LOUD AND CLEAR WITH SUBCULTURE "Stick stick stick together, let's have a laugh we're not young forever....". Do you know how many times I bounced around to that line in front of my stereo, clutching a mug of tea or bottle of ale? Er, well, I don't either, but it was a lot! That great little tune was my favorite track off the seminal "Oi Oi that's yer lot!" compilation and even though I was listening to it several years after it's release, and an ocean away, it meant a great deal to me. Some bands hang in there and overstay their welcome. Not so with Cambridge's Subculture. Due to any number of issues--best outlined in the sleeve notes to the essential "From Herbert St. to the 100 Club" CD that was released last year, the band only left a tantalizing promise of things to come with their lone "Loud and Clear" EP and of course THAT song on numerous comps. There was a cheapo split CD published by Captain Oi about ten years ago that collected a few more tracks but left the band still a mystery to yours truly and others. The much needed release of "Herbert St." was manna to punk fans worldwide. It's UK street rock and it's finest. Tough but never dumb, melodic but not watered down and possessing a timeless quality that some of their better known peers failed to capture. I have to say this is probably one of my favorite interviews I've done. Peter Subculture (the second vocalist in the band) has been a real gent in our internet dealings and answered the questions with a refreshing candor and humor. It's impassioned and it's REAL. Like Subculture. Pop open a beverage of your choice and read on!
1) Why reform Subculture when the band packed it in over 25 years ago?
It was strange how we got back together. We had people asking us to finish it really! We knew we had loads of stuff we could put out but we were in different bands and this and that, but we started putting together the "Herbert Street" CD. Then we thought "well lets redo some of the songs". Only Dean knew about the Captain Oi CD so we thought lets do what they tried to do. It's a much better CD with full sleeve notes, etc. so that was the start of the reform! 2) Who is in the band currently from the old lineup? And what has everyone been doing since the 80's?
We are THE original classic line up from the "Loud And Clear" EP. There's a lot of unfinished business with us, I promise!
3) The band was closely linked to the Cockney Rejects via your sound and Micky Geggus producing your best known track...was there ever a temptation to follow their route and go more hard rock?
Micky and Dean got on well, but never would we change what is Subculture! Luckily we have a cult following and we can't change! Too much of what we do is original, we are what we were! I do sometimes wonder what people expect from us? We do what we do... if you had lived in 1980 or 1979 you would know what we are about. But most of the people who want to hear us are from outside the UK?
4) Was it hard to replace the first vocalist, since lead singers are often seen as the most identifiable member of a group? Any Pete Best moments?
No, to be honest Tom came from very posh stock. I'm a hard working hard living boy who actually fitted in what we do and as for best moment I'm a bit of a cunt for stirring up chaos! Me, Phil and Dean all went to school through....I don't know what you Yanks call it....but primary, upper primary and secondary school. We were all mates. I got asked in after going to tech where I was learning to be an electrical tech. It went from there and that's a story all on it's own!
5) Coming from Cambridge, did you guys get a lot of stick from London crowds? London we played without any problems. We played our shit and people listened. We played with all the bands of the day...I had personal favorites...it was easy enough.
6) How did you feel about the "Oi" tag? And did you ever grow to resent your hit "Stick Together"? As a more traditional sounding band--whatever that means--what did you think of the likes of Crass, Conflict, etc.?
We never set out to be an "Oi" band! That's a tag others have placed. And I love "Stick Together". It's just a great track. Ask The Templars what they think of it! It's lovely to start or be part of a genre. As for Crass I love them! I love Steve Ignorant and all that follows. And as for the rest well, they were copy cats.
7) You gigged often at Skunx, which also seemed to be one of the early stomping grounds for some of the dodgier elements of the skinhead scene. Any run ins with this lot? Did the right wing thing affect Subculture?
There were some very scary gigs where you met some seriously heavy people. The one that springs to mind is Skully (you will have to look him up along side Carlton Leach!) We played with Combat 84 and all sorts but I have to say one of my favorite people I met was Deptford John). We gigged with The Business, Peter and the Test Tubes, and on and on it goes. One geezer who was great came along later and that was Wattie from The Exploited...how many tales do yer want? (As for the right wing element)We have one line that says it all "NEVER FOLLOW LEADERS CAUSE THEY'RE ALL THE SAME FULL STOP".
8)How did you feel about the Captain Oi reissue from a few years back? You were paired with ABH, who ended up with a bad reputation (not totally deserved in my eyes, but still....).
I knew nothing about the Captain Oi release 'til I turned up at a Stiff Little Fingers gig in Cambridge. As for ABH, well, fuck 'em! Simple as that. If they don't like it send 'em around to see me, ha ha ha ha!
9) Favorite Subculture tracks?
I have lots of favorite tracks and more to come!
10) What bands did you rate now? Any non punk music you like?
At the moment my favorite punk band are Overload from Cambidge. Check out "One by One by them on Youtube. Mind you check out the B-movie bits in it.
They are mad we did a gig with them last month, pure class. And when are Green Day gonna pay us for ripping off one of our tracks? ("Rogue Trooper").
I love all sorts of music, you can't help it can you? I do wish "X Factor" bullshit would disappear. I can't really do without The Who, The Stones and The Beatles etc. because without them there would be no Subculture. I also love stuff like System of a Down, and when grunge happened, it was refreshing...The Pumpkins, Nirvana and Pearl Jam...you know, Billy Corgan, I do like him, I must admit. I wish some fucker would do it again, please?
Anyways, what is punk? I always regard lots of bands to be punk. One of my favorite examples is The Talking Heads.
11) What exactly were you doing in Gambia? (You learn the damndest things on Facebook).
Gambia I was doing my bit with my wife. I don't think you can understand things unless you travel. It was a million miles away from OUR world, and we ain't got a clue what living is!
12) How do you feel about the current state of punk? Rotting nostalgia trip? Still vibrant voice? Somewhere in between?
Fucking 'ell have you listened to the Irish band Paranoid Visions?! Fucking first class, wow! But American punk sometimes seems plastic, very plastic...sorry to say that. (Nah, don't be). Like Rancid. What the fuck? They seem to want to pull themselves back into a scene they were never a part of! I love the Murphys for their thing, but I do find it hard when you have Lars whats his face trying to justify himself when they are millionaires. Fuck 'em. I don't understand the whole point. But I am up for discussion! Either that or a fight. Even at the age of 49. Anyway, punks fucked as it always will be, great stuff.
13) Future plans for Subculture?
Let's see where Subculture goes in 2013. I was talking with our guitar chap Dean tonight and we agreed to ride it for 1 or 2 more years and if we get bored, jack it in.
14) Do you still rock a net top at gigs?
What the fuck does that mean? (Those funny shirts made of netting or mesh that European and English bands wore by the boatload in the 80's which mercifully never caught on in the US).
15) Famous last words and, how do you want to be remembered
Well tonight I was in my local and a chap of 23 came up to me and said "Fucking hell Pete, I really had a great night at your gig last Friday and I have never been to a punk gig!" If that is what yer on about we really are better live that on record! As for last words...WELL FUCK ME GENTLY AND LETS COME TAKE ON THE SEPTICS! (I think he means us Yanks!). BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE BAND AT www.subcultureuk82.com for gigs, pics and goodies....