Last updated: 1st Nov 2012.
Originally published: 31st Oct 2012
As one of the UK's most successful underground bands, Dub Pistols' career has spanned two decades, six albums, and countless line-up changes and collaborations.
From hip-hop to dub, big beat to reggae and everything in between, the Dub Pistols' defy pigeon-holing; their high-tempo live shows blending styles and influences in an explosive musical melange that led them to be voted 'Best Live Act' at DJ Mag's Best Of British Awards last year.
Ahead of their appearance at Sound Control on November 7th for Lowdown and Dirty, we caught up with Dub Pistols's main man Barry Ashworth to talk riots, drugs and rock n roll.
You've had a busy summer of festivals. What have been the highlights?
We have been lucky enough to play so many great festivals this year, but the two that really stood out were Boomtown Fair - which really stepped up its game this year in terms of production and capacity, going from 15000 last year to 35000 this year - and Bestival, which even though we had to move from main stage to the second stage due to our late arrival from Space in Ibiza, we still pulled the biggest crowd of the weekend on that stage and the place just went off.
Your latest album Worshiping the Dollar seems to be a return - lyrically at least - to your earlier, more politically charged style. What inspired you to go back along this route?
It just seemed right at the time of recording, as the credit crunch had fully kicked in and rioting had broken out across the country. It was also the Queen's Jubilee, which kinda reminded me of the last Jubilee in 1977 when punk was in full flow and again rioting had broken out in Notting Hill and Brixton. Just felt it was time to address the issues
You've been around for over a decade now but have managed to retain a loyal following of fans and stay consistently popular. What's the key to your longevity? Do you think the constant evolution in your sound and line-ups has anything to do with it?
I think the key to our longevity has been to keep going no matter how tough it gets. Never surrender, like a fighter. If you keep picking yourself up off the canvas you still have a chance, if you throw in the towel the fight's over. Changing the line-up helps to keep things fresh and new ideas coming, so you never get bored.
You've spoken out before against the 'Big Beat' label which has often been pinned on you. Is pigeon-holing bands in this way always unhelpful, do you think?
The 'big beat' label was a stick we got beaten with for years, but I feel we have never stuck to one style and have always switched things up, which confuses the masses and is a thing I like doing. I've always been eclectic in my musical taste, and that comes across in the music I make - I hope.
You've collaborated with so many legends over the past decade. Who were you most in awe of?
Terry Hall has always been a God to me so it has to be him, but working with Gregory Issacs has to be up there - the experience was the best day I've ever had in a studio.
Is there anyone that's slipped the net so far? Someone you've always wanted to work with but it hasn't happened yet?
Yeah too many to mention, but there is still time.
How about current acts? Are there any up and coming artists that you're particularly impressed by?
King Yoof is fresh, as is Genisis Elijah and Serocee
Where do you see the UK music scene at the moment? Do you think it's in a healthy place?
Healthy… not sure about that! There are great bands and music on the underground but Simon Cowell, X Factor and the daytime radio playlist have killed songwriting and recording for real bands. It's getting harder for real talent to break through.
How about the US? What's your opinion on the whole 'EDM' scene that's developing out there?
It makes me laugh.
Do you have any plans to return to the States?
You've claimed before to be quite an unlucky band. What's the most unfortunate thing that's ever happened to you?
We seem to glide from one disaster to another - so many so that I'm writing a book about it called 'What Could Possibly Go Wrong' - so you will be able to read all my trials and tribulations soon.
You're known for having an appetite for partying - and the stamina to go with it. Do you still party as hard as you used to?
Well I'm not doing 4 grams of coke a day and a bag of pills anymore, but I still like to party when I can.
Have you ever done a gig sober?
Yeah I've done two shows in 25 years sober, and I hated it
How much time does your label Westway Records take up? How do you balance the demands of the label and the band?
I've been so busy touring this year that the label is on hold right now, and I only wanna put out a track if it's mind blowing.
Have your own experiences of labels from an artist perspective affected the way that you treat artists on your label?
Well it has meant that I can see things from both sides, yes.
What would you be doing for a living if you weren't in music?
Well I worked in film for 10 years as a 1st Assistant Director, so I guess it would be that.
Your high-energy live shows are integral to the Dub Pistols experience. What can fans expect at your Sound Control show? Will you have any special guest collaborators with you?
Well you can expect the full Dub Pistols. There's gonna be a riot experience, no holds barred mayhem. Regarding guests… let's wait and see.
Catch Barry and the Dub Pistols at Sound Control for Lowdown and Dirty on November 7th. Tickets are available below.
Tickets are no longer available for this event