NEPTUNE by Dub Proof | INTERVIEW
Author: Sean Manuel
Bob Marley may have untimely passed nearly forty-two years ago; however, the reggae forefather's innovative style and activist spirit remain alive as ever in the present. This week's BlowUpRadio interview spotlight, Jersey Shore band Dub Proof, submit their nineteenth digital release on Bandcamp entitled Neptune. An ethereal experience, the stereo depth of the programming in concert with the lushness of the reverb play to twin interpretations of Neptune in 1) the vast expanses of space and 2) the wondrous depths of the ocean. Fans of the hip-hop subculture, funk legend George Clinton, and reggae's most popular Bob Marley will assuredly enjoy the interplay between the rhythmic waves and crests and the ambient production on Neptune. Let's discuss this release with Dub Proof...
Hey there, Dub Proof! Congratulations on your sophomore album release. Neptune's 13 songs demonstrate your embrace of a genre-bending creative mindset whilst keeping the essential reggae elements present. Compared to your 2018 Kenny-dubbed "Hulkamania" self-titled release (following canon from the "Anchored in Asbury" interview), Neptune documents an apparent, "opening of the floodgates," to do such things as exhibit more instrumental prowess (e.g. more solo opportunities or purely instrumental pieces, in general) and express further lyrical maturity. I noticed your efforts to create Neptune took your recording process outside of Green Stream and into new studios. What is the typical Dub Proof creative timeline from writing the "riddims" to tracking? Did the time between releases and/or change of venue engender any changes to that timeline in any way to augment Neptune?
Kenny: We were afforded the opportunity to record in a few different places so we wanted to take advantage of that to make sure we were putting our best effort forward every time. There were a few different sessions where we felt we did some songs stronger than others in a particular place, so Neptune is a collection of the best recordings from all of the different studios. Nick or Rory will come up with an original idea and either bring it to practice or send through a rough demo for everyone to work on and over time and practice it becomes an actual song.
"Cleo" is one such instrumental piece I write of in the previous question; and, it is the instrumental piece that opens Neptune. The word, "Cleo," derives from a Greek verb ("kleo") meaning, "to celebrate," or, "glory," of which this piece plays like a gloriously chill opening celebration from instrumentalists in top form. Am I correct in pointing my interpretation to this origin? Or, is there another motivator to the title of this smooth opener?
Nick: I did not know that. Very cool coincidence. In a way it is a celebration of the glory of life and the vibrating energy all around us. For me Cleo is also a reminder to stay in the moment and to continue to push onward and upward no matter how hard things seem, if you believe and keep pushing you will succeed...
The F major I-IV-V ska track entitled "Sidetracked" follows "Cleo" and advises the listener in the choruses to prioritize an, "agape," (universal) love. Despite being sidetracked, is it ultimately acceptable as long as you are stuck with the one you love and (great 2011 John Cena callback) "rise above hate?"
Kenny: That one was a total Rory creation both musically and lyrically, very serendipitous with an unintentional reference although having never seen a John Cena wrestling match, despite being a big fan of Cena's work in The Peacemaker. HA! To answer the question, it's open to interpretation but I take it as a reminder that we're all in this together and if we were a little cooler to each other, mankind as a whole would have an easier time cohabitating this planet as it spins at thousands of miles per hour through space.
Next, "Mainstream" serves as a diatribe in A minor against the mainstream media for its pervasive yellow journalism. They will commit such acts as, "tear you from another, hook you watching your TV," and, "force you what to wear and they'll tell you what to think." Is this song an instance of inviting the listeners to arrive at a composed place and critically think for themselves? Does the Bb minor track "Fashion of Evil" touch a similar note? Please compare and contrast the two tracks.
Kenny: Reggae music isn't just all about the party and "one love" and "Come to Jamaica" and all of that. Reggae is protest music and Reggae music is music for the people. When we look around at current American society as a whole and are just inundated with a constant barrage of "DO THIS NOW" from all angles along with the pressure to look a certain way or think a certain way or act a certain way. It's a reminder that we are humans that can think for ourselves, check our motives and make the right decisions for us and the people around us, instead of doing something that's damaging due to societal pressure to fit the mold of what "they" want.
I understand the C major jam "Sea Turtle Dub" emerged from a free recording session at Camden Community College. Please tell us about the circumstances leading to this track's creation. How many other tracks did you record at this session? Are any "in the quiver" for future releases?
Kenny: The two songs that made it out from CCC were "Cleo" & "Don't Wanna". The "Sea Turtle Dub" came late in the session at Kyle Carl Studios in Point Pleasant NJ after we were warmed up and had already caught a few great takes of songs we had well-rehearsed for that particular session. It was going well where Nick (bass) called out the chords to Rory (guitar) then told Kenny (drums) his idea for how the beat should go and Dave (saxophone) to just solo over top of it. What is on Neptune is what we caught that day. We have lots of stuff in the mix for the future as far as singles go, both original never been heard stuff as well as dub versions of already released material. We're hoping to get on a pretty regular release schedule so that the internet robots are kind to us.
