007 (Boston's Dub7)
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007/Dub7 timeline

007 has been described as punk, as mod, as ska/rocksteady, as rock, as dub. Legendary college radio DJ Peter Voltmeter Holt, who knew the band well described 007 as "kinda like a combiner of all the disparate elements of new music: alliances with   punks, garage rockers, art rockers, post punks, and people for whom no categorization would suffice. The thing was, though, 007 rocked for us punks, threw some ska in the mix, dressed interestingly enough for post punks, and had an edge that could be arty."

  The article below tells the story of how all that came together, how we rocked, and how it eventually fell apart. I was one of the singers in the band and I'm going to walk you, dear reader, through a brief history of 007 (Boston's Dub7).

Larry "Williams" LaFerla

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Part A: 007 splash! (Jan 1980 - Dec 1981)
Part B: 007 gearing up (early 1982)
Part C: 007 in top form (Apr 1982 - fall of 1982)
Part D: "The centah cannot hold" (end of 1982 - Oct 1983)
Part E: Life's in dub (Nov 1983 - July 1984)
Part F: Dub7 brand adrift (Aug 1984 - end of 1986?)


How I remembered the sequence of events.

Ronald Reagan famously asserted that facts were "stupid things." He meant to say, "Facts are stubborn things," which is true. You could also say that memory is a tricky thing. I quit making music in the late 1980s, and then spent decades forgetting about 007/Dub7. Or so I thought. In actuality what tends to happen to us middle-aged humans is that we recall events but forget the sequence they occurred in. Every time you recall, your synapses reconfigure themselves until eventually things get misplaced and 1982 starts to blur with 1984.

About a year ago, after reconnecting on Facebook with at least half of the people who'd been involved in 007/Dub7 — Garry, Steve, Ron, Julie, Dawn, Jon, Erik, Fred, Brett, JG, Kathei — and singers and players from other bands, and other Boston friends from back in the day, I came up with the idea of releasing live audio of the band from the early '80s just to create a kind of online archive. And if we were gonna release archival audio, we saw that we needed to provide liner notes to put the sounds in context. So I started a project of relearning the sequence of 007/Dub7 events from 1979 to 1986 just so that I could write this timeline.

Of course it's not as if the history of this band is all that important, anyway. We were just barely a footnote in the great span of rock'n'roll music history. But, once I got writing it occurred to me that accuracy was going to matter if only because somebody somewhere, at some time in the future, someone who's maybe trying to research, say, the Boston music scene of the late 70s to early 80s will find themselves looking for reliable data in band histories just like this one. The only responsible approach would be to take the time and care necessary to get the sequence of events straight. So, that's the approach I decided to take.

When I started the task of remembering this chronology, I had no data at all. I've never kept diaries or scrapbooks or anything like that. I hadn't saved any calendars from back then. In a box full of old stuff I found two clippings. That was about it. I had to ask the other 007/Dub7 people if they could remember when specific shows or recording sessions happened or when keyboard players and percussionists joined or left the band. Everyone found it difficult to recall, but at least I was able to compile a list of rough milestones that our middle-aged brains could retrieve during a few brief group chats. Next, I used The Boston Globe Archive to pinpoint dates specified in 1980s articles by Jim Sullivan or Steve Morse about various shows, people and clubs. Steve Harrell emailed me scans of some 007 event posters with dates on them. I read other bands' websites and checked Wikipedia.org, Songkick.com, and Setlist.fm. It was like archaeology. I put the events back in order on paper, step by step, all over again.

It's kind of amazing the way memory works. After a while, the right sorting really does come back to mind. Even when you can't initially re-call, once you have enough data laid out you can often re-cognize. You say to yourself, "Ohhhh, right, of course A happened before B." And once an entire season of past living floods back into your memory, you can usually retrieve more of the particular instances. It's like a back-and-forth mnemonic exercise, a kind of interplay between the parts (key moments) and the whole (seasons, years). You just keep sorting out the sequence until everything fits. I wouldn't recommend this kind of autobiographical-archaeological research to everybody. It wouldn't make a fun hobby just to kill time. The process is slow and gradual, sometimes tedious. But it actually works. To my surprise, I managed to retrace the timeline of the band! You can read it below. If you have corrections or additions, please send us mail.

Here's what I have so far.

Part A: 007 splash! (Jan 1980 - Dec 1981)

When I joined 007, I was 19 and making a half-hearted attempt to study at Salem State. Steve Harrell was the one that put 007 together originally, in 1980. He was the Brian Jones of the band in that sense. But Garry Miles and I went way farther back. Garry and I met in 9th grade in 1975. We were in bands together from high school onward. In fact, I've never played with a different drummer.

My older sister had a bartending job at The Club on Main Street in Cambridge (between Central Square and MIT) in 1977, and I used to go and see local rock/punk when I was just 16. Garry often joined. We were suburban high school kids into whatever came our way via NME, Trouser Press or Creem.

