Old Punks Never Change

For some high minded snoots, punk rock has always been about moving forward. Fans of the genre can hold bands like The Clash and Minor Threat up with a degree of reverence. (Possibly because those bands never broke up, then reformed and went on reunion tours.)

But for some, punk rock has gone the way of classic rock, with bands and albums achieving the status of rock ‘n’ roll legends. If Roger Daltry can still sing “Hope I die before I get old” at the tender age of 63, why can’t Johnny Rotten sneer about “Anarchy in the U.K.” without seeming dated?

“Punk rock has always been about the moment in time that it was created, and it’s never built to last,” says Dick Lucas, vocalist for the U.K.-based punk group The Subhumans. “The fact that it has carried on for long sort of proves that the immediacy is a very vital ingredient.”

Immediacy is what the Subhumans deliver. Originally formed in 1980 in Wiltshire, U.K., the band represented a bridge of sorts between the literate tuneful hard edge pop and reggae of The Clash and the almost anti-music screeds of the anarchist collective turned punk band Crass. The Subhumans’ mixture of socially aware songs and calls for personal action are every bit as compelling today as they were 20 years ago. While the band may be getting older, their political views haven’t softened.

“As you get older your thoughts on any subject will expand, especially as you let things like teenage social paranoia go and you get more confident as you get older,” says Lucas. “When it comes to politics, they are the same as they were. I’ve expanded on them, but they are still the same.”

The Subhumans and World/Inferno Friendship Society perform at the Asheville Arts Center (308 Merrimon Ave.) on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 8:30 p.m. $10. Tickets are limited. 253-4000.

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One thought on “Old Punks Never Change

  1. Robert

    Jason, thanks for writing that column. I live in Richmond, VA, but am divided when it comes to what I call “home”. I use that word to either refer to Richmond or Haywood County where my extended family lives (and where I did for a while). It blew me away to see that Asheville of all places hosted The Subhumans. Richmond has a pretty big underground hardcore/metal scene that I never really saw much of in Asheville except for what I saw in one record store when I lived there. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Asheville music scene and bluegrass is my first love, but you have to “change the station” from time to time. And The Subhumans have been twords the top of my list for nearly twenty years. Dick Lucas is an incredible performer and an even better song writer. And when I saw them in 2004 (2003?) I walked out of the show with a knot on my head and a few cracked ribs and never had a better time getting pummeled at a punk show.

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