The Subhumans
Anarcho-punk rock pioneers the Subhumans will perform at Discovery Ventura on Oct. 21. (Publicity photo)

The Subhumans is regarded as one of the most important and influential anarcho-punk rock bands, with songs that have railed against war, corporations, politics and oppression with unmatched ferocity.

The band will be performing at Discovery Ventura on Oct. 21. Tickets are available by clicking here.

The Subhumans formed in 1980 in southwest England, and after three EPs released their first album, “Day the Country Died” in 1982. This was followed by the album “From Cradle to Grave” in 1983, featuring the 16-minute title track. Several more releases followed before the band broke up in 1985. Fortunately, the Subhumans reunited in the 1990s, and they recently released “Crisis Point,” their first new album in 12 years.

The band has had the same lineup since 1983, including singer Dick Lucas, who talked to Noozhawk about the new album and the band’s early days.

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Jeff Moehlis: The Subhumans just released a new album, the first one in 12 years. Can you tell me a bit about that album and how it came together?

Dick Lucas: It came together in hops and leaps and starts, separated by months in between getting new songs together. Because, basically, Trotsk, our drummer lives in Germany, and the rest of us live in the U.K., and even in the U.K. we don’t actually live in the same town anymore. So the chances of us practicing sort of averaged out to once or twice a year during the last 12 years. So the production of new music and songs was extremely slow. That’s why it took so long.

And then we had this tour coming up, and Pirates Press was interested in doing our next record, and we thought it’d been long enough already. We had about six or seven songs, half of those only half-formed. So last March or April, we went over to Trotsky’s place in Germany and met for a week, and knocked together the songs that we had half-formed, then came back and did some more practice rehearsal stuff in April in the U.K., and invented a couple more songs that were brand new, and then went straight to the studio to record them.

We’d played them all of about once or twice each live. Normally, a song really improves if you play it a lot live, for a year or so. You know exactly what speed it’s best at, and you’ve made little adjustments to it. We didn’t have a chance to do any of that for at least half the songs. But that being said, it still retains a sort of rawness that we haven’t achieved since about 30 odd years ago.

JM: I’ve enjoyed listening to the new album, which is pretty intense. Is it safe to say that the Subhumans have no intention of slowing down, or mellowing out?

DL: [laughs] No we don’t. The word “intention” assumes some sort of planning to what we do, and there really isn’t much. We just carry on as we are while we’re still happy doing it — which we are — and we’re still enjoying it — which we are — and we’ve still got the energy to make up new songs — which we have. It’ll come out as it does. There’s no plan to follow any musical direction other than the one we just end up in doing what we do instinctively, I guess. We’re not ones for planning ahead and making maps of where we should go on year three, and all that rubbish [laughs].

JM: Subhumans formed almost 40 years ago. Why do you think that the early music of the Subhumans still resonates today?

DL: Because it’s of its time, but it’s also of where we are now, in terms of lyrical content and outlook on the state of the world, which is an angry, negative outlook, generally speaking. Like the song said, “It’s Gonna Get Worse,” and then, guess what. It did. The world’s in a worse mess now than it has been for a very, very long time indeed — politically, socially, economically, ecologically, in every sort of way there’s just so much getting worse. People like it because the music’s not tricky to get into. It’s fun to listen to, it’s got a good beat, it’s got energy. The lyrics for the most part tend to mean something, which means they don’t sort of fade through overhearing, I guess.

JM: When you think back on the first album, “Day the Country Died,” what are your reflections on it, in terms of recording it, and what it meant for the band?

DL: Because it was our first LP, we were very excited. Making the EPs was exciting enough, but to make a whole actual 12-inch, self-produced release was even more so. Also, we were very ignorant of how studios actually work, so we didn’t think, “Oh, this’ll sound better.” We were just sort of like, “This is just what it sounds like.” We had it all recorded and mixed in four days! There was no, “Let’s do loads and loads of overdubs,” or all that stuff that you get told about and then used to over years and years of being in studios with different engineers who’ve got different ideas of what things should sound like. You get used to the intricacies of making a recording go from good to excellent. We had none of that knowledge. So we made the best of what we could. It might be that sort of raw, fresh attitude to recording that keeps it being a very popular record indeed.

JM: What are some memories you have from the first time that the Subhumans toured in America?

DL: Well, we were just naive, innocent young boys from Wiltshire, so for us it was just a whole series of firsts. As daft as it sounds, it was the first time we’d been on an airplane, the first time we’d stayed in a hotel, the first discovery of pizza, the first discovery of chilis. I tried smoking some dried chilis in a roll-up once — that is not a good idea. It just makes you cough a lot, like an overdose of menthol cigarettes.

The first show was at the Olympic Auditorium in L.A., and we drove the van into the venue. Never done that before. Never played in front of 3,000 people before, never seen stage diving, never seen a circular pit going on. We didn’t know what the hell was going on. We were just confused or amazed, depending. Quite a lot of stuff that since then can be taken for granted. We had a great time, and we learned a lot.

Click here for the full interview with Dick Lucas.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his website, The opinions expressed are his own.