The year 1979 was transitional/pivotal for me in terms of music and attitude. (Same is probably true of lots of people in my age cohort.) On my turntable, instead of the formerly ubiquitous Rolling Stones' "Some Girls" platter, I found myself regularly spinning Gang of Four's "Entertainment!" and local music such as The Girls' "Jeffrey I Hear You." I remember spending lots of time riding around in Garry's van as he would drive us all over northeastern Massachusetts with no particular destination, either just us two or with a few other friends. We'd drink multiple bottles of brown ale, smoke, listen to cassettes, and just cruise around Gloucester, Salem, Wakefield, Winchester, and on and on. Listening in the van included a few cassettes on regular rotation: David Johansen's great album "In Style," or The Rolling Stones' "December's Children (And Everybody's)," or "The Clash" (first album by The Clash), or Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Back in his parents' basement in Saugus, he and I spent a lot of time rehearsing with just guitar, vocals and drums. For a few weeks we practiced and recorded as a band with Arthur Bakopolus, Fred Giannelli, and Mike Langone. But most of the time Garry and I were two stoned young punks who could entertain ourselves for hours with just drums, guitar and vocals. We had seen The Clash at the Orpheum in 1979. (And The Clash at Clark University in 1979, too!) I remember we were able to play the opening to Tommy Gun perfectly. Garry was no Topper and I was no Mick, but we sure could replicate that intro, and would repeat it over and over with amp turned up to eleven.

On top of the post-punkness of things in 1979 suddenly came a layer of UK mod and ska revivals. The Quadrophenia movie and soundtrack came out the same month as "Specials," the first album by The Specials. So these got added to our van cruising playlist and influenced our drum and guitar jams. I think it was about then that I bought a couple of those late 60s ska/rocksteady compilation albums that helped us Americans catch up on what was previously heard only in the UK and Jamaica. It was then that I wrote the ska punk song Teenage Captive (with some funny lyrics added by Mike Langone). That was one of the songs on a tape we sent to Steve.

We didn't know Steve or Dee Rail (Derryle Johnson) in 1979, but those two had connected early in 1980 in Boston after Steve had run an ad in the Boston Phoenix looking for "musicians into ska reggae punk etc." Steve, a jazz-trained Berklee dropout, had been living in the Fenway and working at nearby Spit on Landsdowne Street. Dee was living at a Boston College dorm with an interesting bunch of guys. I'll let Peter Voltmeter Holt describe pre-007 Dee Rail:

1978. John Sox was in the hallway of Kostka Dorm with this real standout in our Caucasianified Jesuit university: there’s this skinny black kid with an army cap and a Ramones t-shirt on. 1978. Boston College. Black kid in a Ramones t-shirt? What the hell was this world coming to? I knew right then and there that that skinny black kid was going to be a very good friend of mine. In my punkified yet still white bread mind, a lotta stereotypes were broken in that hall that fall day. Sure enough, Sox, aforementioned skinny black kid (who I found out was named “Derell” and NOT “Daryl”) and this short geology major with a neo-afro and a beat up old Fender Mustang started Boston College’s first real (kinda) punk band: The Slaves.

The Slaves? Well, they had a few originals; but mainly did 70’s stoner rock covers. John Sox on vocals, Dee Rail on bass, crazy bipolar heroin loving JB on drums, and the geology major kid on guitar. This near psychotic uber punk named Microwave (later a part of the Alternative Tentacles mafia) served as roadie/”sound man” (pretty much standing in the crowd giving thumbs up for “loud enough” and thumbs down for “crank it”) They opened for Human Sexual Response once, but pretty much served to germinate two wildly different bands: The F.U.’s and 007. Solid hardcore and punkified ska. Dee Rail always had an affection for the more stoner side of music: hardcore punk was not his style. But he always had this outrageous hyper-obscene edge to him that truly was punk. When they opened for Human Sexual Response, Dee Rail went to the Combat Zone and got a t-shirt for the occasion which happened to feature the name of the band and an illustration that can't politely be described to a mixed audience. The shock value was priceless. He told Jewish jokes from the stage that even offended me: and I supported him with the t-shirt thing.


Dee Rail, skinny black South Side of Chicago was punk incarnate, despite whatever musical trend he was into at the time.

