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Beyond Sonic Intentions: Heavyweight Dub Champion finally unleashes its second brain-bending album 

click to enlarge A whole lotta knobs and a whole lotta dreads.
  • A whole lotta knobs and a whole lotta dreads.
A whole lotta knobs and a whole lotta dreads.
By the time I wrap up my interview with Heavyweight Dub Champion's Resurrector - my second in two and a half years - I'm a little worn out. And a little curious, as well as a bit angry and slightly inspired.

I'm not pissed off or inspired necessarily by Resurrector or his band or its elaborately constructed new record, Rise of the Champion Nation, but just generally overwhelmed by the sociology lesson I've just absorbed and further curious about some simple things Resurrector has told me about how the world works, including, but not limited to the swine flu hysteria of 2009. Remember that? Roll back your Twitter log a few weeks and you'll find it there in your friend's then supposedly reasonable fears of collapsing in the streets along with the rest of humanity.

As HDC's producer and ringleader, Resurrector (real name: Grant Chambers) enjoys discussing the San Francisco collective, which sounds something like hip-hop colliding with dub inside the eye of an electronica hurricane, and its philosophy as much as it is music. The overarching idea: "To lift the veil of perception." HDC is all about conveying an ultimate message, and not in the way that Michael Franti is trying to deliver a message. In fact, HDC's devotion to its message makes Franti seem as trivial as Katy Perry and her penchant for same-sex kissing.


When I spoke to Resurrector a couple years back when the band was set to play the Grove, he mentioned that he was working on Rise of the Champion Nation - a record that wasn't released until just two weeks ago.

"If I had a million years to do every album, that would be great, because I would do them all in certain ways," he says. Champion Nation didn't take a million years, obviously, but it did require studio sessions in two continents and three states, as well as 25 musicians, all over the span of almost seven years.

The entire record was recorded on analog tape, keeping computers out of the equation until the editing process. The record is a rock-opera (or hip-hop opera) of sorts - a concept album of the highest sorts - and almost cinematic in its mostly dark themes and structure. Considering Champion Nation's techy edge, the all-analog process is impressive, even if it's probably not something the general listener is going to notice.

"Do they listen to that stuff cognizantly? I don't really think so, but the intention behind it goes far beyond sonic intentions," says Resurrector.

Going beyond "sonic intentions" is essentially the end goal for HDC. During the half-hour interview, Resurrector only pauses his lecture-style monologues to grab a breath. Topics range from deception at the hands of the mainstream media to dietary horrors, returning to music only occasionally, and as mentioned earlier, this can be a little exhausting. But he's earnest in his beliefs and clearly devoted to his cause, all the while making innovative and dynamic music that excels beyond pop-music conventions and sticks with its audience - even if that might not be the main objective.

"We're not trying to be a cool band that everybody likes. That's not a part of it, really," says Resurrector. "We're trying to motivate people and inspire people and get some sort of dialogue going."

Surely, a dialogue is created along the way, but HDC shows are also raging parties, far from the sometimes dark sounds the band creates. The tour that brings the collective to the Tulen Center features only Resurrector flanked by two other HDC members, but that's plenty to get a dance floor moving with challenging numbers created by live instrumentation then looped into a tapestry of club sounds.

And Ressurector - even while wholly devoted to his cause of opening minds one at a time - doesn't mind if you have a good time at his show.

"The show is all about fun," he says. "I mean, revolution is fun, that's the whole point."

Heavyweight Dub Champion
9pm Saturday, May 23. Tulen Center, 21 NW Greenwood Ave. $10. 21 and up.

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