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UK Subs
06/03/2005 (interview with Charlie Harper by Kev Shackleton)

You’ve just returned from your European tour, how did you find it?

After we came out of the channel, we turned left… oh yes I see, it was great. We played Amsterdam for the first time in ten years, I was telling everyone that kids were crowd surfing to the intro tape, and that I’d never seen this before at any show, anywhere, then tonight this German girl calls and said she saw this at a Robbie Williams show. Now I’m depressed...

You wrote the song ‘War On The Pentagon’ just a few years before the events of 9/11, and have penned a number of songs that are anti-corporate and political America. How have the events of the last few years further shaped your views on this subject?

Before I say any thing on this subject, I must say that I am not anti-American, just the foreign policy. It’s a little obvious and heavy-handed and I’m sure it will give us many years of griping yet.

We were in Brazil when 9/11 happened; we were watching CNN, that night we played live on a TV show and they had some artist paint the burning towers. It was weird, only a strong security guard stopped a riot. For or against, it didn’t matter. There was just too much emotion.

How have the punks attending your shows when you’ve toured the US reacted to your views? I know there are millions of punk kids over there who hate the state of their country; were their reactions at gigs echoing your views?

I guess 99% are with us, and the other few don’t care, but I do point out at most of our shows that most governments work this way. Punk is disenfranchised more by choice, and a healthy distrust of authority is the only way forward.

You’re back in the UK now and have a few gigs lined up for April/May. Do you prefer gigging at home?

I just prefer gigging, it’s great to be home and it’s also great to go to foreign shores. We are very privileged in this respect, and I just can’t understand the bands that hate to travel.

You’ll be hitting Japan in June; have you ever toured there before? Are you looking forward to it? Are you a bit apprehensive of the fact that Japanese kids seem to worship nu-metal and haven’t embraced punk wholesale?

That’s not what we are led to believe; hardcore is the big underground force, and psychobilly is also big. While the punk scene is smaller, it overlaps all these sub-cults and you will get kids from the MTV world as bands like Sum 41 and Green Day sell out stadiums over there, as I suppose they do elsewhere, so I’m sure we can fill a few clubs. Also, my June trip is a P.R exercise, the Subs are not expected until November.

What would you say is the best UK Subs album, or the one that best defines what you guys are about?

Endangered Species is probably the best, but it’s the second part of your question that’s hard as there are songs on all of our albums that are “Subbie” and some that are not. That’s why most of the live set is “Subbie”.

You've released quite a few live albums and EPs over the years. Many punk ‘purists’ claim that this is a means of fleecing true fans. What’s your take on this?

I think that fleecing is much too hard a word, besides, the marketing side of a new record is not our job and at this stage in our career, we are very reluctant to put out anything. But we are all still writing. Sounds like a contradiction, but its almost 5am... so I’d better stop...

Which ‘new’ punk bands have most impressed you? Are there any bands you would recommend Subs fans check out?

Lars and the Bastards, Anti-Flag, Flamingo 50, Sick on the Bus, Fire Exit and a Swiss band called Tight Finks.

You’ve kept the band going for over quarter of a century now, how long are you trying to keep it going? Is there still a great deal of UK Subs material waiting to be penned and released?

I guess as long as people want us and we are fit enough to work is the answer to the first part of your question, the second part is not so straightforward. We are going to slow down the quantity in an attempt to up the quality. The fact that the band all live in different countries may help; I know that I'm writing more than I ever have, and I know the other guys are writing. We should have a new album/CD out for Christmas, but if the quality is not there it can wait.

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