Mashing up ska, reggae, punk, hip hop and electronica with a healthy dash of Balkan spice Dubioza Kolektiv – who have amassed near on a half a million fans on Facebook – are headed to Australia for the very first time, with headline shows in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane as well as a performance at Woodford Folk Festival.
The band’s exuberant live shows, along with their whip-smart, politically driven songs have garnered a huge following right throughout Europe and critical acclaim from the likes of PopMatters, Kerrang!, Consequences of Sound and more.
The 7-piece outfit will be performing tracks from their new album Happy Machine as well as from previous releases including Wild, Wild East, Dubnamite, Firma Ilegal and Apsurdistan.
They will be in our shores soon! Check out Jen’s interview with them and their tour dates below.
Hey! I have never interviewed a band from Bosnia! Love doing new things and this is one of them. I love ska and was interested to hear your sound.
So your inspiration for Happy Machine developed over two years and include some of the worse violation of Human Rights ever. Can you explain in more detail how these events inspired you?
DK: We find inspiration in events and stories that happen around us and we try to react and comment on these events. And in last few years, a lot of terrible things happened and we felt an urge to react. We don’t have illusions that music can change the world and that one band can start a revolution and solve all problems in the world with few songs, but we do believe that music can inspire people and make them think about issues that would otherwise be ignored.
Our government in my opinion has not done it’s duty when it comes to Human Rights. I am sure that you are aware of this?
DK: Australian government is behaving similar like European governments. They are very eager to militarily intervene in conflict areas and even more eager to earn money selling arms that fuel violence in those regions, but completely unwilling to accept their share of responsibility for consequences that happen as a result of these actions. In Europe we see how politicians are reacting on refugee crisis and how they are only concerned about ratings of their political parties and that they are very willing to use Trump-like populist demagogy in order to remain in power.
Tell us a little more about the jailing of the founders of The Pirate Bay, I don’t know much about this.
DK: The Pirate Bay was always more than just another torrent index site and it was created as a platform for questioning established intellectual property laws and became important symbol of anti-copyright movement. This is why they were extra annoying to big entertainment industry corporations that pressured their governments to intervene and to promptly arrest and try people who were behind the site. They all served prison sentences and were eventually released in 2015. But TPR were really stubborn and they remained online despite all of these trials and domain and server seizures. That is why we used them as a symbol in our song. It is not just a story about pirating music or TV shows – we use this topic and accompanying music video to paint a wider picture of freedoms on internet and media scene today.
A Happy Machine (a Balkan Moonshine contraption) that makes Rakija sounds very interesting! It used to have Family recipes and be part of your culture. What is in this Fire water?
DK: Rakija can be made out of any fruit, but most commonly, plums and grapes are used. It really is important part of tradition in our countries and once you try it you will know why it is so popular.
This has now been banned and turned normal families into outlaws, can you tell us why this machine is so important to your cause right now?
DK: In recent years, as some Balkan countries became members of European Union, they are required to adopt and enforce strict laws and regulations of the union. So now, something that was normal and accepted for ages suddenly became a “health risk” and tons of special permits and paperwork are required for producing even small qualities for non-commercial domestic use. We used this as a metaphor of how state overregulation can affect freedoms of normal people. And this is why we’ve put detailed schematics for assembling “Happy Machine” on the CD cover.
On your album you have guest appearances by Manu Chao, Benji Webbe from Skindred, Punjabi singer BEE2, Catalan ska-rumba band La Pegatina and trumpet player Dzambo Agusev from Macedonia. Songs are in English, Spanish and Punjabi. How on earth did you coordinate all of this!!! Haha. Were these artists keen to jump onboard with your political message and how did the collaborations come about?
DK: We never planned to have so many people on this album. It all happened naturally. We met those people while touring and we become friends with them and when musicians hang around they eventually end up writing songs together. When you listen to Happy Machine it all sounds quite seamless and none of these songs is out-of-place. Probably because we share similar world-view and approach to music with all of them.
According to Facebook you are in England at the moment. You have done some shows there, as well as the UK and Ireland. How have the British crowds responding to your music and shows?
DK: We toured in UK last year for the first time and since then we played two club tours and few festival shows at Glastonbury, WOMAD and BoomTown Fair Festival. Audience is almost always mixed with British and Eastern Europeans coming to the shows and this mix is always a recipe for great party.
What can our Aussie crowds expect from your live shows?
DK: Since this will be our first time in Australia we will try to force everybody to dance and sing-a-long with us. People who didn’t sweat during our shows will have to pay a fine at the exit.
You have 8 band mates, have there been times that you have not fit on the stage? Any funny stories about this?
DK: We managed to fit seven musicians and monitor technician on really small stages using techniques developed by playing TETRIS video game extensively for years. We never give up no matter how few square meters we have available.
Can you tell us more about Faith No More’s Bill Gould, found the same inspiration from Dubioza Kolektiv which introduced you to the international stage?
DK: Bill Gould runs really great independent record label called Koolarrow records and he publishes some very nice weird-sounding bands. You can check their catalogue at koolarrow.com
We are really happy that he decided to release our “Wild Wild East” CD in 2011 and we continue working with him since then.
You guys have people voting for the best bands at Festival’s, I love this idea! You were considered No.1 band at this year’s Eurosonic festival, per european festivals votes. How important are these fan awards to you as a band? You also have an impressive list of music industry awards, is this something that you strive for or as your music is brutally honest about the causes you support it is just an added bonus?
DK: Actually, people from music industry, festival organizers and promoters voted for us at Eurosonic. Eurosonic is an industry meeting as much as festival open to regular audience. This kind of recognition surely don’t do any damage but being recognised by music industry is surely not our main objective. Biggest recognition you can get nowadays is when people are coming to your shows and listening to your music. Some golden statues that you can put on the shelf in the studio are not the reason why we are doing all this.
Your media picture is great! The whole band on the little platform dressed as pirates but then I saw the sharks circling! (Shudders) Is this a representation of your music being the truth and the government/media ready to attack you? That would be my take on the image.
DK: It is bit more of an auto-irony – we are rebels and pirates but not really successful ones – our boat is sinking probably due to excessive use of alcoholic beverages on board that led to some bad navigational decisions. Sharks are there as a bad-luck-murphy’s-law bonus.
Thanks for your time, it has been interesting research your band. Won’t be long and you will be down here!
DK: Thank you, Jen! J Hope to see you at one of our shows soon.
DUBIOZA KOLEKTIV AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Thursday December 22
The Corner Hotel
57 Swan St, Richmond VIC
Ph: 1300 724 867 / 03 9427 7300
Friday December 23
68 North Terrace, Adelaide SA
Ph: 1300 438 849 / 08 8212 0255
Saturday December 24
105 Victoria Rd, Marrickville NSW
Ph: 02 9550 3666
Thursday 28 & Friday 29 December
Woodford Folk Festival, QLD
Friday 29 December
633 Ann St, Fortitude Valley QLD
Ph: 1300 762 545 / 07 3257 4439
Tickets to all shows on sale now.