- William Felch
- Dub Trio, with The Knightbeats, Cull the Herd; Thursday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m.; Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.; $5-$14, all ages; 227-7625, blacksheeprocks.com
In Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, there’s a famous restaurant scene where Matthew McConaughey’s unhinged stockbroker character wordlessly vocalizes a ritual money chant while rhythmically thumping on his chest.
Dub Trio’s Stu Brooks does much the same thing during live performances, but with one difference: It’s your chest he’s pounding on. The bassist’s onstage rig includes a 500-watt amp head and a cabinet containing four 12-inch speakers, more than enough to create sonic repercussions that can be felt throughout the venue.
“That experience is amazing,” says Brooks, who’s found himself on the receiving end a number of times. “I’ve been to a couple of dance shows where they had those huge towers of speakers — like a traditional dub sound system — and the bass was so heavy that it took the oxygen out of my lungs.”
When not rearranging chromosomes during the eclectic trio’s live shows, the Canadian native is also an in-demand studio musician, whose credits include Pretty Lights, Mike Patton, Lady Gaga, 50 Cent and Lauryn Hill. He also performed two sold-out shows at Red Rocks earlier this summer, as part of a 14-piece dubstep band called GRiZ.
Meanwhile, Dub Trio’s collective activities include a five-year run as Matisyahu’s backing band, both onstage and in the studio.
The trio’s origin story dates back to the late ’90s, when Brooks was attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music. It was there that he met Dub Trio’s future guitarist DP Holmes. After graduating in 2000, the two musicians moved to New York City and recruited drummer Joe Tomino.
It was Tomino’s obsession with dub, the reggae sub-genre that originated in Jamaica back in the 1960s, that inspired the band’s name as well as its early sonic approach.
“Dub gave birth to the modern-day remix,” says Brooks. “The sound engineer would take an original track and remix it, pushing up the bass, and dubbing out the drums with delays, reverb and filters. They’d rearranged it so that the vocals and other instruments would come in and out of the mix, creating a new version that was usually pretty psychedelic.”
Dub Trio’s 2004 debut, Exploring the Dangers Of, employed similar techniques. For live performances, they also came up with an innovative approach that allows them to manipulate each other’s sonic output in real time.
Along the way, the three musicians also began incorporating relatively aggressive genres into the mix. “We thought, ‘Why should those techniques have to apply to reggae only?’” says Brooks. “Why not apply them to metal, or doom, or electronic, or hip-hop?”
Dub Trio’s fifth studio album, The Shape of Dub to Come, addresses those questions with varying degrees of success. Released in April, the collection includes guest vocals from Melvins bandleader Roger “Buzz” Osborne, Mastodon’s Troy Sanders, and the multifaceted Meshell Ndegeocello.
By the album’s midpoint, the trio has gotten the sludge rock out of its system, segueing into ambient and electronic terrain that’s better aligned with the album’s title.
“The sequencing is pretty important,” says Brooks of this latest effort from a band that constantly reinvents itself. “We knew we’d be releasing it on vinyl, so we wanted to make it sound like an album instead of just a string of singles. It’s like you’re turning the record over and entering a new chapter.”