Barry Ashworth founder of London based big dubbeat act Dub Pistols spoke to eFestivals ahead of his appearance at the Spring edition of Off The Tracks Festival held in Derbyshire in May 2013.
The big news is the death of Margaret Thatcher at the moment, have the Dub Pistols marked this occasion in any way?
'Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead!' I was never a big fan of Margaret Thatcher, growing up and my family all come from Liverpool, so obviously I'm staunch Labour, and from a working class background, and I believe the woman destroyed this country. She destroyed communities, she took away jobs, our manufacturing, and our mining. As Glenda Jackson stated she made greed, and selfishness virtues. I'm certainly not mourning her passing.
It must be over a decade since I first saw Dub Pistols at a festival, you must have seen festivals change over that time, what has changed most?
I think festivals have realised they have to put more into it. They've realised they can't just build a stage and soundsystem now. There has to be so much more going on around the sides. To me festivals have never been about bands anyway, it's been about the crowds. It's always been about making a festival what you want to, and the bands are a bonus. I think that's seen the rise of the British boutique festival as opposed to your Vs, and Readings and the bigger festivals like that.
Your latest album puts politics firmly back on the agenda do you think festivals and politics mix?
Music and politics, it's a tough one, I suppose the bands I was into like The Clash, and The Specials were at the time. It was kind of the norm. But I guess with up against so much pop music these days it's perhaps not the best idea.
You're on the Off The Tracks bill again next month, and you played there twice last year. What is it about the festival that makes it so special you want to keep going back there?
I think you just get such a warm welcome from the crowd. They're always a really, really good, nice party crowd with good vibes, and it's held for the right reasons. Again, as we said earlier with how festivals have gone, it's a small event that's got a good vibe, as opposed to a mass crowded pop sell out thing. It's just a nice get together of people and always well programmed.
What has stood out as your favourite festival appearance over the years?
There's been so many. I guess GuilFest the year that Terry Hall and Lynval Golding played with us. It was absolutely amazing, I remember we drove the tour bus into the side of the stage, and we asked Lynval to play because Johnny had been locked up in jail over night, and so Lynval jumped up and played with us. I remember we were absolutely hanging that day, really in a mess, and as I say Johnny was in jail, but to come out and get the reception we did was just mindblowing. I'll never forget that because The Specials are my favourite band. Glastonbury the first time we played that was pretty special just to say we had done it. But often, you only really remember the bad ones.
You're also playing a castle in Transylvania this summer I believe, what's the weirdest place you've ever done a gig?
Yes we are. I guess Snowbombing in Austria, and it's set on top of a mountain. That in itself is mindblowing, when you're at the top of a mountain surrounded by other mountains, and you realise you're on top of the world, that's pretty special. There's another one I remember up a mountain in Indonesia, that was also pretty mad. Just because they're so different, being on top of the world is so different.
Do you like to be booked for festivals that are a bit different?
I prefer ones that are a bit different. I prefer ones that are always left of centre. I tend to go anywhere where there is music that I want to listen to.
Did you go to many festivals before you started Dub Pistols?
Oh god yes! I was running clubs before that, and when I was a kid, half the fun of getting into festivals was being chased across fields by the police whilst they were trying to put a fence up. That was always the best bit about festivals back then.
What's the best band you've seen at a festival?
I just love The Specials, but I think Oasis' performance that one year at Glastonbury was pretty mind blowing. I can't remember which one I'm rubbish with years, the early one. I'm quite happy to watch bands at clubs too, small little intimate venues, just as happy as in fields.
When you're at festivals do you do the camping thing?
I just tend to stay up, like a hobo. I'm one of those people who just make their way around the festival, sleeping wherever. I just leave my phone in the production office and they'll send it back to me, do you know what I mean. Me, I like to get involved completely.
It must be quite exhausting to do that when you've got festivals stacked back to back, as you often do?
