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October: 6 gigs & a movie

October was a heavy month.
Adding Stefan to the band has meant a lot of great things, one of which is gigs…Stefan is a whizz at finding us gigs, he’s well-connected and together we all made a map for our busiest month so far—5 gigs in October, and all this in the middle of my needing to leave town because my 7-year old son is starring in a movie that would be shooting all through October and November.
We started it off with a gig on October 2nd, at the HAUS DER OFFIZIERE in Brandenburg…a beautiful place, lovely stage, smoke, lights, cool people and bands  Abstürzende Brieftauben (Hannover) + Blutiger Osten (Brandenburg) + Die Punk!Roiber (Erfurt) + Saaleterror (Halle) + Penny Dreadful (Prag). Our first gig outside of Berlin, something we want to get better and better at, training for touring! And especially for next year when the album comes out…the gig should’ve been great but right during the first song I had amp problems…I had not brought my box, just my top, and somehow plugging it into someone else’s box didn’t work—guitar cut out and the sound was not so hot, at least not something I had under my control…I was pretty bummed but so many people came up to me afterwards and told me “it was great”, at least giving me the sense that our performance still got through to people despite the problems.
Did you see our new banner?? It is tremendous COOL and we have Markus to thank for it, our “ex”bassist who has been working graphics for us alongside.  We can’t thank him enough for the amazing work he’s done, including the graphics for the upcoming album…more on that in a moment…

After the show...Markus & Abraham pack away all the equipment like good little boys...

After the show…Markus & Abraham pack away all the equipment like good little boys…

On the 7th, I flew out to Mannheim witgh my son, who is one of the lead actors in Dani Levy’s new movie, “Der Kleine Diktator.”  I took a guitar along with me to practice, because we had gigs coming up and there was no way for us to rehearse! From Mannheim on the 22nd I flew back to Berlin for our next two gigs.
On October 23rd we were at THE TOMMYHAUS in Kreuzberg for the FLESHBUG RECORD RELEASE PARTY, to celebrate our appearance on their latest compilation CD…”Just A Cog In The Corporate World”.  We made sure to play that one, in a swift, truncated 20-minute set.  It was an awesome play, and we had our man Petros Sofocli (who we’ve also been recording new tracks with) working the sound board, so it was a real dream…
On October 24th we played the KOPI here in Berlin, with Spika in Snüzz (Punk Rock/München) + Bad Brians (Hardcore & Punk Rock Classics)…I found Spika in Snüzz totally inspiring and Bad Brians were a load of fun…but I felt exhausted and maybe burned out…a friendly punk who’d been helping out around the stage asked me for a CD.  I said sure no problem and when I brought it to him, he gave me a small plastic baggie containing some white powder.  (I shoulda taken it.) I don’t know why I was depressed maybe with the futility of life and exhaustion in general, but not being able to hear my guitar so well up onstage really bothers me.  I really look forward to the stage and playing, am all keyed up, and want to play and make sounds…and I do that…but when I can’t hear myself, “feel” myself, I get very depressed. (People in the audience said the sound was great.  Super, just wisdh I could say the same up on stage.)  So I sunk a little.  After we played our last song, the audience wanted more, and we could’ve played more if not for me calling it quits and hiding behind an amp.  “Just make them all go away.”  Some shit like that.
Then, flying to Frankfurt for the next leg of filming.  My son Ewi has never acted before but he’s doing great and getting better everyday, with great help from Dani (director), Arndt (assistant director) and his acting coach Konstantin…there are long days and some nights but the scenes are getting done and I watch with astonishment and wonder as my son becomes an actor.
On the 30th I fly back to Berlin, get there and then the same day truck out to ‘CONNY ISLAND’ in Henningsdorf…(wow, here we are, again traveling outside of Berlin).  We played with Homerun + The Spacelords in a cool space with a big backstage and food, food, how nice it is when places provide bands with food…definitely one of the nice things about playing live for sure! And I thought clubs in New York were being nice when they let you have free beer…Now this was a great gig, great sound, cool people…I was slightly exhausted from the trip and the straight running from one thing to another…that special ‘punk friend’ that gave me the white powder pretty much saw me through this weekend of non-stop movement.  I have to say it was a great help…I’m no speedhead, but s special thanks to that KOPI punk for giving me some much-needed energy…
On the 31st of October we played LA CASA in Hellersdorf  with our favorite pals the Dört Birds (Hardcore/Rummelsburg) + The Sentiments (D.I.Y. Punk Rock/Osnabrück), a band I really dug, brought Cock Sparrer to mind amoung other sweet sensations, hadda buy the album! And of course the best thing about playing with The Dörtbirds is being able to see them hear them and get swept away by their special brand of hardcore! Always a highlight anytime…
Frankfurt, Hanau, Kassel, then hopping over to Switzerland before ending the film shoot in Pförzheim.  The worst part of this great experience was my father having a heart attack at the end of the shoot, on November 19th.  He would pass away 11 days later.
It is now December 12th as I write this, my head loaded with sadness, with thoughts of my father, and the feeling that the show must go on: we play tomorrow in Kreuzberg at the GOLDENER HAHN…I figured my dad would never bother to see my band, but now I know he will be there.  I so very need to play my guts out.
So come and see us if you can.  And thanks to all the people who’ve made these past two months an incredible journey.

abraham r.

