic approach featuring some gems from the 90s. It wont all be looking back..we will be trying out new material as we work on the next album,which is taking shape. The first real change in the zone is the departure after 4 years of laptoperator Chris Oldfield, who is moving to Wales with his partner who is expecting his child very soon . This will most likely lead to the technology being run from another direction without a loss of energy. We wish him all the best and have the most love , gratitude and respect for all his involvement.
My desire for re invention is strong so expect some new tangents.. we have nothing to lose and a faith that whatever we do will be the new phase of dread expression.
Reading books came back on the agenda in 2011, a welcome change from staring at a laptop, an almost vinyl like experience but with words. Life, the Keith Richards book and the biography of Steve Jobs have been full of reward for a hungry mind. He will be be sadly missed as will the challenging intellect of Christopher Hitchens who also died this year and whose memoir Hitch 22 i am currently devouring here in Malaysia. This welcome break gives me some quality time with my two grown up boys and a decent relaxing climate in which to recharge.
So we will aim to be on top of our game this year, undertaking challenges from a swiftly changing competitive music market with tenacity and variety, aiming to end the year with the same fierce energy i feel at the end of this one. so there you are, 2012 ,bring it on.
lots of love and best wishes for the year ahead people. i feel it will be an interesting one…
And so it ends, for now… its hard to put into words how i feel at the end of a most unexpected season of the reunion..
After the US tour (see last blog) we spent the rest of August weekends in festival mode, UK first and Beautiful Days in Devon run by Dreadzones manager who also looks after the Levellers and their festival. It was quite tricky following a very lively Gogol Bordello set but we did our best to rock the crowd at this colourful and very down to earth event.. one where our other band has had the crowd jumping before, which wasn’t entirely the case here..but what can i say, i know Dreadzone has that bounce factor but BAD represented nevertheless..
A deep contrast to the next two days at the V Festivals where we ticked the ‘respectable 80s reunion’ box in amongst all manner of poptastic daytime corporate festival filler. Eminem again though, this time a gallery view from the side of the stage. It was great having my son Blake along with me for this weekend to enjoy that.. also a nice big tour bus to cane the 3 day stint . A proper working weekend with lots of goodies to enjoy.
The following week saw us take the bus again for an overnight trip to Paris and the Rock en seine festival. highlights – excellent food, the foo fighters, our show ; tight and energetic and very well received . Then came the switch ; straight back to London to board the dread bus with Leo and Loki and do the first dreadzone gig in nearly two months down in somerset. i cant really say much about the actual festival but my word , our performance was like a revelation. After being on an intensive set of dates with BAD we hit the ground running with the dreads that night.. and it was so good to be back with the guys. we lit up the night and had the people moshing bouncing and wild dancing. a warm glow was in my heart after that show. I may have been back in a Premier inn but I knew what made me comfortable.
Back to BAD and the Electric Picnic. whats to say about that, September weather turning , windy Ireland spaces and sudden sun in places. an expansive site of so many stages ,tents and goings on. Caught the Family stone (without Sly) ,was a truly classic sound, sweet in the sunshine. Our show ? good yeah .. big crowd. for me it was one of my least favourites but everyone seemed to enjoy it. and then the final one last week -Bestival..this was a really good show , not a massive crowd but a fine finale to this reunion tour ,and we finished with the Bottom line,the first bad tune full circle to the last line – ‘anything you want is yours’. Well it has been this year for all of us. this has been a truly special 9 months, from the first meeting to the last show. an exciting, dramatic,life affirming and hugely enjoyable set of shows. This cant be the end, there is so much impetus and love for the band.. we all wait and see where we take it next. whatever we do respect goes out to the main man and keeper of the key Mick Jones, a true gentleman and the original inspiration. Big ups to everyone involved and all the people who came to see the shows ..until the next phase.
After a week off in New York I am back on Dread duties with the Good the Bad and the Dread tour, while BAD keeps on living and breathing through the rhythm x
The BAD USA tour kicked off in Boston , home of the Red sox and right next to Fenway Park ground at the House of Blues ..and blues was a theme as the big red tour bus we were rolling in belonged to BB King. A very cool moving living space for the first week of the tour.
The first show was a great start..a lot of that is down to the crowd, and of course they were fantastic every night. All the club shows were full of so much love and appreciation from true fans, young and older; it was a pleasure to meet some of them. Brooklyn was up next and a busy day consisting of hopping over to NBC in Manhattan to appear on the Jimmy Fallon show and racing back to Brooklyn Bowl to play one of the best shows of the tour, on one of the best days. Doing TV in America is a blast, and an unexpected bonus to play a new tune for a new audience. Philadelphia next day and a train ride for me there from NYC gave another view of the land. A solid tight show put us right in the groove , and an interesting games room provided the ideal scene for an inspired photo shoot. On this tour we have had with us a good friend and photographer/ film producer Phil Hunt tracking our every move,so fingers crossed for the BAD movie..