That's different someone has to hold me up and drags me off, kicking and screaming. I'm a bit partial to a beer, I like to party that's no secret. It doesn't seem to effect me. Well sometimes it does obviously, but , most of the time it doesn't because the adrenaline just takes over, and it's not until afterwards that you fall flat on your face.
Talking of partying, you're doing a DJ Set at Off The Tracks, what's the one floor filling tune, guaranteed to pack the dance floor and get the part started?
I don't know, I think you've got to take every show differently. I kind of open up with Pistols stuff but then I go wherever the crowd are taking it, and every crowd is different. I've been DJing now for 27 years, so you kind of ensure you have enough ammunition for whatever's going on.
So you don't have a game changing track?
I've got drum n bass versions of 'Ghost Town' and stuff like that always work, and I've got loads of stuff I've re-edited and things that I know will work. I might stick on some Higher States of Consciousness from all sorts things, and just come back with a bomb, and then mix it with other re-edits of other styles of it.
Lastly, if you were to run a stall at a festival what would you sell?
Records! I think if I was to own the beer stall I'd probably lose money. I still think it's quite romantic to run a record stall.
You don't see them at festivals much these days.
That's the weird thing they always do quite well when they're there. You get bands there to do signings, and you sell old stuff. It'd do all right you know. If you think about it, there's so many bands playing at every festival that no one's ever heard of and now you can buy their stuff, it makes quite a lot of sense. I used to have record shops back in the day, when I used to be a club promoter, and we used to go there, and as the DJ was playing a track we'd hold one up, and sell them.
Thanks for your time Barry have a good summer.
Keep your eyes out for us, we're about all over the place this summer.
Barry Ashworth makes a Friday night appearance as a DJ at the spring festival. In band mode, Dub Pistols headlined the Spring festival last year and, due to phenomenal demand, returned to headline again for the Summer festival in September. The full line-up will include around 40 artists on two stages, as well as 70+ real ales, ciders and perries, excellent facilities on a year-round camping and caravanning site and a family friendly atmosphere.
The line-up for both stages is Alabama 3, The Popes, Salsa Celtica, Special Guest (to be announced), Scott McKeon, Merry Hell, Blair Dunlop, The New Bushbury Mountain Daredevils, The Paperboys, Neverland, K, Linos Wengara Magaya, Orchid Star, Kris Dollimore (Godfathers/Del Amitri), Nordic Giants, Maia, Damn Vandals, The Convulsions, Shamus O'Blivion and the Megadeath Morris, Ne3folk, Mas y Mas, Cloudbase DJs VJs, The Convulsions, Akahum, Rattleshack, Cupola, Sam Brookes, Woolly Mammoth, Woolley & Archer, 52 Commercial Road, Free Control, Inta Africa, and Thistledown.
The Spring festival takes place from Friday 24th until Sunday 26th May 2013 at Park Farmhouse, at Castle Donington with tickets priced at £75 for an adult ticket for the weekend with camping, and £40 for a youth (aged 12 to 16 years) ticket, children aged under 12 go free and do not require a ticket. Advance tickets also cover free camping and parking, including caravans and live-in vehicles.
To buy tickets, click here.
There's a special offer joint entrance ticket to both Bearded Theory festival takes place from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th May 2013 in the grounds at Kedleston Hall Park, and a week later the Spring OTT priced at £125, and will also include the offer of discounted camping facilities between festivals at the home of Off The Tracks, the Donington Park Farmhouse Hotel, at Castle Donington.
To buy the special combined 2 festival tickets click here.
For the first time a double ticket is available covering admission to both the Spring and Summer events. The double tickets include admission to this, the Spring Festival, and the Summer Festival (Aug 30-Sept 1) for £120 for adults (saving 20 per cent, or £30, on the usual advance ticket price). Double tickets for 12-16 year olds are £60 (a saving of 25 per cent or £20).
To buy the special double festival tickets click here.
interview by: Scott Williams
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