Subhumans

Subhumans

Mischief Brew (All Ages Show), Night Birds, Latex

Sat, July 26, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

The Voltage Lounge

Philadelphia, PA

$15.00

This event is all ages

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Subhumans
Subhumans
Subhumans were, between 1980-85, one of the most prolific and original of the evolving UK punk scene; they were based in Warminster, Wiltshire, [SW England], and the lineup was Dick on vocals, Bruce played guitar, Phil on bass, and Trotsky on the drums. Dick had previously sung for The Mental, who released one EP and embodied the ’can’t-play-will-play’ early punk ‘anyone-can-do-it’ attitude. Bruce had been in the Stupid Humans, also based in Warminster; these two met at an Angelic Upstarts gig in 1980, and when their bands split they got together to form Subhumans.

Musical influences were a mix of Sex Pistols, Damned, and similar punk originators, and prepunk bands like King Crimson and Frank Zappa, which led to a style of punk more intricate in its structure than their contemporaries, without losing the base energy and dynamics of punk. Dick’s lyrics, at once socially aware and heavily critical of social norms, placed them in the anarcho-punk area of the ever-expanding UK punk scene of the early 80s, alongside Crass, Antisect, Conflict, and Flux of Pink Indians, who released the band’s first 3 EPs Demolition War, Reason For Existence, and Religious Wars and their first LP [in ‘83] The Day The Country Died, which became an instant classic that went on to sell 100,000 copies, [largely at the cover price of ’pay no more than #3.25’, which was as cheap as possible in order to make the music more accessible].

In ‘83 they formed their own label, Bluurg Records, and over the next two years released From the Cradle to the Grave LP [which included a 16 minute track of the same name that had the music press calling for a redefinition of ’punk’!] Evolution EP, Time Flies 12" EP, Rats EP, Worlds Apart LP, and 29:29 Split Vision LP, which was released after splitting up in ‘85. By then they’d played 262 gigs including several European tours and 2 in the USA, [which was in the 80’s a rare achievement for a non-commercially minded band].

Dick went on to join seminal ska-punk-reggae band Culture Shock [86-89, 3 LPs on Bluurg Records], and met up with Phil and Trotsky again in Citizen Fish [89-???], who have so far recorded 7 LPs of their politipunk-ska songs and clocked up over 1000 gigs across the planet…then in ‘98 these 3 ex-Subhumans roped Bruce back in to reform Subhumans, to ’see what it felt like’, and, it feeling rather excellent, have kept going with occasional touring and a limited release CD of old unused songs, Unfinished Business.

New songs are being created slowly but surely for another studio release, and a live one will be out in February; released as part of the Live in a Dive series on Fat Wreck Chords, it was recorded April ‘03 in Corona, California during a highly packed-out USA tour, and features 26 tracks that span their entire output and captures the intensity of Subhumans live that studio recordings could only hint at. In August, Queens of the Stone Age recorded and released their version of a Subs song ’Wake Up Screaming’, and the film director Asia Argento has asked to use Subs music in her adaptation of ‘The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things’.
Mischief Brew (All Ages Show)
Mischief Brew  (All Ages Show)
In June of 2000, after spending four years screaming in a punk band called The Orphans, Erik Petersen confined himself to a basement with an acoustic guitar, a rickety drum kit, a mandolin, and a four-track to stir a bunch of ideas together into a stew of songs. The resulting concoction was “Mirth: or, Certain Verses Composed and Fitted to Tunes, for the Delight and Recreation of All,” an eight-song demo cassette of acoustic punk influenced by medieval danses and raucous dust-raisers. On the spine of the tape (duplicated DIY-style by partners Denise Vertucci and Erik, later forming Fistolo Records), it read: “A Taste Of The Mischief Brew,” and included a “Folk The System” patch. There were no names or press pictures. Just a couple cryptic woodcuts, circle-A’s, illustrations of jesters and goblins, and a PO Box as a contact method.
Since then, Mischief Brew has grown to include several more humans, a few pug dogs, a lot more volume, and a bunch of pots and pans to bang on. It’s not unusual to see members scavenging around for scraps of metal and pieces of wood before a show, to use as percussion for a live set. And it might be the only punk rock band to feature a vibraharp. Since that scratchy demo tape, they have done numerous U.S. and European tours and have played everywhere from the Electric Factory in Philly to old bomb shelters in Germany, from CBGBs (the original one) to ABC No Rio in NYC, from 924 Gilman in Berkeley to the Trumbullplex in Detroit...not to mention in attics, basements, barns, underneath train bridges, and on rocking boats underneath the Williamsburg Bridge on the East River.
Night Birds
Night Birds
“I’m already over-caffeinated and mentally straining,” begins Night Birds vocalist Brian Gorsegner, as he prepares to discuss his band’s third album and Fat Wreck Chords debut, Mutiny At Muscle Beach. It’s really the perfect way to describe that record—the 12-song, 25-minute LP is an ADD-addled, surf-influenced, punk-rock adventure through Gorsegner & Co.’s experiences dealing with the rampant assholery they encounter in their day-to-day lives in suburban New Jersey and the surrounding areas.

