Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
For over six years, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad’s live show has defined the band. Touring relentlessly, the Rochester, NY-based group is sustained by its passion to reinterpret, explore, and expand its music night after night.
After the 2006 release of their debut album, Slow Down, GPGDS hit the road and never looked back. On April 10th, they released their first electric studio album in six years, In These Times. This is the quintet’s second release on the California-based label Controlled Substance Sound Labs.
In These Times consists of 12 tracks that showcase Giant Panda’s psychedelic reggae sound. Bassist James Searl, guitarist Dylan Savage, and guitarist Dan Keller trade off songwriting and lead vocal duties, with backup vocals provided by drummer Chris O’Brian, and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Lipp. The album was mixed by Atlanta-based producer Billy Hume (Nas, STS9, Ludacris, Josh Ritter), and dubbed by the band’s long-time engineer Joel Scanlon.
In These Times explores a variety of emotions and themes, from the feel good, sing along vibe of “Change You,” to the political anthem “Pockets.” Guests on the album include Hawaii’s The Green, contributing backup vocals on “All Night Music,” and John Brown’s Body’s horn section on “Next Best Explosion,” and “Healing.” “I think it would be fair to say that this is the album that long-time Panda fans have been waiting for” says Chris O’Brian.
In These Times follows the bands’ lyrically-driven roots Americana album, Country (released January 31, 2012). Combining acoustic instrumentation including slide guitar, banjo, harmonica, upright piano, percussion, and bass, Country showcases songs as they were first created: on the road, riding in the van, and jamming backstage. “Like early Wilco, with a healthy powdering of the stuff that made Gram Parsons’ music so deeply moving, “Country” is a gorgeous collection of Americana ditties.” – The Buffalo News
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad is on tour now in support of their new releases.
Dub Is A Weapon
With almost five years, hundreds of shows, and thousands of miles behind them, Dub Is A Weapon has truly earned the title of the hardest working band in dub business. What started out as little more then a recording project in a Brooklyn loft has now turned into a full-fledged sonic assault force with, "bass and drum coming so hard and dangerous you can see the competition's bloodstains." (Village Voice) Appearances alongside such notable artists as Matisyahu, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Femi Kuti, the Benevento/Russo Duo, Antibalas, Easy Star All-Stars, Steel Pulse, the Slackers, the Wailers, John Brown's Body, Mad Professor, and Jah Wobble have helped them to convert legions of music fans with their, "chassis-rattling dub beats that defy the laws of rhythm maintenance." (Chicago Reader)
But perhaps the surest sign that Dub Is A Weapon is truly a force to be reckoned with is its new found alliance with one of the few men who can truly claim to be a dub legend: Lee 'Scratch' Perry. After six long years of not having set foot here in the U.S.A., Mr. Perry chose the Brooklyn-based group of dub warriors to serve as his opening act and backing band, giving the group a rare opportunity to perform alongside a man that many view as one of the most influential record producers and performers to ever come out of Jamaica. This combination toured successfully throughout the United States and Canada in 2006, selling out venues in New York City, Philadelphia, and two nights in San Francisco.
Although many fine musicians have performed within the ranks of Dub Is A Weapon, three men have been there since day one. Dave Hahn, a man who has traveled the world as a guitarist with Antibalas and as a live dub engineer for the Easy Star All-Star's "Dub Side of the Moon" road-show, leads the group with his torrential guitar playing and mind-expanding dub mixology. Larry McDonald, a man who's played with such legendary artists as Gil Scott-Heron, Taj Mahal, Bad Brains, and Peter Tosh, brings his decades of rhythmic knowledge to bear with his unquestionable prowess as a percussionist. Ben Rogerson, an up and coming musical mastermind who's equally comfortable on rhythm or bass guitar, has been a persistent anchor to the group's deadly rhythm section.
Rounding out the group are some of the finest groove merchants on the NYC music scene today: Maria Eisen, an up and coming tenor saxophone sensation, consistently amazes the crowd with her soaring solos. Dan Jeselsohn, a man who's played with the New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble and Mephiskapheles, delivers the heart-pounding bass lines that are a signature of Dub Is A Weapon's music. Last but certainly not least, the group's drummer David Butler lays down the true foundation of the group's music, with his immaculate drumming being fully informed by his love of reggae and his relationship with renowned drummer Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin, and Wood.
While Dub Is A Weapon has always prided itself on being part of the Brooklyn underground, their growing visibility won't let them stay underground much longer. Besides their recent high-profile tour with Lee 'Scratch' Perry, the group recently completed a two month-long residency at the Knitting Factory in NYC, consistently bringing out a devoted following of dubheads to witness their incredible live show The group also performed again with Mr. Perry as part of the the "Farewell Festival" held at the legendary punk rock venue CBGBs as they closed the doors on their Lower East Side location in the heart of the Bowery.
Boasting a smooth combination of reggae beats, soaring melodies, and swirling atmospherics, Dub Is A Weapon has certainly distinguished themselves as a true musical pioneers. While many groups now clamour to adopt the increasingly fashionable sounds of dub, Dub Is A Weapon has steadfastly refined their sound and are recognized as the best in the business. Great things are afoot, and its only a matter of time before these dub warriors succeed in their quest to spread their gospel of roots dub.