January & February Update

A busy January.
1. First we get to do a party for VOKUHILA, a hair salon celebrating 15 years of cutting heads. We’ll be the opening “rausschmeisser” which will kick off events leading to a presentation at the Rote Salon. We thought cool, why not, a good little practice for an upcoming gig at WILD AT HEART! At VOKUHILA it meant packing Michael’s drums and my amp cabinet in a small space. Used a small cube and 30-watt bass amp and that filled the place quite nicely. A lively crowd. It was Michael who thought up getting Vokuhila wigs! Then I had to jump in and dress up a bit! And it was fun to step in and out of roles and fuck with that a little. Everybody had fun, and we got some cool footage!

2. Then came WILD AT HEART, a gig we were all looking forward to. A long soundcheck, as one mix is for upstairs and one is for the recording studio downstairs, as Ulli The Headman records us live. (WILD AT HEART has a well-equipped studio down there.) I don’t know why I didn’t see it, it was Michael and Ulli The Headman disappearing all night to do voodoo. With me it’s guitar sound and I spend all my time before a gig thinking about how I’ll get my sound over. To get the feedback I want, the bubbling-cauldron sustain, the thick cables I can bite with my teeth and feel them soaring through the air all around me!!! Yet every club is different, every sound engineer has a different approach and quite a number of them dread NOISE! Something DISTORTED and SCREECHING and beginning to SCREEEEEM!

WILD AT HEART was a great gig! Not only was there a nice supportive crowd of people there that stayed during our short set of 16 SONGS, but there was also the lovely friends from the US sending love on the event page, one friend in particular, David Koenig, even making us a great flyer!!

I loved playing at WILD AT HEART. The stage itself feels warm and homey, the stage lights lining the rim of the stage and all that sweet flashing…I think this video I put together maybe captures a little of how it felt for me…

At the end of January, we played THE SCHOKOLADEN with our friends, THE DÖRTBIRDS. It was the perfect closer to an active month.

After such a busy January, February crawls. We’ve been busy listening to the mixes from the live Wild At Heart. Ulli’s gone in a few times and cranked some dials and now we’re listening to this latest one…could be the last one before we start the mastering. We have 16 songs recorded and are picking through the best versions, especially concentrating on the newer songs!

At the end of the month, we recorded with Petros at his MOVING SOUNDS studio here in Berlin. We were talking about a single, and then an EP or a new 10″, something to have at shows and we’re still spinning that one around but the crucial thing is, we’re recording NEW songs: “Time Bomb”, “TBA”, “Drone”, “Crewcut Land”, and “Powermove”. We can decide what to use how later, but it’s great to start building a solid bank of songs that will inevitably end up on an album! That’s the best feeling of all, to know that the songs are piling up nicely. But some things we have to get to. We’ve been so busy concentrating on making the music that we haven’t yet completely covered the other part: getting the music out to labels. We figure we should give that a good try before we put it out ourselves on Michael’s own record label.

The suckiest news about this month is that Markus is leaving the band. The pace is getting too crazy for him. His health hasn’t been too good and last month’s frantic pace was enough for him. He wants to keep working with the band and has offered us bass backup should we get a gig before we find a new bassist, but it clearly brings us back to the drawing board, of sorts.
Markus DID come in to record with us, and we’re sure he’ll be there to fill in any gaps.
Markus DID come in to record with us, and we’re sure he’ll be there to fill in any gaps.

Petros Sofocli is our man.
It was great to record
with him. We spent a
whole day together in
the spacious MOVING
SOUNDS studio. Gotta
definitely spread the word
about him, as we plan to
work with him more.
Thanks to Olly and
FLESHBUG for bringing
us together. Petros is gone on tour for a few weeks, but when he gets back we can work on mixing the five songs we recorded. Between that, and mixing the Wild At Heart live stuff, we have a lot of work to do.

This month we make an appearance in the new issue of PLASTIC BOMB (#90), with a song on the gratis CD “Walking Mace”…PLASTIC BOMB is a Berlin hardcore punk fanzine, with emphasis on hardcore…

We want to thank everybody that’s been giving us support, encouragement, and just plain love. We love yall right back.


