Track by track with Ja­son O’Bryan and Barry Ash­worth

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“For the vo­cals we had a DigiTech Stu­dio Quad FX unit, which was like a two in, two out FX out. We used it mainly for the cho­rus pre­set that gave it stereo – you can hear it in Run­ning From The

Thoughts and Open. All the vo­cals were com­pressed us­ing a dbx 166XL. We had an AKG C214 con­denser and a Shure SM85 car­dioid con­denser and a valve Rode mic, but it had too much low end for Terry’s voice so we stuck with the AKG for him, which was a bud­get mic.”

Speed of Light

Ja­son: “It was a sim­ple bassline and a sim­ple beat, based around a string sam­ple. I used a Wal bass gui­tar, re­ally fil­tered down to just a sub us­ing the sam­pler’s low-pass fil­ter. Then we had sam­ples from NASA lay­ered on top.” Barry: “Blade is on this. He’s an out­stand­ing Bri­tish rap artist. I think this was one of the last tracks he ever recorded. I think the in­dus­try had done his head in badly. You just can’t be­lieve your luck some­times, when you man­age to get to work with some­one who you have so much re­spect for. Blade was like that – he de­liv­ered his verses com­pletely on-point.”


Ja­son: “We were look­ing for tracks to cover, and this kept pop­ping up. We wanted to re-do it, and thought it would just be great for Rod­ney P, who raps on here. He’s got that cock­ney thing go­ing.

“We just went about metic­u­lously re­build­ing the back­ing track. The orig­i­nal sounded so great, we wanted to get that with­out sam­pling. It took a while to com­pletely re­play every­thing.

“We had a Ham­mond XP2, and a guy called Will Hensel came in and played the so­los. I think we were us­ing Ser­ato for our DJ, Stix, to scratch them back in again.” Barry: “We were do­ing other ses­sions with Terry Hall from The Spe­cials at my stu­dio, so we con­vinced him to sing the cho­ruses as well.”

Speak­ers And Tweet­ers

Ja­son: “I was us­ing a Boss pitch-shifter de­lay box called the RPS-10 a lot on the al­bum. It was a dig­i­tal half rack unit. It was one of the first bits of kit I ever bought back in the 1980s af­ter I saw the But­t­hole Surfers use it on stage.

“We used it on a few tracks like Speak­ers and Tweet­ers for the cho­ruses. It sounds like you have a re­ally low voice and a high one, but it’s all the same per­son. It gave it that early elec­tro vibe that bands like New­cleus used to have. We liked to do lit­tle trib­utes to that era.”

Run­ning From The Thoughts

Barry: “This fea­tures the leg­endary Terry Hall from The Spe­cials. He was my ab­so­lute God and amaz­ing to work with. I first got to write with him on

Prob­lem Is on the al­bum be­fore, which led to us to do­ing a string of shows with him.”

Ja­son: “This track came about from the bassline. It was try­ing to be a bit

Dub Be Good To Me, or some­thing. It felt a bit ob­vi­ous. We added some reg­gae sounds like stabs and some melod­ica stuff, but it wasn’t un­til Tim Hut­ton came in and put the horns down that it all came to­gether.”


Ja­son: “This came about af­ter we’d been asked with Terry Hall to go play an event in Glas­gow, where artists were in­vited up to do cover ver­sions of things that in­spired them.”

Barry: “It was spon­sored by Riz­zla. It came out great and was in our live shows af­ter this for a while, but it was never meant to be an ac­tual record­ing. It just worked so well. Terry’s voice suited it so well, in a to­tally op­po­site way to how Blondie’s would. That melan­cholic, sul­try thing that he does was great for it. It ended up fit­ting in the al­bum re­ally well.”

Ja­son: “The orig­i­nal ver­sion was a bit more like a live band. For the al­bum we made it a bit more elec­tronic, adding elec­tronic drums and stuff.”

Cruise Con­trol

Barry: “This has a big elec­tro in­flu­ence. That’s the thing about Dub Pis­tols, and my­self be­ing a DJ: we’ve al­ways been eclec­tic. As ev­ery poet is a thief, you pick up in­flu­ences from every­thing you lis­ten to. Back then, more so, we liked to fly off in dif­fer­ent tan­gents all the time.”

Ja­son: “This started off life as a small sec­tion of a Smirnoff ad­vert that we’d been com­mis­sioned to do. They wanted us to do the mu­sic like it was quickly go­ing through five gen­res. There was a break­danc­ing part that we liked. We took that out, de­vel­oped it and built a track around it.”


Ja­son: “This was in­flu­enced by Chic and a bit of Ian Dury. It was on that Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick type of stuff. Barry loved all that.

