After two sold out shows at London’s O2 Shepherds Bush Empire back in 2006, you can be forgiven for wondering what the undoubted legends and pioneers of the Aotearoa Pacific dub and bass scene have been up to since.
Last year saw the dub groove masters celebrate their 25th anniversary with the release Commercial Grates, a 30-track collection of the band’s radio cuts and singles. We caught up with one of the founding members and head honcho Andrew Penman.
“Yeah we seemed to have been expected to deliver a Best of, however that’s a kiss of death eh? We are only 25, check us again on our 50th in 2043! Instead of a best of we put together Commercial Grates, with the cheese grater as our motif. Over the years we learnt to grate the cheese off our album length tracks for commercial radio and Commercial Grates represents 30 of our radio cuts. Alongside that we have produced an 8hr vinyl box set featuring 10 x 12” remastered albums.”
2018 also saw the full band perform live again with singer and collaborator Tiki Taane, after he embarked on a solo career back in 2007. The upcoming UK tour however showcases another side to the full band stage act.
“The Salmonella Dub Soundsystem has been the bands little mashup bro’, creating havoc with the band’s dubplates on dance floors at after parties, clubs and festivals since 1999. Over that time the Sal Dub Soundsystem have evolved into a full live entity featuring the epic three-part Sal Dub horn section with the Mighty Asterix on vocals accompanying me DJ Rudeboy on the mix, while I journey through the basslands of the Dub’s 12hr catalogue. We include all the Sal Dub anthems in a two-hour set, many of which have been remixed by mates Dub Fx, Adrian Sherwood, Dreadzone, Groove Corporation, Digital, Tiki Taane, Zion Train, The Mad Professor, Concord Dawn, Dj Mu (Fat Freddy’s Drop), Blacklisted and Organikismness.”
The Dubbies, as they are affectionately known, are clearly no strangers to collaborations with some serious British heavy weights of the dub and electro scene and this continues with new material and a new studio album release this year.
“We have a wealth of good buddies keen to get amongst it. At this point we are still working to finish the album. Back here at home DJ Mu, Laughton Kora and Tiki have all offered to chip parts and mixes. Further afield we have collaborated again with David Harrow, ex On-U Sound (Gary Clail, Bjork etc) and producer of THC Winter, Calming of the Drunken Monkey, Killervision and Heal Me. David has also produced two new mixes for the Salmonella Dub Soundsystem shows.”
It comes then as no surprise that Salmonella Dub were approached by the New Zealand Music Awards in 2017, to be inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. But it didn’t all go to plan.
“We were asked to choose an iconic Kiwi band to play a Salmonella Dub tune at the awards. We chose Beat Rhythm Fashion who influenced us as teenagers. Unfortunately, the show producers had not heard of BRF and they were rejected as our preferred artist. As a result, we felt we couldn’t accept the award. We have since started working with Nino Birch from BRF and have penned three tunes with him. World She Waits was released on the day of the 2017 Music awards.”
The sounds from the land of the long white cloud continue to break boundaries and attendance records in the UK. Acts such as Shapeshifter, Cornerstone Roots, Kora, Trinity Roots and especially and most recently Fat Freddy’s Drop, can all thank Salmonella Dub for breaking new ground. Can Salmonella Dub follow in selling out Alexandra Palace one day?
“If the production is good, we are happy in all sized venues: 500 cap clubs to large outdoor arenas. For our 25th birthday last year we played shows around 8000-11000 capacity and they were epic. Salmonella Dub Soundsystem head out this weekend on our NZ new album tease tour with sold out shows starting in Leigh, which is a lovely intimate 250 capacity room, moving on through the North Island to bigger outdoor venues like Coroglen on the Coromandel.”
The appetite amongst both young and old for homegrown roots and dub music in New Zealand doesn’t appear to cease, and we asked Penman whether the likes of Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran have made as bigger impact back home as what they have done in Blighty.
“Back here there are exciting new up and comers like L.A.B. featuring the Kora bro’s. We have had the wonderful Soulware on tour with us of late – they are a deep groove-based live jungle and breaks band. I am not really familiar with Katy Perry, nor Ed. All I know is our boy Mani is 12 years old and can’t stand ‘em at all! However, I do have ex-students from the school I teach at who went on to form a band called The Broods…I am guessing they may be a similar genre?”
It would appear then, that the band and Penman especially, are as prolific as ever what with live shows and tours from both the full band and the Soundsystem, as well as being holed up in studio back in Kaikoura. Is there any time for much else in DJ Rudeboy’s life?
“Haha and yes, alongside music I have also been teaching and working as a youth counsellor over the last 27 years. We have been busy here in Aotearoa and Australia working on new material, developing our live set and also having families. Although there have been many offers to come back to both the UK and Europe the timing has not been right until now.”
Salmonella Dub Soundsystem perform at London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town on Friday 19 July, along with shows in Bristol (17 July), Glasgow (18 July) and Manchester (20 July). Tickets available from Ticketmaster.
One lucky New Zealand Times reader will win a pair of tickets to the London show. To be in the draw, email [email protected] with the subject “Take me to The Dubbies” and the answer to this question:
What was the name of Salmonella Dub’s ninth studio album released in 2007?