Abraham with "Baby Blue", ANKERFEST 20.09.14

Abraham with “Baby Blue”, ANKERFEST 20.09.14

Abraham here.

Playing out is a blast! When you start out playing with your band, it’s all baby steps…so much to learn and you concentrate in the rehearsal studio all your energies to making the music come together, until you just have to go out and spread that shit, play that music to people, and the morew you do it the better you get at it and at handling all that other stuff—equipment, getting it to the gig, all the logistical stuff.  To be a bit professional about your job, about what you do when you get on stage.

And maan, but we’re learning our shit! Since April we’ve played 5 gigs.  Would’ve been 6, as we were slated to play in Strausberg at the Jugendzentrum ‘Horte’ on the 9th of August, but my mother passed away that week and I had to fly to New York. The feeling I have a month later…it’s like it just happened last week…some disorientation and slow motion feel to things.  Getting right back to the band was the best therapy.

Urgent Fury at 'Tommyhaus', 30.08.14

Urgent Fury at ‘Tommyhaus’, 30.08.14

Playing with Markus and Michael is great, and we’re  learning.  New songs.  About putting together an effective set list and playing tighter and perfecting our  monitoring.  Recording ourselves live & every step of the way so we can hear how we really sound.  What works and what doesn’t.  Baby steps.   And our home recordings are getting better, as we discover how best to capture our sound.

Markus, 'Tommyhaus", 30.08.14

Markus, ‘Tommyhaus”, 30.08.14

People getting to know us.

Michael and Abraham, 'Tommy Haus', 30.08.14

Michael and Abraham, ‘Tommy Haus’, 30.08.14

Gigs gigs gigs…




This is a boot.

It’s Holger’s boot. Holger is the drummer for the DÖRTBIRDS, an awesome Berlin hardcore band we played with at Scherer 8 on June 14th…they’re awesome dudes. I saw them create a storm of power and volume which the poor microphones could not take! Didn’t matter. Nothing could stop them from delivering a powerhouse show!


And Holger and his boot…what a great story! He’s had the boot for years and always wears it when he plays. It’s his lucky charm, his insurance, his guardian of strength. I guess we all have something we always carry with us…we all have our symbols of heroism…


The DÖRTBIRDS at Scherer 8, June 14th 2014. The bottle is the microphone, get it?

The DÖRTBIRDS at Scherer 8, June 14th 2014. The bottle is the microphone, get it?


Markus at Scherer 8

Markus at Scherer 8

"Our truck" at the Karneval Of Subculture. That's Bi58 plazing while we walk along side digging the sounds!

“Our truck” at the Karneval Of Subculture. That’s Bi58 playing while we walk along side digging the sounds!

URGENT FURY playing the Karneval Of Subculture, June 7th 2014

URGENT FURY playing the Karneval Of Subculture, June 7th 2014

URGENT FURY Michael Richter, Abraham Rodriguez, Markus Magenbitter

Michael Richter, Abraham Rodriguez, Markus Magenbitter

URGENT FURY: We’ve played three gigs since April, and have our next gig coming up on August 9th in Strausberg, a summerfest for a youth center there…it’s been grand to play out, to learn more about how to make a show work. Shows are not just what happens onstage. It’s about getting there and getting your equipment there and working as much as you can to perfect your sound and control it so you can get as good a sound as possible no matter where you play—and playing better and better as we grow with the experience.

The Abstand, April 26th 2014. That's a dude headbanging to our show!

The Abstand, April 26th 2014. That’s a dude headbanging to our show!


THE ABSTAND on April 26th was our first gig. We did 16 songs, why the hell not? Nobody complained, but we’re learning to pare our set down. And there’s a lot of new songs. “Drone”, “Powermove” and “T.B.A” are squeezing out some old songs and wait until we start doing “Time Bomb”…

Michael, The Abstand, April 26th 2014.

Michael, The Abstand, April 26th 2014.


URGENT FURY at The Abstand, April 26th 2014

URGENT FURY at The Abstand, April 26th 2014

Then we were invited to play at the CARNIVAL OF SUBCULTURE, riding on the back of a truck through the streets of Berlin, from the door of The Abstand (where we had played a month before) to the big street fair on Kopernickerstrasse…

The police were not far behind...the cops did run a "control" of our truck!

The police were not far behind…the cops did run a “control” of our truck!




It was great to play and see people bopping along with us as we moved slowly through the streets! And you get to meet cool people, like another band that played ‘our truck’, Bi58!! They won me right off with Biero’s awesome guitar & them singing “Komm Gib Mir Rock’n’Roll”—the heat was tropical, man…I had on my ANONYMOUS mask backwards, but the hat kinda screwed it…

abraham's anonymous

abraham’s anonymous

Michael Richter, URGENT FURY!!

