In Talks with Gentleman’s Dub Club

Gentleman’s Dub Club is a nine-piece band that formed in Leeds in early 2006. With a style based in dub, ska and roots reggae, GDC have burst onto the UK circuit, rocking gigs and festivals up and down the country with their super high energy show. Combining tight grooves and a heavyweight sound, Gentleman’s Dub Club bring the party to crowds of all ages hungry for a dance floor workout, with their gigs often ending in a frenzied mosh pit reminiscent of a mid 80’s ska night. Live effects and mixing make for a crystal clear sound, and the band’s larger than life stage presence makes for a mesmerising experience.

We were lucky enough to sit down with the lead singer of Gentleman’s Dub Club ahead of their set at the Garden Stage this summer, here’s what he had to say…

This will be your third time gracing the Garden Stage at El Dorado, you’re obviously a crowd favourite! We find you guys always manage to get the audience to go crazy during your sets…what’s your secret?

Firstly, thank you very much, It’s a pleasure to be back! I have very fond memories of playing on that stage. The key to getting a crowd going hasn’t changed since we started (…which is now about 800 gigs ago), we’ve just shared our music to an audience, it’s not really a we’re-going-to-perform-to-you kind of set up that we’ve got. We know that it’s enjoyable because we’re enjoying it, and the audience are enjoying it, which is an intrinsic part of this process. It’s all about enjoyment really, but we’re fortunate that there are eight of us on stage making a lot of noise. So there’s no one thing- but ultimately I think it’s just being fortunate enough to play the music we do and being placed in the right environment where people are up for it.

You started your musical journey in Leeds, notably home to Iritation Steppas and of course Sub Dub which has become a pillar of the UK dub community over the past 20 years. Was living in Leeds around this scene your main influence that led to starting the band or was it something you’d always wanted to do?

You’re pretty spot on about the Leeds scene! I never really decided to start a band, I’ve personally always been a singer and I’ve always enjoyed using my voice in different ways with music. When I first went to Leeds I was actually MCing over Drum & Bass and then when we were all up there together Sub Dub was an inspiration to me. There were a couple of guys I knew already going up to Leeds, who I’d go to Sub Dub with and yeah we just got really stoned in a basement for a few months and tried to explore these different sounds. We actually had a copy of Reason on a computer [which is like a music making programme] and we had the delay unit and a reverb unit, one microphone, one speaker and a black light and that was it… so we just rolled with that for a couple of months and made music. Leeds was an amazing place for music at that time, you always see things in a different way retrospectively to when you’re there. At the time I remember seeing Rusko playing at a house party, Submotion Orchestra were also there, we were there – Hessle Audio was set up at the same time with Ramadanman – Pearson Sound, Ben UFO,  all these people were together playing at Sub Dub, so there was definitely something about the energy of the city at the time.

Was there a tune that first put you onto dub music? Do you remember where you got it and as this was pre spotify and apple music time, where was your go to place to crate dig?

The first CD I bought was from Tribe Records and it was a Tappa Zukie CD. I’d been to Sub Dub a couple of times and I went down to Tribe and met Si Scott for the first time which is quite an amusing thing to look back on now that I know him well. Iritation was in there at the time, I went down into the basement and I was like “I’d love to get a CD” and they gave me this Tappa Zukie CD which was wicked and really kind of like spaced out but heavy dub music, that was a really big influence on me personally. Outside of that we were listening to people who were coming up to Sub Dub, people like Vibronics, obviously Iration Steppas, Tubbys and then Twinkle Brothers came over which was a massive moment for us. Other artists were on that dub, ska, reggae band vibe but no one else was really making that four to the floor Steppas style so we just snuck in there.

Congratulations on the new album, we’re all huge fans in the office! What inspired you to explore a more psychedelic space sound?

It felt quite natural actually, we went from 44 Headingley lane in Leeds which was the name of the first album 44, we moved down to London and the next one was called ‘The Big Smoke’ and after that it was Dubtopia which was a floating island above London and so the natural step then was space. We decided we were going to do a name about space, GDC in space or something like that and then a story came off the back of it, which I wrote and developed with Luke the keyboard player and then everything just kind of fell into place. It was one of those times when someone comes up with an idea and everyone buys it straight away! There was no questioning it!

If you could collaborate with any dub, reggae or ska artist dead or alive who would it be and why?

I’d love to do a tune with Culture because he’s one of my favourite singers of all time, he’s just got such a groove and soul in the sound he’s creating and the songs he’s writing with the way he puts his vocals across. For me the big artists growing up were Culture, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer. I suppose that’s just in reggae and i’m only speaking for myself across the band our music tastes are spread across lovers of reggae, dance music, grime, jazz most of them were jazz musicians when they started. Or classical. Or heavy metal.

Gentleman’s Dub Club are now an impressive 4 Albums and 3 EPs deep, thats a lot of touring! What’s the most outrageous tour story you can share with us?

Matt our trumpet player, he’s pretty outrageous, well he was definitely more outrageous before than he is now. I remember we were once on the way back from a festival and we bet him £20 to go into the petrol station and pay for the petrol in a fluorescent yellow and pink thong and be dead serious about the whole thing. When he walked in there was a stag do at the same time who were all pissed and they basically had an absolute field day. By the time he got to the till he had been so hazed that he forgot the pin and ended up having to come back out ask for it and go back in and do it all again.

If one thing’s clear in your band, it’s your unity and friendship on and off stage. At a time where band breaks ups are not uncommon, what would you say your secret is and how have you managed to stay together for so long?

I think it’s really important to have good leadership and management because naturally as there’s so many people, there’s a lot of individual trauma and problems and issues and stuff that arises all the time. If that can be managed in the right way then it’s generally cool and we’ve been really lucky with that. It’s interesting because where the bands so big you kind of flow between people, you might be in a 2 or a 3 one weekend and swap next weekend to be with different people and you share different hotel rooms so it’s nice to mix it up a lot. If there’s just three of you in a band I imagine the other two could do your nut in and then you have nowhere to go which would be a nightmare.

Finally some quick fire questions

  • What’s your music guilty pleasure

Probably Boys II Men

  • London or Leeds?

Leeds

  • Augustus Pablo or King Tubby

They’re not fair to compare the two, I love them both for different reasons

  • Who’s the funniest band member

Probably Kieran the saxophone player, he’s really very funny although everyones got their moments.

 

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