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    Photos: Formula/Distinctive




- disitnctive.com
- dubpistols.net






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Barry Ashworth is the mastermind behind Dub Pistols. And the past two years have definitely been trying times for all masterminds, especially in the music industry. He is getting anxious, and having an "itchy trigger finger" would be a big understatement. His new full-length CD of original material, "Six Million Ways to Live" was recorded over two years ago and has been through the chopping block since the tragedy of 9/11. Set to be released on October 14th in the U.S. on Distinctive Records, home of England's progressive breakbeat masters, Hybrid, this sophomore full-length release is a dark, brooding testimony to street-wise punks and a sly interpretation of Ska-influenced Hip-Hop. Featuring the added vocal talents of Terry Hall of the Specials, Horace Andy of Massive Attack, rapper Planet Asia of Cali Agent, and the production talents of the Sight Beyond Light crew from New York City, Six Million Ways to Live is a thinking man's vision of the DJ as a soldier in a world gone mad.

Originally taking the US dance floors by storm with the 1998 release of Point Blank and the hit single "Cyclone", Dub Pistols toured with a then up-and-coming DJ Punk Roc (a.k.a. Chicken Lips), as well as being part of the Van's Warped Tour. A list of remix projects followed, including his stellar reworking of tracks by P.O.D., Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Moby, and helped pave the way for a memorable live show on a pier in Manhattan for MTV2 with the Crystal Method and Fatboy Slim... a mere 12 hours before the first plane struck the Twin Towers. In our world, and his, things came crashing to the ground.

Fast forward to September 2003. It is over two years since the tragedy, and just as long since the original release date for "what should have been Dub Pistols' big breakthrough" CD. Speaking to Barry by phone, he sounds winded and slightly out of breath, busy with the Billboard Dance Music Summit in Manhattan and chomping on cigarettes. But he is as upbeat as anyone can be in his position. A bit jaded by the industry that he helped build, starting as far back as 1988, he is just plain happy that we all get the chance to finally hear the fruit of his long, hard labors.

Q: A lot has already been said about the "new" CD, but it's not really "new", is it?
A: It wasn't my decision. It was kind of like a big argument and I begged them to let me go. They offered us money to stay, but I wanted to get out and get some fresh new ideas behind us. I honestly believed I would walk away with that record and go straight to another deal, but it's just taken two years to get it out there.

Q: When something like that happens, does that take away from your inspiration as an artist? Isn't that hard to deal with?
A: Under any different circumstances, it would've been the biggest kick in the teeth I could have had. Because of what was going on, I actually understand it a little bit. You know what I mean? I'm still alive. So because of that, it wasn't difficult. What was difficult was during the meantime, having already almost written the next album, I was thinking, "Ok, what am I going to' do next?" When an album doesn't come out, and I have an album I've almost written, and then times goes by and you realize you're getting yourself further and further into a hole. You're putting yourself further and further off the radar. It can be depressing. But, honestly, because I'm negotiating all the time, I felt like I was just one week away from releasing it all along. People ask you why you haven't come out with something new and it affects your whole life. Yeah, it can be really depressing, I suppose, because everyone wants to know why you haven't come out with something yet.

Q: What do you do as an artist, when making music is your whole life and something like that happens to you?
A: You can carry on making music, but you just can't release it, because someone else owns you, you know what I mean? I've started my own label in the meantime, and I've started writing for and producing other people, which I probably couldn't have done if the record had come out on time.

Q: Is this you first trip back to the states since 9-11?
A: No, actually the Winter Music Conference in Miami for the URB Magazine party was the first. The big Blade2/Busta Rhymes thing. Really nice lineup. That really saved my bacon. That was really, really big, and I got to spin on that. It went really well and the place just went off. On the back end of that, I got to do the whole "Y4K" Distinctive Records mix compilation. That was my first introduction to Distinctive.

Q: Other than 9-11, has there been some other event in your life that made you change your outlook on the music industry or something to make you change your style?
A: You never stop learning in this industry. The first deal my band ever got signed to, naively, the person I signed with; the label's A&R man; he got sacked two weeks before the first CD came out. And he was a friend of mine, as well as my boss. Naively, I decided then that I wasn't going to record for this company because they were assholes. Basically, they owned my ass and, at the time, I didn't have a studio or anything. It almost broke me financially, as well as creatively. That's when I left that mess and formed Dub Pistols. I don't know, I guess a lot of things have happened to make me change my opinion on the industry. They never stop to cease to amaze me. The bigger and more corporate they become, the more problems they seem to have.

Q: You say your first record is more of a "Dance" record?
A: Well, that's very much because, at the time, I was DJ-ing dance floor records and it became a collection of those types of songs. It was an album of singles all put together. The whole "Norman Cook" thing had blown up and I wanted to get away from that whole Big Beat thing because I was beginning to get pigeonholed. I wanted to steer away from that and get back to something more "song"-based and that is the decision I made with this album.

Q: Your job is very similar to that of an actor's then, right? If you become popular with one style, that's what people expect from you.
A: Well, you will certainly have problems if you do that. One. You'll really put yourself down the alley way if you do that. And two. I think you'll just get really stagnant as an artist, if you can't develop, who'll be churning out rubbish. If you can't get inspired by it, you'll get bored with it.

Q: You have remixed a lot of talented artists. Do you work hand-in-hand with any of the artists you remix?
A: No. With remixes, you just get the different parts and it's done from a distance. The collaborations are different, where you get people like Horace or Terry to come in to your house, and they are done right in the mixing. Most of the times you do get feedback from the artists you are remixing, though. But generally, no, to answer your question.

Q: What, if any, are your expectations for the new CD?
A: I don't really have any expectations. Obviously, with it being delayed, it make's life an uphill struggle from the start. For me, with record finally coming out, the weight that has come off of my shoulders is unbelievable. I can't tell you! It's all I ever wanted. It's only just now that it's reached any expectations I've ever had for it. I think when people finally get the chance to hear it, they will believe in it in their heart. I honestly believe it will carry on and continue to selling because I expect it to do well. It's doing really well and blowing up right now in England.

Q: Is there a live tour planned?
A: We are actually just starting a tour in the UK which is due to go to Eastern Europe and Asia. Then I'm due to come back here to America in November with Hybrid for their live tour with Distinctive Records. I'll be getting to spin at that, I'm sure.

Q: Well, I'll be sure to be on top of that one.
A Yes, you'll definitely have to be on top of that!

And in an instant, that ol' familiar cellular static came buzzing through, ending our conversation as an abrupt "goodbye".

Best of luck to Barry Ashworth on tour now,
and in the US with Hybrid in November.

-- Words by Carl Noone Jr.




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