As we countdown to our 8th studio album i wanted to dig out some stuff thats not seen the light of day and gives an idea of what things were going on at the inception of Dreadzone. Lets take it right back to the start . The very first tune House of Dread was born within probably the last Screaming Target session in early 92. We had written a bunch of songs to try and get a deal and nothing was happening with them .We decided to try something stripped down and danceable without any vocals , the bass line came from Leo, i did some beats and Don Letts gave me some samples on a couple of precious dat tapes full of dub breaks. Some will recognise a couple of elements that went on to be part of Zion Youth. This track then became part of new stuff I was working on at home so somehow merged into the next project that was forming after spending time with Tim Bran ..
Some background.. After BAD Screaming Target had given us a transition where we were supported by Island Records. After the first album failed to take off we were set free and that meant hard times. I had just become a father in 1989 and now found myself in 1991 in a position where I had to sign on. Plenty of time was spent at home writing new stuff wondering where the next move would take us..
Finally a new update on all things 2016 .. apart from some great shows this year has been mainly about getting a new album together, scheduled for release early next year. We have only just mastered it so it would not be possible to release anything this side of Christmas. We were really aiming for a release this year but events conspired to bring delay, it just gave us a bit more time to get it right. I think it will be worth the wait ..
The new record will be called ‘Dread Times’, a 12 track album that represents a step forward for Dreadzone. Produced by myself it features new blood this time with newest member Bazil who brings an edge to the sonic process and deeper involvement from my son Marlon expanding our musical pallete further on keyboards and more. Alongside Leo, Chris with Earl 16 and Spee on vocals it has Don Letts returning with some lyrical contributions, plus Lena Cullen again on one track and 90s ragga duo Louchie Lou and Michie One guesting on another . Recorded mainly at Mick Jones Bunker Studio again, where he was a constant presence, it was then shaped at Dread Central, with further work at Bazils ,then mixed down as usual by fellow founder member Tim Bran , all in all classic dread with an updated edge. Mastered by our usual man Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering with our favourite artist Glass Siren once again supplying some great artwork.
Without giving too much away the old skool dread sound comes to the surface more and digs much deeper into our dub and reggae roots. We are already trying out one of them on this current tour and will add more as we go on. Further info is here on our new website which just went up http://www.dreadzone.com . Live shows this year have been up to the usual standard as festivals like Glastonbury, Beautiful Days, Belladrum Watchet and VW festival made the summer months special.
After the summer myself and Leo took time out with Don Letts to do a one off collaboration in September with Akala at the Afro Punk festival at Alexandra Palace –called Word Sound and Power and billed as BAD/Dreadzone riddim Section with Don Letts and Akala –it was a dub punk hip hop mashup that took us out of Dread comfort Zone and into some new areas. Great experience. Right now we are concentrating on the current UK tour which goes through to December, warming up for another busy year next year which will bring more Dread Times upon us
I thought I had better write a new blog seeing as I’ve not done one for a while.I cant believe its been a whole year since the last one..how did it go so fast. It’s been a fine year but one tinged with sadness as I said goodbye to my mother Amelia in July. Time does feel like its slipping by, here we are at the end of another year and it only just seems like yesterday we were in a field somewhere blissfully playing our music in the sunshine. The autumn tour seems to hurry the passage of time on with some special weekends spent with lovely people. Some good things have happened this year; Fire in the dark was released as a single with remixes , in August we re-released a remastered version of our fourth album Sound to great acceptance and put some numbers from that into the live set like Crazy Knowledge and Different planets . Another new addition to the live set was a cover of a Clash tune Junco Partner. This was a number we contributed to the Specialized Combat Cancer project album in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust and it felt like it should get a live airing if only for this tour.
We have been working away writing some new material which will be shaped into the next album in the new year and expected to drop later in 2016. I don’t want to give too much away but the dubwise force is strong with this one, going back to the roots with contributions from some familiar and some unexpected sources. Even at this early stage I have a good feeling about it , we certainly have a great team involved this time to make it one of our best. The autumn/winter tour has been huge fun not least because we stepped outside of our own shows to do things like the Megadog reunion in Manchester and then 5 dates with the Levellers and Ruts DC in some choice big venues up and down the country. 40 min support slots honed our sound even more and resulted in really fantastic responses from some large crowds. Thanks to everyone who came and bounced with us this year.
So 2105 flew by with some emotional moments, some of the highs has been the love and support of a beautiful woman who lights up my life..xx No New Years Eve soundsystem show this time ,but with plenty of Dreadzone live shows booked in already http://www.dreadzone.com/live-dates/ we are looking forward to hitting the ground running for 2016 and the next phase of Dread. hope everyone has a great Christmas and a happy new year. onwards and upwards x Greg
This is for my mother Amelia Roberts 1922 -2015 RIP . This was played at her service.
Another day of travel from hotel room to venue with the sun shining and the glow from last nights show merging with some green and pleasant music on the head phones. There is no finer feeling to get the day moving.. Another year has come around and although at times it may feel like repetition the ever changing energy of crowds and our performance keep it fresh, never like a job, more of a mission to spread the dread rhythms throughout the land on a never ending road.
