Dub Vulture
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Dub Vulture

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | INDIE

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | INDIE
Band Rock Reggae


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"Dub Vulture - On The Record"

The eclectic rhythm riders of Dub Vulture reversed the usual pattern of releasing music then remixing it last year, when they let legendary dub progenitor The Scientist craft the Snarl! EP out of songs that hadn't previously been recorded. Now, the "original" mixes are turning up on Brother, Can You Spare a Gun?, the band's second full-length, pairing Snarl!'s five songs with a half-dozen new ones to carve an engaging trip through the hazy landscape of reggae, rock and dub.
On the eve of the album's release, head Vulture Tim Balash took some time to answer questions about Brother, Can You Spare a Gun?'s creation process, which spans more than two decades. Sort of.

VUE WEEKLY: How long did it take to make Brother, Can You Spare a Gun?, from the initial songwriting through to the end of the recording?
TIM BALASH: "Blow On The Flame" is an old song fitted out with some new parts. I had to hunt through my Drawer of Forgotten Lyrics for the original set of words which had the date December 1989 scribbled at the bottom. Therefore I can accurately state that this record took 23 years to make. The title song is probably almost that old, too. Christ, I've been working on this record half my life! I think some people in the band were not yet born when it all began.

VW: When you were writing the songs, did you come at them in a particular way? Lyrics first? Music first?
TB: The words and the music are concocted in entirely separate laboratories, and usually exist for a long time as separate entities before they're poured into the same beaker. I usually have a riff or a bass line for a while before I start thinking lyrics, and I'm always writing words which rarely have a specific piece of music in mind. At most, I might think, for example, "This will work over something loud and ugly," but until I'm finishing a song off, the words are usually biding their time in a music-free notebook limbo.

VW: Did you take the songs to the recording sessions fully formed, or were they sketches that were then filled out by the band?
TB: About half the songs were complete and unto themselves before recording, and the other half we cobbled together as we went along. Brian [Golightly] and I had recorded a lot of instrumentals, some of which were turned into proper songs by Brahm [Olivierre] and Amy [Van Keeken]. That collaborative part of the band is a lot of fun. Amy had never even heard "Skull and Wishbone" until the day I asked her if she had time to add vocals to it. She asked if I had any lyrics, I duly dug some up out of one of those aforementioned notebooks, then she made up all those vocal parts in a few takes.

VW: What were the recording sessions like for this album? Did you record as a band live off the floor or did you piece it together one track at a time? Why?
TB: The sessions were all done on the instalment plan primarily due to busy schedules. I recorded the basic tracks on my own—this was before we had Duncan [Turner] playing bass for us—then everyone added their parts when they could.

VW: Production credit is given to Dub Vulture, rather than just one person. What did producing the album as a band bring to the recording?
TB: I'm a rank amateur when it comes to all this baffling digital wizardry—I miss my old Fostex cassette four-track—so my ears would get pretty exhausted mixing for hours on end, hours longer than it would've taken anyone with more experience. I found that running off mixes for everyone and getting their input would save me a lot of grief. They pointed out things that I couldn't hear and offered valuable suggestions I hadn't considered. One example of input was Brahm sending me a link to Lone Ranger's "Skank Steady" to show me what kind of delay setting he wanted on his voice for one track.

VW: Were there any other songs written that were left off the album?
TB: A few full songs were left because we thought we could do them better another time, a few we didn't have time to record, and we also have a few hours of instrumentals tracked awaiting Brahm and Amy's touch or some B-movies in need of a soundtrack. Also we had to pull a dub of the title song at the last minute because we'd exceeded the running time of the CD. You can get it as a bonus track on our bandcamp site.

VW: How did you decide which songs to include on the album? Did you have an idea of what you wanted the record to be when you started, or did the finished shape emerge as the writing and recording went along?
TB: A while ago we got a phone call from The Scientist saying he wanted to mix a record for us, so to meet his deadline at the time, these were the songs we scrambled to finish up. We released his dub treatment of some tracks last year, and it's taken us this long to get together the full performance mixes. There are no intricate themes tying the tracks together, despite all the reoccurring gunfire. Gratuitous and utterly irresponsible discharge of loud ordnance included, the CD is just a collection of the typical sounds you hear whenever we get together.

VW: If you were to trace the musical map that led you to Brother, Can You Spare a Gun?, what would it look like?
TB: A tangle of red arrows signifying many swims with the "Here Be Monsters" icons.

- VUE Weekly, July 18, 2012

"Dub Vulture"

When Dub Vulture frontman Tim Balash started working on new material for the follow up to the band's eclectic 2009 debut Voodoo Love Nuke, he was wasn't writing songs "with dub in mind," he says. "I was just writing more rock-based songs—you can dabble with the format later." So it came as a complete shock when Balash was contacted personally by legendary dub producer and innovator the Scientist, who asked if he could do dub mixes of their new work.
"My first reaction was to spend a couple hours on the Internet seeing if there were any Scientist-based scams going around. It just didn't seem credible, for one of our heroes to get a hold of us like that."