Michael Richter, URGENT FURY!!

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Power to my Hartke and my rock’n’roll soul, people coming up to us to chat, fantastic, we bombarded them with CDs and buttons…most special for me was having my son also be there—but he’s 5 and the noise was too much. He took one look at me up there making a racket…and he ran for it, everytime, not letting mommy shoot video…when that happens during “Two Step”, well, it just’s a hilarious moment that makes the vid for me…could be a normal reaction we should get used to! Why not!? Ready for anything, we are! I’m even talking like Yoda!

Well now you can head over to the “media” section and check out the vids…we’ve got 3 new ones so far and there’s more to come…thanks to all the good people out there for having us!

After the show...Markus & Abraham pack away all the equipment like good little boys...

After the show…Markus & Abraham pack away all the equipment like good little boys…






A band steps from dream to reality when it gets on a stage.  Fuck around all you want in the studio, but when you get on stage, you get down.  Then it becomes the sum of everything—the music, the presentation, how you put yourself across.  It feels great to finally get out of the studio and bring the music OUTWARDS!!

The Drum Cover

The Drum Cover

(Michael and Markus had designed an URGENT FURY kick drum cover which was adhesive but which fell off during the show.  Afterwards we found it had been taken by someone! Which we think is really cool…we can imagine it up on somebody’s wall…)

Our gig on April 26th @ABSTAND was great! ENTRAILS OUT provided a stomping blast of thrash power! SNARG was the most interesting blend of hardcore, synth, dessicated pop bits getting mashed by blasts of hardcore and emotion—it was great to play with them!

band_gig2014 043

"In synch"

“In synch”

band_gig2014 036

Abraham Rodriguez

Michael Richter

Michael Richter

Markus Magenbitter

Markus Magenbitter

band_gig2014 037

Our part of it went really well, even though we went on late…it was so laid back at the ABSTAND, what can we say! The people were super-nice, and they even had cool food! We played 17 songs!! I don’t know if we’ll always do that…but everything went smooth, including getting the equipment there and setting up and all that technical stuff.  What we do want to do is find a better, independent way to monitor ourselves a little better, since one never knows when one plays a club what kind of PA you’ll get.  I couldn’t be more happy with my new amp! It rocked, ROCKS, the guitarist from ENTRAILS OUT even used it for his moment of blast.

Scan 42

After the show we ran around the crowd, giving out copies of the GRATIS-EP and the RECLAIM EP and just talking people up.  Everyone was sweet, cool & righteous!!

Thanks to Everyone at ABSTAND and all the bands for making this a really great show!! Video coming soon!!



Monday, Apr 21 @ 7:04 AM

YEEEAAH people, we have our first gig coming up on April 26th at ABSTAND BERLIN (check out the flyer in our photos section)—with ENTRAILS OUT (fun grindcore!) and SNARG (synthie HC-punk from Hannover)!! We’re psyched to play with them and get the chance to establish this NEW FURY in Berlin—woohah, could be the start of something.

It’s a series of firsts for me—the first time in my new hometown, the first time with my new HARTKE amplifier…no combo this, but a freaking 4×12 cabinet that insures we always have the power for every situation…it sounds awesome and I can’t wait to debut that crunchy screechy SCREAMY abraham sound!!

We’ve also done some recording in Michael’s home studio. Right now it’s important to establish the BERLIN CREW of FURY, as the recordings we have and will be putting out feature the NY CREW (lovely Geena & Kaleen)…this is why it’s important for us to make our own recordings and especially present our new songs…and there are a TON of them! URGENT FURY is no retro band. We are blessed with a 20-year repetoire of music and that’s cool, we breathe new life into them, but we’re not dependant on them. We’re writing new songs and have peppered our set with them because URGENT FURY…is a NEW band, a new experience, and here in Berlin, I have the chance, for the first time, to take UF to the next level, to grow it beyond the past and into a new future…and with new songs like “Drone”, “T.B.A.”, “Powermove”, and “Time Bomb”, we’re going to prove that URGENT FURY is a band definitely NOT living in the past…right now we’re completing an EP which we will have for the gig—featuring “Drone”.  We’ll post that shit for ya when it’s ready just in case you can’t make it to the show, HA!

So come and see us! Write us! Like us on Facebook! (oh brother) visit us here and play our music!! and look for us as we’ll be looking for you…

leeba groosa



APRIL 2014: This year’s just getting started and already it feels like so much has happened, and so much is coming up, including our very first gig! (See LIVE section.) Meeting CHARLIE HARPER is definitely a big highlight, as UK SUBS have been a big inspiration for a long time, and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t met Michael. Meeting Michael is the best thing that’s happened to me since meeting Markus. Michael definitely was what URGENT FURY was waiting for, the last vital component to make it a reality. And how I met him is a good illustration of how things happen sometimes.

