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What’s In A Name?
by AnnElise Hatjakes
Sep 23, 2009 | 1667 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo/Dave Bernis
Left to right: Matthew O'Brian, Dylan Savage, Rachel Orke, Aaron Lipp, James Searl and Christopher O'Brian of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad.
Courtesy photo/Dave Bernis Left to right: Matthew O'Brian, Dylan Savage, Rachel Orke, Aaron Lipp, James Searl and Christopher O'Brian of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad.
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Self-described reggae, dub and afrobeat group Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad is stopping in Sparks tonight as part of a 31-city tour. The band’s name, which is a tongue twister in its own right, was inspired by the novel “Another Roadside Attraction,” by Tom Robbins.

“Since we’re professional music makers and not professional band name makers, we just wanted to come up with a name that left people with something to think about when they heard it,” GPGDS bassist James Searl said.

The band most recently performed in Santa Cruz, Calif. and after tonight’s performance, they will go back to California to play in Chico and Pozo. Hitting a new city every couple of days isn’t new to the band, which played 180 shows in 2008. In 2007, GPGDS played at a concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, a short distance from their hometown Rochester, N.Y.

Since the roots reggae group spends a lot of time touring around the country, they recently converted their tour van to run on waste vegetable oil.

“We realized how much money we were spending on gas, which doesn’t help anything that’s really important to us,” Searl said. “So, whenever we can, we use the vegetable oil as an alternative.”

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad was formed in 2004 by Matthew and Christopher O’Brian. Matthew is on the guitar and vocals and Christopher plays the drums. Dylan Savage plays the guitar and does back-up vocals and Rachel Orke plays the piano, clavinet and melodica. Aaron Lipp and Searl round out the group on the organ and bass respectively.

The group sticks to what Searl calls “old instruments.”

“We don’t use any digital instruments,” Searl said. “We rely more on old instruments because it makes for a more physiological experience.”

The band has mixed its distinct dub sound with the sound of reggae legends like Bob Marley and UB40. As the title of their debut album, “Slow Down” implies, their music makes you want to kick off your shoes and relax. At the same time, the creative reverb effects and bass lines make you want to get up and dance. The band’s second album, “Live Up,” will be released this fall.

“A lot of our sound centers around the dub style,” Searl said. “That type of aesthetic appealed to us because it shows how space can speak louder than what would have been there. If you take out the snare and then bring it back with a lot of reverb, you’ll notice it a lot more.”

The show will be at the New Oasis in Sparks at 2100 Victorian Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Rebelution and Passafire will be opening for GPGDS. The performance is open to all ages and tickets are $15 each. For more information, visit www.newoasisreno.com or call 772-2475.
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