Asian Dub Foundation (ADF) was formed in summer 1993 from an education workshop run by Aniruddha Das (bass, programming) and assisted by John Pandit (mixing) which was attended by rapper Deeder Zaman. This early line-up released the sound-system based Conscious EP in late 1993 on Nation Records. Guitarist/programmer Steve Chandra Savale was invited to join in early 1994 and ADF became more of a band format. Sanjay Tailor joined the band as live midi/programmer and DJ soon after. This completed the full live line-up of the band and their debut album Facts and Fictions was released in late 1995, following the single "Rebel Warrior".
Initially not widely known in a UK music scene focused on Britpop, the band toured in mainland Europe and gained a substantial following, particularly in France where their French-only release R.A.F.I. sold 100,000 copies. In early 1997 the band was signed by London Records. Their British profile was upped considerably by the support of Primal Scream with whom the band began to tour regularly. Their second album Rafi's Revenge (1998) combined punk energy with a jungle/reggae core and was nominated for a Mercury Prize. The single "Naxalite" was an ode to the militant Naxalite movement in India. Tours to the United States (with the Beastie Boys) and Japan followed.
Their following album, , developed their sound further and received a 10/10 review in NME. In 2000, ADF played a slot on Glastonbury Festival's Pyramid stage. At the end of 2000, Deeder Zaman announced his plans to go solo, his last gig being at Alexandra Palace alongside Primal Scream and Ian Brown.
Their first project of 2001 was an attempt to create a live re-score of Mathieu Kassovitz's film La Haine at the Barbican Centre's "Only Connect" festival in London. The gig was sold out and received critical praise, particularly from Max Bell and Steven Wells. They did the piece again by invitation of David Bowie at his South Bank Meltdown Festival in 2002; in attendance was Kassovitz. The band went to Brazil to collaborate with community activist Afro-Reggae with new band members MC Aktarv8tr, Spex MC, Rocky Singh (drums), and Prithpal Rajput (dhol).
In 2002, Pandit G was awarded the MBE for "services to the music industry" in relation to his work with Community Music. He declined the award, however, stating:
||I personally don't think it's appropriate. I've never supported the honours system. If you want to acknowledge projects like [Community Music], the work that these organisations do, then fund them. There's no point in giving an individual an accolade to bring people into the establishment; [it] won't actually help the organisations!
"If you want to acknowledge the work of these organisations, prioritise funding so they can grow and expand and do the work that they do (in) creating new music, giving people the opportunities to make music, develop new musicians and create pathways where they can go out and establish themselves in the music industry.
In 2003, they released Enemy of the Enemy, which became their best-selling album and contained the track "Fortress Europe", an attack on European immigration policy, along with "1000 Mirrors", a collaboration with Sinéad O'Connor about a woman serving life for killing an abusive husband. In 2003, they played their biggest gig in front of 100,000 people in France at a celebration of José Bové, a radical campaigning farmer. For 2005's Tank, they were joined by On-U Sound collaborator Ghetto Priest on vocals, with the help of Adrian Sherwood.
The band continued performing their La Haine soundtrack around the world for the next five years. They developed this approach in 2004 with another improvised soundtrack to the film The Battle of Algiers, first performing the piece at the Brighton Dome.
In 2005, they won "Best Underground" at the UK Asian Music Awards.
Bassist Dr Das announced his intention to retire in May 2006 to resume teaching and produce his own music. He was replaced by Martin Savale, who also plays bass with British-Asian electro/grunge/hip-hop band Swami.
In September 2006, the dub/punk opera "Gaddafi: A Living Myth", with music by ADF, opened at the London Coliseum. In Spring 2007, Asian Dub Foundation announced the release of a best of compilation Time Freeze: The Best of Asian Dub Foundation which included a bonus disc of rare remixes and live tracks, including a live recording of a Public Enemy song featuring Chuck D. The album also featured a new track recorded with former vocalist Deeder Zaman. In May 2007 ADF performed a radio session and interview on the Bobby and Nihal show on BBC Radio 1 where they performed three new tracks: "Climb On", "Superpower" and "S.O.C.A.". In June 2007, they were the only Western act to perform at the Festival of Gnawa music in Essaouira, Morocco playing to a crowd of 60,000 people and collaborating with traditional Gnawa musicians.
In August 2007, Asian Dub Foundation started playing with two new vocalists, Al Rumjen (previously and subsequently with King Prawn) and Aktarv8r, who returned after MC Spex was asked to leave the band due to personal issues. In November/December 2007, Asian Dub Foundation recorded a new album, Punkara. It was released in March 2008 and followed by a tour of Europe and Japan.
In 2009, ADF contributed to the Indigenous Resistance project after having met up with the Atenco movement in Mexico. Asian Dub Foundation started work on their new album, provisionally entitled A New London Eye, which would feature Ministry of Dhol, Nathan "Flutebox" Lee, Chi 2 and Skrein. The album eventually came out as The History of Now and the band toured extensively to promote it. The cover contained many fantasy iPhone "Apps" intended to parody the contemporary age.
In May 2012, the band was asked by immersive pop-up subversives Secret Cinema to revive their live soundtrack to La Haine at Broadwater Farm and also performed the piece in Paris the night of the French elections. Later that year ADF were rejoined by Dr. Das, Ghetto Priest and Rocky Singh. They recorded a new album, The Signal and the Noise, and headlined a series of festivals including "Bearded Theory" and "Asigiri Jam" in Japan.
In 2014, the band debuted their latest live soundtrack, to THX 1138, George Lucas's first feature-length film. George Lucas and his collaborator Walter Murch gave their blessing to the project and it was performed at the Brooklyn Festival in Prospect Park which led to an Arts Council Sponsored Tour of the UK in 2015. ADF signed a label deal with Believe records in 2015 and released More Signal More Noise on their own ADF Communications imprint, an enhanced version of the 2013 Japanese release. They were joined in early 2015 by ex-The Prodigy drummer Brian Fairbairn and have since toured Italy with a revived version of their La Haine soundtrack, performed an Arts Council sponsored tour of THX 1138, recorded a BBC Radio 6 session for Tom Robinson and played headline slots at WOMAD and Boomtown festivals in 2016.
In June 2017, it was announced that the band is working on an upcoming album which is set to be released in 2018.