One of the problems with talking about British crossover is that only a few bands really reflect a truly British perspective. Many bands bought records by the greats of the American scene (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, Faith No More, Living Colour), analysed them, and tried to put out carbon copies. It's a living, but the bands that fire my imagination are those that mix those ideas with British musical flavours and sensibilities.

That's why I respect Dub War. Over their five year musical career, Benji Webbe (Vocals), Jeff Rose (Guitar), Richie Glover (Bass) and Martin Ford (Drums) blended traditional rock, punk and metal with ragga, dub and even drum & bass. Formed in Newport, Wales, in 1993, Dub War signed to a small Welsh hardcore label called Words of Warning, putting out a couple of e.p.'s in 1994. Signed to Nottingham-based metal label Earache in 1995, they cut the full-length l.p. Pain, which brings to mind an Angel Dust-era Faith No More mashed up with dance-hall ragga. The album has what at the time was a unique sound, switching from the acid-jazz of Fool's Gold to the hardcore-band-does-jungle of Over Now. Benji could sing like a reggae artist, chat like a ragga MC, even descend into bizarre Mike Patton-style screams, all in the space of one track. Glover and Ford made short work of the ragga and dub grooves, while Rose bathed the whole in a tide of rich and varied guitar sounds. Live shows were always frenetic and intense, with Benji a blur on stage and the trademark sounding of the Dub War air raid to start the gig.

In 1996 came Wrong Side of Beautiful, which shocked a lot of fans by taking the band even further into crossover territory. This time much of the guitar work was acoustic, and the tunes slower and more dubby. This period also saw the band working much more in conjunction with remixers like Aphrodite and DJ Rap, looking to expand their sound into less guitar-based areas, from hip-hop to drum & bass.

1997 brought a year of intense touring, in particular a stint in support of the mighty Fishbone touring the US. In 1998 a remix l.p., Step Ta Dis, compiled most of their remixed work, while Benji collaborated with noiseniks Soulfly.

Sadly in 1999 the rumours were confirmed: those old crossover bugbears lack of commercial success and musical differences brought a halt to Dub War's campaign. The band members announced their various side-projects (Benji is working with ex-Infectious Groover Rob Trujillo on the Mass Mental project, as well as another as yet unnamed band. Jeff and Ginge have irons in the fire with their Tribal Clash project, while Richie is working with Leatherface).

Dub War's legacy is a positive one. Like Audioweb, Senser, ADF and Bullyrag, they show us Brits that we don't have to imitate US bands to produce great genre-defying music.


Dub War have now reformed (minus Richie) as Skindred. See the news page (11th Jan 2000) for more info.

Dub War Links

Unofficial Dub War page.

Earache's Dub War Biography.

Frog's Dub War Pages.


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