Sunday, December 06, 2009

Dub war's 1998 demos

Question: Hello. Firstly, I think that it is awesome that you're taking the time and making all this effort to answer people's questions. Nice one. Secondly, I would like to ask a Dub War related question please. According to, some demos that DW recorded in 1998 (presumably for what would have been their third full album) were made available as mp3s through in 2005 and then the next year as part of the 'Total Collection'. I can't seem to find them anywhere, are they still available or, if not, is it likely that they might resurface at some point? Thanks very much! From:

Answer: Dub War's debut album "Pain" in 1994 did very well,charting in the UK Indie charts at number one.This was a result because it was essentially a new and alien sound to rock/metal fans at the time- Ragga infused Rock/metal which Benji and Dub War singlehandedly pioneered in South Wales, away from the glare of the London music scene.The band sounded exactly like their own diverse range of influences- Rock, Ska, Punk, Ragga, Metal etc, and was a genuinely innovative, fresh sound in Rock for the mid 90s.

The follow up album initially did well also, spawning a couple of hits which grazed the top 40, but on release of "Wrong Side of Beautiful' in 1996, other bands like Skunk Anansie had stolen the fanbase and hogged all the press coverage of what Dub War were initially doing.

Dub War's fanbase halved overnight, which was unexpected and disappointing.Obviously this wasn't in the plan- so serious doubts started to creep into my mind about the band's chances of future success at that point. Unknown to the band, their deal with Earache was struck during our USA label license period with SONY, which meant the bands contract was fairly lucrative, it was a major label-style one, as SONY were effectively bankrolling the label in America at that time. By 1997 that label license deal was well and truly cancelled and Earache was once again a true Independent label, with limited resources (ie, my own pockets).

This meant that Dub War's deal for the third album was just too rich for Earache to afford, and so their deal hung in the balance, unless they could come up with some sure-fire hits. In 1998 the band made demos for the label- these songs were just "so-so" and didnt persuade me to finance the proper recording of the 3rd album. The band didn't take the news too well, and promptly disbanded, blaming Earache for being dropped and their resulting financial woes.

Mainman Benji briefly carried on working with Earache, despite the rest of his band leaving him high and dry, but again, his solo demos didn't impress me. Benji demoed a couple of numbers for the label which turned out to be a pure Hip Hop style.Earache has zero experience with Hip Hop, so with no rock music in evidence, Earache -very reluctantly, I must say- finally closed the door on Dub War.

The members weren't unsigned for long as they'd regrouped as Skindred and scored for the first time a proper, experienced management deal in Northern Management, who also look after Paradise Lost etc. Skindred bounced right into a major record deal with American label Beiler brothers, run by successful US record producers, and financially backed by Atlantic records, part of Warners. The Skindred debut album for Beiler sold an incredible amount in the USA.

It should be noted that the Nu-metal and Rap-metal scenes had exploded by that point, bands like Limp Bizkit and System of a Down were mainstream bands who had changed the culture and landscape of the rock scene, so Skindred's hybrid sound was more accepted by radio stations and finally caught on in a big way. The Dub War era that proceeded it was by then a distant memory.In Skindred, the band finally got the rewards their talents deserved.

Earache in 2005 launched its own paid-for MP3 download site- was actually partially coded by staff at the label, and was effectively home-brew software, but it worked and a lot of fans did use it to download Mp3s from us. We added some of the rarest material we could find in the vaults, to bring attention to the site, and Dub War demos 1998 were among them. Sadly by 2007 the site was attacked by hackers looking to grab stuff for free, this brought the site down and made it unusable, and never worked since. It taught us a lesson in how fans attempt to get free music (or possibly the card details of our database of users, which they didn't get as that stuff was held at paypal site) and also showed how Earache was pretty lax about internet security at the time.

Your question is well-timed, because we have recently started talks with Benji about plans to release a DVD of the final Dub War show in January 1998, this was released on VHS back at the time.The idea is to include the demos and other missing final tracks to make a complete great value fan-package to make available the material from the fateful 3rd album era of Dub War.

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