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Richard Digance

A close encounter puts Richard’s career back on the musical path

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Twenty years in and The Dub Pistols are working harder than ever.

When The Guide catches up with the band’s mainman Barry Ashworth, he’s recently returned home from a hectic schedule that’s seen them hit Dubai, Australia and New Zealand. Then as soon as they touched down back in the UK, they headed up to Scotland for gigs in Aberdeen and Glasgow.

‘But that’s life on the road – living the dream, eh!’ he cackles.

‘We’re doing more shows and bookings this year than we ever have in any other year.’

They’ve been busy promoting fifth album Return of The Pistoleros, but the formidable live act are already looking ahead to some big plans to mark their 20th year. Blending dub, hip-hop and electronica, they originally came to prominence in the big beat scene.

‘Dub Pistols started out as me making music for me to DJ with’, he explains.

I think the NME called us the sound of Norman Cook’s sweaty jockstrap - and you couldn’t catch a cold if you were part of the big beat scene

Barry Ashworth

‘Having been a promoter for years around the house scene, putting on probably some of the biggest nights in London around the late ’80s, early ’90s, but house music had run its course.

‘And then there was fresh sound like The Chemical Brothers were putting out, which was sort of hip-hoppy breaks with electronic beats, that’s kind of what I was into.’

And he never thought they’d last this long, let alone be enjoying success this far into their careers.

‘I don’t think anyone when you’re that age looks that far ahead, and now I reckon there’s a lot more behind me than there is ahead.’

‘I think it was the fact that we kept changing and going from being a DJ-thing to becoming a sort of band and a live-thing, and more song-oriented than club-oriented.

‘And where we had a four-year break where we concentrated on America more, it just so happened, after our first album Point Blank came out, the whole big beat thing sort of imploded – I think the NME called us the sound of (Fatboy Slim) Norman Cook’s sweaty jockstrap - and you couldn’t catch a cold if you were part of that scene.

‘But for some reason Geffen picked us up in America and we spent most of the next four years over there. Then by the time we came home the backlash was over. It was almost like starting again. We didn’t escape it all though– we went from being Steve Lamacq and NME’s singles of the week. We got hit so hard we ended up in America!’

With a documentary on the band’s history due later in the year – ‘it’s the story of every band - couldabeen, shouldabeen, goes up, goes down, wheels fall off!’ – Barry’s trying to finish off the new album already named Crazy Diamonds.

‘I was hoping to finish it by Christmas, but I’ve been away for nearly two-and-a-half-months, and I’m now trying to finish it off and I guess we’ll probably drop it at the end of summer.’

Elaborating on the documentary, he adds: ‘It was one of those things we’d been filming for ages with the band. Now you put the show first and the party comes second, but before it was just all party. The gig was something we did in between.

‘It all got a bit chaotic, and the band falls apart, people’s lives fall apart. There’s candid stories in there. It’s called What Could Possibly Go Wrong?’

Barry is also a patron of the Portsmouth-based mental health charity Tonic, and the Pistols will be headlining the charity’s first ever London show at the 100 Club on April 27.

‘They’re fantastic,’ says Barry. ‘I really like what they do. Mental health is a massive issue, certainly among musicians, I think the awareness being raised and through good charities like Tonic. it does need to be addressed.

‘I do whatever i can for them.’

The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Saturday, March 25

wedgewood-rooms.co.uk