I had been trying to find people to do FURY since 2012, and was pretty burned out from the experience. I mean it felt like I was one of those guys hitting singles bars! In clubs, at shows, through friends, I was meeting quite a number of people and all of them were WRONG. I wasted time with quite a number of people that in the end would never have been right. But what do you know? You’re in search mode. In the end it was fruitless, and I was pretty much on the verge of giving up on it.  I was getting a little exasperated.

It was actually my wife that ‘found’ Michael.

She was just wrapping up a job—she works in film production—and was packing away a mass of egg crates which they were throwing out and which she figured would make good soundproofing for a home studio—love that girl!—when she runs into someone that was also working the project. She didn’t know her that well but they had exchanged pleasantries. Now this girl sees her with the egg crates and out of curiousity asked her what she was doing with them.

“Oh, my husband’s a musician and I figure he might be able to use this stuff for soundproofing,” my wife said.

“That’s funny,” the girl said. “My guy’s a musician too.”

Ha ha.  “What kind of music does he play?”

The girl hesitated a little.

“Hardcore,” she said. “Hard stuff.”

Little did she know that’s exactly the kinda shit we were into!! In no time my wife got me the contact…and the rest is history?








abraham rodriguez


[This interview appears in a condensed German version in OX FANZINE #113.  Here is the full ENGLISH version.  It’s probably more readable at ]



He yelled it from the stage like a man who is constantly proven right. “The people who really need to listen, aren’t listening. But punks said it from the beginning. Now that things are getting worse, all we have to say is: “We told you so!” It was something that came up often that night, the fact that punks said from the beginning things were rotten and things would get worse. And after twenty-four albums there seems no end to the socio-political side of the UK SUBS. To this day, songs like “Worker’s Revolution”, “Black Power Salute” or “Stop Global War” are ample proof that this band has never lost its ability to be relevant, and to put those ugly truths and realities of present life to music. And what music! A lbums that show the diverse range of musical possibilities in punk, and unashamedly, the rich influences of rock’n’roll. You might hear traces sometimes of Mott The Hoople, even…CHARLIE HARPER springs from that first generation of punk rockers who are NOT ashamed to admit coming from the rock tree of life, not ashamed to be a rock dog. He’s been the blood and guts of the UK SUBS since 1976. CHARLIE HARPER gives of his time generously, sharing stories over a beer like a good mate in a pub would. He’s a great songwriter, pure and simple. There is not a band on this earth that could stand up against 24 solid albums, each one a unique moment in the development of a band that keeps growing musically, and a songwriter consistently finding new ways to express his feelings in a language that is undeniably punk but that brings with it the undeniable underpinning of rock’n’roll. It’s clear that music is his passion, but even more impressive is his concern over the shape of the world, the prophet in him that says even though UK SUBS have been saying it the people who need to hear it don’t listen, never listen, never will. But he who has ears, let him hear! The UK SUBS are presently on tour and continue to rock the universe their way. The present line up (JET on guitar, ALVIN GIBBS on bass, Jamie Oliver on drums) has been together nine years. The motto here must be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The UK SUBS show no signs of stopping, which is at least one real dependable thing on the planet to look forward to.



This interview took place backstage at SO36 in Berlin, before their show on February 5th, 2014. I was accompanied by Michael Richter, ex-SEIZURE, who played drums for The Subs on their 1997 tour and plays drums for URGENT FURY. The two have known each other on and off for years and this was another litte reunion since Michael moved back to Berlin from England in 2000. A special thanks to Simone from MUTTI’S BOOKING, who fit us right in with the other interviews. There were a couple of interviews before us and it took a while before I was able to say hey, it’s an honor, I’m Abraham Rodriguez from OX…


20140206_uksubs 011 copy

He dug the issue of OX I brought, thumbed through it with interest (“Ohh look, there’s a CD!”) and asked to keep it! Charlie greeted us both warmly. The minute he laid eyes on Michael again, he laughed and said “Ohh, I’ve got a great story about him,” to an outbreak of general laughter.

MICHAEL R: [laughs] Oh no not that story…

CHARLIE: Well we were doing this big festival, and it was probably the first time you played with us…?

MICHAEL R: You mean in France?

