The Specials and the 2-Tone movement brilliantly reflected the multi-racial nature of
the UK’s inner cities back in the day. The Dub Pistols are like a 21st century
equivalent — a riotous collision of drum & bass, hip-hop, ska, dub and punk. One of
the most exhilarating live bands on the circuit, these festival favourites have survived
international terrorism, inter-band warfare and the wheels falling off their operation
numerous times. Now a slickly drilled outfit, they’ve nevertheless lost none of their
kick-ass vitality and renegade edge wherever they rock up to play.
Dubbed ‘the hardest working man in showbiz’ by music industry peers, Barry has
worked in music all his adult life. An Ibiza original who had his life changed by acid
house, he started running club-nights in London and had soon formed a band, Deja
Vu, who arrived during the Flowered Up/Happy Mondays ‘baggy’ era.
When Deja Vu split, Barry started DJing — badly, at first — and the Dub Pistols
formed out of some of these madcap DJ sessions. The last two subsequent decades
have been a riot of storming shows, missed opportunities, big bad basslines,
calamities and triumphs — with scarcely a dull moment.
At one of their big live shows, the ant-racism festival Rise in London in 2007, they
were not only joined by Terry Hall on vocals but also another Specials mainstay,
guitarist Lyndal Golding. The rapturous reception that ‘Gangsters’ received was
instrumental in The Specials getting back together the following year — and in turn
they asked the Dub Pistols to support them for some of their comeback tour.
The Dubs themselves nearly fell apart, Happy Mondays style, while recording their
next album ‘Rum & Coke’ in Barbados the following summer. “Our gear got pawned
off, members of the band were locked up, the wheels came off — everything we did
was just about partying and enjoying ourselves,” Barry recalls.
After the turn of the noughties they returned to more political fare with their
‘Worshipping The Dollar’ LP — featuring vocalists such as Akala and Rodney P —
and introduced more of a drum & bass sound into their live sets and new songs. As
the decade progressed they cemented their place as one of the mainstay festival
bands in Europe — guaranteed to rock the house every single time.