The third track on the third studio LP from Brooklyn's Dub Trio, Another Sound is Dying, "Not For Nothing" cranks through like the perfect soundtrack for running the roads or scaling rockfaces or most any physical feat you can imagine. Written in six sections, the tracks works first and finally through a sturdy, short-stepping metal riff, propelled from beneath by a rhythm section that lashes ahead and very hard. The song's alternating sections reflect the band's name and central aim—to mix the effects-driven processes of dub music with heavy rock bombast. The rhythm section, then, slinks as the guitars drift through it, soaked in echo, reverb and feedback emanating a tonal scrim rising from beneath. Terrifically triumphant, we suggest this track for morning traffic—or at least something for which you need a shot of grit. That is, "Not for Nothing."
We found guitarist DP Holmes by phone in a tour van in Austin, Texas.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: When did "Not for Nothing" come together?
That song came together before the studio, for sure. I remember writing the riff on the road at some point when we were touring with [Mike Patton's] Peeping Tom. I remember playing it at soundcheck a bunch. Usually, we'll write a riff and try to flesh it out at soundcheck or keep playing it everyday so we don't forget it. When we get home, we'll finally be able to go into the rehearsal space and really put it together with a lot of different sections. It came together a few months before the record.
The song has so many parts and phases. How did they come together? Just play it once and develop them intuitively, or did it take more time than that?
It all depends on the song. How did we do it for that one? We have a heavy riff at the beginning of that song—driving, heavy, distorted, loud. We like to do that in our songs where we take it out and drop it down to the bass, like in a dub song, doing the same riff., applying the same riff to dub or metal or vice versa. We like to do that, so breaking it down like that came naturally. It usually does. We do some ambient builds a bit in our songs. A lot of that stuff comes naturally. The middle section of that song is a sludgy, slower section. That just came in the rehearsal space because I think we all just heard it going into something like that, and it just happened.
There's that sludge metal feel in this track and in many of your tracks. Who is a fan of that in Dub Trio?
We all are really—maybe a little bit more Joe [Tomino, drummer] and I than Stew [Brooks, bassist]. I've got to say that we don't own enough of it or know enough of it, but we know what it is. We know certain bands, and people tell us to check out certain bands. But I wouldn't say that we're experts on any metal or sludge.
Which bands in particular do you like within those areas?
A bunch of years back, we started listening to Meshuggah, and they influenced us quite a bit. There's this band Crowpath that we've been listening to for a little bit. I guess Dillinger [Escape Plan], but they're not like that. The Refused got us all into the more rock-metal type thing like five years ago. Those are a couple of bands.
What was the most difficult thing about capturing "Not For Nothing" correctly in the studio?
There wasn't anything too difficult about it. It wasn't that difficult because we got a really good engineer/producer, Joel Hamilton, but that middle section, we knew we wanted as big as possible and as thick as possible. He helped achieve that. It was a little bit difficult not to make the first part as big as possible because we wanted it as big as possible, but we also wanted the middle section to be even bigger. That was a little difficult soundwise, with the layers and stuff—picking and choosing what we wanted to do, what we wanted to make big.
How does something like that work itself out? What's the compromise process like?
In the studio, a lot just comes, and a lot of it just happens, just works out for some reason. We all like the same things, you know?
Speaking of what you like, the name Dub Trio seems to throw a lot of people off with regard to your sound. Four albums into this band, how do you feel about the name?
It's an interesting name for a band. We did not choose it in the beginning. We started out and were playing some gigs as no-name and some bars would write [Dub Trio] on the chalkboard because we were a trio and we played dub music with a little "chiller" atmosphere in the club. Now, there are a lot of people that are like, "Oh, you don't play dub. Why don't you call yourself Rock Trio or Metal Trio?" We feel like we're playing dub the whole time, even when we're playing metal or noise because we always use the concepts of dub within the heavy stuff.
There are always effects, and, when we play live, we treat every song like a dub, like we're remixing it. It's always different. So, we get a little bit of flack for it. Like our first record was more dub reggae, so we've probably lost some reggae heads along the way, but that's OK.
Probably really harshing some bros' vibes, right?
Yeah, harshing the mellows. [Laughs.]
Do you remember where you were when you wrote the riff for "Not for Nothing"?
No, not at all. We might have been in Australia with Peeping Tom.
Are you able to write on the road very often? Lots of bands say it's mostly impossible to do much aside from the night's work.
We don't get a lot accomplished on the road writing wise because it is tough. We drive for like 6 hours or 3 hours or 18 hours, like the other day. You go to the club and you do soundcheck and play the show and go to bed and drive, so there's not much time. But occasionally it happens. One time during this tour, I picked up my guitar backstage and wrote a riff. But that was once for the one month we've been on tour. It's hard to get the feel or the creative energy just to do it. We haven't written many complete songs out here.
That was San Diego to Austin. It was brutal. We had a day off for it, but it was still brutal and weird. We were traveling along the Mexican border, so there were all these little checkpoints—a lot of stops, got pulled over, a bunch of bullshit.
What feeling or theme do you hope listeners take from this track? What should I come away with?
It's always difficult to put a message or a feeling on an instrumental song. But I'd say it's an aggressive song. Excitement, I guess, a feeling of excitement. What feeling does "Not For Nothing" evoke for you? I'm asking the boys. Joe the Drummer says rage.
Who came up with the title, by the way?
Oh, man. Who did come up with the title? It was almost going to be the album title, but "not for nothing," it's a Brooklyn saying. We live in Brooklyn, and in Brooklyn or New York, like when you watch The Sopranos, it's like, "Well, not for nothing, but you know..." One of us came up with it, and we always just shoot e-mails back and forth about silly album titles and song titles. Our song title process is very loose and they don't necessarily mean what the song means.
Dub Trio plays Tuesday, Dec. 16, with American Bang at Local 506 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $8.