When we think of music in New Jersey, particularly the Jersey Shore, our minds immediately drift to images of Bruce Springsteen at The Stone Pony, or the sounds of a fat horn section starting blaring through our brains.
However, there is an undeniable backbone of the scene and the sound firmly rooted in the irie riddims of reggae. From the tip of Monmouth County to the Pine Barrens of Ocean County that thick groove of reggae can be heard bumping from phones, stereos, bars, and clubs year round. The red, yellow, and green is repped hard at the Shore, and one of the finest purveyors of that irie sound is Dub Proof.
We caught up with good brother Kenny Pete from Dub Proof to talk about the band’s new Christmas album coming out in December, their performance at The Saint on Thanksgiving Eve, their legendary friend Joe Harvard, and the New Jersey beer scene.
Dub Proof has a Christmas record coming out on December 13 — how many of these tracks are original tunes, and where can the people pick up/listen this record?
Yes! The album is called “Season’s Greetings” and we’ve got a nice blend of original songs and traditional holiday favorites over 13 tracks done in a reggae style. It will drop on dubproof.com on Black Friday via bandcamp, and is available for pre order via Apple music as you read this, you can even pre-save it to your Spotify playlist cause our distributor loves Santa Claus.
Christmas songs have always been a weird animal. They’re either a cash grab by some super popular mainstream group or just super cheesy. What do you think it takes to create a great, evergreen (pun intended) Christmas song?
Out of all of the original tunes on Season’s Greetings, “Fly My Way” would be the biggest departure from what people would think was a Dub Proof song. That song was inspired by Joe [Harvard] actually and a few Velveeta gigs before Christmas in 2013. Nick [Paolise] and his wife Madi recorded a version of the song and gave it to our family that season for fun. Nick played it for the band and we found a way to make it ours by adding few tracks, some percussion, vocals and additional guitar by our bud Mike Noordzy. Nick’s cousin Patrick Clarke produced the Couch Sound remix later in the album and we think it’s pretty rad!
And just how difficult is it to create a quality Christmas song?
Nothing is hard when lightning strikes & you are compelled by the power of Klaus! Seriously though, musically it has to hit that warm fuzzy feeling inside when you are wrapped up in a blanket enjoying a hot beverage, maybe with some peppermint in it. We were heavily inspired by a classic reggae album titled Studio One presents A Reggae Christmas and it was an album Nick found and gave to all of us as something fun for us to listen to during the holidays that wasn’t the same old holiday stuff that can get a little tedious sometimes. We took three of our favorite songs off of that album and re-recorded them for “Season’s Greetings” as not only a tribute, but a great way to keep this music alive.
Based off of that album, I was digging for more music in a similar style and found a great Youtube channel with over 200+ Reggae Christmas songs! They aren’t all going to be zingers, but we were able to soak in a lot of what classic reggae artists were doing with making traditional reggae rhythms into Christmas songs, then did it in our own way. That is what makes reggae great in that these ‘riddims’ have been around for millions of years, but it’s what artists’ can do with those ‘riddims’ is what makes ’em unique.
You guys are playing a lot of breweries this year — you’re a regular at Frye Brewing Company, and you’ll be playing Icarus soon. Reggae and beer seem to blend. Why is this so, and can you talk about the experience of playing a unique venue like a brewery?
The New Jersey brewery scene is huge, with over 100 craft breweries in the state and more and more people wanting something more out of their beer that what massive corporations & distributors have to offer. it’s like yeah, you could get a burger at that franchised fast food spot, but if you want a really good burger, you are going to the local burger place that takes real pride in what they do from where they get the meat to how they serve you that burger. Same thing with beer! The crew at Frye Brewing in Point Pleasant Boro take pride in every beer they make and people go there to enjoy it. It’s a very laid back atmosphere where we can be ourselves, play the music we like to play and people can come enjoy the beer, enjoy the band, and enjoy hanging with their crew without having to shout or be overcrowded.
Your last record came up nearly two years ago — can we expect a new full length in 2020?
Pop Break Exclusive ! Br-Br-Br-Br-Brrrrr! Dub Proof will be releasing a full length album in Spring of 2020. It took a while to get Season’s Greetings in order & it feels for us like we’ve been playing Christmas music since August, but it’s worth it and we are really proud of how Season’s Greetings came out. Through that process of making sure it was ready to go for this holiday season, we learned about the recording / mixing / engineering process and became better and more efficient musicians in the process. We have more than half of the album recorded , in January we are going to put the finishing touches on it & we hope it will be the best Dub Proof album ever made.
