Summer part 2.. BAD into America

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…

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Summertime..part 1

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 ūüė¶ 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..

BAD part 2.. from West london to the West coast

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‚Ķthe 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.
greg x

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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

From dread to BAD- notes from the tour

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

Big Audio Dread

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 ‚Ķas 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‚Ķand 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 РBAD РBad and Dread xx

2010- back on the blog

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
Greg x

Eye on the horizon 26.4.2010

So‚ĶDreadzones 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‚Ķthe 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‚Ķ 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‚Ķand 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‚Ķ 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