Interview - Arising Attitude

Sheila Ren?: How the hell are you?

Benji: Who's this?

SR: I'm Sheila Rene' from highway666 calling from Austin, Texas.

Benji: Are you doing okay?

SR: Yep, it's raining here today so it's very dark. I love it.

Benji: Great. We'll be coming to Austin one day.

SR: I'm looking forward to that. You're calling from New York today.

Benji: Yeah, we're doing some interviews about our first U.S. release, "Pain." There are a lot of people who're interested in what we're doing.

SR: It's something new. I've only heard of one other band in Los Angeles, called the Tribe of Gypsies, that is similar to you. They mix Latin influences with reggae, rap, heavy metal and hardcore. I think it was Rey in downset who brought them to my attention.

SR: There's some wonderful stuff here. I went into as many websites as I could find on you but I couldn't find out how long you've been together.

Benji: It's coming up on four years as a band.

SR: It has evolved to this sound from just jamming around.

Benji: Jamming it out. We worked in the basement of a boxing club. Upstairs the boxers are beating up on each other and we're downstairs making aggressive sounds. The energy from the boxers helped. We'd just go in and whatever sticks and sounds good we build from there.

SR: Who produced for you?

Benji: The guy who produced the album was a friend of our drummer before Dub War was even a band. Ginge (short for Ginger because of his red hair) thought he could do a great job for us and he did. Bryan New has worked with Kool Mo D and Fresh Prince.

SR: I can assume from listening to this record that there are four distinctly different influences all worked together.

Benji: Yeah, every member of the band is into something different. The one thing that keeps us all in check is that we all love each other's music. Ginge plays Public Enemy constantly. I play the Isley Brothers and groups like that. Jeff is playing AC/DC and Rich is into the Police and Charlie Mingus.

SR: I would never have thought that my precious metal would work so well with reggae. I've gotten used to the rap and metal stuff but this is even more different.

Benji: Listen, you know what ties up all the forms of music, especially good music? It's attitude. It's attitude that makes me listen to the Sex Pistols and Bob Marley and AC/DC. All we do is take the essence which is there already and use it.

SR: I love your evil laugh, the metal, rap and jazz scatting on "Strike It." What a combo of emotions.

Benji: Yeah, yeah. Usually what happens when we jam - the first jam we do usually ends up on the record. "Strike It" was the jamming with the scatting that we left in.

SR: On "Nations" you use a brand new voice. I love the little tip of the hat to punk with your "oh, yeah's."

Benji: Variety is the spice of life you know. I try to use it. The "oh, yeah's" remind me of The Clash. Have you ever heard of Gary Glitter?

SR: Oh, yeah.

Benji: That was Glitter's idea. They wanted to do something clashy and punky so the "oh, yeah's" worked for them.

SR: Some of these songs come from other various projects. "Mental," and "Gorrit" are from your EPs.

Benji: Sure, you're right. "Gorrit" is like saying "got it" in slang. We're from South Wales, the home of Tom Jones.

SR: "Gorrit" has a very soulful opening worthy of a mention.

Benji: That's Jeff Rose. He likes a lot of that sort of thing.

SR: Then "Nar Say A Ting" is another voice with a reggae bend.

Benji: I have to compliment you on your pronunciation of that song. It's just all the vibes that are in me trying to come out. We're not scared to do something different.

SR: Are you the main writer?

Benji: No, it's our drummer, Ginge really. He directs our vibes. I'll do something and he'll either like it or he'll direct me to another one. Then we sit around writing lyrics. He conducts the whole vibe.

SR: In some of these songs I get a Cory Glover feel. Do you know him?

Benji: Oh, from Living Colour. Yeah, I can dig that. It's the soul. I think we must listen to the same kinds of music.

SR: Your full-length release "Pain" has been out in Britain and Europe for awhile and doing very well on the charts.

Benji: We're getting amazing reviews I'm happy to say. We've done a lot of shows and met a lot of bands as well in Britain.

SR: They're saying that you're a real dynamo on stage...that you never stop moving.

