pre-Guilfest interview


published: Fri 8th Jul 2005

Friday 15th to Sunday 17th July 2005
Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey., England MAP
w/e £75, with camping £85; days £35; c/vans £50; under-16s days £20, w/e £40 & £50; under 12
last updated: Tue 12th Jul 2005

Festival favourites Dreadzone are all over the country at festivals this summer. We caught up with drummer Greg just after he’d come out of rehearsals for their festival tour and had a quick chat.

What’s you first festival memory?
It’s got to be Glastonbury 94 up on stage, we got the festival started. John Peel was on the side of the stage next to us, it’s the one we woke everyone up. We’d got the sound organised without the bass player being there. When he played it was really loud, it woke everyone up and got them down to hear us. John offered us a Radio One session straight after we’d come off stage. Before that I hadn’t really done festivals, no.

Your favourite festival ever and one your most looking forward to this year?
Well Glastonbury is the don, but it’s great to see other festivals up and down the country like Guilfest, the Glade and Beautiful Days doing the same kind of thing. Though possibly there’s a few too many.

Do you wander about the festivals?
Yeah I like to keep it free and not plan to see any bands, just go out and enjoy it and explore the distant reaches.

Do you sleep on site?
Not usually, though if our schedule allows we take a tent and sleep back stage. It’s got not so smelly bogs. But I’m not really a big fan of camping out. To play live you have to be fresh and when you’re camping you get tired which effects the performance. We are usually doing another gig straight after our set, for instance Guilfest weekend we’re playing three festivals in three days Glade, Lambeth and Guilfest so we won’t be camping. Possibly at Beautiful Days as it’s a bit more in the country than a town site park.

who else on the bill would you like to catch their set?
Not really anyone, I saw the Prodigy at Glastonbury and they were awesome and we’ve been on tour with U2 they are the best around live. Some friends dragged me off to watch Radiohead once, they were the big thing, but the bored me shitless, so depressing. I suppose I’d like to be at big headliners, like Coldplay for the moment. I mean the crowd will show them a lot of love.

If you could choose any band from any era who would be your favourite headliners at a festival and why?
U2, that’s the ultimate, they’re the ultimate live music band. Also the Prodigy just to get the crowd rockin’ even though it’s not that live. From the past The Orb, they were great in their day. Prince, who at one time was the ultimate live. I saw him twice once in New York and once in Wembley Arena he was the ultimate before he went all cabaret. He wrote great songs and made great music. Inspiring stuff, The Orb too they inspired me, inspired Dreadzone.

You played Guilfest before in 2001 can you remember much about it?
Yeah I do! We took Mick Jones from the Clash. I worked with him in Big Audio Dynamite (writers note – wow hero moment, now I can’t think straight!). We took him to Guilfest, he didn’t play on stage with us but we hung out, it was nice and memorable.

Have you ever been to a festival as a punter?
No, I always go and play, I’ve never bought a ticket to go to a festival. Twenty years of playing live, I don’t ever feel the need to. I’m always playing.

How differently do you prepare for a festival?
No differently really, I just have to make sure I’m on it, without the hours of soundchecks, so I really have to rely on the monitors and just try not to be over awed. As a drummer I just have to make sure I’m on it. You usually just have to hope that it sounds good, the crowd at festivals are usually a lot further away. You just trust the sound guys but if the crowd is dancing, it’s always a good sign.

The new album must be pretty much finished, are you pleased with it? What tracks do you play live from it and which one’s your favourite?
I don’t really have a favourite, Biff has helped us get a new record contract together and organise it. The album is finished and about to be cut, we’ve just got a bit of tweaking to do, and the artwork’s done. It’s called ‘Once Upon a Time.’ We’ve done two warm up shows before we take it on tour. We played eight new tracks, which is a lot. I don’t really have a favourite of them, they’re all good. Live we might drop one but we’ll play seven new tunes and seven old. Alternating, with the old tracks worked up a bit.

Would you take your family to a festival?
Yeah we’ve taken our son before, he’s coming this year with one of his mates, he’s more into it now he’s fifteen. He wasn’t really into it before but now he’s playing a guitar and listening to music he’s more into it. My wife’s just broken her foot! So we won’t be going far just setting up in one area like Glastonbury’s Dance Village and staying there.

Do you ever read efestivals?
Yeah I have, mainly for info and to look at the pictures. You have good photos on there.

As Dreadzone Soundsystem and DJing what's your best live tune - the one guaranteed to go down a storm?
Hah actually we play as Soundsystem quite regularly. We started off doing club nights called Dubwiser for six or seven years. The best tune is ‘Superstyling’ by Groove Armada, we have the breaks version. I wish I wrote that tune. As Soundsystem we released an album in February called Beats and Bobs volume four. It’s kind of the lead up to the proper album, a taster for fans. It’s breakbeat lots of breaks that seeped into the new stuff too, high energy dance.

What do they think of the music scene at the moment?
Well a lot of people are saying dance is dead, but it’s not the underground scene is really good, the breaks scene is really good. Music’s healthy, there may be lower record sales, but that’s good too as it means more bands have to play live to make money. That’s good for music. There’s little pockets of stuff that’s going strong. Dub is going strong.

Lastly, who would you like to collaborate with?
I’d love to get three people together, a combination of George Clinton, Lee Perry and Sun Ra. It’d be jazzed up funked out glorious madness in a Dreadzone style. Or David Bowie, imagine Major Tom in a dub style!

I am, I am, wow that would be terrific! Thanks Greg, have a fantastic summer!

interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 15th to Sunday 17th July 2005
Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey., England MAP
w/e £75, with camping £85; days £35; c/vans £50; under-16s days £20, w/e £40 & £50; under 12
last updated: Tue 12th Jul 2005

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