The ascendancy of big-beat techno with punk rock attitude continued unabated in the late '90s with U.K.
act the Dub Pistols, a lager-swilling quintet headed by ex-club promoter Barry Ashworth and initially featuring guitarist John King, bassist Jason O'Bryan, programmer Bill Borez, and turntablist Malcolm Wax. Although they had a radio-friendly sound, a major hit single eluded them. Instead, their reputation was garnered by explosive live sets, key song placements within video games and films, as well as a consistent run of highly collaborative studio albums appearing every two to three years.
Ashworth, who had been turned on to the vibes of Ibiza house in the mid-'80s, began promoting clubs in Britain later in the decade. He went aboveground by 1989 with Deja Vu, a much-loved club night for Madchester bands like Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses. Following a bust-up with police during another of his events, 1991's Eat the Worm, Ashworth and several friends decided to form the band Deja Vu, a London-centric act with Madchester influences. After signing with Cowboy and releasing a couple of singles, the group issued one album, Gangsters, Tarts & Wannabes, but broke up by 1996.
Inspired by the Chemical Brothers and Jon Carter's Heavenly Social club night, Ashworth began DJing himself. He was recruited to remix "Blow the Whole Joint Up" by Carter's Monkey Mafia, and got his new group, Dub Pistols, signed to Concrete Records as a consequence. The band debuted in late 1996 with the singles "There's Gonna Be a Riot" and "Best Got Better." By the time of the group's 1998 debut album, Point Blank, big beat appeared to have run its course. Dub Pistols remained an infectious live draw, however, startling audiences in Britain and around the world.
The group's second album, Six Million Ways to Live, appeared in 2001 and was followed a year later by the mix album Y4K: Next Level Breaks. Singer Terry Hall joined the group for their 2007 effort Speakers and Tweeters, which featured covers of new wave classics like "Rapture" (Blondie), "Peaches" (the Stranglers), and "Gangsters" (from Hall's old group, the Specials). Dub Pistols' 2009 record Rum and Coke came with a guest shot from DJ Justin Robertson along with vocalists Lindy Layton (Beats International) and Ashley Slater (Freak Power). Layton returned for their 2012 full-length Worshipping the Dollar, but by this point co-founder O'Bryan had left the band. The album also included several guest spots from rapper Rodney P., who prominently featured on the hit single "Mucky Weekend." Dub Pistols' fifth LP, Return of the Pistoleros (Sunday Best Recordings), arrived in 2015. Two years later, they issued the single "Crazy Diamonds" with Too Many T's. The track appeared on the group's seventh album of the same name, which saw release in October 2017.
In April 2020, while much of the world was in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dub Pistols issued a cover of the Clash's "Bankrobber." In June, they released the timely single "Stand Together," a collaboration with Bodysnatchers vocalist Rhoda Dakar delivering a strong message of anti-racism. This preceded Addict, their eighth studio album proper, which included further guest spots from Natty Campbell and Cheshire Cat. Reputedly, the final track list came about after the band had recorded three albums' worth of material. ~ John Bush, Rovi