Benji: Well, you've got to keep it up. You wait all day to do something on the stage. There's a job to be done so you just have to attack it.

SR: When did Earache Records sign you? Is it as far back as the 12" off the "Words Of Warning" EP?

Benji: Just after that. We released a mini album and that's when they got involved. They came down to the studio just to have a chat and we ended up going out to dinner. They shmoozed us, talked to us nicely and kissed us on the back of the ear, there you go.

SR: Blow in my ears and I'll follow you anywhere is the phrase I believe.

Benji: The rest is history.

SR: How did they hear about you?

Benji: The good thing about Dub War and Earache is that we're not signed by an A&R man. We were signed by the guy who owns the company. He read a review similar to your's and he thought the whole thing sounded interesting so he went out of his way to buy our "Words Of Warning" EP. He played it and then he was all over South Wales trying to find out where we lived. Within three phone calls, he had our bass player's phone number. He phoned us and asked if he could come down and of course we said yes. He said all the right things and we had a deal.

SR: You've never toured over here either.

Benji: No, but I'm really looking forward to that day. We meet a lot of bands who come over to England and they are always pushing us to get over here. We just want a chance to have a go at it.

SR: You've already toured with some of my favorite bands in Europe such as Dog Eat Dog.

Benji: I was just going to say that it was John Conner who actually played me Bad Brains the first time. I'd never heard of them until last year when Conner brought them to my attention.

SR: I hear that Max, no longer with Sepultura, really dug your band and had you autograph all his EPs.

Benji: He's a big-time fan. I met him about six weeks ago now. It was his last tour with them. You know he's left the band.

SR: Yeah, it just breaks my heart. He is Sepultura to me. I've interviewed him on every album as well as his side projects. He has such a great soul.

Benji: I hate to see this happen. I know it's rough. Sister, you can not put your guitar down. He'll be back playing music in no time. Believe me, Max is going to get it on. There's always room for Max in Dub War.

SR: That great. Talk about attitude, honey. He's got attitude.

Benji: I've only seen him once in my home town and he rocked with so much power coming off that stage.

SR: You've got some touring already set up over there. Five shows in the U.K. before Australia in April then the Glastonbury Festival in June.

Benji: We'll be heading this way after the April shows in Australia. We're coming down by you soon, man. Make sure you make us a pie. We like apple pie.

SR: Anything planned special on March 11, the release date of your first album in the U.S.?

Benji: We'll just release the album. On my 18th birthday I got bitten on the butt by a flippin' Alchian dog. He came up and passed me then doubled back and bit me. It was strange.

SR: What was Hard Pop '96?

Benji: It was a festival in Germany. We were on stage with Biohazard and downset.
SR: Two very powerful bands.
Benji: I loved Biohazard even more when Bobby was in the band. He was rough. He was so good.
SR: Bobby was too rough I think. He scared those other guys.

Benji: He was real rock and roll, believe me. He lived on the edge and he knows he drinks too much but it's just a part of him.

SR: You've got to keep those things in check though.

Benji: You've got to keep everything in check because once something like that grabs you, it's got you good and it's not going to let you go easily. You've got to fight it.

SR: "Psycho System" is another favorite of mine off the new album. Many textures.

Benji: That's Max's favorite song too. He loved that one. He left the gig and went back onto the bus and brought his CDs and asked for me to sign them. I've got to say that's one of my biggest buzzes ever..signing for him.

SR: I'll point up the tune "Over Now" for all it's changes. It stops and then back with a vengeance....Here's a force to change the future.

Benji: That's all me. I pretended I was one of them presidents from the olden times and just made a speech. We just sampled the one part of it and used it on that track. That was a re-mix that we did with a guy who's in a band called Load Star, Haggis. He worked with us early on in our career. He's really cool. We thought we'd just do a techno sort of version of it. It's a cool mix.

SR: I do love the industrial stuff.

Benji: Yeah, it is powerful.

SR: If someone wanted to catch up on this band and some earlier recordings, would it be easy to do? The "Mental," "Gorrit" EPs, "Enemy Maker," "The Wrong Side Of Beautiful?"