“The track started with a sam­ple, then we re­played the whole thing. Will Hen­sal played keys on that, again. I think I used a War­wick bass gui­tar on this. I ac­tu­ally got it from John Paul Jones from Led Zep­pelin. It was a weird old cus­tom bass that was good for funk stuff. We used an Elec­trix Fil­ter Fac­tory rack unit to fil­ter. You can hear it in the track. It was very much the fash­ion at the time.”

You’ll Never Find

Ja­son: “We were search­ing for bassline sam­ples and this one jumped out. We’d be play­ing mu­sic, sit­ting around, and it just came on and in­spired us. We had a huge reg­gae li­brary. I’d spent about three grand on reg­gae CDs and Barry had a mas­sive col­lec­tion, so we had stuff shuf­fling on the iPod and ideas would come from that.”

Barry: “Rod­ney P and T. K. Lawrence are on this. Rod­ney’s vo­cals are taken from another song called Six Months that ended up be­ing some­thing we did with Gre­gory Isaacs on the fol­low­ing al­bum, Rum & Coke.”


Ja­son: “This was a full re­play­ing of The Spe­cials’ orig­i­nal track – much the same way as we did for Peaches, re­ally. We also had Terry [Hall] singing on it, which val­i­dated the whole thing.”

“This would have again fea­tured the Ham­mond XP2 or­gan. The syn­thy bass would have been from the Juno-106. Barry was from dance mu­sic so every­thing we did had to have a dance sort of sound, and this track would have had a [Roland] 909 kick.”

Barry: “That was a trick we used on the al­bum be­fore for the Terry Hall track Prob­lem Is – A Ska back­ing, but with a 909 kick over it.”

Some­thing To Trust


“This was the first song we’d ever done with Rod­ney. I met him at Snowbombing and gelled. We’d wanted to work with him for a while, so we hooked up.”

Ja­son: “This track was done us­ing a Dr Dre-style omi­nous pi­ano from the Pro­teus rack. The strings are Juno-106. They get louder to­wards the end of the song. That’s a cho­rus­ing Juno sound. The in­flu­ence for that comes from the A Clock­work Or­ange sound­track.

“There’s some Tubu­lar Bells sounds too. They came from my Roland JV-1080 rack sound mod­ule thing. Most hip-hop in those days had those bell sounds all over it, so we got a bit of that go­ing.”

Mach 10

Ja­son: “This is the only track that isn’t a sam­ple, to be hon­est. I think the pi­ano came from the JV-1080. We were just try­ing to do some­thing that was reg­gae, with­out be­ing reg­gae. There’s a mix­ture be­tween reg­gae and hip-hop. It ended up sound­ing a bit French, I thought [laughs].” Barry: “It was all in­flu­enced by Bugsy Malone, be­lieve it or not. I used to play the sound­track at the end of my sets some­times as a bit of fun. The com­edy side of the Dub Pis­tols was stronger in those days.” Ja­son: “It’s ba­si­cally a tongue-in-cheek track with T.K. rap­ping.”


Barry: “Based around a sam­ple, again. A lot of our songs from that pe­riod were. It had a guy called Ron­nie do­ing the cho­ruses. He was in the Breakin’ Even crew down in Read­ing.” Ja­son: “It started as a reg­gae loop, but it had a hip-hop edge to it. That’s what we were al­ways look­ing for. Then lots of sound FX, vo­cals, har­mon­ica.

“It has a Moby in­flu­ence as well. The drums were in­spired by Mas­sive At­tack’s Teardrop. That kind of rim-shot-on-the-snare beat. There’s some crick­ets chirp­ing, which I recorded in Bar­ba­dos while do­ing pro­duc­tion parts on the al­bum.”

Gave You Time

Barry: “This was a great one to end on. It showed a dif­fer­ent side of us. We al­ways wanted to be eclec­tic. Be­ing a DJ meant I had a mas­sive record col­lec­tion to draw on, as well as get­ting all the new mu­sic sent through as pro­mos.

“There were records ev­ery­where to get in­flu­ences from. I found it hard to walk through the house be­cause there were records ev­ery­where [laughs].

“I’d pick up ideas from ev­ery­where, be it a bassline from here, or a horn line from there. Any­thing could in­spire the start of a track.”

“We blacked out the win­dows, put crime scene tape ev­ery­where, and slept un­der the desk”

The Dub Pis­tols re­cently dropped their sev­enth stu­dio al­bum, Crazy Di­a­monds, on Sun­day Best. As you’d hope, it’s a su­per-skank­ing af­fair stud­ded with stel­lar guest stars in­clud­ing reg­gae leg­ends Cutty Ranks and Beanie Man, rave pioneers Ragga Twins, and young up­start Brit rap­pers Too Many Tees. The Pis­tols are on the road, bring­ing their rau­cous live show to a club or fes­ti­val near you. Ja­son O’Bryan, how­ever, left the band in 2010. He now works at Abbey Road, so he’s not do­ing bad, ei­ther.

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