bill bodkin interviews the supercool reggae band as they prepare to headline pop-break’s shipwrecked at the shore music showcase at the wonder bar in asbury park on thursday april 26…
The Jersey Shore might be known to some for blow-outs, fist pumps and juice-heads, but it’s also known as a hot bed for the sweet, sweet sounds of reggae. Yes, tucked away amongst the shore town of Belmar and Point Pleasant and that famed city-by-the-sea Asbury Park, there’s an army of irie artists who bring dance hall, roots, soca and dub to life every night. These bands bring a summer heat to a frigid winter night and provide the soundtrack to steamy summer nights where the smell of Coppertone and limes for sweaty bottles of Corona fill a room.
On the top bands in the scene is Dub Proof — a wonderfully talented collective of dub reggae artists who have a sublime ‘riddim’ and unabashed style and swagger to their sound. Their music is the stuff you sway to with a bottle in the air and sense of bounce to your spirit.
Pop-Break spoke with Dub Proof’s bassist Nick “Turtle” Paolise and drummer Kenny Pete about reggae music, Asbury Park and the history of the band as they prepare to headline Pop-Break’s Shipwrecked at The Shore Showcase tonight.
Pop-Break: This might seem like a silly question to start off with, but explain what exactly ‘dub’ is. We all know it’s a form of reggae, but a lot of people don’t fully grasp what dub really is.
Nick Paolise: Dub is a stripped down version of reggae; normally a remix of a song done with minimal vocals, delay echo’s, huge reverb, and heavy riddims.
Kenny Pete: The term Dub in reggae music refers to some of the production techniques used by reggae produces like Lee Perry, King Tubby & Augustus Pablo in the late 1960s, using the mixing console as an instrument to create a new mix from a pre-existing track. The producer would usually remove the vocal track, and put an emphasis on the drums & bass, then mix in the other instruments, guitar, keyboards, horns & some vocal parts with lots of effects, delay, reverb, echo, thus creating this entirely new kind of sound from pre recorded reggae music. Everyone knows the Bob Marley album Legend, but not too many people seek out Legend in Dub which is a completely different listening experience.
PB: Going off that answer — what spin does Dub Proof put on dub music?
NP: We try to emulate this studio magic in a live setting.
KP: Dub Proof is an extension of what we love about reggae music. We love the idea of treating each member of the band as a slide fader on a mixing console. We will arrange songs that apply some of these production techniques live. But that doesn’t just mean we pug in some geek box effects and it’s off to dub city, if it were that easy, everyone would do it. (Laughs Heartily) We study the structure of the music, the ideas, the flow, break it all down, then build it back up the way we would do it. Reggae riddims have been around for millions of years & we are just adding to those riddims as they pass by us in space and time.
PB: I’ve seen photos of you performing live and Dub Proof has a lot of members in it — why go with a band of this size?
NP: Well, reggae has a lot of layers and to achieve the sound we are going for we need a lot of instruments. Of course we could get this sound with a laptop computer, but what fun would that be?
KP: It’s our belief that in order to play the kind of music we play correctly, there are rules. Each member of the group has a certain role to play, and it’s the combanation of everyone abiding by those rules creating the proper space and overall sound of the music. In our version of dub reggae, there is a foundation of the bass & the drums, the rhythm by the guitar & keyboards and the hooks & leads by the saxophone. When all those elements come together you have a greater value as a whole, than we would have as individuals.
PB: Dub Proof has an interesting beginning — half your band was Jersey Shore based, half your band was New York based. How did you guys come together?
NP: Long story short, [drummer] Pat Clarke, [guitarist/vocalist] Sean Milano, [saxophonist] Dave Hollander, [keyboadist] Paul Kates and I, met Perry, Kevin Chambers and Elijah Roberts at Best Instrument Studios in Long Island City, Queens. Paul had worked with Perry, Elijah, and Kev. The guys had a tune they wanted to record so we went up to lay tracks down for them on Paul’s referral. The vibe was right! Jerry is a master sound man and guitarist, Kev rocks the riddim guitar and vocals, and Elijah is a lead singer.
KP: Even in its earliest stages dub proof was a band divided! (Laughs heartily) Nick & Dave were based in the Tinton Falls/Red Bank area & Pat, Sean & Paul were from further north. Paul knew Perry Winston who owns & operates Best Instrument Rental & Rehearsal in Queens NYC so we would all meet up there to practice. We got to do some really great things like open for Dub Is A Weapon who are Brooklyn natives, at their record release party at Sullivan Hall, and we also did a great gig for the South Orange Performing Arts Center last summer.
PB: You guys have performed with a number of big time reggae acts — what was one of your favorite bands to perform with and why?
NP: I’d have to say the Pato Banton show on 3/24/11 [at The Saint in Asbury Park}! Magic was in the air, yeah I know that sounds cliché, but I don't know how else to explain it. It was an incredible night!
KP: It just takes some planning, open communication and honesty. If everyone is on the same page, responsive & into it then everything works out well. If the show was down here, they traveled & vise versa. It's always fun to come together and have an 11 piece super band once in a while. The sound is just massive!
PB: Going off my 4th question how did having members in different states make it harder for you guys to book shows?
