Collective chilling to the reggae rhythm

AGENCY DUB COLLECTIVE

Thursday, December 13

Yours and Owls

Agency Dub Collective's line-up seems to have changed as often as Rihanna's hairstyles.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing, points out guitarist and one of the founding members, Elrond Veness (yes, his name was inspired by Lord of the Rings).

"It's a good turn of events, it's good to get back with mates," says Veness, explaining that fellow founding member Daniel Sommariva has returned after a few years in Japan.

"Things like that happen, people move away. Daniel married a girl from Japan and they moved there and had a kid, but after the tsunami they wanted to get out of there."

But the constant rejigging of the dub-reggae band has made it difficult and it's been a long time between drinks as far as touring and recording are concerned.

They last toured in 2008 and their latest album, Beggars Belief, has taken two years to record.

Agency Dub Collective started as a bunch of Canberra lads in 1999 before "kind of shifting" to Melbourne in 2003.

"Our music's definitely changed - we were more experimental in the beginning. We had dub, hip-hop and heavy rock and then I think we became more cohesive in our style and our production," Veness says.

"But we're taking influences from the past and creating something new.

"I think this release, compared to the last, is more rootsy and mellow, it's more chilled out," he says of Beggars Belief.

The band has never shied away from mixing politics and music, and Veness says Bail Out, on the new album, follows this tradition.

"It's about the Global Financial Crisis and tells of how the banks were getting bailed out - how politicians are always telling us that capitalism is good - and the banks get bailouts but the common person doesn't get bailed out," Veness says.

He says they consider themselves a dub band, which he describes as an offshoot of reggae.

"We describe ourselves as dub, just lyrically it's different," he says.

"The thing that we've got with this album is less is more. We don't try and over-complicate things now that we have more experience.

"The rhythm's really great to dance to; it's about getting a good feel with the band and pumping out the rhythms and getting the energy back and forth from the crowd and the band."

Band members are hard at work off-stage as well, with Veness describing them as a "DIY outfit". Veness does the publicity and tours - booking venues and accommodation - and Sommariva's handy with YouTube for the film clips, and others pitch in to help in editing and mixing the albums.

Veness recalls the band playing at private parties around Wollongong in their formative days, but this will be their first gig at a public venue in the city.

They've also enjoyed sharing the stage previously with Wollongong funk reggae band Alotta Presha so are familiar with what's happening on the coast.

"Wollongong seems to have a very decent music scene," he says.

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