French reggae band Dub Inc. stole the show in Solana Beach Sunday night at the Belly Up Tavern, opening for Mike Love and his backing band, The Full Circle. This was the last night in California for the seven-piece, after a full tour of California beginning in Monterey at Cali Roots on Memorial Day Weekend. Known for neatly fusing sounds from dancehall, rap, ska, and dub, the Saint-Étienne-bred group will head back to Europe for a summer of festival appearances at world-renowned events like LA CARRIÈRE (France) and the immersive psychedelic experience, Down The Rabbit Hole in The Netherlands.
I had the opportunity to sit down with vocalist Aurélien “Komlan” Zohou and drummer Grégory “Zigo” Mavridorakis on their tour bus.
We chatted before the show Sunday to talk about new music, their California Roots experience and the documentary short film they starred in.
TSM: I saw you guys play at Cali Roots in Monterey and it was wild. What was that experience like for you?
- AZ: Well, Cali Roots is the biggest reggae festival in the USA, so we had to try it sooner or later. It was very fun, maybe a bit early [their set time was 2:15pm], but the audience was there. We didn’t expect so many people. It was great fun. It was the best way for us to get introduced to the west coast.
Yes, welcome! So, you guys just released a new single, called “Nos héros” — tell me about it.
- GM: We recorded it with a singer from another French band called Danakil. In France, everyone has been expecting this feature for maybe 10 years, so finally we did it. We have always talked about social topics in our songs: racism, equality, social themes… and this song is very social. It talks about the hard times that humanity is starting to cross.
Do you feel that music is necessary in hard times?
- AZ: I think people need art and music, and they need artists who can ask different questions and have a different point of view from the politics in the media. I feel like artists are really important in these kinds of times, because when you come to concerts and shows like tonight, you will not only listen to music, you will have a social time with people, share something stronger than music and maybe get out from this gig and think about the world differently. So, I think it’s really important to have art and artists, especially in hard times.
Art and music is about love at the core.
- AZ: Yeah, at the same time, if you take the example of Bob Marley: he didn’t change the world in the way that there are still the same problems in the world. But, how many eyes did he open? I mean, me, as a teenager listening to his lyrics, it opened my eyes. And, I guess that’s the way we want to be as artists.
Music is a vessel. It allows you to look at the world through a different lens and get a new perspective.
- AZ: Yes, that’s right.
You have a new album coming out in the fall. What inspirations did you draw from?
- GM: It was a pandemic album and so, for us, we have our own studio in Saint-Étienne and we live very close to each other. That made it easy to get everyone together after lockdown and record the new album. The difference between this album and previous albums is that usually we tour before a new album, so we meet a lot of people and musicians. On this album, we had to change the way we get inspiration and you will see that there are more features on this one, too.
Can you drop some names?
- AZ: Kumar Fyah from Raging Fyah.
- GM: Big shoutout to him, because when we were looking at the different voices we could put in the album, we said, ‘Maybe Kumar… it’s been a long time [that] we’ve liked his music, so let’s try to contact him.’ We contacted him and one week later, he was like 200km away from us, so we said it was a sign of the universe and for him to come to the studio. And, we made a super nice song.
We can’t wait to hear it, do you have a release date yet?
- AZ: September sometime.
I heard that you have a documentary coming out, as well?!
- AZ: Yes. On the road, you always tour with filmmakers, photographers — stuff like that. This idea came from a director and we worked with him some years ago; he’s French and became a very good friend. He was filming the last days of the tour before COVID — then COVID arrived, no shows anymore. He asked us to come to the studio when we started to record the new album and to follow us for two years after. It’s 14 minutes long and it ends with us two months ago in Columbia, for the first show we had after COVID.
- AZ: I said the filmmaker was ‘a friend’ and I said that because it’s very important — he did this movie because he was a friend. No one else could do what he did. We love intimacy with the band, we love to stay together; it’s a family thing, so no one else could have come into the family to shoot this. It’s going to be a really interesting movie for the fans and for other people, too, because if you want to understand what an artist did during lockdown, this is it.
There was only one of two things an artist could do, which is either hibernate or make music.
- GM: The big problem for us was that when COVID arrived, we had just released our new album and usually we tour for two years after an album. So, suddenly, we had to write a new album and this was unusual for us. Everything really changed.
We are overly excited to see this documentary and listen to the new album, just all the magic that this band made out of COVID! And, a huge thank you for sitting down with Top Shelf! Follow Dub Inc. on Instagram and listen to their newest single “Nos Héros” featuring Balik from Danakin on all streaming platforms.