After Philly a long bus ride through the night to Chicago to check in at the Hyatt and make an impression at Lollapalooza, in the heart of the city. An early slot before Cee lo Green gave us a chance to shine in the sun with the city skyline as a stunning backdrop to the festival crowd. If the crowd seemed sedate in places the visual stimulation of the day provided sufficient lift for us to give a compelling performance. A good portion of the crowd seemed to be waiting for the main act.. and a choice view from the outfront desk of Eminems show later proved to be one of the highlights of the day. Later some cocktails and lobster corndogs at the Lolla after party ,where it was great to meet Perry Farell. Then another long ride through the night to Minneapolis to play at First Avenue, a renown club where Prince performed Purple Rain in the film. That was a pretty special show in a proper music venue, up there with Brooklyn.
After saying goodbye to the bus and hello airlines we flew to LA for the second week and a plot up at the Roosevelt again for a few nights which involved some poolside relaxing, dinner at Soho house, gigs in downtown LA and Anaheim, vintage shopping and in room partying. All in good company.. props to all our stateside friends, Gerry, Jody, Rudi, Gerb,Fred and others.. i have to say this was probably the finest tour i can remember, for so many reasons, but not least because of the presence of a certain special friend to share it with. With just a quick stop in San Francisco for the Outside lands festival (cold windy and rocking) and some limited sightseeing we made it back to the UK courtesy of Virgin Airlines again, clocking up those air miles thank you very much…
Long time no blog, have been a bit busy..so here goes with a bit of a catch up..summer 2011 and the BAD adventures continue..
i would like to be able to share what happened after April but it is too entwined with the personal and the private ..and to be honest people really should be given the respect to keep it that way..
the rebooted format kicks like a new band. BAD v3 , more rock and roll. Davo is the heart and soul in this set up…respect is due.
The summer truly kicked off with Glastonbury on a rather wet friday and an eager enough crowd. we represented the bad cause but the damp weather and time slot meant it wasn’t one of the top ones. me and Leo smashed it the next day with Dreadzone but thats another story..
July gave us some special moments, not least the Exit festival in Serbia. Outstanding location in a castle by the Danube, amazing weather and fun times made it like we like it, a weekend away with a great team of people, old mates on an adventure. It was a bit of an early slot but we made the most of it. a later slot the following week in Benicassim in Spain was better but our show was not the usual away win, in fact the first :( of the campaign. We learnt from that and rehearsed for a show at the Royal Festival hall for the ‘London is the place for me ‘ weekend. This was one of the best Bad shows ever in a classic venue and put us back in the right place for the Japan Fuji rock festival which was very exciting as it was the first time I had been to Japan. The festival itself was pretty special in its own way ,although extremely wet. we were very well received and managed to take in some of the fun including a special Manu Chao set, a Don Letts dj set and a wet night of exploring. Our day off in Tokyo was spent taking in some the cool spots including the Harajuku district and Gonpachi ‘kill bill’ restaurant. after a good night out I fell asleep to be awoken by the hotel room wobbling. yes my first earthquake. and i just went back to sleep again. amazing…. after more Virgin premium economy we spent a day in london before departing for a tour of the USA..
The good ship BAD set sail for America right after the UK tour, we hardly had time to do our washing when the Virgin Atlantic bus hit the sky, the troops all bright eyed and drinks in hand, the A team on a new adventure. it was 21 years since the original lineup set foot on US soil and it was as it always began , on the west coast , L.A. city of dreams. A return to The Roxy on Sunset to be precise where some special old friends like Rick Rubin, Flea & Steve Jones reminded us we go way back, but im getting ahead of myself here…
The 11 hour flight was cushioned by checking into the Roosevelt hotel off Hollywood Boulevard . A narrow time frame begged to be filled so we all went and made the most of it, Mels diner for breakfast ,downtown Los Angeles ,Santa Monica, riding on Sunset and chilling by the pool. Scheduled as a warm up for Coachella this was still a proper gig of some importance and an instant sellout to a stellar crowd, and it went right off , another night to remember with some great people before , after and during the show. jet lag was sustained enough to replenish ourselves for the next day to travel east on route 10 to Palm springs, the Hyatt Resort , base for the Coachella contingent.The drive there from LA was a highlight in itself, especially with some fine cali bud, music on the headphones and a bright blue sky bringing out the best of a road trip through endless windfarms, rolling freight trains and the St Jacinto mountains as a backdrop. the best of days…
Palm Springs is immersed in a dense desert heat that we had to be wary of ahead of a prime event like Coachella and the resort gave us a chance to chill in style. Arriving in the cooler early evening we set a marker down as one of the festival highlights with a tight and inspired performance. For me it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever played…the buzz from such a show and some bizarre trailer fun with Danny Devito made it another day to cherish. after much merriment and celebration we had to catch the final shuttle back to the hotel and arise the next day for a flight from Phoenix to New York, possibly the best city on earth. The week spent there was enough to warrant a blog in itself, so stay tuned for the next chapter.
