Interview Gentleman’s Dub Club Land In Brighton For March

Interview Gentleman’s Dub Club Land In Brighton For March

11-Mar-22 Brighton Chalk

Gentleman’s Dub Club have released eight albums so far, but the primary focus of the band has always been as a live proposition. What was it like to have that suddenly put on hold last year and how important was it for you to use the time to create a new album?

Toby: Our live thing is very important to us. We’ve forged our sound over the years doing live gigs, playing house parties and so on, initially in Leeds, then all around the North and it all grew from there, so it really is such a centre point of our identity. So, when all that was no longer an option, it definitely hit us pretty hard, as I know it did for everyone else in the live industry.

Our initial reaction though, was to recognise that if we didn’t do anything else at that point, it could all tail off for us, so keeping the momentum going even without being able to play live was so important. Writing the album during that time was a real saviour for us, even just by giving us an excuse to hang out on Zoom, as it was for work, was a godsend. It gave us a really good opportunity to use that time effectively and we’re really proud that we did. Without that writing period, we’d definitely have been in a really bad way. Coming back to the live show with no new music for it wouldn’t have been a healthy place to be in, so it was a lifesaver for us.

The album release didn’t just feel like another record, but instead as you guys giving people something positive at what was a dark time in so many of their lives. Was that a deliberate thought?

Toby: We’ve always tried to release positive vibes to our wonderful fans at the best of times, so it felt even more important to try and keep doing that this year. Our live show is the core of what we do and it’s all about people getting together, having a good time and enjoying music, all dancing, drinking and whatever. So, negative music just doesn’t work for us and isn’t what we have ever been about. We wanted to speak to people too and say that at some point, everything is going to be fine. We had to dig deep at points when we were writing it, as there were definitely some difficult moments for us personally, but hanging onto that hope was really important for us and hopefully it helped give people a release and a connection with positive energy.

The album features an amazing collaboration with Hollie Cook. How did that come about and what did she bring to the table for you?

Toby: Hollie is one of our favourite artists, so to have her on our record is an absolute privilege. She’s an angel, just the loveliest person, so talented and so good to work with. There’s a level of personality and charisma that she brings, not to mention that amazing voice, to any record she appears on.

Jonathan: It all came about very organically, despite being remote, as we were all writing in pairs or threes with each other, then Luke our keyboard player and I started on some stuff, then he went off to develop things with Hollie, who we’d been introduced to by a mutual friend. It was really enjoyable strangely, even though I was living in a treehouse at the time a long way away from where they were! It feels important and very nutritional to collaborate with other people in the UK reggae scene. It’s not massive, but there’s some amazing artists out there and Hollie is one of them. She has a very unique sound.

There’s also a stellar turn from Gardna in there too?

Jonathan: Gardna is a legend. He’s been MCing relentlessly from the age of 12 and is so incredible in terms of engaging with projects, pushing them forwards and bringing energy to them. His skill level and song writing is constantly evolving and improving somehow, so his collaborations are really rich and diverse too. We’ve come across him loads over the years, so were really happy to be working with him and will continue to do so over the coming years.

The GDC sound has always been very diverse and experimental, but this time around you seem to have taken it to another level. How did that happen?

Jonathan: The musicians in the band are all top level and take influence from all areas of music, so to ignore that would be stupid! This album especially was a chance for us to stretch out a bit, as in the past we’ve always written together in the same room, which normally comes in the form of a jam. When you are jamming though, you sometimes have to sacrifice the detail a little bit to keep the momentum, so you end up merging into, not a compromise, but definitely something that ebbs and flows a little, idea-wise. This time, it was a chance to bring out everyone’s individual strengths a bit more, so it’s probably the album with the most different influences on it. Luke and Nick, our keys and guitar players are both absolute burning jazz players, so you can hear that a lot for example.

You finally got back to proper gigging at some festivals a few months ago. What was that like for you?

Toby: The first gig back we played was at SheepFest, which is at a sheep-themed amusement park in North Devon. We eased into it, it was all good and a nice set-up, then there was suddenly this moment where it felt like everything just ramped up, but it wasn’t coming from us or the crowd specifically, it was just like everyone woke up and we all realised collectively that we were here again, and everything dialled up to the max. The energy from that point on was unbelievable. We’d done a few socially distanced gigs before that, which were great, but there was still that insecurity looming over everything in the summer, so when it finally got back to proper shows, it was an incredible feeling. We got a really good taste of it there and at places like Boardmasters, but it’s the tour in March where it’s really going to hit home for sure. We’ve got some special treats prepared.

You have your own proper headline tour in March to look forward to. You must be excited?

Jonathan: All the time we weren’t gigging, I found myself not only missing playing itself, but lots of other things I hadn’t anticipated. Just being part of a group of friends and coming together as a band is such a huge part of my life, so when that was taken away, it was massive for me. Obviously losing work and income was really bad, but that loss of friendship, family and togetherness was just as much of a loss in many ways. Being in a band is so enriching to my life, so to go back on the road in March, I’m as excited about being together with my mates for four weeks as I am about the shows themselves, which are going to be amazing.

Toby: The connection we have with so many fans that we’ve seen time and time again is something we are so grateful for. Them coming back to see us every time means the world to us, so to get to see them all again is the thing we’re most looking forward to, as well as seeing some new faces. The whole thing might be too much, to be honest. I might just explode with emotion! We’ve been in the shed absolutely itching to get out, so people are going to see some very excitable guys onstage playing new music, with new pyrotechnics and new guests, as well as all the old stuff too. It’ll be what we normally do…but times a million.