The resulting mixes appear on the upcoming EP Dub Vulture Meets the Scientist, with plans for a follow-up full-length in the fall. "We're inverting the usual pattern for a band," Balash laughs. "Usually the dub mixes come out after."

The new material sees a few personnel changes for the band—most notably the departure of founding member and drummer Mike Silverman—but also the addition of bassist Duncan Turner (Electricity for Everybody) to the talents of existing members Amy Van Keeken, Brahm Ollivierre and Brian Golightly, who were brand new members at the time of recording Voodoo Love Nuke. 

Now, with two years' worth of playing together live, the band is excited about the cohesiveness of the new material—not to mention the "incredulity" of working with one of dub's biggest names.
"I've been listening to the Scientist for so many years," Balash gushes. "I felt like a little kid. I don't think I could be objective about [the EP]. I was just tickled." - VUE Magazine, June 15, 2011

"Voodoo Love Nuke review"

There’s plenty of dub reggae to be found on Voodoo Love Nuke. That makes a lot of sense for a band called Dub Vulture, I suppose, but what gives this album its edge is the way frontman Tim Balash draws from his past, weaving a little alt-country here (the rambling “Sharks in the Bathtub,” with a tip of the hat to Jimmie Rodgers in the opening line, “T for Texas / T for Taliban”) and a little punk there (the thrashing blast of “Monochrome”). For some bands, that sort of range could be a kiss of death, or at least an entranceway towards a herky-jerky sound that blows every which way but loose and any which way it can. Not so, for Dub Vulture, though, with the band—and it is a band, with original duo Balash and drummer Mike Silverman now joined by vocalists Amy Van Keeken and Brahm Ollivierre—very much rooted in the dusty earth at the same time as Van Keeken’s voice adds an ethereal wave to the tunes, drifitng seemingly out of the cloudy reverb and echoes that so much of the music is draped in. This is the sort of collision between styles that can gift an old style with new life. - VUE Magazine, 29/01/09

"Voodoo Love Nuke review"

Dub Vulture
Rating 3 1/2
Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Tim Balash's points of reference are scattered like touchstones on Dub Vulture's first full-length release -- dub reggae via The Clash and Lee "Scratch" Perry, traces of Velvet Underground-esque guitar washing over Sharks in the Bathtub, Dylan sneer driving the rockers, anarchist principals spoken in French on Castle Bravo. It makes for a heady listening experience, these inscrutably titled songs thick with literary and musical references, anchored by deep bass, looped guitars and political musings rising thickly through stoned island grooves courtesy of Mike Silverman. Amy Van Keeken of The Secretaries adds wordless vocals throughout, while newest member Brahm Ollivierre toasts on Buster Jangle and Tsar Bomba, giving the former duo that much more sonic variety in their arsenal of sounds, especially live. Dub Vulture's CD release party takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the Empress Ale House, 9912 Whyte Ave. Admission is free. Showtime: 9 p.m.
Tom Murray

- The Edmonton Journal

"Release The Reggae"

Local group Dub Vulture joins bubbling scene with the release of its debut CD Voodoo Love Nuke


Tim Balash likes to play the curmudgeon, ever implying that he's been in the music biz for something like 10,000 years now.

"I'm probably not the person you should be talking to ... when you get to a certain age your ability to keep track of what the young people are doing diminishes," he says.

Still, we humans are pattern-recognizing machines, and the city is bubbling with reggae as of late. Balash's Dub Vulture is milling about the appreciative scene with bands like Soulja Fyah, the Soulicistors and Scott Cook, to name a few. And this Wednesday, Dub Vulture is officially releasing its debut CD Voodoo Love Nuke at The Empress before following up with a gig at the Black Dog on Feb. 2.

The cleverly-named Dub Vulture has played more than a dozen shows so far, "but with the new lineup, this will be our very first show," the nasal-pinched singer states, "with Brahm (Ollivierre) and Amy (Van Keeken)."

How the Secretaries' Van Keeken got in is a funny story.

"We were supposed to open for Lee Scratch Perry and I think she just wanted to get in for free. So she offered to sing backup vocals," he chuckles. "But, man, did she ever sound good - so it's just a totally different band now. And Brahm co-hosts the dub night at the Underdog. Amy had mentioned that he knows how to toast ..."

Toasting, chatting or deejaying is the act of chanting and/or talking over the beats - spooky, yet inviting, taken to extremes by bands like the Bug out of London, England. Toasting's influence on hip hop is obvious.

Balash goes on: "Mike (Silverman) and I have always talked about expanding the lineup to include either a Jamaican rapper or a female singer, so we ended up getting both."