Stay tuned to https://dubproof.com/ and our bandcamp page as some singles and electronic music may pop up there between now & then. We like to keep everyone on their toes.
You guys have been a part of the Asbury music scene as Dub Proof and other bands for a loooooooong time. Can you talk about how the scene has changed for good or bad throughout your time in it? And where is reggae’s place in the scene?
Clearly, the best kept secret on the Jersey Shore is no longer a secret with Asbury Park bringing in millions of dollars every year in tourism and property development. As much as we miss the classic Asbury Lanes, things have changed and Asbury Park is definitely not the Asbury Park it was when we were holed up in the Hot Dog House on Cookman in 2010, Johnny Mac’s was just being renovated from the ground up and we would park in the lot around the corner that is now their Biergarten.
The scene has changed, but there are still places where “old time Asbury” still lives (God bless Scott, Meg and everyone at The Saint) you just have to look harder for those places. Reggae definitely has a place in town with national acts playing the House of Independents, where we were blessed to open up for the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry last year, or at the Lanes, The Stone Pony, summer stage or otherwise, and The Saint. There are also quite a few bands carrying the reggae torch all year round and we’re stoked to keep the fire burnin!
You’ll be a part of The Saint’s annual Thanksgiving Eve “Asbury Family Dinner.” You’ll be playing a tribute to Joe Harvard. Can you talk about what people can expect from this tribute set?
I said this on stage when we did a tribute to Joe Harvard this past summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts and it bears repeating here.
“Joe Harvard was an integral part of our band that we will never be able to replace.”
That’s because as a person, a writer, an artist, a musician, and a human being, Joe Harvard was truly one of a kind and there will never be another person like him. Joe was quite prolific in many ways and touched the lives of so many in Asbury Park as an inspiration to work through adversity and keep on creating, whatever it is you do, just keep working at it and positive things will come from that creative work.
Dub Proof has a fun set planned, Lou [Montesano] the boys from The Morgan Freemason’s have a great set planned, Velveeta, the Velvet Underground tribute that Joe Harvard started has been officially been bequeathed to Mike Noordzy, have a great set organized and we’ve got a long list of special guests who will be joining on stage to celebrate the live and times of our friend Joe Harvard, and Thanksgiving is a great time to do it. It’s all to benefit the Fulfill Food bank from dinner to the show to the non-perishable food drive, it’s a great way to give back to the local community.
For those who don’t know Joe Harvard — can you talk a little about Joe and his relationship with Dub Proof, and his importance to the Asbury Park music scene?
Joey was an artist in every way and he was a great supporter of the arts. Joe would curate music stages for Asbury Underground and Light of Day, he ran a weekly Monday gig call the Long Weekend for a long time in Asbury it was great anyone could come in and jam with him. He also volunteered his time at a local church helping underprivileged kids get into music. He was a great friend and a sound innovator creating anything original in any way possible including using colanders and electricity.
The Saint celebrated its 25th anniversary last week — how much has The Saint meant to Dub Proof, and what’s your thoughts on the venue’s importance in the history of the Asbury Park music scene?
The Saint has been Dub Proof’s Asbury Park home since they have been a band — it’s our favorite venue in AP. Scott gave us our first show! We just love the vibe of the place its a perfect club for music, live original music. We are extremely grateful to be able to have lived near a place like The Saint. My friends and I would just go there not knowing who was on the bill because we knew no matter who it was the music would be good and the company would be even better. Packed house or not, you could always hang in the corner with Scott or Meg and that was my home away from home. The Saint is also responsible for the Asbury Music Awards and its like the Grammys for the Asbury Park music scene, it’s better then the Grammys!
With the new year upon us — what are some things Dub Proof is hyped for in 2020?
Lots of things! New music, not just from us but from artists we love. We’re looking forward to getting out there and playing as much as we can / as much as our families will allow us to [laughs]. Overall general positivity, I think people have been down about a lot of things going on in the world and we hope that 2020 will be the year that people as a whole will be able to see past the things that divide us as a people and say “enough is enough and it’s time for a change” and we start working in that direction. We’re looking forward to kindness. Just be kind & all of us will be able to rub shoulders a little bit easier on this rock we call earth as it floats through space and time.
Dub Proofs performs at The Saint’s Asbury Family Dinner on Wednesday November 27. Tickets to the dinner and show are $20 with proceeds donated to Monmouth & Ocean County Food Bank.