Gentleman’s Dub Club, an incredible roots reggae/ska/dub collective whipped their Rock City audience into a frenzied groove, complete with energised skanking on Wednesday night. Since forming in 2006, the nine piece have toured extensively since their inception, supporting artists such as Roots Manuva and Madness. Live mixing, waves upon waves of vigorous brass, ska horns, bongos, and mesmerising reggae bass lines resulted in an intensely energetic evening.
Prior to the gig, I settled myself into a decadent red sofa in the basement of Rock City to chat with Jonny, Ed, and Tommy about their forthcoming debut album, the importance of live music, and being a pilot.
So you’ve played a lot of festivals in the past, from Secret Garden Party and Latitude to Bestival, Glastonbury and Outlook. Which has been your favourite?
Jonny: Traditionally we play lots of festivals. The last three years we were doing 20 to 25 festivals each summer, but this year we decided to take a step back. We only did V-festival and Outlook, both of which were amazing.
Tommy: We’ve played Outlook every year and it’s one of the best festivals to play at, mainly because the crowd is so knowledgeable. If you’re a jazz musician you’d want to play at a really quiet venue with people who were really listening to the music, and at Outlook it’s exactly the same but for bass music. The people who you’re playing to have a good understanding of what you’re trying to do.
Jonny: It’s the same with gigs actually, the people are so hyped; they are there to see just you.
You’re renowned for putting on pretty energetic performances, what would you say has been the craziest?
Jonny: Arcadia at Glastonbury a few years ago was pretty awesome. We’d done two other gigs there and it was the end of 3 days that we’d been at Glastonbury, which I remember was a muddy one. We were performing on the big spider structure, and we got word they were going to let a load of fire off for our last track ‘Fire’. Some of us drove straight back to London after that and we missed Beyonce…
But we used to play big club shows and raves where there’d be all these DJs with big names that people went mental for – and then us. We’d come on and our tunes were never as good as theirs, but we smashed it, simply because our music just contains a whole different element.
Gentleman’s Dub Club is a part of this really awesome dub/reggae/ska movement, which has grown considerably over the past few years. Was this a conscious decision or natural progression as a result of shared musical interest?
Jonny: We met in 2006 and it’s been a lot of messing around ever since. If we weren’t in Gentleman’s Dub Club now, we would still essentially be playing music for enjoyment in a basement somewhere. But it was Harry Devenish who organised us, and took a group of people who aren’t otherwise much good at anything else, and decided to put us down this route.
The road we’re going down is reggae influenced electronic music with really soulful bubbles, and a whole load of other shit thrown in. I think it’s just that people are begging for live music. It’s one of the best ways to consume music really – it gets in people’s heads and changes their mind-set. Electronic music has taken over from Rock and Roll in the charts, and I think people are begging for something a bit more natural and soulful.
Which artists would you say have influenced you the most?
Ed: Influences are big. My favourite band are The Beat, those guys are awesome. I never saw them back in the day because I was, what, 3 years old, but they’ve got energy… stage presence. Mirror in the Bathroom – for me that tune was a big influence. If I could sit down and write a tune that amazing, then I could just quit and be a happy man.
If you weren’t involved with music, what would you be doing?
Ed: Working for Alliance & Leicester… or Barclays.
Jonny: Maybe jobseekers allowance.
Ed: I’d be keeping bees.
Jonny: I’d love to fly commercial aeroplanes. I’d be great, because it’s all autopilot. I even did it for my twelfth birthday, I was put in a real simulator that proper pilots go in – it was so realistic.
Tommy: Weeee, look at that cloud!
Jonny: I went from New York to Tokyo in this simulator. It was pretty cool.
Tommy: What, did it last the full 9 hours?
Jonny: No of course not, it was speeded up.
Aside from fictional careers, however exciting they may be, do you have other side projects going on?
Tommy: How long have you got? It’s pretty expansive. Jonny runs Outlook festival, I’m in Submotion Orchestra and Ed has got as many writing projects on the go as you wanna talk about. Everyone’s the same, which is pretty great.
Jonny: One really cool thing about being in the band for such a long time is that you develop a genuine connection with performing live and making music, regardless of what else you do and have going on. We’ve still managed to keep up that connection, and we’ve been lucky enough to play together live for the past 5 or 6 years.
Tel us a little about your debut album which is due for release in March
Ed: One of the main issues for us really, was how to take a live show and put it on a CD. I mean, we already have two EPs out, ‘Members Only’ and ‘Open Your Eyes’ but the debut album coming out in March is a big deal for us. We took it onboard and did it all in-house by ourselves. It felt like the right thing to do after toying with different ideas of doing this or that over the past few years. We just hope it’s received well, and then we’ll gig the hell out of it.
Jonny: We definitely want to be more prolific in recording music after the album in March though.
Ed: It’s fun to play live, and if we’re able to do things that mean we can keep playing live then everything else will just be a bonus.
…Helena has been listening to Damian Marley – Land of Promise (Feat. Nas)
Gentleman’s Dub Club released their second EP ‘Open Your Eyes’ in March this year.