U.K. Subs play The Live Rooms, Chester, England
vocals & harmonica
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The following interview was published in the North Devon Journal:
ORIGINAL - CLICK HERE
INTERVIEW: Charlie Harper from UK Subs ahead of Ilfracombe gig
By North Devon Journal | Posted: November 19, 2015
BEING one of the bands who rose the first wave of British punk, the UK Subs could be forgiven for thinking that music has gone soft. But, for lead singer Charlie Harper, the modern day is significantly more important than the past.
"Being a part of that punk scene, it really was brilliant, but it's sort of all coming to fruition now," he explained. "We weren't a major force back in the day – it was all trying to catch the tiger by its tail and get ahead – but we're now a rock band on the road, which is what we always dreamed of. We can concentrate on live shows – we don't try and copy the records, we're much more organic."
Original fans will recognise Charlie as the only mainstay from the band's early days. He is now joined by a trio of musicians who joined in the Noughties – Nicky Garratt (guitar), Alvin Gibbs (bass) and Jamie Oliver (drums).
They head to North Devon next weekend for the first Ilfracombe Punk Festival, joining fellow headliners Buzzcocks and the Anti-Nowhere League.
Being part of a famously raucous music scene that developed the likes of the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, what did a band need to get ahead of their rivals?
"The main thing when it first came around was that bands all had different views; they all had a distinctive, own sound," Charlie explained. "So it was easy to get along with the music. Bands, after it came to the fore, they became more watered down, took a bit from here and there, had that same heavy guitar – let alone the bass and the drums. It went on and on and became far too generic."
But does Charlie think there are any bands in the modern age who are carrying on the original philosophy of punk – the energy, the aggression, the vigour?
"You can always find some," he said. "There's always bands and, I hate to name drop, but Green Day – they were a breath of fresh air when they came out in the Nineties. Everyone thought they were an English band. They had that retro, early punk-rock sound, that bit of attitude. And if you play with attack, like they did, that attitude just comes."
Charlie, who has become affectionately known as the Godfather ("more like grandfather!" he interjected) of UK Punk, will be celebrating 40 years of UK Subs in 1977 – even though they originally formed in 1976!
"We like to say '77, as that's when the Subs became the UK Subs," he said. "The reason we had to change it was because a Scottish band, Subs, saved a couple of old ladies from a car and became front page news! We had to change it and it was at that time that Sex Pistols' Anarchy In The UK came out – so we nabbed the UK and put it before the Subs!"
At the age of 71, Charlie could be forgiven for wanting to slow things down a bit, but the hunger and drive to perform live is "even more so" than before. And he's sure of the reason why people should catch the UK Subs at the inaugural Ilfracombe Punk Festival: "Because we are the most amazing band ever," he laughed. "But, seriously, any bands that come along can watch us and learn to play live."
UK Subs perform on Sunday, November 29, at the Ilfracombe Punk Festival, John Fowler Holiday Park. The festival runs from Friday, November 27 to Sunday, November 29. Weekend music and accommodation tickets start at £102 per person. Day tickets available from £25. Details: www.ilfracombepunkfestival.co.uk