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