Around 1980 Dee Rail got the reggae fever, and lost interest in being a punk bassist. Hell. He stole some of my most valuable reggae/ska wax: my Eric Donaldson, Toots and the Maytals and Wailers 45’s that my cousin brought back from me in Jamaica in the late 60’s/early 70’s. He also nabbed my Prince Buster singles I found in a junk store out in Western Mass. I never went apeshit or called him on it because I realized that at that point in my life, Dee Rail appreciated ‘em a hell of a lot more than me. Since the radio station attracted us more than the classroom, Rail and I both got radio shows. He did a reggae show on WZBC, replete with bullshit Jamaican accent. In our apartment, he’d be doing riffs on his bass to reggae, but also digging post punk stuff like Gang of Four and Mekons. I guess he was searching for a new musical outlet, and came home one day saying that he met this Berklee College guitar whiz named Steve who could play any goddamn thing you wanted. Raved about his ska/reggae chops especially. Dee Rail dug the thought of being in a band that could wear suits and play complex stuff. He started hanging with the guys who would become 007: brought them over the house with increasing confidence that this 007 thing was gonna fly. Used to brag that their front man Larry Williams (aka LaFerla-san) was a smooth operator. This stuff was true, but my 1980 philistine punk purist ass didn’t comprehend. Rail was one of the most irresponsible, over the top, manic, flippant, dogmatic, self-destructive, magical, hysterical, complex motherfuckers that I ever met. And those are some of the reasons that I miss that son of a bitch so much.

Steve Harrell played the central role in putting 007 together in the middle of 1980. For one thing, it was his ad that brought Dee, Garry and me in. But he served also as the band's music director of sorts, not bossing us around but sort of consulting with us to suggest ways that four players and three songwriters could collaborate to make solid grooves that worked. Without Steve, 007 would have been pretty undynamic and unmusical. We would have been all image and stance without much to really listen to. Here's his pre-007 story, in Steve's own words:

I came to Boston in 1976 to study Jazz at Berklee. I had been hanging with classical, rock and jazz musicians through the 60s and 70s so I was listening to a lot of different music over the years. But in 1976 when I was trying to figure out complicated Wes Montgomery or Charlie Parker solos I was also completely hooked on reggae. It was so stripped down direct and soulful! I loved how the guitar players would cuff the strings and play along with the bass line and how the guitar and organ player would play a choppy pattern on the off beat. And of course the drum beat was backwards to my ears at the time. It reminded me of early R&B on the Stax label.

It took me a while to get into the punk thing. Then I saw pictures of Tina Weymouth hanging with reggae DJ Dillinger and I heard some band call The Clash murdering Junior Murvin's "Police And Thieves" ... Who are these guys I wondered.

But after a while I started loving the stripped down, raw music coming from the new wave and punk bands, and loved the short songs with no long guitar solos gumming up the works, and the anybody-can-do-it attitude.


And gods know there was a lot of lame-ass shit clogging the arteries of the music scene in the 70s. The punks cleared a lot of that out. It was very exciting to watch that happen and to be a small part of the action.

And as it turned out Boston was the prefect town to start a band in back then. So after checking out all the great local Boston bands like The Neighborhoods, Lyres, Unnatural Axe and a little known band called Admission Of Guilt ( kind of a mod/ska band ), I took out an ad in the Phoenix

Forget about "Lovers Muggers and Thieves" If you want to meet with some real freak-a-zoids take out a musicians wanted ad in the Phoenix! Lucky for me I connected with Larry, Garry, & Dee.

The four of us together really made a full band. Each added the necessary something that the others needed. We were all moving in the same direction already. It was just, I dunno, good fortune that brought us together at just the right time. This isn't to say that we were a "great band" from the start. What I mean is that we were already a complete band. (Down the road we would add keyboards and percussion, but in 1980, the core was in place.) The potential was obvious from the start even though we were new and even though the first performances were rough.

We started out rehearsing in two places. The three songwriters — Steve, Larry and Dee — rehearsed at Steve's place on Boylston Street in the Fenway. It was somewhere in this block http://goo.gl/maps/fxCSA. And the full band would rehearse in Garry's parents' basement in Saugus, where our high school band used to practice.

Somehow, 007 became known around Boston right away.

007 in 1980

Very early on we added a fifth member, Billy Bacon, who played a wicked energetic organ. He was formerly a member of Jeff and Jane Hudson's band The Rentals, and had been with them the night they opened for The Clash at Harvard Square Theatre on February 16, 1979.

Billy sorta managed our sound production at first. His friend was our first sound engineer/producer. A live recording of us at one of our first gigs at The Rathskeller doing Dee's song "Betcha By Golly Wow" got regular airplay as a radio tape on WMBR, WZBC, and WERS.

Early on, I adopted the name "Larry Williams" because I thought that Lawrence LaFerla didn't sound very rock and roll and also because I didn't want to involve my full identity in the project, I suppose. Of course, Larry Williams was already an established rock name. So, to disambiguate, how about if we render my name Larry "Williams" LaFerla? I'm sure I'm the only one in the world with that name.

We played our first show in the fall of 1980, opening for Kenne Highland's band at Boston College. Steve recalls, "Garry was blind drunk, nervous as hell, and kept playing the same drum beat throughout the first few songs. I mean he didnt stop at the end of the song but just kept playing."

