Dreadzone are about to release Escapades, their seventh studio album, and it contains a cameo from ex Clash and BAD man Mick Jones, on the single Too Late (out September 7).
Amid a run of festival dates, including Off The Tracks on Saturday August 31, Greg Dread told LTW how it feels for the band to have reached 20 years.
“There is an element of surprise and relief at reaching twenty years, but I think we have had the tenacity to keep going and build something lasting. We are realistic enough to know the limitations of a band, at our stage in life but it doesn’t stop us from trying to remain relevant, and write fresh innovative material that stands the test of time.
“A constantly growing fan base gives us strength to know we are doing okay in our own corner of the market. I attribute it to all the hard work by people involved in the band over the years and having a good business partnership with our management DMF who also support the label; plus us making an album every few years and a real love for playing live shows that will see us soldiering on.”
LTW: You’ve seen some changes in the industry in that time, why is it still important to have a label, and to release albums?
“Our label is an extension of us and this will be our third album release on it. You have to give fresh impetus to the touring by releasing something new. We feel we still have something to say musically and lyrically and are finding more ways to say it, even if it’s just to write songs about relationships, given the ‘Escapade’ one goes through to relate stories.
“We have progressed in our sound during 20 years so I’m still excited to see where we can go with it. Along with the albums there are also remixes which explore another heavier side to our sound. We look to expand on this foundation and release a lot more projects. Dreadzone in dub, re-releases of previous albums and a live dvd are a few things lined up.”
LTW: One thing DZ are known for is not sticking to the same rigid style on every album … so what can we expect from the new one?
“A more live feel, more songs and a mix of material that recalls different eras of the group with dub bass, melodic guitars, dance beats and electronic textures, and a record that was created in the wake of our BAD escapades in 2011, so some rock and roll crept in.
“The first single is us imagining a kind of Big Audio Dreadzone with Mick Jones guesting. Don Letts contributed some words on one tune and another important thing is reuniting with Tim Bran, the original co-founder as a producer, so it feels like the right record to release in our 20th year.
“We have avoided going over any previous ground and focused on letting the emotion of the songs guide us through re inventing the sound once again.”
LTW: You play a lot of festivals, so you must see a lot of acts. What impresses you these days?
“I was impressed by the Rolling Stones at Glastonbury but usually we see lots of good new bands and sounds coming through, especially ones where the technology of laptops and musicians with real instruments combine. I feel it is a vital way forward with live dance music. When I am at a festival I like to dance so a lot of DJs can hit the spot as well.”
LTW: If anything, you seem to be becoming more and more popular as a live draw. Why do you think that is?
“I would love to say we are one of the best live bands around…but I think its just an infectious heavy sound with a rhythm section that is nearly 30 years strong, plus a healthy catalogue of songs and an energetic love of performing that builds from a two way reaction with the audience. People who have grown with us now have their offspring and friends adding to the audience.
“The main thing is we do really love what we do and it shows.”
LTW: How did Mick Jones’ appearance on the album come about?
“Mainly from us being in his studio all the time after our BAD reunion in 2011. Mick was very kind to let us use it to make ‘Escapades’, we wanted to be there if he ever felt the need to tackle some new BAD stuff but at the same time we had our own album to make. We had this track ‘Too Late’ that was built around a sample from ‘Is Vic There’ by Dept S and it seemed perfect to play out a little BAD fantasy for a track. He came in and played some great guitar and and sung a counter line for the chorus, plus he threw in some production ideas including adding castanets. It’s the closest we will come to a BAD track at the moment.
“I feel it’s one of our strongest ever tunes and I hope both Dread and BAD fans alike can support it.”
Dreadzone release Escapades their seventh studio album out 9th September. The single with Mick Jones “Too Late” is out on 8th September. Catch Dreadzone live at The Scala on 19th September, for all other live dates go to the website.