Musical innovation and football are – EnglandNewOrder apart – unlikely bedfellows. How about an ex-pro becoming as influential on the percussion scene as Keith Moon? No, we didn’t see this coming either. Here’s Chris Ledger.
Let’s face it, we usually moan when footballers enter the music industry. Whether it’s Neil Danns or Glenn Hoddle, they’re lazy and cynical cash-ins with little imagination. But Dion Dublin’s offering is very different.
After spending several years developing the product, Dublin has recently released his new musical invention called ‘The Dube‘. This cleverly named product is a slickly designed percussion instrument, in the shape of a cube, which also comes with a range of straps and display stands. It may look very simple at first but not only is it far more innovative than it first looks; it’s one of the most fascinating instruments you will ever see.
Although Dublin first came up with the idea of inventing a musical instrument whilst playing for Leicester City in April 2005, and made his first prototype during his spell at Norwich City in November 2006, the inspiration for ‘The Dube’ came far earlier. Dublin credits June 1975 as the first date in the history of the instrument. This was when, as a young child, he tried to make rhythms by tapping on whatever item or surface he could find. Considering that ‘The Dube’ does exactly that, selling the product to schools is a perfect idea.
Whilst Dublin sees that selling ‘The Dube’ to schools will help children to learn “musical elements such as rhythm and timing” and to facilitate team-building activities, it can achieve far more. It looks like being an instrument that’s perfect for stimulating young children, for example, and as any sound can be achieved, it could also foster creativity and experimentation.
The good thing about ‘The Dube’ as an instrument is that it’s not as limited as the tambourine, nor is it as hard to learn as the recorder – an instrument that may spoil a child’s love of music, if they struggle to get to grips with it. It screams accessibility and it could unify all students, no matter how educationally advanced they are. Anything that can improve communication skills, simply by tapping a cube has to be commended.
However, ‘The Dube’ is not just an educational tool. It also can be used legitimately for live music events. Although Dublin is aiming this unique product at the nightclub market, it is also perfect for music festivals. ‘The Dube’ has a microphone built into it, which can be adjusted at any volume, making it ideal for outdoor venues where sound quality may be a problem.
The bongo drum has obviously influenced the design of ‘The Dube’, but its impressive acoustics resemble a calypso drum more than anything. It helps to give Dublin’s instrument a clear and crisp sound that also sounds fun, at the same time. It’s no surprise that, despite its simplicity, there has been little scepticism from musicians. Musicians – including the veteran percussionist Carl McGregor and Feeder’s drummer Karl Brazil - have given the instrument universal praise, and it has also been used by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the critically acclaimed jazz musician Courtney Pine.
Dublin wants to go one further, though. He wants to take ‘The Dube’ into the charts. Dublin is currently managing the Nottingham-based indie group The Establishment, and his instrument features in their début single. Although the bland ‘Be That Way’ irritates and offers nothing original, ‘The Dube’ certainly makes it presence felt. Its strong beat is just as effective as a drum-kit, which is the best praise you could give to the instrument. The video has already attained cult status – this was largely due to cameos from former professionals like Stuart Pearce and Des Walker – and was expected to chart in the Top 40.
Even if the track isn’t a huge commercial success, ‘The Dube’ could well be the opposite. It has lots of thoughtful touches, such as selling the item in four different sizes and in any chosen design, which means that it can appeal all ages. It is a remarkably clever instrument, and Dublin will certainly benefit from aiming the product at a high premium and niche market. However, the hefty starting price of nearly £160 will prevent everyone from enjoying the instrument.
Despite being a specialist product, it is wonderful to see a product that is so inherently nice. Even if you’re not a supporter of one of Dublin’s former clubs, it is impossible to dislike this charismatic product. The best thing about ‘The Dube’ is that it proves that even the earliest childhood experiences can influence your adult life, whatever you end up doing. Considering Dublin’s target market, it’s clear that he wants to a new generation to learn this lesson. And why not, anything is possible with ‘The Dube’.
Dion Dublin’s ‘The Dube’ is available to buy online, on its official website, with prices starting from £157.45. The Establishment’s debut EP ‘Be That Way’ is also available online, via iTunes.
Chris is site editor for the completely fantastic Obscure music and football, a massive favourite of IBWM.