007 in October 1981

But we kept improving. In the upcoming archival audio tracks we're releasing, you can hear the earliest (known/extant) 007 recording from a gig at The Underground on December 21, 1980. The band isn't exactly "tight" at this point but the songs are interesting, the passion is there already, and the crowd is with us.

Underground Boston, loft parties, scene making.

Steve Harrell and Dee Rail at The Underground

Dee Rail and cinema, other media. Slits
arrest with Rail

All about Microwave. Orson Welles. Rockers.

Lots of loft parties, scene making

Somehow taken seriously by promoters, and gradually sounding more solid as a live band

Peter Tosh

July 13, 1981 with Mikey Dread at Spit
August The Specials Ghost Town mini-tour. Lone Ranger.

Poverty summer-fall
No longer funktional written

in no special order...
The Terrorists
The Outlets
Lou Miami and Kozmetix
Gregory Issacs
The Prime Movers
Fabulous Billygoons
The Peter Dayton Band
The Proletariat... many shows
Boys Life
The Mo-dettes
Someone and the Somebodies
Young Snakes

By the end of this period, we were an established local Boston band

The band's manager at the time, Kathei Logue, was also the booking agent for The Rat in Kenmore Square. So, we were booked there often.

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Part B: 007 gearing up (early 1982)

Few months with lots of activity,
Steve Barry's dub production becomes part of the band, essentially

No longer funktional gets lots of airplay on WMBR, WZBC, WERS

managed by the great Julie Farman who, first of all, determined that we needed better audio demos and band photos. Then she had us playing out more frequently than ever. It felt like a busier period.

Billy out, Craig Cutler in

The boom box photo

We firmed up our punk credentials
Punk (Circle Jerks, Bad Brains, SSD, Fear)

Opened for Fear at the Channel. Racist heckling from their crowd, including "Get the [n-word] off the stage!" Derryle responds instantly, directly into his mic: "Oh yeah? Suck my big black dick!"

Also fit well with
post punk (Bush Tetras, Bush Tetras)
pop (The Bongos, Future Dads)

Having played so many live shows, we were already becoming a strong live act. Now with Steve Barry (a.k.a. "Mr. Beautiful") really mixing us exclusively, we were able to make the dub mix part of the show.

Bad Brains very late channel. "Cool out..."

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Part C: 007 in top form (Apr 1982 - fall of 1982)

Recorded demo Zen Gangsters, Los Federales, with dub versions of each

Craig leaves, Ron Marinick (formerly Pastiche) joins, very strong keyboards

New lineup includes Rick Sorel on percussion. Erik Streeter our regular roadie. Very loyal.

Brighton apt photoshoot (Tracy?)

Early summer, another photo: Paradise (where was Ron?).

feedback they got from Kosmo Vinyl. He made his decision based on that photo of us backstage at The Paradise and the tape he was sent. He said he chose us because we played "funk" and because we were racially mixed and had guys with slicked back hair. It's all so arbitrary, in a way, isn't it? I just happened to style my hair that way for that particular photo. We just happened to have Rick in the band, briefly, which doubled the blackness of the lineup in the photo. And the "funk" must have been Federales, which wasn't our main sound. What's interesting for me to work out now is that the tape must have been the Steve Barry session in early 1982 with Craig.

August 20, 1982 Coliseum
See related links: 30 years, setlist, MWCY (our site), MWCY (bandcamp), MWCY (youtube). You'll be able to hear most of our Coliseum set in the upcoming digital album 007 Live In Boston And South Yarmouth: 1980, 1981, 1982 that's currently being restored by Tim Halle. We're releasing it on Bandcamp on June 6, 2013. You can pre-order, here.

Money Won't Change You | soul punk | James Brown cover | mp3 of Money Won't Change You

Ecclectic bunch of gigs, but all fun
The Neats, The Neighborhoods, Bad Manners, Mighty Ions, The Clash, til tuesday, November Group, The Dogmatics, Del Fuegos, Sleepy LaBeef

Looking back over five years

"How do you know you’re gonna be big?" asks Jeff "Monoman" Conolly. We like to think that we control our own successes and failures, but clearly very little is predictable. There are great bands that go nowhere. There are horrible bands that get too much attention. And there's everything in between. We certainly notice the great bands that get lots of attention (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, et. al.) and it feels almost as if their own huge successes must have been inevitable. But, think about how much everyone's successes and failures have been influenced by unpredictable events that just happen to conspire. John Lennon once explained that The Beatles were "just a band that made it really, really big." Even if you assume persistent effort, thousands of hours honing your craft, adequate talent, and some luck, what happens is in reality truly dependent on events outside your control. Things seem inevitable only in retrospect. The Rolling Stones career seems inevitable in retrospect. Destiny is retrospective. They couldn't have known fifty years ago what was in store for their little blues band. They were good, but lots of bands were good. "All things arise in dependence upon multiple causes and conditions."

