I got the chance to interview the guitarist of See Spot, Brian "Boom Boom" Dixon. He talks about the many bands hes played with (Checkmate, Rhythm Doctors, and more) and all the other things that has been going on. Even the possibility of a new Brian Dixon dub album (lets all hope and pary for this to come out soon).
1.Thanks so much for the interview. Can you please introduce yourself and what you do?
My name is Brian Dixon. I am a Recording Engineer. I have been a staff engineer at Signet Sound Studios in Hollywood for five years. I am originally from Fresno. I have been living in Hollywood for six years.
2. How did you first get into ska and reggae? I know its a generic question but the personal stories are always interesting to me. Did you pick up the guitar before or after your interest in ska came?
I got into ska when I was a Freshman in High School. Let's Go Bowling was from Fresno, so I saw them at a gig that I went to with some of my friends. I was blown away! I had never heard anything like them before. It only took one show and I was in love with the music. Back then, they were the best. I started playing guitar when I was in 7th grade. My best friend and I started a Punk band called Felonious Assault. In 8th & 9th grade I played in an OI band called United Difference. Then, I played in a Straight Edge Hardcore band called Reaction. After that I started a ska band called Checkmate.
3.I know you mix and dub and do magical things in the studio, how did you get involved with that aspect of the music? What else have you dubbed besides the Rhythm Doctors tracks and the Cover Ups tracks and the Irie Beats?
I found that engineering was my calling from when I was a kid playing in those crappy punk bands. We would go to some cheap studio and record a demo and I loved the whole process. As far as dub goes, it is what I enjoy the most. I get to take an someone else's toon and make it my own. I have dubbed a couple of songs for the AFTER HOURS album, soon to be released. I dubbed some songs on the new Allentons album. I dubbed a track for HEPCAT which is unreleased, however I would love to get it out there.
4.Was Checkmate your first band? How long were you with them?
Checkmate was my first Ska band. I played with them for five years.
5.Checkmate is a band that not many know too much about. Can you talk about them? You guys played ska and also instrumental skinhead reggae style stuff, correct? Who started that band?
Checkmate started in 1990. I loved Ska, but in the 80's, there were hardly any Ska bands. The few bands there were would never come to a remote place like Fresno to play and even though Let's Go Bowling were local, they would rarely play in town. Back then you couldn't find any ska at any record store. I wanted to hear the music so bad I thought, what the hell, I'll just start my own Ska band. Since, I couldn't find any musicians that would play this strange music that they had never heard of, I just asked my close friends to play. Not one of them was a musician! That was the story of Checkmate from day one. Me in love with this music so much that I wouldn't give up, even though the band really sucked. By the end of my era with the band we were doing only instrumentals, because none of us could sing.
6.When did you leave Checkmate and why?
In 1994 I got a call from a guy named Chris Murray. I new who he was. He sang for a Ska band from Toronto called King Apparatus. He was in California for a few months and was then trying to find a few musicians to tour with the rest of his band. He knew the guys in LGB. So, the drummer and keyboard player from LGB and I toured with King Apparatus for 3 months all over North America. It was one of the most incredible experiences in my life. King Apparatus was a professional touring band. I saw what a band was supposed to be like. Anyway, after the tour I came back to Checkmate and it was very depressing. I played with the band for a few more months and the I quit.
7.On Steady Beats "West Coast Chronicles Volume One" compilation, there is a song credited to "Chris and Brian" and obviously this is you and Chris Murray. Well that song is amazing and I was wondering if there were more songs recorded at this session that may be released someday?
Yeah, we did one other song called "Let There Be Peace". Chris released it on his 6-song CD that came out not to long ago and he performs it live.
8.Did you join up with See Spot right after leaving Checkmate or were there any projects in between?
There were no projects in between, other than that studio stuff that I did with Chris.
9.How did you hook up with See Spot in the first place?
Brad called me up and asked if I would be interested in trying out. I did and they asked me to join.
10.What is See Spot up to these days? Are you guys writing or recording or anything? Will the public be treated to a long awaited follow up album by See Spot?
We have not been doing much. We all agreed to doing a "reunion" show. It was so much fun that when we were asked to do another show a month later, we said yes. We have been talking about doing a new album this summer. We have just had trouble getting songs written. Brad has tons of songs, but I think he wants the song writing to be more of a collaboration.
.I noticed that when See Spot opened for the Slackers this past march in LA, Jesse Wagner was on stage playing lead with you guys. Is he now a member of the band or was that just a one night thing?
Jesse is now an official member of SEE SPOT.
12.When See Spot broke up the first time around, did you become involved with any bands between See Spot and joining the Rhythm Doctors?
No. I joined the Rhythm Doctors the day after the last See Spot show.
13.Why did See Spot break up that first time anyways?
Chuck (the singer) quit. You can't have See Spot without Chuck.
14.How did you get involved with the Rhythm Doctors?
Paul Morton, the Rhythm Doctors percussion player had been trying to get a Skinhead Reggae band started for years. I met him when I first moved to L.A.. He had been telling me for a while that he had found a few guys and when he heard that See Spot was doing our last gig, he asked me to come to rehearsal to check it out. I came to the rehearsal and saw a lot of potential and I joined. Boogie from See Spot joined too playing drums.
15.I have heard different rumors and things about why you and Jesse decided to leave the Rhythm Doctors and I was wondering if you could maybe clarify as to why you guys left the group.
Mark Quan. Any questions?
16.Of course after leaving the Rhythm Doctors, See Spot started up again. What brought See Spot back?
The last time the Slackers played at the Whiskey, all of the guys from See Spot came out of the woodwork and went to the show. The place was packed and we were all saying we could do this. Luis from Steadybeat saw all of the guys and asked if we would do a show there and everyone agreed.
17.I have a song called "Downbeat Special" which is credited to you and Brad Pate. Its kind of a dubby, instrumental skinhead reggae, heavy organ type song and is really good and I was wondering if there are anymore songs like this that will ever be released? Was that song supposed to be for Brad's AfterHours band?
I forgot about that song! I thought I had the only copy. I am surprised that anybody has it! That was something that Brad, Boogie and I did one night at the studio. Just us messing around. It was long before the After Hours project.
18.What do you think of the current state of ska music and reggae music?
My only complaint is that there are no headliners anymore. There is not a single band, in my opinion, that is anywhere near the quality of HEPCAT, OCEAN 11 or DYNAMIC PRESSURE. There are some okay bands out right now, but to me, they aren't really good enough to warrant seeing more than once or twice.
19.WHat other types of music do you enjoy besides ska and reggae?
I still like 80's Straight Edge Hardcore. I like Cuban music. I like early 80's Pop. I like various forms of Latin music. I like some Trance music, which I find to be VERY much like Dub. Even though the sounds are different, Trance has the same flow and similar arrangements as Dub.
20.What do you think are the best bands and best albums that have been released lately?
I can't really think of any.
21.Is there any bands that are really rocking right now that you don't think are getting the attention they deserve? If so, what bands?
GO JIMMY GO!!!!!! They are a Ska/Rocksteady/Reggae band from Hawaii. They came to California last Summer and they blew me away.
22.I guess that about does it. Is there anything going on thats you'd like to talk about? like shows or records to promote or anything?
Brad Pate and I finished a project album called AFTER HOURS with the best musicians in the L.A. Ska/Reggae scene. It should be out soon. Also, I am working on my own Dub album which I hope to put out in the near future.
Thanks so much for doing this, I really appreciate it.
No problem! Thanks Kyle.
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