Phat Reggae Dub
By: M.J. Smith
Ahhh, the sounds of sweet youthâ€¦Phat Reggae Dub reminds me of my teenage years, â€œCause thereâ€™s no where Iâ€™d rather be, chillinâ€™ with my friends in the city by the sea.â€ Oh how I long for life to be that simple againâ€¦Not to say that their music is simple, their classic reggae sound has an unexpected depth provided by skilled musicians, multiple singers, and a saxophonist. Their lyrics are honest and real, sharing their struggles as they try to navigate the realities of the adult world, and their appreciation for the SoCal lifestyle they grew up in is evident. Though the band claims Huntington Beach as their hometown, their bassist and vocalist, Brad Janelli, currently attends college here in San Diego. Other members of the band include Josh Ullrich â€“ Guitar/Vocals, Daniel Castaneda â€“ Drums, Justin Quarress – Keyboard/Vocals, Eric Roebuck â€“ Guitar, and Roman Brambila â€“ Saxophone.
Phat Reggae Dub played their first show in March 2009 at The Office in North Park. Since that time, they have been playing shows all throughout Southern California with bands such as Pepper, Tribal Seeds, Collie Buddz, Groundation, Ballyhoo, One Drop, Seedless, Pacific Dub, Stranger, The Supervillains, Pato Banton, Bizzy Bone, The Beautiful Girls, The B Foundation, and Tomorrows Bad Seeds. They finished their first album Be Free at 17th Street Recording Studio and released it on iTunes last April. Their aforementioned Back to the Pad was released to iTunes in early December 2010. And now the band is set to release its new self-titled EP on December 6th! Every so often a band comes along that stands out among the others. In my opinion, Phat Reggae Dub is that band! I can see these guys going as far as their desires will take them.
We had a chance to ask the guys a few questions about their new release, their experiences in the SoCal music scene, and, of course, get their opinion on our favorite subject, cannabis.
Love the coverâ€¦can you tell us about it?
An old friend of our bass player/singer Brad was introduced to the band. His name is Matt Flood and he has been painting and drawing pretty much all of his life. Itâ€™s great because when we play shows, heâ€™ll bring all of his own artwork to sell and enhance our set. When it came time for a new album, we hit him up to draw us one. What he created is amazing, a world held by mankind. Inside is actually quite a trip, youâ€™ll see a ying and yang sign with nature on the left, with opposing symbols representing Babylon, and corrupted society on the right.
Can you describe your music for those who may not have heard you?
We have tried to incorporate many different styles; reggae and dubbed-out echo effects of course, as well as a bit of ska, hip hop flows, and a bit of rock. However, with the lyrics, we try to keep it extremely conscious with thoughts most people think, but donâ€™t know how to effectively communicate or express.
Who writes the songs?
The entire band writes the songs with a lot of practice and communication. Brad Janelli and Josh Ullrich write their own lyrics and add them to the songs once the instrumentals are complete.
What other songs/bands are on your playlists right now?
Right now we listen to a range of stuff: SOJA, Tribal Seeds, Stick Figure, the old 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Dirty Heads, J Boog, and many others, especially a lot of the underground reggae artists coming out of the Irie Ites sound studio in Jamaica.
Any pre-show rituals?
We usually try to get past all of the stress of self-management and hangout together. And, of course, smoke a joint or seven and get hyped on the show we are about to play. We definitely have to get rid of any negativity that could be floating around and be confident.
Do any epic band moments come to mind?
Just anytime we play with bands weâ€™ve looked up to; one in particular, we played a show in LA with just us and Steel Pulse. We all got free beer and food and got to play in front of 1000s of new fans! Also, itâ€™s great to show up at events and have people weâ€™ve never seen before and hear them singing along. â€“As well as many good circle pits at the House of Blues and downtown Huntington Beach during the U.S. Open.
Any crazy fan experiences?
People asking for our autographs is always crazy. One time a guy came up to us saying he drove from 5 hrs away to see Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and thought our opening act was betterâ€¦haha!
What is your ultimate venue to play and/or band to play with?
We definitely loved playing at the Canyon Club. We would love to one day play alongside The Dirty Heads and SOJA, and we have the resources to; itâ€™s mostly just a matter of time. Also, it would be dope to play at a huge festival such as Ragga Muffins.
What is your favorite show played so far?
We played a great show opening for Collie Buddz, then afterwards, we hopped on the party bus we rented with all of our good friends and partied all the way home!
Any thoughts on legalization or the current MMJ crackdown?
Weed is a plant. Itâ€™s not harming anyone; plus, the U.S. is ridiculously deep into debt. Anyone with a brain would vote to legalize it.
Whatâ€™s your favorite way to use cannabis?
Anyway that gets us high! Although, a nice phat joint is always a tasty way to get down.
Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid? Any favorite strains?
Besides the Phat Reggae Dub OG, probably a very strong sativa. We have a thing for Headband, but only the high-grade!
Tell us about the new album/tour.
Because we are all still in college, no major toursâ€¦But, we will definitely be taking advantage of local street fairs, as well as a few shows with Don Carlos, Groundation, and a few othersâ€¦youâ€™ll just have to wait and see! As far as the album, weâ€™ve been working very hard the last year to produce top-quality music over at 17th Street Recording Studios with the man, Lewis Richards. Keep in mind, this is the same studio that The Dirty Heads, Slightly Stoopid, and many other reggae bands have been recording their music at.
Playing any SD shows anytime soon?
As far as now, we donâ€™t have any planned, but definitely be on the lookout for us playing at the OB street fair.
Anything about SD that you guys particularly like?
Well, our bassist/singer Brad goes to school in Point Loma; he loves it down there, and every time we visit, itâ€™s always a great time! â€“Lots to do and many crazy people to be seen.
Any sponsors? Shout-outs?
Ganja Juice Smoothies, Lewis Richards, all of our friends whoâ€™ve supported us throughout, Mike Quarress, and our newest clothing sponsor, Creative Minds and Visions.
Where can someone find out more about the band?
Just type our name into Google. Weâ€™ve got Facebook, YouTube, Myspace, our own website, as well as iTunes, Napster, Amazon and all the good stuff.