CHARLIE: I think you played before maybe, but this was a big old festival…you still hadn’t got quite used to the set, and I think we were doing LIMO LIFE [does some chords with his mouth]…and Michael was still choppin’ on, you know…and everyone stops and he’s just choppin’ on, and I said to the crowd, “Michael’s gonna do a drum solo…” [laughter]

MICHAEL R: Ohhh! I remember, you had to code it because the band kept playing…

CHARLIE: I said,”Michael’s gonna do a drum solo for ya!” because he kinda panics, and he starts doin’ the tom-toms and then I went “One Two Three! Four Five Six!” and the band came out with “Stranglehold” and the crowd just went mad…[laughs] it was like the best arrangement! and you know, spontaneous…


20140206_uksubs 017 copy

Q: What kind of a tour is this?

CHARLIE: Well, this one is more ‘normal’…we’ve cut it down from about ten weeks, nine weeks, eight weeks…then six weeks, and then even by six weeks everyone is getting a little totalled out, just give us a month of good gigs…but I think they’ve given us five weeks! [laughs] But that’s good because after a month everyone gets a little ragged, you know, drinking every night, passing out every night, at least in in a month you can see the light at the end of the tunnel…it’s not that we don’t like what we do, we love what we do, but…you know, it’s only the drummer who’s a young guy…and he’ s real sick! [laughs]

Q: It’s dead serious when the young guy’s falling out! I only ask because I’ve heard you guys generally tour 140 or 150 days out of the year…

CHARLIE: Yeah, actually we’ve been trying to get it down a bit and choose our shows a bit more carefully. Someone told us we played 99 shows last year, which is for us somehwhat under. 150 was more normal, we’d be in the states for 8 or 9 weeks with maybe a holiday in between.

Q: You have an R&B background…

CHARLIE: Yeah, alot like the Vibrators, who are alot like our ‘brother’ band, they were already playing rock and roll or R&B rock’n’blues…I mean I did rock’n’roll because people danced rock’n’roll to it, they’d drive to it, it was the sound of life, of bikers…

Q: That’s what gets me about you…to me you represent best that first generation of punks which sprang mostly from the rock and roll tree. As opposed to the later generation of hardcore punks who hated rock’n’roll, whose tree was more metal…but you have no problems saying ‘rock’n’roll’…

CHARLIE: no…it’s rock’n’roll to me…

Q: What were you into, before that big ‘moment’ when punk hit you in the face? I mean that moment when you saw a band that changed everything?

CHARLIE: It was the RAMONES with me…but even before the RAMONES, it was the NEW YORK DOLLS…everyone who saw them was like, ‘I wanna do that.’ [laughs] I mean, they were just sort of from another planet…I was totally into that New York underground scene, you know…IGGY POP, PATTI SMITH, THE VELVET UNDERGROUND…that came just before the punk thing. I used to go down to this lesbian club, you know, because it opened late, and they were usually more permissive about the kind of people they let in, and they played outrageous music , they played a lot of VELVET UNDERGROUND and stuff like that…and is it Jack Brill? He was a belgian crooner who later wrote songs for Frank Sinatra…and Scott Walker, THE WALKER BROTHERS? Scott Walker, when he kind of gave up doing pop stuff, he started getting songs from the Jack Brill songbook, a lot of artists have, because he’s such an amazing songwriter! When I’m at home I play a song called “In the port of Amsterdam”, I don’t know if you know that, actually a German punk band covered it, they do a great version of it…a girl and boy on drums…no wait, they guy plays guitar and she sings…really good band, wish I could remember the name at the moment…it’s been covered by a thousand bands. if you haven’t heard the song you’ve gotta look it up…”In The Port Of Amsterdam.” One of the greatest songs ever written.

Q: That’s the thing that’s always struck me about your sonwriting in the UK SUBS from the beginning. This sense of freedom in the music, this rich blend of musical influences.

CHARLIE: I tell you what: lately, I’ve been looking at YOU TUBE, and when we’d done this new album, after a couple of months it bein’ out, I looked on YOU TUBE and was watching the comments on the album, ’cause it was like everyone was writting great things about it and I wanted to see, you know, what’s the public saying on it or what and, you know, mostly positive stuff…what I got out of it was about the ‘Monkeys’ song, which I suppose is one of the more catchy songs, got thousands of hits whereas the others only got hundreds, but there was some other song that didn’t relate to the album, this girl wrote about it and the part that got me was when she said that every album introduces you to another genre of music. So I got to thinking what can I do next! We’ll have to do a jazz recording on the next one…[laughs]

Q: But that’s not a conscious thing, is it?

CHARLIE: no, we don’t do it on purpose…

Q: Because you have these roots, man, like going through the albums and the thing I hear, sometimes with your vocal and the construction of the song is Ian Hunter.

CHARLIE: You’re talking about Mott The Hoople?

Q: Yeah! Especially on ‘Monkeys’, or ‘Las Vegas Wedding’…I don’t know why but I could imagine Ian Hunter singing that.

