Richie Meldrum
Richie Meldrum

When it comes to the eternal search for happiness and fulfilment, timing is everything. These days, it all seems so sudden. It’s a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ society where fads, gadgets and even people barely lodge in your conscious before a newer, bigger, better replacement is being pushed in your face. Life is so rushed. Soccer players are signed up to big clubs as 3 year olds, tini-bloggers are hailed as prodigies and pop stars are held up as sex symbols before they’ve even sprouted their first pube. In our hurried clamber to reach the top of the pile, we’ve forgotten the art of patience. Life moves pretty fast sometimes, if you don’t slow down, you might miss something.

Thankfully, there are those among us who have heeded Ferris Bueller’s words of wisdom. Live dub and dancehall group Agency Dub Collective have elected for the slow and steady route thus far, but according to guitarist and founding member Elrond Veness, it’s been time well spent. As the group look to get back into the studio to record their new album, Veness reckons everything has finally aligned to make it all worth the wait.

“I’m really excited about recording the next album,” he enthuses. “Everyone playing really knows the music and their own style. I think it’s the best line-up we’ve had and I can’t wait to get the new tunes down on wax.”

His eagerness to get everyone into the studio is understandable, as Agency Dub Foundation have been particularly fluctuant when it comes to who’s actually in the group. “We’ve had more line up changes than Fleetwood Mac,” jokes Veness with more than a hint of truth in his voice. Fact is, the Agency Dub Foundation you see today was only finalised a year ago. They now exist as what Veness considers to be the second chapter or phase of the group. Originally formed in Canberra in 1999, in those early years there was a strong DIY ethos to how they went about their craft. “The very first thing we ever did was a demo that we recorded ourselves,” recalls Veness. “We produced it on two 4-track machines in our garage then added in heaps of vocals and samples and crazy effects. It was a pretty crazy album, real punky sort of dub.”

It may have been a while ago but some of the punk sentiments have remained in the content of the music, especially when you listen carefully to the left leaning lyrics. “There’s a lot of apathy out there, and all this propaganda on television,” says Veness. “The mainstream media doesn’t actually say a lot of what’s going on, so we try and get some messages out there about what’s happening in the world.” Issues tackled include Palestinian, East Timor and the controversial province of West Papua. The man delivering the vocal message is the group’s vocalist 3oB, whom Veness describes as “an amazing musical character” that “holds no punches.” Additional audio elements include drums, percussion, bass, keys and guitars, not forgetting the essential contribution of the studio engineer, so crucial within dub music.

“It’s the kind of music you love,” states Veness. “The kind of beats you like dancing to. Some people just love dancing to nice big fat, bass heavy, syncopated beats. It’s such a good music to feel and move to.” What better way to publically proclaim such love for dub than to throw a party? Decade of Dub at the Retreat Hotel in Brunswick is a celebration, anniversary, reunion and, if that wasn’t enough, it’s also an opportunity to welcome 3oD back into the fold after a pretty serious health scare.

“We worked out that our first live performance was in November 1999 in this little pub, so we’re thinking its been 10 years since we’ve been going around doing gigs so I thought we might as well have a bit of a celebration.”