Benji: Every one of them are still available on import. Grab 'em and take a listen.

SR: What a great thing it would be someday to rerelease all these EPs on one recording.

Benji: You never know what could happen, lady.

SR: Any video happening from this album?

Benji: We shot a video to "Strike It." Ask Brittany to make sure she sends you a copy of that one and "Gorrit" and the live at Dynamo festival video.

SR: I'll do it.

Benji: Tell her to send you some stickers as well.

SR: I love those stickers. I'm a paraphernalia freak. My home looks like a record store.

Benji: I can image it.

SR: How long are you going to be in the States?

Benji: We've got to go back and do some writing. We'll be here until Sunday.

SR: Are you getting to see New York?

Benji: I'm DJing tonight at Robots. I like a lot of dance and jungle music. It should be a lot of fun.

SR: If you could put together your favorite tour what bands would you choose to go out with?

Benji: How many bands can I have?

SR: You can have three bands including yourself.

Benji: I would have Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys and Dub War.

SR: That's hot indeed. Have you ever met Flea and the guys?

Benji: Never. I'd like to meet them someday. I'd love to tour with them too. We'd be jumpin', we'd be jumpin'. I think we'll meet a lot of those people. I think it's the very early days for Dub War. There's a lot more to come.

SR: You've put in four big years to get you to this point. Let me say this, we don't have anything like you over here...mixing these particular influences . Benji: I'm glad you can appreciate our music.

SR: I keep thinking I've heard it all, but I haven't.

Benji: (laughing) We all grew up in the same town, we all sucked the same tit believe me. Went to school together.. We just went our different ways after school to different cities. We all got bit by the music bug and you know the old saying "you can't see the woods through the trees?" That's what happened to us. I believe nothing ever happens before its time. In all the years of playing in different bands came together as magic when we all reunited as Dub War. We had doors slammed in our faces and getting negatives and negatives until now. We've opened up the positive side now.

SR: I do believe we live by fate.

Benji: Oh, yeah.

SR: Do you play any instruments?

Benji: I play a little keyboards but nothing amazing. I wouldn't even mention that to anyone. A couple of chords maybe.

SR: You need to be able to move.

Benji: When we go on stage we start out with a WWII air raid siren. That gets things going and gets everyone's attention. Then we hit 'em hard with "Psycho System" and then "Respected," "Pain," and "Strike It." We just move on through the set until we end with "Gorrit."

SR: Do you do any of the other songs like "Universal Jam" "Woman Possessed" and "
& Illusions" from the early days.

Benji: We usually do about 15 numbers and by then we just want to sleep. We do a lot of special things on stage.

SR: How do you want people to describe your music?

Benji: Militant, strong and beautiful.

SR: That works for me as does your name, Dub War.

Benji: (laughing) It sums us up, I think. We're writing a whole new set, new vibes and heading back out on the road and making noise.

SR: You got my attention.

Benji: Hold on tight. All the open-minded people will hook up first and tell their friends.

SR: Are you an Internet person?

Benji: No, I don't know about computers.

SR: Are you tired of talking?

Benji: No, not at all. That's what I'm here to do. You're my 11th interview.

SR: What's the most asked question you've had today?

Benji: Where the name comes from.

SR: I know what Dub means and what War means.

Benji: War is inspired by metal and Dub is inspired by the laid back, soulful vocals. We've got a Dub War. Yeah, man.

SR: I love your accent, man. I could just listen to you talk all day.

Benji: The only time I hear your accent is in the movies or on television.

SR: You mean the Texas thing.

Benji: Yeah, man it's great. Wild child.

SR: When you get down here we'll have a spliff and some apple pie.

Benji: Yeah, the boys smoke and I'll be taking some apple pie. We'll be rockin'..and Richi will be biting your hand off for the spliff.

SR: Thanks dahlin'. Anything else you want to say to your new fans in America?

Benji: Yeah, just come out and give us a listen. We've got something to add to your collection and your mind. Thank you very much, Sheila.