CHARLIE: Me and Alvin [Gibbs, bassist] are big Mott The Hoople fans. And Alvin even does, an acoustic one, the opening track “Angel Of Eighth Avenue.”

Q: Punk band, right? You cracked the top forty, you guys did it three or four times. Did that create any kind of a problem? Alot of bands that remotely scratched popularity or the mainstream that came from the punk scene many times suffered a backlash..

CHARLIE: We were lucky because we were on a little subsidiary record label, our management at the time got a deal with RCA distributors. If they sold one record in every record shop in England, which was about 30,000, we’d be selling pre-sales of about 30,000 and so…if we were selling that much now, we’d be number one!

Q: Was it kind of weird? To find that you were the focus of popular attention?

CHARLIE: Yeah, you get the thing like you’re indestructible, you can do no wrong, everything you touch is gold, it really is kind of weird, you know. But the thing is that we held on to our artistic license. We wouldn’t do such commercial stuff like the record company thought we should do…but we were lucky ’cause we’d be in the studio, and they would come down one day…see how we’re getting on…make sure we’re working! [laughs]

Q: Yeah! Keep them busy!

CHARLIE: And they’d be like…’sounds like a single to me.’ Couple of days later we’re working on another record and they’d be like ‘yeah, yeah, that’s the single.’ And this would go on every few days, they’d come by next week…that’s what it was like doing the second album…there was a lot of patchy stuff…we were in that position…

Q: As opposed to the Adverts, who were very popular after the first album and then the second album came out and got a lot of negative attention primarily from the punk scene.

CHARLIE: This is what we were trying to do, that happened to most of the [punk] bands, , the second album didn’t live up, so we were determined to do a second album that was even better than the first album. And we think a lot of people do say that now…

Q: I think the power behind your albums, for me from the very beginning with those first five albums and to this day, is the songwriting. There’s a classic song on every album…this freedom you have to go wherever you want musically within the confines of this punk language you speak so well..are there songs you write that you say, ‘no, that’s not for UK Subs.’?

CHARLIE: “Party In Paris” was one of them. And that’s one of our more popular songs and I said look, I’ve written a song but it’s very poppy, probably not for us! And I played it and they loved it, so…

Q: There seems a very wide lattitude with your music. How does that jibe with the punk ideology? Because sometimes I find punks can be quite close-minded musically…

CHARLIE: Well, that’s…I mean, we wrote a song called “No Rules”…the idea of punk “rules”, like regulations, it’s a joke, you know, you gotta have short hair, you gotta have spikes, you gotta you gotta…some bands…take Wire for instance. One of my favorite bands. But even now they don’t dress up for stage, they just wear their normal clothes…and that’s kind of like, “oh, you’re supposed to wear stage clothes,” or what. And they’ve been successful, I mean it doesn’t matter, all that stuff. What matters is the music.


Charlie Harper

Charlie Harper

Q: Checking out the songs on “XXIV”, it sort of led me back to 1983 and your song, “Flood Of Lies”: “All you political leaders/with your armies gone insane/your lust for guns and violence/while you never die in pain/and the churches stand behind you/with wealth and piety..”

CHARLIE: Sounds familiar…[laughs]

Q: It was a long time ago, 1983…what’s changed, between 1983, when you wrote a song like that, and now? For you, politically and how you see the world?

CHARLIE: It’s more of a struggle to write good songs now, I must admit that, because it’s like, we’ve done so much stuff, what can you do? But I don’t worry about that, because something will always hit me on the head. We used to have to do four singles and two albums a year, we were contracted to, and I never really worried about it, because everyday, if I’m at home, my telly is there, and my guitar is there on a stand on the floor, not in its case, and everyday I’m playing on it, just to keep my fingers hard…and I’ll play a little bit, and then ho! what was that? I’ll jot it down, just a piece of a song, and it’s like the lyrics…someone will say something, and…’that’s a good line for a song.’ You know, someone else will say something, and…’that’s a good title.’ And once I’ve got the title, that idea, and then the guys are out in the studio, and while they’re putting the backing tracks down I’m writing a line, or like, I cut this line or that, you know, shorten it, express it without too many words.

Q: Is it just lyrics first for you or do you get the tunes first?

CHARLIE: It can come every which way. I’ll tell you what I do alot now. I start with the bottom line, and work backwards. You know, the basic bottom, and then work my way up, like what would you say before that line? What comes before?

Q: Do you mean on guitar, like chords, riff first, or…?

CHARLIE: No, lyrics…then I mix and match them to, you know, if I haven’t got a song for it, I’m like ‘oh wow, that would fit in with that song,’ you know. Again, I have to whittel it down to fit it in.

