INTERVIEW: Dreadzone – Sunflowerfest Headliners
Formed in 1993, Dreadzone are the British fusion of reggae, dub, techno and rock music created by Greg Roberts and Tim Bran.
To date they have released seven studio albums as well as two live releases. They headline Sunflowerfest 2015 this Friday 31st July 2015.
They attracted the interest of BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel in the early ninties, citing their 1995 record ‘Second Light’ as one of his ‘favourites of all time’ and with over 20 years in the business, their plans continue into the future.
Gigging NI’s Aine Cronin-McCartney spoke to the band ahead of their appearance at Hillsborough festival Sunflowerfest.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you?
“Live dance music with Jamaican roots , UK electronic innovation and rock and roll attitude with big basslines funky beats and sweet melodies.”
After seven studio albums, how has your sound changed and how have you developed musically?
“We have gone from a more instrumental linear sound that used sampling a lot to more song based arrangements with guitar and vocals.”
Dreadzone have been a band for over twenty years now; what is it that keeps you motivated and passionate ?
“Love for the music; listening to and making it. Friendship and unity – doing what we love and still getting paid for it. It’s the desire to keep challenging yourself, and laughter.”
You are re-issuing your 2001 album ‘Sound’ on July 31st. Why have you decided on this album in particular, and why now?
“It was deleted after all the original ones sold and that label ceased to exist. A lot of people have been asking how they can get hold of it and as we own the rights to it we thought it would be good to give it a proper release on our own label – make it available on digital and vinyl as well as CD. It is one of our best and should be given a chance to reach a wider audience.”
After such a long time together do you find that writing music do you find that creating an album is much easier?
“Creating an album is never really easy, coming up with original ideas is easier. Turning the ideas into a final finished product takes a concentrated effort. But once we set our minds to it our joint creativity makes the whole process a joy.”
You have worked with a multitude of producers and collaborated with a lot of different artists, do you have a favourite or anyone you particularly enjoyed working with?
“I still enjoy working with our own singers especially Earl 16 who is one of my favourite of all time and to be honest I still really enjoy working with Tim Bran, my co-producer I started Dreadzone within 93. Of course my bass partner of 30 plus years Leo Williams. So, [all] Dreadzone basically.”
You still tour and play extensively, what is that still excites you about playing and how do you keep your performance fresh and interesting for fans?
“The interaction with the audience who seem as passionate as we do. Seeing them bounce around and enjoy themselves lifts us up even more. The fact that we have a lot of material from our 20 year seven album history means we can change it round and keep it fresh.”
Is there any particular moment of your career that stands out as a highlight to you?
“Making the Second Light album is probably the finest achievement. To make something that has stood the test of time and still is special to people.”
What do you think about the music scene now, are there any bands that you admire or inspire you?
“There is much out there to be excited about. I listen to a lot of music including film soundtracks and classical music, and many bands from 50 years of rock and roll history. I don’t think there are any bands like The Clash etc to inspire the way they did. But I’m not 18 anymore. I draw inspiration from many different sources.”
For your fans here in Northern Ireland what can they expect?
“A bouncing dubwise session, leaving them wanting more.”
And what can fans look forward to for the rest of 2015?
“More shows. Touring. And enjoying our latest release Sound, remastered with bonus tracks, on our own Dubwiser label on 31st July.”