Dubwar Speak to SonicAbuse

If you don’t know who Skindred are, you really need to ask yourself where you’ve been and what you’ve been listening to recently.

And by recently, I mean about TWELVE YEARS.

Ok, I’ll give you a small break on this one – their ‘Ragga Metal’ racket has only started making big waves in the last EIGHT years, since debut ‘Babylon’ came out, but still….

Good British metal bands are few and far between.

Great ones are like hens teeth.

Skindred are almost a force of nature. And, thanks to front-man Benji Webbe they are pretty much THE most fun you can have watching a metal band right now.

You want to know why?

Just rewind a little bit……

Dubwar.

Now, most of us DON’T have kind of foresight that says “Go see this band, you’ll regret it if you don’t”, and some of us are just TOO DAMN YOUNG to have seen every band in our record collection: some of this music lark just HAS to be nostalgia for a time passed. Some of what we listen to HAS to be from those dearly departed and sorely missed.

Notoriously hard to define, and cruelly overlooked in this country due to that ‘Britpop’ explosion, Dubwar mixed punk, metal and , well, pretty much EVERYTHING into a raucous explosion that, er, imploded, I guess…. before Benji gathered the troops, and dove right back in, rallying the Skindred we all know and love now.

Seriously – most people don’t even get one decent band together.

This guy managed it.

TWICE.

There’s a cliché somewhere about lightning not doing something like that….

Dubwar have released a ‘sort of best of’ under the name ‘The Dub, The War and the Ugly’ through Earache Records, which is available, now…..

SonicAbuse – It’s been 11 years since Dubwar split – what was the spark that led to compiling ‘The Dub, The War, and The Ugly’ at this time?

Benji Webbe – Since Dubwar died there’s not been a gig I’ve played since where people young and older don’t ask me about it, I approached Digby (Pearson, head of Earache) with the idea to put our last ever UK show and all the video’s in one package for those who missed out to see the roots and blue print for Skindred… plus I wanted all the stuff in one package coz the video cassettes I have are getting old and unwatchable.

How was the track-listing chosen?

We didn’t stress about that really – left it to Earache, I seen it, did a little shuffling but it was no big deal…

The DVD includes a live show from the Astoria – did this show have any particular significance?

Well it was the last ever show we played so yeah, it holds special memories for sure, none of us knew at the time, I think Ginge looks fucked half way through the set, I love his drumming … always have

What was Newport in the mid nineties like, as a ‘scene’? – As an outsider it looked pretty disparate. Did you find that being stuck among the guitar based indie bands that made up the bulk of that scene to be a blessing or a curse?

For us it was truly a blessing as all the other bands were quite the same. Doing this ‘dub punk thing’ we def had the factor of longer life than most scene bands in the ‘Port at that time and although we were around 5 years, we still lasted longer than them all…

Dubwar had a very unique sound – was there any one particular country that did or didn’t ‘get’ it?

Yeah, East Germany. We played in a club one night and the place was full when we went on, but by the time we got half way through the set the crowed slowly began to leave the club, till in the end we were playing to just the bar staff and the security, I was told that the last bus was 9pm and we went on at 8:45pm. Either way they left us there doing our thing…

Dubwar came to something of a painful end – how does it feel going through the recordings?

Life’s funny!  Time is a healer and when I’m listening to and watching the videos all I get is the fun and joy that the band brought me, I guess if I didn’t do anything more after the band finished I may have a sad  bitter feeling of energy but my band Skindred has eclipsed Dubwar by far and we have done some much more than Dubwar ever did, so I’m happy with that and glad just to watch and laugh…

Dubwar’s sound came about as every member brought something different to the ‘sound’. Was there anything suggested that was too ‘out there’?

Nah we did what we did and loved it… after ‘System of a Down’ anything’s possible: they opened up for Dubwar once in
New York!

There’s a strong Christian sensibility that comes through from the lyrics – how did this sit with the crowds you were playing to, given that both punk and metal crowds tend to view Christianity with a degree of suspicion?

I wasn’t up there saying repent I was up there singing my song, never got anything weird from the crowed just people wanting to rock…if I tried to preach I guess I might of tasted a bottle on the head but I never did on stage, on a personal level I did one to one kind of thing with other bands and we played with, most people respect where I was coming from and because they know I came form the streets and Jesus had delivered me from some hardcore shit – they were up for listening to my testimony…

Looking back, how long did it take you to get frustrated by being compared to Bad Brains  or Living Colour, since there’s actually very little in common between you?

To be honest, back then I just put it down to the lazy journalism, they see a black dude, don’t really listen to the band, just see the skin and say ‘Oh yeah, he is like so and so”. I don’t even bother fighting it any more: even now I still face ass-holes who say “You must love Bad Brains”. I just say “Yeah, HR is my biggest inspiration”.  The truth is I’ve never even owned a Living Colour or a Bad Brains album single or song…

Will there be any live dates to support this release?

Not a chance!

When compiling and reviewing ‘The Dub, The War, and The Ugly’, did you come across any tracks that you thought could be added to a Skindred setlist?

Nah it’s a different ting, bless…..

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