Events carry you. When I think of the five years between the summer of 1977 (age 16) and the summer of 1982 (age 21) I can see how events carried me in ways I never could have predicted. When I was sixteen reading about punk bands in Creem and NME back in my bedroom in Saugus I never dreamed that I'd eventually be in a band that shared stages with some of those bands. But we knew enough to form a Boston band with the right guys for the moment and create the conditions for things to happen. We just kept rolling in the direction of more kind of worldly-wisdom just from traveling in various circles — punk, mod/ska, post-punk, and reggae...

In our between-song jams in 1981/1982 you can hear 007's relation to contemporary dub. Steve and Dee came to know a lot about the genre that year. That sound was all around us all the time. When I think back on it, in some ways our dub sophistication in 1981 kept expanding naturally as we fell into that world and met more and more British and Jamaican music makers. For example, you can hear that we adopted this dub riff from an Adrian Sherwood production as our little between-song jam when we were handing off instruments to each other on stage. When I stayed with Dee Rail in his "Allston Hell" studio apartment in 1981, Singers & Players was constantly on the turntable. At the same time, Steve Harrell had the same discs in heavy rotation at his place. Just a few years earlier at age 16 or 17 Garry and I were barely butchering covers of Deep Purple and Steppenwolf songs at high school parties out in the suburbs. And now, here we were at age 21 or 22 playing the latest dub grooves from South London as we actually opened for THE actual Clash. In the clip below (from the Coliesum show with The Clash) you can hear how loosely we played that riff from the Singers & Players records. Really kinda sloppy in places. But we sloppily noodled it out with a kind of confident, knowing, gracefulness. A kind of ease with the genre. It was reported to us by some friends that Mick Jones saw some of our set from the side of the stage and remarked, "They sound like us." We were Clash fans and some of our songs really did sound derivative of Sandinista (or something) truth be told. But, anyway... Listening back now, I'm honestly impressed with the long cultural distances we traveled in such a short time span without really consciously trying. We weren't exactly underground music snobs (although sometimes we probably strived to be). We just continuously/repeatedly became connected with certain types of people without thinking about it much.

Joshua Hayes

007 was carried aloft by a number of factors working in our favor — Boston in the late 70s to early 80s had a large and vibrant underground music scene with lots of great bands and lots of social buzz, plus we were perceived as related to the popular 2-Tone bands, plus three of us were writing pretty good songs, plus we featured two front men and a killer guitarist, plus we had an assertive manager booking us at popular venues on weekends, and we had just plain old luck. At the time, you would have thought that 007 was going places. Now, decades later, as I write this I know that we weren't destined for super-stardom. In fact, the band never signed with a record label or released a vinyl album or CD album. Never toured outside of New England except one show in New York. But in mid-1982 it certainly felt as if albums and touring would have been obvious next steps. The trajectory was just up, forward, rock on.

1982, fully living and working in the city. Thus was completed a kind of five-year transformation from suburban teen to cosmopolitan mover, a metamorphosis which seems like something you could consciously set out to achieve but in fact is just the net result of a long chain of happenstances. Yes, we humans are able to some degree to create our own opportunities and make some things happen in our lives, but so much of the way things turn out is the result of one happenstance after another, in a long chain. Young people tend to take personally the roller coaster ride of fame and obscurity, gain and loss. By the time we hit middle age we learn to take so much of this in stride. I turned 22 in October 1982, and was definitely caught up in the roller coaster ride at the time.


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Part D: "The centah cannot hold" (end of 1982 - Oct 1983)

Julie handed us off to her assistant, Dawn, who was personally a pleasure to work with but wasn't a booking powerhouse like Julie. I dunno, maybe it was the band's fault somehow. But, for whatever reason, we weren't getting great gigs. So, there were more off days between fewer gigs and fewer rehearsals. We started rehearsing in the city, which was much more convenient than taking long trips out to Saugus. The new space was one we shared with a couple other bands in the old Leather District, between South Station and Chinatown. And maybe Chinatown would be an apt metaphor for this period of confusion. As in "Forget it, Jake."

In my non-band life it was personally a great time for me. I was in a solid relationship. I was macrobiotic, practicing yoga, listening to all sorts of interesting stuff (Can and Neu, and generally sort of spaced out music) had a day job cooking at a Japanese restaurant, and generally felt things to be on a good track. Even in my role in the band I was feeling strong. I wrote Gavel Groove around this time. But the band was headed for some major changes.

Rick left and was replaced on percussion by Craig Spears, who had formerly played with Pharoah Sanders. You can hear Craig's superb conga playing in the clip above.

