The Subhumans’ Dick Lucas
by Adam Perry for Razorcake 7/16/2019
Growing up in Pittsburgh, I got into punk at a very early age, and remember a group of boys hovering over a cassette copy of the Misfits’ Walk Among Us as the spark. But getting deeply into the Subhumans (U.K.) albums EP/LP and The Day the Country Died in junior high was my first education vis-à-vis music that meant something more than love, hate, rage, or horror.
With songs like “Waste of Breath,” Subhumans singer-songwriter Dick Lucas (who also fronts Citizen Fish and Culture Shock) artfully and existentially entered the minds of young punks quixotically trying fit into in a culture of non-conformity, and described the twin terrors of Cold War hysteria and cold-blooded capitalism on “Parasites,” “Human Error,” and many more hardcore classics. My introduction to Lucas’s lyrics—and the band’s rebellious, unrelenting energy in general—was my introduction to questioning everything and everyone.
The Subhumans, which formed in Wiltshire, England, in 1980, broke up in 1985 after four full-length albums and reformed in 1998. When the band’s reunion tour that year hit Pittsburgh, I was a freshman in college, playing in numerous local punk bands, and attending the Subhumans gig at Club Laga—with Submachine serving as the opening act and seemingly the entirety of the Pittsburgh punk scene in attendance—was one of the great concert experiences of my life.
Now fifty-eight, Lucas’s passion for political punk and very loud, very energetic performance has not slowed whatsoever. Despite the very peaceful messages in Lucas’s lyrics, the Subhumans gigs I saw at Slim’s in San Francisco in 2005 and 2007 are still the only shows I’ve seen that had multiple ambulances parked outside waiting for mosh pit victims. The visceral, forthright group seemingly never stops touring, though its last studio album was 2007’s Internal Riot.
During an unforgettable trip through parts of England and Scotland this May, I not only got to see a Subhumans show at a small club in Glasgow called Audio, but also interview Lucas where a teenage Subhumans fan would’ve no doubt imagine British punk bands do interviews—in the wind under a bridge as trucks and buses rolled past.
READ THE INTERVIEW AT RAZORCAKE.ORG HERE