Salmonella Dub are a long-running dub/roots reggae band from New Zealand whose sound has incorporated elements of rock, hip-hop, drum'n'bass, classical, and traditional Pacific island music styles. The group has released several acclaimed, popular albums in its native country -- two of which have topped the charts -- and they have been influential throughout the Pacific island music scene, inspiring similar genre fusions. Their music always has a positive and hopeful tone, even as it occasionally drifts off into ambient space or dub experimentation. They also aren't afraid to indulge in their playful, mischievous side; their name stems from their penchant for "bad taste" cover versions of oldies and novelty tunes during their early live gigs.
Salmonella Dub formed in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1992, initially consisting of guitarist Andrew Penman, drummer David Deakins, and bassist Mark Tyler, all of whom were members of a band called Golf Course Alligators. The group experimented with primitive, homespun sampling techniques and effects in lieu of a proper recording studio. They began playing gigs in early 1993, and were joined by Peter Wood (trumpet, keyboard) and Conan Wilcox (saxophone, percussion) for the release of their self-titled debut album, issued by Penman's Curious Recordings in 1994. A mini-album of live recordings, Dub for Straights, followed shortly, as did the 1995 EP Dub Tom Foolery. The group worked with British producer David Harrow (Technova) on remix EP THC Winter, which appeared in 1996. Wood subsequently left the band, and the group's live engineer, Tiki Taane, became a full-fledged member, contributing vocals and acoustic guitar. Full-length album Calming of the Drunken Monkey, featuring production by both Harrow and Tiki Taane, was released in 1997. The group signed a distribution deal with Virgin and began touring overseas, including regular trips throughout Europe and the U.K.
The band's 1998 single, "For the Love of It," was a surprise hit, and their third full-length, Killervision, became their commercial breakthrough, hitting number seven in the album charts and eventually winning accolades at the New Zealand Music Awards in 1999. However, the band expressed dissatisfaction with the album, as well as overly strenuous touring following its runaway success. Salmonella Dub reunited with David Wernham, who engineered their early recordings, in an attempt to revisit their initial sound. The resulting album, Inside the Dub Plates, was their most successful outing yet, becoming their first number one album and spawning the hit single "Love Your Ways." The album was followed by remix collection Outside the Dubplates, which included reworks by Adrian Sherwood, Dreadzone, Mad Professor, and others. The group's breakout success had come at a cost, however, and following an expensive tax bill in 2003, the group rushed into the studio to record their fifth full-length. Featuring returning musician Wood, One Drop East was released in 2003 and became the band's second chart-topping album. The group took more time to mix tracks for their next release; Mercy arrived in 2004, featuring material recorded during the sessions for One Drop East as well as remixes. Compilation Remixes and Radio Cuts appeared in 2006.
By the time Salmonella Dub had commenced work on their next album, Wood had re-joined the band full-time and Tiki Taane had departed in order to start his solo career. Produced by Harrow, Heal Me appeared in 2007, hitting number two on the New Zealand album charts. Wilcox left the group shortly thereafter. Salmonella Dub then collaborated with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in early 2008, embarking on an ambitious series of performances titled the Feel the Seasons Change tour. The concerts also featured contributions by renowned Māori musician Richard Nunns and vocalist Whirimako Black, as well as electronic musician Paddy Free. The resulting live album, Feel the Seasons Change: Live with the NZSO, appeared later in the year and hit the Top 20 of the album charts. EP Freak Local and full-length Freak Controller, both featuring further collaborations with Whirimako Black, were released in 2009; an expanded double-CD edition of the album, titled Freak Controller Madness, followed in 2010. In 2012, German dub label Echo Beach issued For the Love of It, a compilation of singles and remixes spanning the group's entire 20-year career. Salmonella Dub released the single "Same Home Town" in 2013, and continued to play live gigs. ~ Paul Simpson