It must have been near the end of 1982 when things really started to fall apart. A member of one of the other bands who shared the loft — the one person who actually lived at the loft — accused Dee Rail of stealing money from his living area. Dee Rail strongly denied the allegation, but, well, it got complicated by this factor and that factor. I mean, when there's no exact evidence and the accuser points right away to the only non-white person in the group, it's gonna be touchy. But for a number of reasons, the accusation was plausible. Dee had an expensive habit, and we all knew it. Still, to this day, I don't know whether he was wrongly or rightly accused. In the end, 007 agreed to pay for the loss and Dee either quit or was asked to quit. My understanding of the whole incident was kinda nebulous then and even more so now.

Dee was bitter and kept his distance after leaving the band. We never spent time together after that, but I bumped into him years later, in 1994 as we nearly walked past each other somewhere in the financial district. It was great to see him for what would turn out to be the last time. I didn't know it until much later, but he and Garry became closer friends in later years right up until Dee's untimely passing in 2000 at age 41. I'd always thought that I would reconnect with Dee Rail via the web somehow. It's been hard to adjust to the reality that it's never going to happen. In 2012, the surviving 007 members decided to feature Dee Rail in an archival release of mostly live tracks, many of which feature his vocals and/or his songwriting. It's the first time he's been digitized.

End of 1982

The English Beat had wanted us to tour the U.S. east coast with them, but finding ourselves suddenly Dee-less we had to turn it down. The Bangles (who had just changed their name from The Bangs) were booked as the opening act instead.

We immediately advertised for bassists and spent a lot of time auditioning prospects to replace Dee. (Of course he was irreplaceable. But, anyway…) The new percussionist, Craig, felt (understandably) that we were going nowhere. He agreed to stay around long enough to record Gavel Groove with us, but he explained that he'd have to move on after that.

Ken "Kenny" Epps joined on bass. He was from out of town. I can't recall where he was from. (Kansas? Indiana?) A highly compensated engineer by day, smart, sane and personable, he easily blended with the 007 family — i.e., with the band as well as with Dawn and the crew (Erik, Steve B.) Kenny wasn't exactly a Boston scenester, he became a solid member of the band and knew how to support us.

In planning to release Gavel Groove as a single, we had to change the band name because United Artists had of course trademarked the number "007" in the world of music publishing. (Musicians, take a lesson from us. Please be careful when you name your band!) Kenny was the one who suggested "Dub7."

It was around this time that things started to feel solid again. Dawn was up to speed. Steve Barry had us sounding great at shows. And it was around this time that Jon Alper committed to doing Dub7's lights at every live show. We lost Dee Rail in this period and, looking back, I think we tried to compensate by (successfully) upping our professionalism.

Storyville from 1982 to 1984. One of our favorite venues. First rock, last rock there was us.

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Part E: Life's in dub (Nov 1983 - July 1984)

Recording, Fred, Jeff Whitehead, Downtown Recorders

move to JD Furst

test pressing, Spit

I love the guitar noodling at the end of Gavel Groove. But, listening to it now, you also get a sense for the more spaced out direction the band was moving in. I remember a moment of relative quietude at the punk apartment on Queensbury Street when Dicky Barrett gave me very plainly and directly some thoughtful feedback about Dub7. Dicky's take on the way we projected (or failed to project) words. I can't be sure, but it's entirely plausible that, at least early on, the birth of The Bosstones may have been his idea of what 007 could have been, his answer to what he saw lacking in what we were offering, i.e., a simple style, a clear brand, and an outgoing attitude that the kids could gather around. Their approach to "ska punk" was well received. They went far! Meanwhile, Dub7's image was becoming less distinct, more muddled. Drawn into arty introspective jamming and a pleasing sort of sound at the same time. Within the band, these two directions created tension that wasn't the kind of so-called creative tension that you want. Ron would have preferred for us to be more creative and more spontaneous. Our grooves were fun and creative, but we worried that the new songs weren't exactly catchy. And we were no longer sure who our audience was. Steve and Dawn thought it was time for Dub7 to seek a major record label deal. In an ideal world, a band should be able to be creative and commercial at the same time, but I don't think we knew how to make that happen in practice.

Ron leaves, JG joins

Brett joins

Dub7, professionalized but kinda directionless.

Dub7 people: Dawn, Garry, Larry

This was our most skilled band lineup. And our support team was awesome at this point — Dawn's management was up to speed, all the players in the band were great, Steve Barry's live dub mixing was perfect, Jon Alper's excellent stage lighting topped it all off. Dub7 didn't suck. Our playing was better than ever and some of the songs still sound interesting. When we played live, the grooves and the chops and the dub and the light show created an entertaining — maybe even mesmerizing — spectacle. It was still fun, definitely. We were able to come close to winning highly pubicized talent contests that way. Yes, our talent was improving, surely. At the same time, though, our vision was becoming muddled. We no longer had 007's louder, faster, more underground image. There were loyal fans of Dub7 but not the kind of buzz or following we'd generated as 007. We were no longer running with any wild in-crowds. If Boston still had various "scenes," we no longer knew which ones we fit into. Our approach to what we were doing seemed sort of professionalized (like a job) and no longer like part of a social or sub-cultural movement. With 007, context mattered a lot. With Dub7, there was no specific context. Regardless, this change in approach didn't especially worry us at the time and we were happy to soldier on. We had the vague sense that we were maybe moving forward or maybe going nowhere. Couldn't be sure which one. Only now in retrospect is it obvious that we were kinda going nowhere. Dicky was right. The problem was that people couldn't make sense of our brand.