Returning to your "Anchored in Asbury" interview, Kenny indicated "Dont Wanna" was his pick as, in essence, the quintessential track on this release for listeners to hone in on and digest what makes Dub Proof's brand. Polling the band, what is each member's pick and why?
Nick: "Sea Turtle Dub" - because we did it on the fly at Kyle Karl Studios. It felt like we were firing on all cylinders that day and I'm really happy with the way we were able to just create off the cuff.
Rory: I'd say "Sidetracked" , at least right now. I'm really enjoying playing that song and it's a nice change up from the bulk of the style of songs we play. It's good to mix it up to keep everyone on their toes.
Dave - "Whatever." It's chill.
Neptune's tenth track entitled "Summer Summer Summer" is a tribute to a treasured Asbury Park artist and compeer to Dub Proof. Please tell us the song's backstory, the artist, and their special contribution to the production.
Kenny: Joe Harvard was the embodiment of what Asbury Park was from the early 2000s till about 2015ish when things around town started to look a little bit different. A true artistic spirit in every sense from music to poetry to sculpture, Joe was a completely unique person that had a fierce drive to create & to "keep Asbury weird" to borrow a phrase from Austin TX. Joe was teaching local kids at a church about music and he helped them compose the song "Summer," to which they all sang on for the chorus of the original recording. After Joe had passed, Nick (bass & producer) was able to get that recording and meld it with our rendition of the song in the studio so that we were able to keep the vibe and pay tribute to Joe at the same time.
Addis Pablo features on the title track that concludes the album. Take us through the track and the imagery Dub Proof intends to convey on it.
Nick: "Neptune" marked the final riddim we recorded with Joe, who was struggling at the time. We both sensed that this would likely be the last project we would work on together, and as a result, Joe put his heart and soul into it. His emotional investment is evident in his playing. When I asked Addis, who was also a friend of Joe's and had collaborated with us on several occasions, to feature on the track, he immediately understood the significance of the moment and gave a memorable performance, imbuing the track with his own sense of reverence for our departed friend. "Neptune" takes the listener on a transcendent journey to explore the depths of the inner self and invites them to surrender to the power of the music, allowing themselves to float along with its vibrations.
Visual artist Sam Aucello designed the album artwork for Neptune. Please describe what it thematically communicates about the release.
Nick: Neptune is the Roman name for Poseidon the Greek god of the sea. Neptune is the 8th planet from the sun in our solar system. In astrology, Neptune is one of the outer planets and is associated with spirituality, imagination, and intuition. Neptune is also the name of the town where Dub Proof's headquarters are located. I asked Sam to try and capture these elements and add the kraken as a representation of our human struggle. I think she did a great job.
Would you like to tease any future shows?
Kenny: Yeah. We like to play shows and bars and parties and on boats and cocktail hours and breweries and distilleries and pop up markets. We're down to do business. You can always follow us on our socials @dubproof and check out Dub Proof dot com for the latest updates.
Investors? Maybe you? Reach out to book us today @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick: June 26th at Headliner - Neptune NJ - 6pm.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Kenny: Be cool to each other and support local art!
Nick: Thanks for taking the time. We really appreciate the awareness. To the readers: Thanks for checking this out and we hope you like the music. See you out there!
Dub Proof is a Jersey Shore Reggae band who have a new album titled NEPTUNE and is available everywhere.
Dub Proof plays a modern version of the classic early roots reggae sound that focuses on "The Dub". Using different sound effects & techniques to produce a swirling, soundscape of echoes & reverberations as a homage to legends that came before them like Augustus Pablo & Burning Spear. To complement a rock solid rhythm section held down by Nick Paolise & Kenny Pete on bass & drums respectively, lead singer Rory Fream's smooth vocals blended with David Hollander's soaring tenor sax impressions, Dub Proof is sure to take you on a musical journey without leaving your couch.
For over 10 years, Dub Proof has smashed numerous stages from Brooklyn NYC, to Cambridge MA & all points in between. From mountain valleys in southern Vermont and all over the Jersey Shore, sharing stages with notable reggae artists such as Pato Banton, Yellowman, Mykal Rose of Black Uhuru, Kenyatta Hill of Culture, Inner Visions, Badfish, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Mike Pinto, Dubbest, & The Expanders as well as the late Robbie Shakespeare & Sly Dunbar, The Mighty Diamonds and the godfather of dub Lee "Scratch Perry."
About the Author: Sean Manuel is a Senior enrolled in New Jersey City University's Honors Program. A Music Business major, Sean specializes in the piano and bass guitar. Outside of academia, Sean performs in and manages the Bayonne indie-pop group BreakTime: a four-piece writing modern pop tunes with generous vintage allusions to artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Are you interested in their music? Follow BreakTime @breaktimelivenj and stream their releases on all platforms.