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Dreadzone



Having formed Dreadzone with ex-B.A.D. buddies, bassist Leo 'E-Zee Kill' Williams, keyboard prodder Dan ‘son of top snapper Terrance’ Donovan and musician, producer and engineer Tim Bran, Greg ‘Dread’ Roberts and Co. took the wildly experimental streak they had experienced with Mick Jones and tapped straight into the burgeoning ‘90s dance scene mixing reggae, rock, techno, trance, folk and dub into an intoxicating mix which made them immediate live favourites and chart bothering singles artists. Eighteen years, nine albums, numerous live and DJ sets later they are still going strong (as well as reviving B.A.D. with Mick Jones as a hugely successful touring act in 2011), and just about to release career retrospective The Best Of Dreadzone: The Good The Bad And The Dread all of which seemed a good enough reason for Andy Basire to ask founder member Greg Dread a bunch of stuff, starting with a question about his musical background.

Greg: “Neither of my parents were musically inclined, but my brother and I started playing early on and developed a love for music from listening to The Who the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, and then funk and jazz to expand our feel.”

Total Music: What other bands were you involved with before B.A.D.?

Greg: “I worked in a variety of situations from a reggae band in Brixton, funk and soul pickup gigs, sessions and all manner of styles that gave me the skills to apply to [audition for] B.A.D.”

Total Music: How did you become involved with Mick Jones?

Greg ‘Dread’ RobertsGreg: “I went to an audition that was advertised in the Melody Maker, coincidentally I had put an ad in the same week looking for like minded musicians, but luckily I went for this project. I came from a more dance and reggae background which was what appealed to him.”

Total Music: What do you recall about this period (the mid to late 80s), working with an ex-Clash superstar must have had its plusses and minuses?

Greg: “It all went by so quickly but I recall it was an important step for me to be involved with people like this. I spent a lot of time before as just a musician, so when I joined I was given a drum machine to experiment with [which] opened the door to composing. It was like being in a college and Mick's influence has been a huge thing in my life, something I carried into dreadzone.”

Total Music: Why did the original B.A.D. lineup come to an end?

Greg: “It felt like it had run its course but mainly it was over silly disputes about the way shares in the band were run. With all that stuff out of the way now its a fresh exciting venture.”

Having parted company with Mick Jones Greg, Leo, Dan and Don Letts went on to form the short lived but underrated Screaming Target (track down their one and only album Hometown Hi-Fi released in 1991) naming the band after a Big Youth album and turning what must have been a major concern about their musical future into a very positive period.

Greg: “Yes indeed it was, it was positive in as much as it was a learning curve, I threw myself into producing the album and learned a lot in the process and met Tim Bran along the way. We wrote some good songs and laid the foundation for the reggae/dance blueprint.”

Total Music: Why did Screaming Target end and Dreadzone begin and was Don Letts never involved?

Greg: “It ended because we were dropped by Island Records and had to rethink. I felt the Dreadzone thing was something different as I had started to write more on my own and with Tim Bran, even though Don had put some vital sample stuff my way. He thought of the name and was always around but it was something guided by me and my desire to incorporate electronic and new dance elements and develop a new album/live sound.”

Total Music: The early 90s was a fantastic era for fusing trance, reggae, rock, techno, folk and more, did you feel part of that whole scene?

Leo 'E-Zee Kill' WilliamsGreg: “That sounds like the description on our Wikipedia! The early '90s dance scene was a big influence and we felt we have a part in the scene of those days with the likes of Leftfield, Underworld and Renegade Soundwave.”

Total Music: Unlike many of the bands from that era Dreadzone have never ceased to exist, what keeps you motivated and to keep working?

Greg: “A love of music and exploration, trying to fly the flag for innovation, through DJ stuff live shows and working on new ideas, its what I make a living from so I must keep the flow going. If you have ideas its easy to be motivated.”

Total Music: You are noted for your live performances, how hard is it to capture that excitement in a studio environment?

Greg: “Our full live energy has yet to be captured on record properly but the last album (Eye On The Horizon) has more of a live feel with the way we made it. I feel the next one will be closer than ever.”

Total Music: What prompted the creation of the Dreadzone Sound-system?

Greg: “It was just another way to keep the music performance going with a slimmed down representation. Plus I like DJ-ing as a way of keeping ahead of the curve, travelling light and with (Dreadzone vocalist MC) Spee as my sidekick we have fun taking the show to places and rocking the dancefloor.”

Total Music: Tell us about the reformation of B.A.D., how is it going and will there be any new material?

Greg: “It's all going great , I am writing this from New York where we have a show tomorrow after just coming from a great set at Coachella. The UK tour went so much better than we expected and has given everyone a nice surprise. I can't see any new stuff being planned yet but you never know.”

Total Music: Is this new 'best of...' a full stop for Dreadzone or an underlining of the past before moving on?

Greg: “Some people have asked this and I find it crazy people would think I would kill off a great band that has made six strong albums and is one of the best live bands around. this 'best of' is a celebration of what we have done since leaving B.A.D. and the time is perfect to remind everyone of where we came from and what a strong body of work we have.”

The Best Of Dreadzone: The Good The Bad And The Dread will be released on 9th May 2011 on Dubwiser Records and the band are on tour throughout May. Big Audio Dynamite also return to the UK in June for festival dates and you can find oodles more Dreadzone info at www.dreadzone.com

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