You don't see punk faces like that these days.The Subhumans have been pushing buttons for a quarter century, letting their frustrations with the world loose on stage while challenging audiences to rethink their values. The guitar riffs are infectious, the bass lines are distinctive, and the beats are furious, keeping new generations interested in the band's music. Singer and lyricist Dick Lucas (although he prefers just Dick), with his thick accent and British slang, still has something to say that's worth hearing - a rarity in punk rock these days.
The band has taken its share of time off from the music scene, twelve years in fact. But almost a decade since recording their last full-length studio album, Dick, Bruce, Phil, and Trotsky kicked out another disc, fittingly dubbed Internal Riot. The sound on the album is the continuation of the youthful energy and political discontent that fueled the Subhumans more than twenty years ago. Though the entire new album was recorded last year in a matter of 10 days, much of that music was written a good 20 years ago. The West Coast tour promoting the new album, which was released just this past August on the band's D.I.Y. label, Blurrg, stops Saturday night at the Domino Room. But before they show up, we thought we'd get a few words from Dick.
tSW: How has the band evolved over the years?
D: We got better live because we learned to buy new strings when we can afford them! And as you get older, that initial teenage angst and anger naturally calms down a little bit. It doesn't mean you're less angry at the things you were angry about in the first place, but you can put that anger across in a more constructive way that might actually include more hope.
tSW: The Subhumans have never shied away from taking on problems with society, capitalism, war, or government. Do you feel like you're still making a difference with your lyrics?
D: Some songs [on the new album] were written 20 years ago, and some 20 years later, but the lack of difference between the outlook on the world is really quite frightening. The lyrics written in the early 80s are still largely relevant today or else we wouldn't all be living with so much fear and resentment. People know that they're just being lied to or conned most of the time and that politicians just talk in clichés and that it actually all means nothing.
tSW: What's your role is in the process then?
D: To keep out of it and voice these thoughts equally as much as possible. Not just for the self-exorcism and catharsis, but for connecting with other people who feel the same way. Writing lyrics that complain about how shitty things are is in itself a positive way for people to connect with each other.
tSW: Is the next generation taking punk rock in a respectable direction?
D: Certain elements of the pop world have taken the name "punk" and applied it to their spiky haircuts and safety pins. But the rest of the punk world that actually has got something real to say is not really affected by that. There are whole massive areas of do-it-yourself underground labels and magazines that still replicate the anger, resentment and ability to think for oneself that punk has always, at its best, stood for.