As they gear up to celebrate 20 years of riotous marauding, the Dub Pistols are prepping their seventh as-yet-untitled album in 2017 and there’ll be a documentary about the band dropping at some point in the year, too. And they’ll be out on the road, as usual, of course — the hardest working band in showbiz.
A kinda 21st century equivalent of 2-Tone acts The Specials or The Beat, the Dub Pistols are the quintessential festival band. Coming over a bit like if King Tubby and The Skatalites bumped into Terry Hall at a Goldie gig, the Dubs have reached their two decade milestone with a lot of ups and downs along the way.
They’ve worked with vocal legends like Rodney P, Busta Rhymes, Gregory Isaacs, Terry Hall, Lindy Layton, Akala and Horace Andy, while the band’s mainstays are fiercely loyal and dedicated. An unorthodox collective of musicians who each have their own personal interests and solo projects, when they come together to form the Dub Pistols some dubwise magic happens.
The rhythm section of Jack (drums) and Dave (bass) are granite-solid, and guitarist Andreas (or sometimes the rock & roll stand-in, Johnny Rockstar) provides all sorts of licks and skanking chords to nice up the dance. The brass section is on fire, and rapper Seanie Tee brings the mic skills to complement main man Barry Ashworth perfectly. They’re a proper gang of outlaws, rebels with a cause, renegade outsiders who know how to bring the good times. If you haven’t seen the Pistols yet
Barry might be the heart, face and mouth of the Dubs, but they are still very much a band — as tight as fuck, and yet able to cut loose to rock venues to the core. Tracks like epic drum & bass cut ‘Gunshot’, ska ditty ’Problem Is’, early beat-freak single ‘Cyclone’ and singalong anthem ‘Mucky Weekend’ have become firm fan favourites, and onstage see the band getting deep, down and dirty. With a nod to their ska influence, and the fact that Terry Hall was an honorary Dub Pistol for a few years, they still do a lively version of ‘Gangsters’ - The Specials’ first ever single. But otherwise it’s all their own work — the back catalogue is rich in flavas.
“The next album is actually a bit more chilled-out than the last two,” says Barry. “It’s still a classic Dub Pistols album, but ‘Return Of The Pistoleros’ and ‘Worshipping The Dollar’ were more club-orientated — leaning more towards peak-time bangers. This album is a bit more relaxed, with a smoked-out reggae vibe — although there are still a couple of bangers on there.”
The guests on the next album read like a who’s who of conscious styles. Dancehall dons Beenie Man and Cutty Ranks, reggae singer Earl16, young hip-hop act Too Many T's, seminal MCs Navigator and the Ragga Twins, and long-time collaborator Lindy Layton (and dope rapper Genesis Elijah??) all bring their unique talents. Some of these will be appearing with the Dubs live over the coming year as the band present a history lesson in all the different bases they’ve covered over the past two decades. With added bass!
Band members may have come and gone, but the progression of the core of the band is constant. “It’s never like everyone leaves at once,” says Barry. “People’s priorities change: they get married or have kids and the lifestyle isn't for them anymore, so they leave — but luckily not all at the same time. So someone new comes in, and suddenly it feels like a new band.”