‘Peel played us, suddenly we were top of the charts’

Veteran dub star Neil Perch of Zion Train tells TONY DEWHURST he is out to achieve something positive each day ahead of tonight’s Lancashire show.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 15th May 2015, 1:08 pm
Neil Perch
Neil Perch

Neil Perch is preaching a message of love and respect though the uplifting sound of Zion Train.

“We have to learn to care for each other a bit more, we need a bit more peace, love and understanding in the world, ” said the Zion Train leader as he prepares for the dub reggae band’s second appearance at the Grand Theatre, Clitheroe, tonight.

“We must try and treat every living thing, whether that’s a frog, worm or a sparrow with a bit more care because everything is so valuable on this fragile planet.

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“A lot of people’s realities are based on what they’ve seen on television in the last half hour, whether the price of chicken wings is a penny cheaper at the supermarket or what their neighbour bought yesterday.

“I do get that, life is hard for many, but we all need to examine our lives a bit more, think about what we can do for the world and each other.

“If we did that, it would put us in a more positive frame of mind.”

Perch, who runs his own record label, promoting unknown bands and artists from all over the world, added: “Music is about human interaction, it is not an ego thing and many musicians lose sight of that.

“I’m not religious, but there is a form of higher energy in certain types of music.

“The first time I saw Jah Shaka – it was like a spiritual experience. From then on, my life took a different route.”

Everything changed for Zion Train when the late DJ John Peel played their album – Natural Wonders of the World – on his BBC radio show.

“I was doing a bit of DJ work, and sending hundreds of letters a week to studios, trying to get a break, and got one reply.

“It was hand to mouth when we started Zion Train.

“I bought a one-day bus pass in London, packed some CDs and vinyl in my rucksack and visited as many independent record shops I could get to. Then John Peel played four tracks, and suddenly, we were top of the independents charts.”

Their 2014 album – Dubwise No Compromise – saw Perch and musicians Cod, Tench, Molara, Hake and Forkbeard celebrate 25 years of earth-shuddering sound system shows.

He says: “I guess it is more democratic than it was, with the change in getting your message out via social media, and it functions well for disseminating art and ideas.

“But to do what I’ve done for quarter of a century, I consider a great privilege.”

Their latest offering, Land of the Blind, featuring vocalists Dubdadda, Fitta Warri, Jazzmin Tutum and new collaborator Kathika Rabbit, the voice of Slamboree, was released last month.

“My aim is to achieve something positive each day and through an accumulation of positive actions, leave behind a legacy that inspires others to act in that way, whether it be the trees I plant, the music I help make or the children I raise and educate.”

• Zion Train and DJs. Clitheroe Grand Theatre, May 15. £12. Call 01200 421599.