Tuesday, March 12 will be the inaugural performance for Death By Dub, an offshoot of the Denver Reggae Social Club featuring rotating members of the Thievery Corporation, The Motet and founded by Dan Africano and Scott Flynn, former members of John Brown’s Body. The collaborative project has been working closely with Color Red — a recording studio that has significantly influenced the studio scene by establishing a new track release every week and by wrangling in a lot of local and national music superstars. We grabbed an interview with Africano one of the rising group’s founders to talk more about their inception and their upcoming show as they fill a much-needed space within Denver’s music scene.
303 Magazine: You and Scott Flynn have been playing music together in John Brown’s Body, Elephant Wrecking Ball and several other projects for years. Can you talk about your music background and what brought you to Denver?
Dan Africano: Scott and I met when he was invited to sit in with a band I was playing in called Cashed Fools. That was in Boston in 2010. Shortly afterward I was invited to join Elephant Wrecking Ball, which shared the same drummer. We’ve been playing in different projects together ever since during time between our schedules playing with other bands. When John Brown’s Body stopped touring at the end of 2017, I took the opportunity to move back to Colorado, which is where I was living between 2002 and 2007. In the 10 years I was gone, the music scene has exploded in Denver, which has been such a great thing to return to.
303: Talk about your collaboration with Color Red. How do you know the Color Red team? Why is Color Red the best place to record and debut the project?
DA: I met Josh Fairman, who mixed the Death by Dub tracks, over a decade ago while living in Colorado. Our bands used to play shows together at the time. We’ve both worked with Mike Tallman [artistic director] over the years on art for other projects. The rest of the Color Red team I either met over the years being in the funk/reggae scene or shortly after moving back to Denver. One of the reasons we love working with Color Red is the familial vibe we feel with the studio & the label. It feels much more like friends working together to help forward each other’s creative endeavors than it does any other business relationship.
303: How does the collaborative nature of Denver, the rotating cast of Death by Dub and Color Red all feed into one and other? Discuss what makes Denver’s music scene so collaborative and how is it different than other places you’ve lived/played?
DA: While I was living in Ithaca, NY I played in a roots reggae cover band called The Crucials that would play a two and a half hour set once a week. Besides being a ton of fun, it was hugely successful in exposing lots of people to lesser-known artists and songs of the genre. Upon moving to Denver, I started a Denver version of the band called The Denver Reggae Social Club with Keys player Russ Friedell, who also lived in Ithaca and played with The Crucials. Since that band started, we’ve played roughly once a month with a different lineup for each show, which leads into the collaborative nature of the Denver music scene. People have their bands and main projects, but one thing that makes Denver unique is that we can put together a one-off show with an all-star lineup for any style of music and make the performance something special every time. That’s how many projects at Color Red get started, with the studio being the stage instead of a live performance. Death by Dub started as something very similar. Scott and I wanted to do an original dub project so we wrote some music and called upon some of our favorite players that had been a part of DRSC in the past to make it happen.
303: What should we expect out of the project for the rest of the year?
DA: We’ve started a monthly series with the label releasing a track a month for the foreseeable future and will likely end up with an album release towards the end of the year. As for us, we love making this music, so as long as people enjoy it, we’ll keep releasing more.
303: You guys also lead Denver Reggae Social club and the show is billed as Denver Reggae Social Club at Cervantes. Can you talk about each project and how they differ? What will the audience expect from both groups?
DA: As for the show at Cervantes’ Other Side on March 12, we will be doing a combination of Death by Dub songs played live with some choice vocal cuts that we’ve done with DRSC in the past. It’ll be a mash-up between the two projects.