Life in dub can be pleasantly spaced out, and at the same time you can lose your focus. The single was played widely on college radio nationwide. John Peel spun it at least once on the BBC. It even made the playlist on French pirate radio (Fréquence pirate). But after Gavel Groove, we didn't have anything else for the radio stations. So, there was a long period where we weren't heard on the air much. The college radio stations thought we were becoming too commercial. The commercial stations wanted vinyl. We had nothing new for either. We found ourselves in a kind of no-mans-land, not underground enough but not commercial enough. If you're going to become a well known and loved indie/art band, it'll usually turn out to have happened naturally because of your participation in a scene/community/network. You're much less likely to be known when this context isn't there. Or, there's a completely different direction that some bands go in that's called "mainstream success." If you go the big hit-making route you need hits (first of all) and a clear brand. You also need heavy promotion. If you're going to be a successful commercial band it's essential to have the backing of a record company. You can't move in either direction with a muddled image. And absent either route of entering public consciousness, you're not building anything. Your songs might be clever, rhythmic and interesting, but without lots of airplay, either underground or mainstream, few people get to know your output. People need to be able to hear your music at home, hear it everywhere, make it part of their lives. Early summer 1984, Dub7 had one great live on-air performance on WERS, and in the late summer WBCN would eventually play our single in heavy rotation. But that was about it for us. After that, there was nothing more on the radio. No tapes, no vinyl, no CD. From then on we were strictly a live band. With a bunch of great players you can get some great live gigs, but you're just the evening's entertainment and forgotten the next morning. We were still having fun making music, but it's clear to me now, in hindsight, that we were about to drift off the map.

Mission Impossible

Dub7's summer of high publicity.

Dub7, WBCN darlings, summer of 1984

WBCN Rumble

Rumble, Joan Jett roadie amp story. mark parenteau? carter alan?

Rumble page

Jim Carroll, Joan Jett, The Schemers

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Part F: Dub7 brand adrift (Aug 1984 - end of 1986?)

Boston Pops This was from a cassette-only compilation released with three other Boston pop bands — Lifeboat, Three Colors, The Blaros — in 1985. Produced by Gary Smith and Joe Harvard at Fort Apache.

Brand adrift in the tension between popiness and artyness.


Kessells - various personnel changes
Camper van Beethoven, Salem 66, food co-op gig one of the weirdest and most memorable.

Steve needed some success — dreaded idea that he'd be a record store clerk forever

I needed a career change — back to university, then off to East Asia

Garry needed to make some money

later bands:

Larry - none
Steve - Stomping Ground
Garry - The Deniros
Dee Rail - The Deniros

Dee Rail passed away in April 2000

DJ FrankD created a sound clip together with Dub7's Larry on a track for NAUSCOPY RECORDS third volume of the experimental noise compilation THE DATE FORK SEEPS THE RIVER (to be released in summer 2013).

There's also a Ukrainian hip hop artist called Dub7. You can hear him on SoundCloud.

There's a New Orleans band called 007 that plays very traditional, authentic-sounding "rock steady music." You can check them out at www.007rocksteady.com/

Evolution of Dub 7: Creationist Rebel [Import] (no relation to Boston's Dub7

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007 on setlist.fm

007 on MusicBrainz

007 on last.fm

Live archive coming soon...

007 Live In Boston And South Yarmouth: 1980, 1981, 1982 is a digital audio archive that we're putting together now, due to be released before summer 2013. The earliest tracks are from a gig at The Underground in 1980. There's a great track (in terms of content, not sound quality) from when 007 opened for The Specials at Bradford Ballroom in 1981. Half the tracks are from the set we played opening for The Clash at Cape Cod Coliseum, August 20, 1982. Add to that a few studio recordings from 1982, when Dee Rail was still part of the classic 007 lineup. (Tracks below are from a later period.)

Dub7 live on the radio in 1984

Dub7 live on the radio in 1984

"Gavel Groove" (Core 4, 1984)

The instrumental ending of the song came out great. Steve's guitar playing and Fred's production both delivered. In fact, I recall that Gavel Groove sounded massive and punchy when we listened back in the studio. But, to tell the truth, after the record was mastered the sound came out small and tinny. The mp3 linked above was made by someone I don't know, off the 45 RPM record. It's funny to think that — even though I wrote this song — it isn't the kind of thing I'd want on my iPod now. In fact, hearing the main part of the song two and a half decades later makes me cringe a little.

