As the frontman of influential English anarcho-punk band Subhumans and punk/ska groups Citizen Fish and Culture Shock, Dick Lucas expounds against war, corruption, corporate greed, and systematic cultural oppression. Subhumans formed in Southwest England in 1980 and experimented with rock tempos, blues melodies and instrumentation not usually heard in traditional punk. Splitting in 1985, they entertained several brief reunions until reforming more permanently in 1998 with an extensive tour of the UK and U.S., and continue to perform regularly. Rotating among an incestuous mix of musical projects, Lucas has remained steadily active with Citizen Fish—which shares several Subhumans members—since 1990, and recently regrouped with Culture Shock, a short-lived band formed just after the initial Subs split (featuring several members who went on to form Citizen Fish). Subhumans plays Thurs., Oct. 29, and Fri., Oct. 30, at Los Globos with Blazing Eye, Generacion Suicida and more. Lucas spoke by phone just before performing a recent show in New York with interviewer Linda A. Rapka.
I was your pen pal when I was 12.
In the early 1990s, soon after I discovered punk and the Subhumans, I sent you a letter in the mail and you actually responded.
Wow. I think twice in my life … before email, it was only twice in my life when I had no letters left to reply to.
Do you still write back to fans?
Yeah, you know—I try to. Of course now it’s all by email.
At the first Subhumans show I went to, someone threw a shoe at your head, a crowd of people jumped onstage and unplugged your equipment, and we were all pepper-sprayed.
I remember one massive show we did in San Bernardino in 1998. Continue reading
As published in L.A. Record:
Arriving at the sold-out Subhumans show last night already donning no fewer than 20 bruises on my person before the show even began (Labor Day weekend in Havasu, need I say more?), I figured not much more harm could be done and positioned myself in the pit. The band originally formed in England in 1980 and sounded as tight and angst-ridden as ever, confirming their status in the upper echelon of punk. The setlist was mainly culled from the band’s early archive with favorites like “I Don’t Wanna Die,” “Drugs of Youth,” “Peroxide,” “Mickey Mouse is Dead” and “Subvert City” with singer Dick Lucas offering mini tirades in his nearly unintelligible cockney accent between songs, mostly deriding the superficiality and laziness so prevalent in our fair city. My personal highlights from the show were “Rats” off the EP of same name and “I Don’t Wanna Die” from their full-length 1982 debut, a song which has always sounded best live. Though the songs were recorded before most of the all-ages audience was born, a majority of the pierced and spiky heads knew every single word, proving that kids today really are capable of appreciating good shit. They closed out their set with the powerful “Religious Wars,” inciting ridiculously stupid crowd dives off the balcony and intensifying the vigorousness of the pit slamming to its pique. Amazingly, and somewhat perplexingly, I went home with only as many bruises as I arrived with. (LL)
As previewed for L.A. Record:
So much more than a mere punk band, Subhumans formed in Southwest England in 1980 and featured Dick Lucas, one of the genre’s most prolific, literate and respectable songwriters. With often-profound lyrics touting the virtues of anarchy and derailing corrupt social and political practices, the group was one of the only punk bands to experiment with classic rock tempos, blues melodies and instrumentation unconventional to the genre (who’d have thought a punk could play piano?). The band broke up in 1987, and after a stint with seminal ska/punk/reggae band Culture Shock, Dick met up with former Subs bandmates Phil and Trotsky again to form politi-punk/ska band Citizen Fish in 1989, which is still active today. Despite having broken up when I was 5 years old and I discovered the Subs during my teen years in the mid-’90s. It didn’t take long for them to become my all-time favorite band (and my all-time favorite punk band to this day), and when a friend and I tracked down Dick’s address we decided to write him fan letters. Much to our teenybopper amazement he actually responded—several times, in fact—and informed us the Subs would soon be reuniting, which they did to our utter glee in 1998. At the tender age of 15 we ventured to see our favorite penpal from across the pond in San Bernardino and garnered fond memories of pepper spray, flying shoes, bone-crushing moshing and the mysterious cum stain that ended up on the back of my friend’s jeans. Here’s to seeing what ends up on my pants at the Knitting Factory.