We decide cherubic Silverman, the drummer, is as reggae as they come. OK, that's actually a little in-joke, as both Silverman and Balash are veterans of the No Depression country scene, which still holds Toby Keith as a braying, mindless antichrist. Balash's pedigree on bass stretches back even further, for the record.

"I'm already elder, but an elder? I guess it started a long, long while ago - there was a band called Big House - but they turned into Warrant or something like that. Then I played with Marshall Tulley. I saw him on the internet recently. He runs a weight room in Toronto, a weight room for the stars. I knew him as this scrawny guy, now he looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I don't think he makes music any more," says Balash.

"Then there was a bit of a break, and it must've been the Magpies after that. That was that whole incestuous wave where a bunch of musicians played in a bunch of different country bands. Shady Pines, various incarnations with Gavin Dunn and Dwayne Martineau. The May Kings, with Brent Oliver."

So, how did Balash come to front this colourful reggae outfit? Did a crowned lion appear to him in the woods?

"I bought a pedal, a loop station, and the stuff that came out of it was all the repressed reggae that I'd been listening to over the years. It was technological determinism, nothing more," he says.

The band was great even before Amy and Brahm climbed in the hot tub, so Wednesday's gig should be killer. - Edmonton Sun

"Dub Vulture"

Edmonton-based group Dub Vulture was originally founded as a duo by multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Tim Balash (the Maykings, Tim Balash & the Chrome Magpies) and drummer Mike Silverman (the Naked & the Dead, Old Reliable). Since the release of their debut EP White Riot in 2006, they've grown considerably, artistically speaking, as well as quite literally - their membership has doubled in size! They're now a quartet, having assimilated into the band another couple of folks, vocalists Brahm Ollivierre and Amy Van Keeken.
Voodoo Love Nuke is their first full-length release, recorded at home and mixed (true to dub music tradition) by several different brilliant studio minds. The band's spirited-yet-impressionistic pastiche of roots, rock, reggae, country and punk sounds gets a soupy psychedelic swirl from production mavens like Nik 7 of the band Shout Out Out Out Out (who have a new album of their own coming out in February) and Ian Martin, the man who twiddled the knobs for Foot in Heart, the acclaimed most recent album from singer-songwriter Colleen Brown - who, incidentally, is part of Amy Van Keeken's other main project, beloved Edmonton rock'n'roll trio the Secretaries.
The members of Dub Vulture are extraordinarily diverse in their spectrum of musical activities and interests - drummer Mike Silverman, for instance, just finished extensive Canadian tours with expatriate Albertan artist Shuyler Jansen and Juno-nominated Toronto act N.Q. Arbuckle, and is currently hard at work on the recording of a new solo album for Old Reliable cohort Mark Davis. As you might expect, the band's wide palette of colours is on full display on Voodoo Love Nuke, making for 59 minutes of churning, full-bodied, enjoyable listening.
Check 'em out at myspace.com/dubvulturenest or, if their schedules will permit, on a stage near you!
Grant Stovel_Host of Alberta Disc-overies, Notes From Home, and Overnight


White Riot EP (2006)
Voodoo Love Nuke CD (2009)
"Steel Umbrella" appears on Great Northern Revival: Notes From The Edmonton Underground (2009)
Dub Vulture Meets The Scientist - Snarl! (2011)
Brother Can You Spare A Gun (2012)



Hot on the heels of last year's Snarl! EP - mixed by dub legend The Scientist - Dub Vulture's latest full-length release is entitled Brother Can You Spare A Gun.

Dub Vulture was formed in 2006 by veteran Edmonton indie rocker/alt.cowpunk Tim Balash (Maykings, Big House, Chrome Magpies, ad infinitum). Drummer Mike Silverman of Old Reliable fame was recruited on drums, and as a duo the band released the White Riot EP (mixed by Shout Out Out Out’s Nik 7) featuring a “brilliant” [Zoe Street Howe] reggae version of The Clash punk anthem.

By 2009 the band included Amy Van Keeken of Edmonton’s pop vixens The Secretaries (as well as Colleen Brown’s solo work) on looped vocals and keyboards and Brahm Ollivierre providing old-school toasting. The full length CD Voodoo Love Nuke was released in early 2009 to glowing reviews – “this is the sort of collision between styles that can gift an old style with new life” [VUE magazine] – and spent a month at no. 1 on CJSR’s International chart. Multi-instrumnetalist Brian Golightly joined soon after the album’s release and has become an integral part of Dub Vulture’s growing reputation as a powerful live act mashing up punky reggae, funk, rock, electronica, and even some country twang. Duncan Turner (Pal Joey, This Civil Twilight, The Maykings) now plays bass.

Snarl! - Dub Vulture Meets The Scientist was released in 2011. It reached no. 1 on Edmonton's CJSR chart and spent a full year charting high on campus stations across Canada.