Download MP3

Anyway, nice spaced-out music in the coda. It sounds like something from Combat Rock. And in fact we'd opened for The Clash on that tour just over a year before we recorded this.

The theme of the lyrics had to do with a kind of social frustration, a kid who finds himself forced into unsafe situations. I wrote the lyrics after a friend, Jae Johnson introduced me to a friend of his in Brighton who was bullied almost every day at an inner city school he was bused to in Roxbury. A reviewer in the Boston Phoenix called it an "anti-busing song." That bummed me out. I wasn't wrapped up in that kind of Boston politics at all. (I came from the vanilla suburbs.) Sure, I think all Dub7 members would have considered racial integration to be a positive goal. After all, our band itself was racially integrated! But our views on integration would have been beside the point. The song wasn't taking any side on that local issue. It was more an anti-friction sentiment than one either for or against "busing." Simply: I felt bad for the kid. I guess there's always the possibility that lyrics will be misunderstood. The lyrics to Gavel Groove were barely intelligible, sorta cryptic, and so some misunderstandings should hardly have been any surprise.

Steve Harrell listened to this the other day (Dec 23, '09) and commented:

Thanks for posting the song. I haven't heard this thing in 20 years. It sounds better to me now than I remember it at the time. I dig Larry's lyrics, and the story behind the song. Hey ... its no DIRTY WATER but it is a very BOSTON song filled with local references & events from a certain place in time.

... [T]he keyboards had me thinking Human League, a very 80s sound.

I like the ending with the trippy backwards guitar track.

As Larry mentioned I remember taking the acetate test pressing of the 45 to Albert O and having him play it on the monster sound system at Spit. It sounded great ! Then when the singles were pressed they sounded like crap. That was a big WTF moment for me.

All in all a cool rockin' tune with a great opening riff from Larry. I have a few of these laying around if anybody wants one. I am going to mark my calendar to make sure I play it again 20 years from now.

Jon Alper of the Dub7 crew commented thus in August 2010:

I also enjoyed the piece you wrote about your thinking in writing Gavel Groove. I never saw it as a large political song about busing but more about the individual impact that the politics had on a real kid. Sort of "You can talk about the politics all you like but think about the impact on this kid caught on the crossfire." Despite it being very personal about this one kid's experience you did seem to be making a point about the need for the debate to shift from grandstanding to humanizing. Oh, and it IS on my iPod and DOES get listened to.


Produced by Fred Giannelli

Dub7 Gavel Groove

I found this description of Dub7 on the web:
"Originally known as 007, this skankin musical group changed their name to Dub 7 in 1984. (I swear they named themselves after a Taang Records catalogue number.) They were Boston's answer to the 2 Tone label. They even kinda looked like The Specials and Fun Boy Three. One 7" single, Gavel Groove b/w Federales (Core 4, 1984)."


And this:
"Boston dub/ska/funk favorites, Dub 7 aka 007, their only record. They were always playing Boston hardcore shows (I saw them play with DYS at Government Center) and they also opened for The Clash on the Combat Rock tour. Gavel Groove actually sounds a little like The Clash toward the end."

Imagine if The Clash were a ska mod punk band from Boston. Or if The Specials played a kind of bluesier and harder American ska.

Listen to "audub-dub7" by pragmat.

Part A: 007 splash! (Jan 1980 - Dec 1981) Part B: 007 gearing up (early 1982) Part D: The center cannot hold (end of 1982- Oct 1983) Part E: Life's in dub (Nov 1983 - July 1984) Part F: Dub7 brand adrift (Aug 1984 - end of 1986?) Part C: 007 in top form (Apr 1982 - fall of 1982) Part A: 007 splash! (Jan 1980 - Dec 1981) Part B: 007 gearing up (early 1982) Part C: 007 in top form (Apr 1982 - fall of 1982) Part D: The center cannot hold (end of 1982- Oct 1983) Part E: Life's in dub (Nov 1983 - July 1984) Part F: Dub7 brand adrift (Aug 1984 - end of 1986?) Part A: 007 splash! (Jan 1980 - Dec 1981) Part D: The centah cannot hold (end of 1982- Oct 1983) Part A: 007 splash! (Jan 1980 - Dec 1981) Part A: 007 splash! (Jan 1980 - Dec 1981) Part B: 007 gearing up (early 1982) Part D: The center cannot hold (end of 1982- Oct 1983) Part E: Life's in dub (Nov 1983 - July 1984) Part F: Dub7 brand adrift (Aug 1984 - end of 1986?) Part F: Dub7 brand adrift (Aug 1984 - end of 1986?)