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Act Revolutionary Dub Warriors

The Revolutionary Dub Warriors
The Revolutionary Dub Warriors (Photo: Coneyl Jay)

Steve Barker talks about the RDW's time working with Adrian Sherwood:

Through the late eighties and early nineties new alternative cultures had been steadily expanding which had more in common with the more hard-nosed counter-culture movements of the sixties than the impending explosion of cyber-related lifestyles. Specific within the new counter-cultures was the notion of travelling, being always on the move in order to resist the seemingly pervasive control and therefore the more intrusive features of an increasingly information hungry technocracy.

For a reason that will require the more enquiring mind of a seasoned social anthropologist, new contrasting musics became to be associated with the new travellers, free festivals, eco-warriors etc. These "new" music’s were rave, ambient and dub. Possibly because of the break-neck speed of what was known as rave, chill-out alternatives were a must!

The Revolutionary Dub Warriors were formed in 1991 in the Reading area by some of the originators of the free festival scene whose prime musical interest was reggae. Their contemporaries were the like of the Megadog and Whirl-y-Gig outfits, Zion Train, Dreadzone and the Orb. The interest in bass and space were the only rules, which governed their sounds.

The 'Deliverance' CD
"Deliverance" CD

All of these groupings had dub as a common theme, to greater or lesser extents, and all of them fed this influence through into new strains of the genre. Looking at the titles of the tunes on their debut On-U set ("Deliverance": ON-U LP68), it is obvious where the band’s roots could be found - "Dub the E", "Squat", "Mystic", "Walkabout" - not much sufferers time here!

The 'Dub Warriors were known on the circuit for their incendiary live set. It was perhaps this quality, which helped them gravitate towards the On-U Sound stable who at that time had become stalwarts of the festival scene through the contributions of African Head Charge, Gary Clail with On-U Sound System and the mighty Dub Syndicate. On-U were also at a critical stage in their history as a label in that they had to expand their artist roster, most of whom had grown with the label, in order to keep some freshness and variety in the brand and its output. Certainly when the 'Dub Warriors got into the studio with Sherwood and Skip McDonald the results were something of a shock to the band’s Richard Paterson:

"... Adrian was very influential really. It did sound quite different ... It was quite a shock ... because of what he did to our music and how he dubbed it up and it was hard to let go of what you perceived the music should sound (like) and have him put his influence and perception on the music and come out with something different ... I think he did a very good job, excellent ... He’s a brilliant engineer."

Strangely enough Richard was not really conscious of On-U Sound’s output until a few years earlier when introduced by a friend, when he realised that a lot of the music he had heard at dances which he enjoyed was actually produced by the label. And coincidentally the first records he had bought when younger were the Sugarhill Gang’s "Rappers’ Delight" and tunes by Grandmaster Flash - both of whom bore the trademark guitar licks of Sherwood’s studio collaborator Skip McDonald. To their credit the 'Dub Warriors avoided the easy steppers shots and came out with something which went towards forming a signature sound.

Editors additional:

  • Frontman, bass player and songwriter Steve Swann worked with and been part of such luminaries as the 'Kaya Collective' (1983), 'Military Surplus' (1984), 'Radical Dance Faction' (1984), 'Dub The Earth' (1987), 'Hi Tech Roots Dynamics' (1991) and became a founding member of Revolutionary Dub Warriors (1991).
  • Keyboard player and songwriter Richard Paterson featured and played in most of the same bands as Steve Swann resulting in a special musical understanding only obtainable after a considerable amount of time working together, giving the Revolutionary Dub Warriors their own unique fluid sound.
  • Drummer Kevin Maxwell was a self taught musician who was also house drummer at The Theatre Royal. Kevin had also been part of many session and touring bands playing many diverse styles of music to an incredibly high standard.
  • Percussionist Paul Tillotson started his musical career as a vocalist and bass player with various anarcho-punk bands, followed by a succession of bands and multi-media projects before switching from bass to playing the Djembe drum from West Africa. Paul played with various dub outfits before joining the Revolutionary Dub Warriors in August 1995.
State Of Evolution LP
"State Of Evolution" LP

The Revolutionary Dub Warriors sound is that of raw roots reggae dubbed up in their own unique way. The band use live drums, bass and percussion but are not afraid to use electronic effects and instruments to enhance the mesmerising effect of their music.

Following the bands second album for On-U Sound "State Of Evolution" (ON-U LP83) the 'Dub Warriors underwent a number of personnel changes but remained centred around Swann and Paterson and at around the same time left the On-U fold. They have since recorded an album called "Dub Fusion" still with their trademark sound but with Sherwood replaced at the mixing desk by Mad Professor.

Sadly, Steve Swann passed away in April 2011 - another good man who died too young.

2 Badcard
Adrian Sherwood
African Head Charge
Andy Fairley
Annie Anxiety / Little Annie
Audio Active
Barmy Army
Bim Sherman
Charlie "Eskimo Fox"
Creation Rebel
Deadly Headley
Doug Wimbish
Dub Syndicate
Gary Clail
Ghetto Priest
Harry Beckett
Jeb Loy Nichols
Jesse Rae
Judy Nylon
Junior Delgado / Jux
Keith LeBlanc
Lee "Scratch" Perry
Little Axe / Skip McDonald
Little Roy
London Underground
Mark Stewart / Maffia
Missing Brazilians
New Age Steppers
Noah House Of Dread
Revolutionary Dub Warriors
    . Biography
Samia Farah
Singers And Players
Strange Parcels
Tackhead / Fats Comet
The Circuit
Tribal Drift
Voice Of Authority

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