the road trip east from LA to Palm springs had a soundtrack that stayed with me.here are some tunes i remember
I need a saga
the ultimate electronic western
over the hills and far away
i got my hash pipe
notes from the tour
writing this on the way back to london from bristol, sunny sunday morning end of UK tour..
after 6 weeks of intensive rehearsals interspersed with regular Dreadzone shows for myself and Leo BAD hit the road two weeks ago armed with a set of songs recovered from memory banks and an A team of veterans committed to the cause. from the off we were given so much love and great reactions that it gave us the confidence to develop swiftly on stage. Liverpool first up and nerves gave way to a rousing reception. Glasgow and Newcastle were equally thunderous and along the way so many old familiar faces smiling back at us lifted the spirit. by the time we got to our own manor of West London we were sharp enough to make it a very special reunion. two nights sold out at Shepherd Bush Empire felt like the kind of show we are aiming for, its a stage show about the Bad story with an energetic soundtrack. the technology has enabled us to compliment our maturing musicianship with a muscular shell no one can test..and with the songs still sounding fresh and relevant ,the time is right to hear the stories that we tell. Told with an understanding of who we are now and where we came from.
if this sounds like blowing our own trumpet then , well..sorry, but this is one hell of a band now…the second week had us hitting our stride and stretching out the creativity.Nottingham and Leeds steeled us up for an outstanding one in Manchester, before rounding up in Bristol. the house lights up/ all hands in the air at the end to every show is proof that we delivered a tight rocking set with approval of everyone apart from as far as i know a couple of people (journalists)
we have nailed the performance now and can take it around the world to some good festivals. This week we set off to America and the Coachella festival with an LA warmup and a NYC send off. I am so looking forward to the next step with a great bunch of people. for sure all the hard work, preparation and approach has really paid off..respect to all in the gang aside from the band- Davo 6th member and keeper of BADs technological heart, Loki Dread my drum general, Basil and Dave the best sound around, Max lighting supremo, Roger the guitar man and the ever charming Angus as tour manager. Working on this level gives you the chance to enjoy a smoother ride ,a timely reminder to really live for the moment.. none more so than onstage, where we are having so much fun playing our hearts out with old friends.
thanks to all who came and showed the support, every single show was an amazing response..thanks to all the bloggers, reviewers and sharers of BAD information..
next update soon come x
So…..not a BAD start to the year then.. quite a surprise though, after much speculation finally old connections are revived and the original inspiration comes alive.
It seems like a fortunate twist of timing..just as i find myself in a good place with new flat and studio, a best of Dreadzone’s 18 year history called ‘The Good the Bad and the Dread’ set for release in May and some calm after a stormy few years …as if things couldn’t get any better, in January five old friends got together in a hotel in Soho to make an agreement.. to rewind the mind back and remember the BAD songbook, and breath new life into it for a 2011 audience for a few select shows.
Without predicting too much i can tell that this version has every chance to be a bigger and better sound this time . With what we know now we wont be content to just play music , we will go out there and aim to detonate with an updated , wiser and harder hitting group than before… a rhythm section lock down from a 25 year partnership driving the rock and roll guitar of Mick Jones, voice of the westway ..add the blast of Dan Donovan’s electronic wizardry and the cinematic dread of Don Letts we are looking at a heavy duty soundclash ..plus some memorable tunes. Lets not kid ourselves here..we’re not young men anymore but from what its sounding like after a few days rehearsal…. the old skool will rule, like we have never been away…and its a good a time as any to let those songs out to play again.
So sit tight and listen keenly.. the gang is back for one last ride and this time i bet you its BAD..and just in case anyone has any doubts..this does not mean Dreadzone will suffer..with our Best of selection it feels right to have a retrospective year.. both bands will be active , same as it ever was, it just means some of us will have to work twice as hard, but the rewards are worth it..but trust me..Dread will still come over…bring on 2011 – BAD – Bad and Dread xx
Time for a new blog now that the tour bus has stopped rolling and the simple pleasure of staying in one place for a while kicks in with all manner of things to catch up on, including this.
Its been a while since the last blog, what with this year being one of massive upheaval for me .. finally moving from the house i lived in for 17 years, where Second light began, where my family grew and then in the last four years has been home to me as i dealt with varying stages of loss. 2010 has felt like closure on this period of change. The new album has been a beacon of light this year to bring us out of the shade , purging our collective selves of all the detritus of loss. In a way having ‘Eye on the horizon’ as a title seemed to sum up what was needed ,to look ahead and move on.
