Subhumans were, between 1980-85, one of the most prolific and original of the evolving UK punk scene; they were based in Warminster, Wiltshire, [SW England], and the lineup was Dick on vocals, Bruce played guitar, Phil on bass, and Trotsky on the drums. Dick had previously sung for The Mental, who released one EP and embodied the ’can’t-play-will-play’ early punk ‘anyone-can-do-it’ attitude. Bruce had been in the Stupid Humans, also based in Warminster; these two met at an Angelic Upstarts gig in 1980, and when their bands split they got together to form Subhumans.
Musical influences were a mix of Sex Pistols, Damned, and similar punk originators, and prepunk bands like King Crimson and Frank Zappa, which led to a style of punk more intricate in its structure than their contemporaries, without losing the base energy and dynamics of punk. Dick’s lyrics, at once socially aware and heavily critical of social norms, placed them in the anarcho-punk area of the ever-expanding UK punk scene of the early 80s, alongside Crass, Antisect, Conflict, and Flux of Pink Indians, who released the band’s first 3 EPs Demolition War, Reason For Existence, and Religious Wars and their first LP [in ‘83] The Day The Country Died, which became an instant classic that went on to sell 100,000 copies, [largely at the cover price of ’pay no more than #3.25’, which was as cheap as possible in order to make the music more accessible].
In ‘83 they formed their own label, Bluurg Records, and over the next two years released From the Cradle to the Grave LP [which included a 16 minute track of the same name that had the music press calling for a redefinition of ’punk’!] Evolution EP, Time Flies 12" EP, Rats EP, Worlds Apart LP, and 29:29 Split VisionLP, which was released after splitting up in ‘85. By then they’d played 262 gigs including several European tours and 2 in the USA, [which was in the 80’s a rare achievement for a non-commercially minded band].
Dick went on to join seminal ska-punk-reggae band Culture Shock [86-89, 3 LPs on Bluurg Records], and met up with Phil and Trotsky again in Citizen Fish [89-???], who have so far recorded 7 LPs of their politipunk-ska songs and clocked up over 1000 gigs across the planet…then in ‘98 these 3 ex-Subhumans roped Bruce back in to reform Subhumans, to ’see what it felt like’, and, it feeling rather excellent, have kept going with occasional touring and a limited release CD of old unused songs, Unfinished Business.
New songs are being created slowly but surely for another studio release, and a live one will be out in February; released as part of the Live in a Dive series on Fat Wreck Chords, it was recorded April ‘03 in Corona, California during a highly packed-out USA tour, and features 26 tracks that span their entire output and captures the intensity of Subhumans live that studio recordings could only hint at. In August, Queens of the Stone Age recorded and released their version of a Subs song ’Wake Up Screaming’, and the film director Asia Argento has asked to use Subs music in her adaptation of ‘The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things’.