The Dub Pistols’ Barry Ashworth is a mainstay of English Dance Music. He has been around since the first summer of love in 1988, when he started two seminal nightclubs “Naked Lunch” and “Eat the Worm”, as well as forming the indie band “Déjà vu”. They were a “dance music band signed to Cowboy records, similar to Happy Mondays and the like,” he says in a typical South London accent. When asked if he’d ever do it again he says that he doubts it, but “you can never say never – two years down the road you end up making music you said you wouldn’t”.
Recently the English music press recently heralded that the past (English) summer was the next “summer of love”. Ashworth says, “If it’s your first time out, then yeah, it probably is the same, but back then things were different from anything else and now electronic culture is a world wide thing. Back then people did it for the buzz, now there’s a whole business / industry surrounding it.”
Ten years down the road, after the disbanding of Déjà Vu, Ashworth formed The Dub Pistols in 1997. The name is a response to the scene at the time, with people being quite purist about electronic music. Combining punk ethics with dub mentality he and Lee “Einstein” Spencer caught the ear of Jon Carter, who asked them to remix the Monkey Mafia track “Blow the Whole Joint Up”. They did, and the result led to them being signed to deconstruction imprint Concrete, home of Lionrock and Death In Vegas.
With these and other seminal breakbeat acts such as Ceasefire, The Dub Pistols helped reshape the breakbeat sound from the formulaic bigbeat into what would become nu-school breaks. “Every sound changes, mutates and moves on” Ashworth says. “Triphop, Bigbeat, Amyl House, Nu-school breaks, Future breaks… but it’s primarily the same thing”. He’s also done a fair bit of work with other people, including working with Busta Rhymes on the Blade II soundtrack, Terry Hall of The Specials, and Horace Andy of Massive Attack of which he says “were big moments for us”. When asked with whom he’d like to work with, he says “Ian Brown (Stone Roses) is someone we’d like to work with… Chuck D (Public Enemy) and also Mike James from the Clash”.
His eclectic taste has seen him push the breaks sound to it limits again, The Dub Pistols’ Y4K release, surprisingly Ashworth’s first mix CD, continues the great tradition of this wonderful series. The album is quite funky, with the emphasis on FUN. This CD is not “me djing in club, people are going to listen to it in their cars and at home, so it needs to be a little more accessible” Ashworth says of it. Not only does it feature the leaders of the breaks scenes such as Layo and Bushwacka, Adam Freeland and Australia’s own Infusion, but also features exclusive Dub Pistols acapella’s by Planet Asia, all mixed seamlessly in a groovy, energetic, head-bop inducing manner.
Energy is what Ashworth is all about. He was kicked out of a club for being too “energetic” once, and his DJ sets reflect this energy and passion. He’s coming to Australia at the end of November (but unfortunately not to Adelaide) and says that while he’s never been here before “He’s heard nothing but good things about us”. For a taste of what he can do check out the latest Y4K breaks mix (out on Distinctive breaks), and if you’re lucky enough to live in the eastern states go catch one of his shows.