“I work in customer service, which is what fuels the majority of my hatred and my need for punk rock,” the 31-year-old singer explains. “The people I deal with on a daily basis completely destroy any hope I had for humanity. But it’s good; everybody needs fuel for their creativity.”

While there might not be any songs on Mutiny At Muscle Beach about specific customer-service experiences (“We had a set of lyrics for ‘Lapsed Catholics Need Discipline’ about customer service but we scratched it,” he admits), the album is chock-full of pop-culture references, from Kids In The Hall to horror movies to Seinfeld to professional wrestling—the latter of which Gorsegner says he didn’t know much about (he says his bandmates are far more knowledgeable on the topic), but after watching a documentary about now-retired WWE wrestler Mick Foley, he quickly connected with the artform.

“This guy just destroys himself for his craft,” Gorsegner admits. “He doesn’t think about 10 years down the road, he just thinks about now, and he does what he loves to do because he’s passionate about it. He likes to put a smile on peoples’ faces and go out and destroy himself and be reckless—and a lot of punk rock that I love is the same kind of way. You don’t think about, ‘I shouldn’t do this because I might get hurt’ or ‘I shouldn’t write this because I might offend somebody.’”

While Night Birds makes sure to bring that level of chaos to their live show, in the studio, it’s an entirely diferent story. The quartet always records analog, which forces each band member to be as proficient as possible to avoid expensive re-takes.

“All the new digital technology is cool, but shit like that is all part of the experience,” he says. “If you fuck something up, you have to do it again. We have to play everything. I’m fortunate enough to play with three of my favorite musicians who are all great players. It’s a challenge we’re always up to. We’re never gonna have that one song we can’t play live because we cheated in the studio.”

Just like its predecessor, Born To Die In Suburbia, Mutiny At Muscle Beach was recorded at engineer Mitch Rackin’s Seaside Lounge Recording Studio in Brooklyn—but for the first time in their career, Night Birds used a producer, recruiting former Doc Hopper frontman Chris Pierce, who has previously worked with the Ergs, the Measure [SA] and others.

“We had never worked with a producer before because frankly, we’re obnoxious and we know what we want and we think that we’re right most of the time,” Gorsegner says. “So we really had to trust somebody to let them tell us, ‘Hey do this’ or ‘Don’t do that.’ I couldn’t have been happier with how the whole process went.”

Usually, when a band has a killer album in the can and a new label ready to throw its resources at it, the next step is touring—but for Night Birds, it’s not so easy. Various band members have full-time day jobs, significant others and children, making it difficult to drop everything for a month-long tour. Still, Gorsegner anticipates a busy year in support of Mutiny At Muscle Beach, even if it will be in bits and chunks.

“We’re basically just gonna try to destroy ourselves in the next 12 months,” he concludes. “This is what we do for fun and to keep sane and mentally balanced. It’s the only thing we really know how to do. If somehow punk rock finds a way to be 1994 again and make us money, that’s cool, but if we expected that stuff to happen, we’d stop playing in bands 10 years ago. It’s a nice balance of trying to keep myself sane doing what I’ve done since I was 14 and not letting my baby starve to death.”
Latex
Chorused out, stompy UK 82 meets northeastern US influenced HC punk.
Venue Information:
The Voltage Lounge
421 N 7th Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
https://www.voltagelounge.com