This year has seen a steady flow of fine shows, no releases but lots of writing, mixing and best of all some love inspiration.. meaning moments like Glastonbury can be shared with someone special. A lot of great festivals kept the summer feeling high and now this fantastic autumn/winter tour connecting with all the dread massive, playing to so many different people of all ages and tribes, joining the dots from field to floor with new friendships being made overnight.
This tour saw the return of Loki, our original dread crew and family member who took a break for a while, and the arrival of a new man on the merch Tom fitting in perfectly. The team feels complete now and ready for the next round. As we move into the final week we are reminded of previous years, stages in our ever changing story that remain as exciting as ever , endless escapades leading to a vibrant life of music and friends, resonating and supplying the energy to keep making the soundtrack to our adventures.
We have some great things lined up for the start of next year- a second single release from Escapades ‘Fire in the dark’- there is already a mighty Teddy Killerz mix which is blowing up on UKF with 100k hits in 2 weeks..
More info on other mixes to come in the new year with a release date scheduled for the end of January.
Following that is a re-issue release of our 2001 album Sound especially remastered with bonus tracks which will be available on vinyl cd and digital. We have been dropping some tunes from this album in the set and plan to put some more in as we refresh the live show once again which starts again at the end of Feb.
The Dreadzone Soundsystem shows take over as usual in the first part of the year with shows in Prague, London and the South West, some with Earl 16 joining us. We have a new page for the Dreadzone Soundsystem with details of all the shows which start with a pre christmas party on the 23rd December in Malvern and then a double header on New years eve in Plymouth and Bristol which will needs some dread driving skills as well DJing..info here https://www.facebook.com/dreadzonesoundsystem
So another year comes to a close with many happy memories..big ups to all the usual suspects -Spee, Leo, Earl, Bazil, Chris, Loki, Simon, Thom, Jack and Rob , special thanks to Sarah xx … and myself . I would like to extend love and best wishes to everyone this christmas and a happy New Year.
see you in 2015 x
After such a great weekend it feels right to put something down here about Glastonbury 2014 from my perspective in our 20th anniversary of playing there, a little roundup to capture a special time.
With an early show on Friday I could make the most of my visit and take in as much as possible, with the added touch this year of a caravan and in the company of my girlfriend Sarah whose first time it was at Worthy Farm. A Thursday start saw us driving down with Don Letts and our ladies in the Jag for a warm up show in Bath with Don supporting, then an early start for a short drive to the site. A grey Friday morning with relentless rain threatened as we left the hotel but the arrival during a midday Blondie set saw the sun come out and after a baggage drop and caravan located it was time to make it our home for a bit. Our show was in the Glade at 5pm, a place we have played before with memorable results. It truly felt like a special show with the sun descending and the people giving so much love for the music.The rain hit halfway through, swelling the crowd even more under the waves of white covering. The sudden storm apparently brought a halt to all the main stages but we powered on oblivious as if charged by some Glastonbury spirit.
With the main show out of the way and most of the band heading home I was free until a DJ set on Sunday to put on my DMs, get loaded and show Sarah around. There followed 3 days of walking, drinking, smoking, friends , music, mud and more with some Glastonbury highlights – Stanton Warriors dropping a massive set in the Glade, the Blues Stage in the dance area with its shanty town decor and Jinx in dub, MIA representing the real alternative culture clash on the West Holts , Don Letts in the Glade lounge, Aracdias incredible landing show with fire breathing metal monster..Lana del Reys summertime sadness drifting through our happiness from the Pyramid Stage , Jon Hopkins blissful melodic electronics.
Time and movement put a strain on what what was possible to see but we chose our moments wisely, like when to take advantage of the backstage catering at the hub of the production area . With the caravan layout it was interesting to note Howard Marks , Don Letts and Stanton Warriors were our closest neighbours.The Glastonbury app was an updated helpful alternative to the old booklet round the neck but things were clearly signposted and late on Saturday all roads lead to Shangri La and surrounding areas. Even if you were not in an altered state the entertainment was a fantastic array of sensations around every corner. Block 9, a futuristic estate pumping out acid house, Addictive TVs mind blowing cut up of visuals and heavy sci fi beats on the Hell stage , salsa at Glasto Latino.. The whole area after hours is an endless cacophony of sideshow sound systems, crazy characters and costumed ravers.. the churned up ground added a bizarre step to the proceedings , tired body meets mashed mind so cocktails and Strummerville camp with a seat in front of the fire was a special moment before heading off into the early morning with those old skool sensations we all know , caressing the dawn in.
Sunday was about the stone circle and green fields and a wander around the rest of the immense site. we caught some of Bonobo and i did a DJ set after Don in the spaceport which was cool. We aimed to leave before the end to avoid monday mayhem and be back for runnings . Whatever anyone says about Glastonbury it is unique place where all the many tribes and layers of society gather for music and all forms of culture . It was special this year not only because it is 20 years since we first came but because I had a beautiful person to spend it with and make it a time to remember. Sarah is a top photographer and to have her pictures here with these words is a great way to remember it by.
Still the best festival in the world , until next time ..x
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