The album has been so well received in many areas by so many different people, some would say not in mainstream media enough, but we get used to that after being around for so long. There is so much new music all the time that it gets to be a crowded business .We have our own space in which there is continual growth. I am pleased that with this album, we have laid down another musical marker that demands attention and will stand the test of time. It is also on our own label Dubwiser so it feels like we are in control with less pressure. It is so encouraging to know that some of the tunes have touched people on the same raw vein of feeling as we put into it. It feels like we are on a quest for a positive outcome through music & words ,tears & laughter.
The live shows have been increasingly more tight and solid as we rolled through the heartland of the festival and gig network. The tour took us far and wide and won us many new friends. The new tunes are sitting perfectly in the set. Earl 16 may have been enticed away on occasions by Leftfield this year but who can blame him for that ? Spee has taken the stool and stick to new heights. We all dig deeper as the crowds give us so much energy in return. Huge respect goes out to all who have been at our shows.. and a special shout out to all the lovely ladies who make up large numbers of our audience .. ‘I Know, bad boy them a like this.. ‘x
The remixes of some of the new tunes have created a stir, none more so than the Trolley Snatcha mix of Gangster. This and others by Pyramid, She is danger, Engine Earz Experiment and Warrior One have stimulated nerve ends in the new breed of listener. We have long been known for our dub element but it doesn’t mean we would suddenly try to make dubstep. its a new language that excites and speaks to a new generation. We are developing as songwriters , we have our own path. We overlap in many different areas and are linked to the present by our own past innovation.
So finally I make use of this blog again. last time it was from another home, the album had just been released (on the exact same day that the house offer was accepted..) and I was on the verge of a big leap into the unknown. The upheaval in a home full of all the musical & studio equipment and years of family accumulation in every corner was the biggest tangle to unravel .. so everything music went one way to a wicked new studio in Ladbroke Grove, the crucial home comforts have moved into a very nice new apartment nearby and all the overspill that didn’t make storage went to Brent recycling dump, charity, friends, car boot sales (yes) and into the bin of life.
Now there is sense of excited anticipation about what is on the horizon and what new beginnings in the studio will bring , with a commitment to some already commissioned work and an eye on collaborations, remixes and new dread stuff. So bring on the next chapter..which, incidentally, after saying all that about moving forward, must look back before we step forth…so lets have a Best of Dreadzone for 2011 please mr dread…..x
As always, thanks for listening
Seasons greetings and Happy new year to all xxxx
So…Dreadzones sixth studio album is released this week and though it has been a long time coming some will understand why.. although it is still probably best if we don’t take as long next time (we wont). It’s been some journey , a time of reflection and rebuilding, of new beginnings and positivity, an honest trek through moments so intertwined with music and writing that the emotion has been able to channel into some pretty truthful songs. This album encompasses elements of dread past and present, whilst facing forward to a sound future…the eye is on the horizon. It’s where we have found ourselves as songwriters, something thats been growing over the years. it was a conscious decision to do that..maybe because we had so much to say,like a kind of cathartic release, but more likely because the vocalists are so embedded in the dread sound now.
Spee and I have spent a fair amount of time as sound system traveling and band touring best mates.. we have both lost our brothers, are both gemini monkeys alike and are keen explorers of word and melody. We embrace the role of songwriting and the input from the band setup has been the ideal setting… Earl Sixteens distinctive voice is another reason why we set our sights high, giving us inspiration to extend the harmonic range. Melody has risen up from various sources , inspired in places by the guitar work of new man Chris Compton that fills the album…and of course the rhythm section ,twenty five years strong now, laying down the foundation of organic and technologic. As well as the band i am well pleased with the contribution from my son Marlon, who played some significant keyboard parts, also the involvement of my co founder of Dreadzone Tim Bran, who mixed half of the album. On mix duties as well is an old friend who we worked with on the Biological Radio album, Adam Wren, who is also renown for mixing half of Leftism. The third man in the mix is a new cohort for us in soundscaping, Nicky D’Silva aka Inchie (Ctrl Z and Pyramid) who brought his sonic weight to bear on three tracks.Together they made the simple production approach come to life and complimented the variation of sound. Respect is due to the part band member Chris Oldie played for enabling the recording and processing with love and dedication ,the extra ears on backup. Spee’s old vocal partner Sweetie Irie crops up on one track and our good friend Marcie supplies breathtaking vocal backup on 2 tunes… and one track we kept my late brother Steve’s guitar in there and used it on a reprise for him at the end of American dread… The last few years have been a real emotional rollercoaster..but things feel better because we love this record ,its been my salvation and to hear all the love and positive feedback for it so far is the definition of real happiness. x