Dub Trio caught the attention of Ipecac Recordings’ Greg Werckman and Mike Patton when it sent the label an advance of New Heavy. Werckman recalls, “They already had a label at this point, so it was more like, ‘Hey, we really like what you do. We would like you to check us out.’”
Ipecac has a well-deserved reputation for celebrating distinctive voices in modern music, such as Isis, Melvins, Hella, and Patton’s own Tomahawk, Fantômas, and Peeping Tom. Although Werckman estimates the company gets hundreds of demos a week, “Dub Trio stood out because their sounds are so unique.”
Patton, a prolific artist known for his work with Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, and countless other bands and projects, is a musically kindred spirit with Dub Trio in that he surpasses conventions of genre, finding inspiration from the most varied places. Impressed by its style and musicianship, he invited Dub Trio to collaborate on a song with him for his upcoming Peeping Tom album.
The group’s contribution resulted in the anthemic “Not Alone,” a song that also wound up on New Heavy and was the first Dub Trio track to feature vocals. Dub Trio then toured as part of Peeping Tom, opening the shows with a set of its own material.
The band applauds Joel Hamilton, who has produced all of its studio records and has become the “fourth” member of Dub Trio in the studio, for helping achieve its colossal sound on Another Sound is Dying. Exploring the Dangers of… and New Heavy have been praised for their live feel, but in producing its latest album, Dub Trio embraced the luxury of having a bit more studio time than usual to nurture each track.
“We could just go in and record one track each, do it, bang it out, and get a good performance,” Holmes explains. “But we do that every night when we play, so when we go into the studio, we want to get the best sound possible. If we have to put six guitars to make it sound full or put keyboards on because that’s what we want to hear, we’ll do it, and I think we’re able to cover it all live.”
“The material has been written. The studio version is one version of that song, so if you come see us play tomorrow, it will be somehow different. It’s going to be a dub, a version of that song. We’re not going to play the same reverb in the same spot every single time.”
Although the band maintains that it doesn’t write or record with a musical agenda in mind, Another Sound… is a cohesive package. From the rumbling bass lines and precise drum beats on “Not For Nothing,” to delving deep into dub roots on “Mortar Dub” and transporting listeners to another plane on the atmospheric “Felicitation,” the album plays like the perfect score to an action thriller not yet written.
The record is a departure from the band’s previous work in that the balance shifts further away from reggae in favor of gut-wrenching hard rock, but Tomino says that the songs show a “logical progression of where it’s been going. Who knows where it’s going to go tomorrow or the next record?”
The future is bright for Dub Trio. Tour plans are imminent, both nationally and abroad. Although it has already released a slew of impressive material, Werckman is excited to see what it will come up with next. “They are one of those bands that are fun to work with,” he says. “They’re just beginning, really.”
Brooks contends, “I don’t see us getting a Top-40 hit, but who knows? The sky is the limit. We’re doing the right thing and I think it’s important.” On American radio, perhaps the band’s biggest hurdle is that it chooses to remain an instrumental group, a fact that the group says still bewilders many fans. Half jokingly, Brooks says that they constantly tell people no, they aren’t looking for a singer, but, “We’re for hire and we’ll play on your record.”
– Jamie Ludwig
Photos by Bryan Sheffield