Q: I think you’re more of a classic songwriter who’s lucky enough to have this kind of a set-up, you haven’t had to move around or change bands or go through a lot of break-ups…

CHARLIE: Ohhh but we have! We’ve been through so many break-ups…why this band is happening is because everyone contributes. Jamie, the drummer, writes great songs. Jet writes great stuff. And it’s diffuclt for me to keep up! And luckily, Alvin’s a really good songwriter. But he also writes the words as well, sometimes the majority though I chip in a chorus as well.

Q: So you have a good team around you.

CHARLIE: yeah yeah yeah…

Q: It’s not just all on your shoulders. You have a responsive team.

CHARLIE: I say to Jet and Jamie next time when I want 20 tracks we’re gonna write five songs, and I’d like you to try and write the whole song, you know, lyrics and melody and the whole thing because you know, they won’t know until they try and write a whole song, because writing music is something that comes easy to me more than the lyrics, the lyrics have to be quite profound, and say something , they’ve got to be something special. I could be walking down the street and a riff will come into my head and I’ll go home, and ‘yeah, that sounds allright.’ And this kind of thing I do natural.

Q: So is it like conditions haven’t really changed in the world? Because…

CHARLIE: Things’ve gotten worse!

Q: Yeah. I like what you said before about how you feel punk rock is a kind of early warning system.

CHARLIE: Yeah. It’s your alarm clock. And like on the ‘Monkeys’ song, it’s like the right people aren’t listening. What do you call it? ‘Paradox.’ The people who should be listening aren’t listening, and they’re the people who get killed and screwed up and they’re not listening. And that’s kind of a shame, but it’s the way of the world, isn’t it?

Q: Yeah, it kind of is. Do you see a difference between the younger generation of punks and the older generation of punks? Since the older generation played such an vital role in the beginning…

CHARLIE: Like in the begiining or right now?

Q: Yeah, right now, in this time—

CHARLIE: Well, right now, in this time, when there are alot of young…not always but maybe once a week we will get “oh we’ve got a mixed pack tonight,” which is general, but once a week, it’ll be overwhelming. Our first gig in Paris on the boat, there were such a lot of young people, and in Stockholm, and also young punks, and they were wild…we started off on that boat in paris and it was just wild…and it gives us such energy, they give us energy…

Q: I just ask because the last time I was in New York, alot of the bands calling themselves punk, alot of energy yes, but they seemed to shy away from the political aspect. And the ones that are political many times hear, ‘oh yeah, they’re really good…but they’re political.”

CHARLIE: That’s politically weak.

Q: I’m thinking in the real world, well whatever. But in the punk scene I’m really wondering about that. Of course, you guys have been going strong for a long time and I don’t see any flagging in your ability to express the political side of life.

CHARLIE: My grandkids are in a punk band. His real name is Marley, which is a great name to be in music…and…his band…they’re schoolkids, so their songs are about bullies and they’re called ‘Meathead, Inc’ and they’ve got a big anarchy sign [laughs] and they’re just great little punks, and their songs are about bullies and girls, and..

Q: More of a personal kind of punk rock. Punk seems to be a tree now with many branches.

CHARLIE: Yeah, and when they grow up, I’m sure they’ll be a bit harder…they do like all the right bands that say something…

Q: Punk can be a contradiction. I mean on the one hand the most intelligent people I’ve ever met are punks…

CHARLIE: Yeah, me too, me too…

Q: …but at the same time, there’s also that reckless, drunken mindless aggression thing…

CHARLIE: Yeah, that’s a question we get alot…what is punk to you? And my simple answer is ‘D.I.Y.’ You don’t need record companies, management, you’ve got to do it yourself, basically that. But everybody will have a different answer. You won’t get the same answer. I mean I’ve heard the D.I.Y., I mean even Johnny Rotten came out with it…

Q: Yeah, back then he…

CHARLIE: No, recently! [laughs] Don’t know how, but…

Q: You mean someone woke him up?

CHARLIE: [laughs] No, I mean, there’s a certain good…he has his clothes deisgned for him, and his haircut, you know, everything is his, he’s made that. But everyone will have a different answer, and it’s good really. In the punk world, and it is a whole world, I mean…last night, there was a crazy woman in the gig. Jet was playing his guitar and she had a beer bottle and was trying to drip the beer into his face and…[laughs, putting the beer bottle through a series of maneuvers mimicking her attempts to get her bottle into Jet’s mouth.]…okay, look—some people are a little bit crazy or a little bit thick—they think ‘that’s the way punks do that’ and well, you know, the bouncer saw her, I think there was only one bouncer…and he threw her out. And I said ‘aw look you know, she’s crazy, she can’t help it,’ I said ‘we love crazy people!’ [laughs] But they threw her out, poor thing.

Q: Thanks for the interview, Charlie.


abraham rodriguez