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Live music is the realm of dub music, man. Just ask Salmonella Dub, the Black Seeds, and Auckland's skanking seven-piece outfit dDub.

"You can express more in the music when you're live and go off on little journeys," says dDub guitarist and singer Derek Browne.

"The reputation a band like us, and other dub bands get, is for their live shows because there's stuff you can do live that there just isn't the time or the space to do on an album," agrees bass player Matt Shanks.

"And we build bits in to keep it interesting for us as well," he adds.

Tonight, at the Studio on K Rd, dDub start a 12-date nationwide tour over three weeks, culminating with gigs in Queenstown as part of Winterfest including the annual party at the top of the Coronet Peak cable car supporting Salmonella Dub.

"Touring is the best part of being in a band," says trumpet player Andrew Watts, even if they do end up sleeping on people's couches or in less-than-luxurious accommodation.

And they have done a bit of that since Browne started dDub three years ago with a didgeridoo player and a percussionist, including the summer festival circuit and three previous winter tours.

dDub aren't your Salmonella Dub-type dub. It is less trippy and electronic and more brassy and poppy, like single Give Up Your Love.

"[dDub] started out as a kind of organic acoustic roots-based music, and more earthy," says Browne. "And it was quite ethnic sounding," he winces.

"But we're trying to move away from that now," says Shanks, with a smirk.

"We just developed, and over a couple of years we got some horn players and a drummer. And because of the different people and the experimentation phase, we have developed into what we are now, which is upbeat, reggae, ska and dub. But done our way," says Browne, now the only original band member.

"It's a bit of a cliche to say this but, the right people have just come along and, as the band expanded, everyone's just got more aligned with what we're doing."

It doesn't sound too cliched, considering the way the band have happened to come by those right people. "We've had people get up and jam with us at gigs and we're like, 'We're playing next week, you should come along'," laughs Shanks.

That's how they found Chilean congo player and percussionist, Edwin Westermeier. He jumped up and jammed with the band during a gig at the Raglan Town Hall.

Now, with the seven-person lineup that has been together for nearly two years, the dDub ranks are solid and they have concentrated on recording their debut album, which is being released in October.

Browne: "In our creative process, everyone is there in a circle throwing stuff around and putting ideas in and it's just about got to the point where we're going, 'No, I'm doing it this way'. But that's what I have wanted because it's so much better. You get a better product and a better vibe about the song. You're creating an energy and if everyone's in there with you, there's much more power."

It has taken a while, but all of dDub are now nearly making a living from their music, thanks to a combination of gigs, good airplay for videos Give Up Your Love and Give It Some, and having a common direction.

Oh, and a bit of "fate and luck", laughs Browne. "But it has been a haul to get to this point because when the band first started, besides me, they all had jobs or had to work."

"Last year," explains Watts, "we could only do a certain number of dates around the South Island because our drummer had to go back to work. It showed that it wasn't going to go where we needed it to go unless everyone made the choice of committing to the band and taking months off work," says Browne.

"So the aim of the whole process has been to have musicians who are professional musicians, which it just about is."


* dDub play tonight at the Studio, K Rd, Auckland; June 22, Altitude Bar, Ohakune; June 23, Schnapps Bar, National Park; June 24, Bodega, Wellington.

* Releases: EP featuring the singles Give Up Your Love and Give It Some.