NP: Thankfully for us, it’s never hard to book shows, we always have an offer to play somewhere, and we are very grateful for that. he hard thing is rehearsing for the shows … having members in different states makes this difficult. Because of that, the NYC guys join us for the bigger budget productions, and us local Jersey folks (the core) rock the showcases and everything else. That’s how we’ve been doing it lately and it’s been working out well. It’s pretty cool to be able to strip it down and be minimal as well as layering it on to get the full sound.
KP: We have been blessed and very fortunate to share the stage with numerous regional, national and international acts ranging from The Wailers and Badfish to reggae legends like The Mighty Diamonds, Mykal Rose of Black Uhuru, Inner Visions (U.S.V.I.) & Culture. While all those acts were amazing, our favorite reggae group that we every played with was Pato Banton & The Now Generation at The Saint in Asbury Park in March of 2011. The whole evening was not just a great show, but a spiritual transmission of life & positive energy that we couldn’t help be affected by, I’m talking everyone from the bands to the fans to the staff, just a really awesome nigh all the way around. Everyone talks about those kind of moments in music and we are not only excited to have felt it, but to also be a part of it is a truly humbling feeling.
PB: Dub Proof brought in members of the now defunct surf/reggae band, The Salt Water All-Stars who had quite a following in the Point Pleasant Beach area. Why were these guys brought in and how have they changed the sound of Dub Proof?
NP: I never knew who the Saltwater All-Stars were to be honest with you, I just knew Kenny, who was in a different band after leaving the All-Stars, started coming to Dub Proof shows. We got to know him as a pretty cool guy and a good drummer from his previous work. He sat in with us during our show at The Wave Gathering in AP in 2009 on percussion, and fit right in with what we were trying to do. Years later our original drummer Pat couldn’t do the band full time anymore so we moved Kenny from percussion to drums. Things change over time and we needed to find a new voice and Kenny suggested his friend Rory Fream who was the singer of the allstars who had recently disbanded. After jamming twice, we officially claimed The Roke off the free agent waver wire and its been awesome ever since.
PB: Do you guys have any albums or EP’s out currently? And even if you don’t, people can find your tunes online on sites like Soundcloud. With that being said, if someone was to check you out and wanted to listen to a track that defined the Dub Proof sound — which would it be?
NP: Yes, we digitally released the “NJ Dub” single thru Green Stream LLC. It’s available for purchase on iTunes, Rhapsody, Spotify, Amazon, CD Baby, etc. “NJ Dub (beer)” is a great tune to check out! We also have a Soundcloud – Our youtube channel is also a great place to check out live recordings and our AWESOME vignettes.
KP: “NJ Dub (Beer)” is our fist single on iTunes. It’s a two song package with a regular version and a dub version so you can compare both songs to experience dub directly out of your speakers or headphones. We highly recommend Headphones. We recorded and mastered the song locally, but for the mixing of the track we sent it to Scientist, a legendary dub reggae producer with an extensive catalog that you should check out if you have never heard of him before. We couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out. It sounds amazing, and I’m trying be humble here (laughs).
PB: You guys play the Asbury scene quite often — what’s your opinion on the scene right and what’s your opinion on the reggae scene here at the Jersey Shore?
NP: Asbury’s home field, the scene is great! Big Ups to Scott at The Saint, Kyle at the Pony, Drew at Phanphest, Chico’s House of Jazz, and Bill at Pop-Break for keeping it alive and well! The reggae scene is getting better, shout out to Random Test and Predator Dub Assassins the veteran players and also shout out to new young blood band Loose Fit! The only thing this little beach town, Asbury Park, needs is an annual two day Reggae festival on the beach outside Convention Hall!
KP: We love the scene around here. We love all the local promoters and venues who host shows and we love all the fans that come to shows. We would also love to see the reggae scene here on the Jersey shore grow to new heights. In the summer time, people like to chill outside with a cold beverage and relax to the laid back reggae, island style kind of vibe. Just like you have learned the definition of dub, there are also some really great, diverse and talentd reggae bands right in our own backyard. From Random Test doing classic roots reggae and soca, to the P-Dub Assassins doing the mainstseam & dance-hall reggae style to the bands like Loose Fit and Flight’s Kool doing the rock reggae thing so all aspects of reggae are getting represented. Why not take all those great reggae bands and put on an all day/night outdoor concert? Throw us into the mix and we’ve got a great show on our hands, just waiting to happen. Do you know anyone that wants to put on an awesome reggae show this summer?
PB: What do you guys have planned for the remainder of 2012?
NP: Fatherhood! Madi and I are expecting our first child this July! In music related news we have a few things on our plate: May 23rd we’re at the Stone Pony with Loose Fit, June 2nd we’re playing the Angry Drunk BBQ in Toms River, and on June 9th we’re doing 3 sets at The Brass Rail in Old Bridge! We’re also recording 3 more songs and they will be released in the near future. Before I go just want to say, Hi Mom!
KP: The Dub Proof family will grow in leaps and bounds in 2012, no joke, we’ve got some babies on the way! We will be heading into the studio in the next few weeks to make a record, which will end up being two records, a traditional version and a dub version. Lots of great stuff is going on, we’ve got a few more shows coming up soon in May & June that you won’t want to miss. The best way to stay on top of all things dub proof is follow us on twitter, or just call Nick 732-348-3187 (I’m just kidding, thats really not Nick’s number. It’s Dave’s, I kid I kid).
Dub Proof headlines Pop-Break’s Shipwrecked at The Shore Music Showcase tonight at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, N.J.