Londoner Adrian Sherwood made his name as a producer of dub - the bass and echo heavy reggae offshoot - and as a founder of record labels such as On-U Sound. He was the mixing-desk member of fearsome rock-funk outfit Tackhead, which featured guitarist Skip McDonald (who has since released his own blues albums under the Little Axe moniker), and his remix credits are a who's who of European and American rock acts. He hadn't produced a singer-songwriter guy like Dobbyn before.
Here's what Sherwood had to say about Anotherland ...
Based on your past work, an album by Dave would seem an unlikely project for you. He's not exactly Lee Scratch Perry or Primal Scream. Or is he?
No, he's Dave Dobbyn and it was a great change for Skip and me. We've done nothing as melodic as this before, or worked with a singer/songwriter and his band. To be honest it was a challenge but we all rose to it. It was a complete departure, a healthy departure. I thought we could produce a warm sound and add to the overall sonic.
Had you any idea about his status in New Zealand?
I was aware of him. Some friends here are very much into his work, and when you speak to Kiwis ...
well, you learn that he is a national treasure. The more time we spent together the more we appreciated just how good he is.
What did the initial discussions about you guys working together centre around - especially in terms of the sound and the style Dave was after?
On our first meeting we basically played each other music - we took a communal approach. We'd done our homework. We'd seen him in concert in London and listened to his catalogue. He came armed with some new songs. Then I played him some of the new stuff I'd been working on, trumpet player Harry Beckett, the new Lee Scratch Perry album, folk singer Ian King. Together our influences moved through blues, reggae, gospel. We took reference points such as Bim Sherman, the horns on [Van Morrison's] Astral Weeks and how quickly it was recorded - we didn't want to spend too long in the studio. We talked about timeframes.
We met again for four days pre-production. He was really motivated and I think we helped stir him up.
Did it help - or create the occasional argument - that Dave knows a little about the production side himself?
No problem. It was good that he knew where he was trying to go. But Dave realised really quickly that he could trust our thousands of hours in the studio, our shortcuts, that we had his interests at heart. Perhaps in the past he was more concerned about production but this time around he handed it over and it gave him more time to write and think about the songs instead of worrying about the techniques. He trusted us very quickly.
Some who know your work might be surprised at how Anotherland sounds - only marginally reggae/dub influenced. Did you purposefully restrain yourself? Or are you saving those bits for a future dub version of the album? And will it be called "Adubberland"? Or "Dubbin' Dave?"
Ha ha, very good mate. No, we never set out to make a reggae album. It's a Dobbyn album, his songs with tones and flavours and techniques from Skip and myself. It's appropriate. It's proper.