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.”