*Interview published Aug 2014
Nucleus Roots are a Manchester based roots reggae band, they have released 4 classic albums and have a career spanning nearly two decades. The band have worked and collaborated with many top reggae artists like Mykal Rose, Twinkle Brothers, Misty in Roots and Dub Syndicate, not to mention singers: Moses, Kuntri Ranks, Country Culture, Simon Dan and Natural-Ites‘ lead Singer Ossie Gad.
Their tracks are played by some of the UK’s leading sound systems such as Jah Shaka, Aba Shanti and Iration Steppas to name a few and they perform regularly across Europe including festivals such as Glastonbury and Rototom.
Nucleus Roots began life as a studio project established in 1995 by Paul Lush, (one of the original members of Manchester’s punk-reggae band Community Charge). The studio was focused on reggae and as the studio grew, so did the catalogue of artists, arrangements and songs. The Nucleus Roots studio eventually created a platform for the artists in the form of the ‘Nucleus Roots Band’.
PL: It began as more of a studio concept at first; to provide a place for local artists to come and make affordable demos. I would also produce tracks for them.
At first it was more localised reggae artists, like T-Dynamics, Country Culture (City Culture), Kuntri Ranks (Lion King) and Don Hartley. I teamed up with Peter Technical my co-producer and keyboard player, who used to play for T-Dynamics. Together, we we’re producing the best sounding Jamaican-style reggae in Manchester.
Later on, artists like Ossie Gad, Danial Ray and Simon Dan would pass through. It grew from there.
In the early days, Nucleus Roots was a ten piece reggae band featuring some of the most respected musicians playing on the UK circuit, with P. Lush (bass), Richie Sliva (drums), P. Tech (keyboards and synthesizers), Steely and Gary (guitar), Mikey Congo (percussion) and Clive Stuart heading the brass section. The band was fronted by the wide ranging vocal talents of Moses and the explosive lyrics of Des Nia Lashimba.
PL: Moses was around pretty much from the start as he used to do harmonies for T-Dynamics and he lived across the road, which was nice. We wrote a few songs together; ‘Still here’ and ‘One Good Night‘.
I think it’s important to have your sound, even if it falls in and out of flavour. Back in the day you had to play an instrument to actually record something. First and foremost you had to be a musician (or hire one). I still record in this way today; I try and keep the music organic.
The band also perform as a stripped down sound system set-up at festivals and dances across the country and in Europe. It began in the autumn of 1998, Nucleus Roots were offered a support slot with Leeds based sound system Iration Steppas. Due to the limited size of the stage at the venue, Nucleus Roots embarked on taking the studio out; incorporating a mixing desk plus FX for the first time live!
They invited an old Community Charge friend Dub Dadda to mix the sound. The gig was a great success and with this winning formula nucleus roots carved a new and exciting path to follow.
PL: At the moment I use a Fostex V16 Hard Disk Recorder, a great bit of forgotten tech from 2000! It’s great on its own – a 16 track dubbing machine with on board effects & mixing desk and not forgetting the old Jah Tubbys siren box. We used to carry around mixing desks and effects racks, as did Vibronics and Iration back in the day, but with plane luggage now, it’s just not practical.
Nucleus Roots have been playing in the UK & Europe for over a decade , but it was a lucky break in Paris that kick-started their career touring on the road.
PL: We’re still getting bookings in Europe. We’re in Italy this summer and bookings are pretty even between U.K and Europe these days. Although, we were never out of France and Belgium back in the day; we got a lucky break in France. It was pioneering days.
(I think Iration Steppas was the first to go over as a live studio with Dennis Rootical on bass) But, we knew a guy who promoted dub and reggae in Paris, through one of the members of the Twelve Tribes; his name was Stix Dan.
This was prior to our first release, around 2001. Stix knew a promoter called Jerome, who used to bring over acts likeSuns Of Arqa and Twinkle Brothers, Misty In Roots etc. Anyway, Johno ( Dub Dadda) gave him a demo CD and he liked it. He offered us a show with Suns Of Arqa for £150.We thought about it for five minutes and said yeah. So, we packed up the Ford Orion with the studio and drove to Paris! I think we played to about 20 people, but that’s how we started the road… haha!
London based sound system Aba Shanti I was also influential in propelling Nucleus Roots’ career within sound system culture by being the first major sound system to play a Nucleus Roots track at a dance – ‘Deep Roots’ . The track has since been re-released in 10” vinyl with the previously unreleased dubplate versions.
Nucleus Roots are playing alongside Aba Shanti I in Manchester on Sat 13th September, a gig not to be missed as Aba Shanti-I hasn’t played in Manchester since 2008 and of course , Nucleus Roots are playing to their home crowd.
You have to admire Nucleus Roots. They’ve crafted their own distinctive sound, forged a career touring in the U.K and Europe and are still producing quality music after nearly 20 years; A real grass roots outfit built on solid foundations.
Forward to today, their current release ‘Hail Up The Sound Man‘ features singer Ria and Trevor Roots and is available on 7” from all good independent record stores and high quality digital format.
PL: We’re set to release a few more tunes: another top track from Stikki Tantafari & Trevor Toots. It’s going be a busy summer for releases; it’s a good time for vinyl again.
Dubcentral has a lot of respect for Nucleus Roots . They’ve played in Sheffield with us many times over the last 15 years and have blown audiences away on every occasion. We strongly recommend that if you haven’t seen the band live that you make a date to see them. Nucleus Roots look set to continue for many years to come with the unique sound that is loved throughout the reggae scene.