Salmonella Dub mark their 25th year by getting back with Tiki Taane

by James Belfield / 13 January, 2018
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Salmonella Dub in July 2017: “a heap of cool people” have worked with them over the past 25 years. Photo/Andy Lukey

With 2018 under way, Salmonella Dub can really start to celebrate their first quarter-century as purveyors of seriously danceable summer sounds.

Late last year, they released their 25th single in 25 years, World She Waits, a collaboration with Nino Birch of Wellington post-punk originals Beat Rhythm Fashion. It was a wry nod to New Zealand Music Awards organisers, who had offered Salmonella Dub a Legacy Award, then changed their minds after the band insisted a revived Beat Rhythm Fashion play the traditional cover version at the awards ceremony.

As part of their celebrations, Salmonella Dub reunited with long-time vocalist Tiki Taane, seeing in the New Year at the Northern Bass festival; other tour dates are in Christchurch and Taupo.

Taane joined the band as soundman in 1996 and his frontman presence helped generate some of their biggest hits, including For the Love of It and Love Your Ways. He played his last gig with them on New Year’s Eve 2006, then went solo.

But for Andrew Penman – who remembers busking on Nelson’s streets in 1988 with fellow founders Dave Deakins and Mark Tyler in paisley shirts and Stubbies – the basis of Salmonella Dub has always been steeped in far deeper, bass-driven music than the Taane-sung pop-reggae hits. So reuniting with him wasn’t a foregone conclusion – even for a 25th-anniversary celebration.

Vocalist Tiki Taane. Photo/Getty Images

“I had reservations,” Penman says. “And it’s been interesting watching the reactions while Tiki has been doing his own thing. When all the videos and singles happened, a lot of people thought Tiki was Salmonella Dub, but now we’ve had our first rehearsals with him – and don’t forget I hadn’t seen him in 10 years – I wouldn’t change anything.

“Up until Tiki joined, we had been a hell of a lot more experimental and bass-heavy for those first six years. Then we collaborated on For the Love of It, which some people slagged off as a kind of UB40 crossover, and we were presented as having gone mainstream. So when we split, it was probably perfect timing: Tiki wanted to do his solo thing and we probably needed to go back to where we started.

“What we’re doing in these live shows is surveying 25 years – and as a band, we’ve always had an open-door policy. Initially, it was me, Dave and Mark sampling Cheech and Chong and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but we’ve worked with a heap of cool people over the years, although there’s no way we could fit them all on stage.”

The group also want to mark their anniversary with a full-catalogue box set and another studio album – their eighth, not including remix and out-takes albums and the 2008 Feel the Seasons Change live collaboration with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra – and Penman is keen for their new work to be a “seriously deep long-player, like we played before 1994 and 1995, when drum and bass came along and we headed off in a different direction”.

Salmonella Dub’s 25th-anniversary tour, featuring the return of Tiki Taane, Hagley Park, Christchurch, January 13; Owen Delany Park, Taupo, February 3.

This article was first published in the January 13, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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