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.
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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