Interview: Dub Trio

Interview: Dub Trio

Don’t let their name fool you; Dub Trio has more of a dub soul than a dub sound. They keep dub at the heart of the music, but wrap it with the sounds of metal, rock and punk. Over the past decade bassist Stu Brooks, guitarist DP Holmes and drummer Joe Tomino have evolved through many styles and eventually morphed into a band that has found a way to cleanly blend them all.

In 2006 they began touring as Matisyahu’s band, after headlining as Dub Trio for years. Their relationship with Matisyahu has grown extremely strong over the years and their presence and sound are as much a part Matisyahu’s live show as the man himself. Although you are captivated by Matisyahu’s powerful stage presence and prolific lyrics, the four men on stage act as a cohesive unit and they all shine at different times. They add some rock to the hip-hop and reggae styles of Matisyahu; and they all seem very happy with the situation. The Pier got to catch up with Dub Trio before their performance with Matisyahu at The Ogden Theatre in Denver, and here is what they had to say…

The Pier: I have been listening to your new album IV, and have to say, it’s amazing! What has been the reaction to it?
Dub Trio: (Stu-) It has been a good reaction with the press and stuff, but we are ready to continue touring on it and play it for more people. (Joe-) I’m actually shocked, to be honest, by the praise that the press gave it. I thought people would hate on it a little bit more. We have gotten a little bit heavier on our last couple of albums, and the press kind of knocked us for that, because we’re not reggae maybe, because the word Dub is in the name. We started off as more of a dub reggae band. I was interested to see what happened with this record, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and great. People really got it! I was shocked.

The Pier: The album has a lot of different sounds and styles on it, but it is very cohesive and seamless. What do you attribute that too? Is it in the writing, the production?
Dub Trio: (Dave-)We’ve gotten better at what we do; like making it seamless and making it flow. Joe-It is all parts of the creative process the make it happen. When we mix it, we approach it like a Dub record, like guys did in the ‘70s. They would just record the basic tracks, like any pop reggae hit in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and then they would take the reels of the basic tracks and essentially remix it, do a Dub version. That’s what we do. We have made all our records like that. We record all the basic parts and when it comes time to mix it, we rearrange it into what we want it to be…the final picture.

The Pier: What were your backgrounds before Dub Trio?
Dub Trio: (Dave-) Directly before Dub Trio, we were all in a band together (Actual Proof), with a singer and keyboards. It started off as kind of a funk band, then went into a kind of drum and bass type band, all this was in the late ‘90s. Then we moved from Boston to New York, and Joe joined the band. I loved rock music as a kid, and have always loved using pedals and effects to make things sound different. Joe-When I moved to New York and joined Actual Proof fin early 2000, I was really into Avant Garde jazz, I was listening to a lot of classical music, hip-hop, heavy drum and bass and experimental electronic music, and Dub. I was really into to anything that was weird and sounded interesting, stuff that wasn’t on the radio. I have played all types of music, just like Dave and Stu. I always stay open to all types of music, but at that time in my career I was just WIDE open. We turned each other on to new music and kind of fed each other when we first met. It was amazing and really creative time for us. Stu-For years, before moving to New York, I was really into a lot of drum and bass music, R&B, Funk, Jazz, Hip-Hop, things that helped me learn my instrument. Then we I moved to New York and met Joe, and he really expanded my horizons and introduced me to a lot of different music. I give him credit for introducing me to a King Tubby record, which made me fall in love with dub, then I was kind of obsessed with that.

The Pier: So you are Dub Trio on your own, but you also play behind Matisyahu. How do they influence each other?
Dub Trio: (Dave-) I feel like we really influence his music, especially live. He gives us the freedom to be ourselves with the music and get our own takes on the songs and play them as we will, which is really nice. So, I think at the live shows we really inject our own sound, just because he is so open to it. (Joe-) Just us playing in a different context outside of Dub Trio has influences on us. We have backed up other artists besides Matisyahu as well. Whether it teaches you a discipline or opens you up to a different style; or just lets you grow. It all affects us as Dub Trio. The beautiful thing about Matisyahu is that he is so wide open. I think that improvisation is so intrinsic to where he came from as an artist that if we try something new or take the music in a different direction, he picks right up on it and feeds it right back to us. It’s this symbiotic thing which is really cool. It is amazing to work with an artist like that, because there aren’t many of them. Stu-When we are backing up any artist we are always going to bring Dub Trio’s sound, that’s the goal. For an artist on Matisyahu’s level to allow you to do that is rare. This is an ideal situation for us. We are just real lucky to be playing with Matisyahu. He is a good friend.

Matisyahu has made some big changes lately by shaving his beard and letting go of some of the restrictions of a long followed relgious practice. He is still a devout Jew, just not Haasidic. He still radiates a powerfully spiritual aura, except now his clean shaven face allows his joy to radiate even more. No one in Dub Trio spoke about the event, because it isn’t as big a deal as most may think. One man simply made a personal decision to let go of some strict rules; but kept his strong faith.

Interview By: Brian Turk
Photos By: Kit Chalberg