Time & Matter proudly presents...
Introducing Magic Dave Humphries
The brand new U.K. Subs drummer
...exclusive first interview with T&M
'MAGIC DAVE' HUMPHRIES
The following news story appeared on the T&M homepage 1 November 2021
AS IF BY MAGIC!
U.K. SUBS PRESS RELEASE
Monday 1 November 2021
U.K. SUBS’ NEW DRUMMER ANNOUNCEMENT
The U.K. Subs are absolutely delighted to announce via the U.K. Subs Time & Matter website that their new drummer is DAVE HUMPHRIES.
Dave, usually known as MAGIC DAVE, will be the Subs’ permanent drummer on their forthcoming scheduled tours, having made his Subs debut in the late afternoon today, 1 November 2021, at the Sinner’s Day Festival in Belgium. (see below)
Dave also currently drums for punk band 4ft Fingers as well as metal band Reign of Fury.
Aged 41, Dave will make his Subs UK debut at the start of the annual Winter tour in Nottingham on the 18th, the first of the 18 dates booked around England.
The U.K. Subs Time & Matter website co-editor Mark Chadderton caught up with Dave a few days prior to his first rehearsal with the Subs on October 30th at Abatis Studios in Honiley, near Kenilworth in Warwickshire to chat over his musical journey to the Subs, and his thoughts on his forthcoming new adventure...
MAGIC DAVE INTERVIEW
With the Subs booked to play a coronavirus-delayed fortieth anniversary tour for their iconic second LP ‘Brand New Age’ in November and December, maybe it could be seen as destiny for ‘Dave’ to be the Subs’ new sticksman considering the facts that he was born on 6 January 1980, just when the Subs were actually in the studio recording Brand New Age!
First off, do I call him ‘Magic’, or ‘Dave’?
“You can call me Magic, but I do also answer to Dave so no worries. Usually only my Mum calls me David though. I won't tell you what some of my mates call me.”
“The name ‘Magic’ was given to me by my now wife Missy Malone…”
We’ll return to that nickname later in the interview when we learn of Dave’s connection with another major punk band but next up, I get some ‘bad news’ over with, by way of an introductory jest through mentioning to Dave that the Subs’ 12” ‘Magic’ EP, bearing his nickname, released in 1984, is generally regarded by the Subs faithful as one of the band’s… shall we say, lesser-liked releases!
I jokingly warn him to be prepared for some other Subs-nerd apart from myself to bring this nugget up in the future. To his credit, Dave takes this ‘news’ in his stride by laughing it off with a “No way!” quickly adding “…as well as my ‘Brand New Age’ birthdate! It’s like it’s meant to be!”
I then ask Dave to tell me about his musical history and another Subs connection comes along to reinforce that strange feeling of his joining the band being destiny…
“Well, I first started drumming in 1997 for the punk band 4ft Fingers because they needed a temporary drummer until they found a new one, but I actually ended up staying. The funny fact is that the U.K. Subs were the first big band we, 4ft Fingers, supported in our home town in Cheltenham a year later.”
That gig was the 27th May 1998… So what are his memories of that early encounter with the band he’s now joined?
“Yes well… so, it was at a place called The Attic. I was working at a well-known fast-food outlet at the time cleaning trays at the end of the counter, contemplating life and the prospect of working in that shithole for the rest of my life when our singer Rob came stomping in at pace with a huge smile on his face. He saw me and before he got to me, he shouted out ‘Guess who we're playing with?’
‘Who?’ I replied…
‘U.K. Subs!’ He enthused. My path of life had started to change!
To be honest, I can't remember too much about it other than they were so loud and they had a much heavier sound. It was the line up with Alan Campbell and Brian Barnes I think, with Alan having quite an intense presence about him. I never thought for one minute that I would one day be part of this band.”
It’s a fascinating connection, so tell me some highlights of being in 4ft Fingers?
“Well, I believe we did well as the Subs support and we went on to play with plenty of big bands passing through our town. From 2000 we started touring relentlessly, with visits to the US and Europe. There are so many highlights but definitely touring across the UK and Europe with The Voodoo Glow Skulls is up there with the best of them. We also toured with The Damned a few times, which really ended up changing my life as well. 4ft Fingers did about 180-200 shows per year, so that put us on the same kind of touring schedule with the Subs and I loved it. Inevitably, we played with the Subs again a few years later somewhere in Hereford.”
With Magic Dave now taking over the long-term Subs drum stool from Jamie Oliver, there’s also another weird reverse Magic-Dave-Subs-Destiny instance which he mentions when I ask him about his other band Reign of Fury…
“Yes, I've been playing with my heavy metal band Reign of Fury since 2009, but have also been working with 4ft Fingers again recently. Reign of Fury was born in 2009 out of frustration of not playing with 4ft Fingers as much as I wanted to.
I've also toured extensively across the UK and Europe with Reign of Fury, as well as up and down the west coast of the US with 4ft Fingers.
So, yeah, I've played with 4ft Fingers since 1997 with a brief break in 2012. In fact, Jamie Oliver stood in for me on that 4ft Fingers tour because I was busy with Reign of Fury. But now I manage to juggle both bands as they don't really gig that much at the moment, and 4ft Fingers are currently working on new material.”
I’m intrigued by Dave’s dual drumming duties straddling the metal and punk genres, he’s clearly an impressively and extremely versatile guy, which I learn more about as the interview progresses, but for now, Magic talks with equal enthusiasm about Reign of Fury, their formation and his experiences with them…
“I started Reign of Fury in 2009 with a guy called Jon Priestley on guitar. Jon had been in 4ft Fingers with me. When they didn't want to tour anymore, we decided that we did, so we started the ball rolling on Reign of Fury. I knew another great guitarist and Jon knew a singer. Our bass player Matt Earl joined us after I showed him our songs. He was actually primarily a guitarist but loved our tunes so much that he decided he'd play bass just so he could be a part of it.
We set about writing tunes which were supposed to be more punk than metal, but it came out more metal than punk. The great thing is that although I have a drumming style that is quite punky, this also gives us a different sounding edge that most metal bands just don't have.
I’m incredibly proud of the fact that we hosted two ‘Headbanger's Balls’ tours to raise testicular cancer awareness plus other types of cancer after our singer went into remission following his own battle with testicular cancer. Those tours were absolutely brilliant and we managed to build quite a loyal fanbase.
We’ve also embraced modern technology to release our music and merch to see how different it is compared to back in the day. It's going pretty well. It’ll be interesting to know how the Subs do it.”
Throughout our chat, Dave’s love of music and all he does powerfully radiates from him, it’s wonderful to hear such enthusiasm, I ask him about who then, are his major musical influences and current favourite bands…
“Now remember, I'm younger than the average U.K. Subs fan so hopefully people won't judge me too much when I say my favourite band is Slayer. I like the ‘Skate Punk’ genre too. NOFX, Bad Religion, Pennywise, No Use For a Name and bands like that. These bands have influenced me greatly but to me I really like the players in the bands that play what the song needs, rather than just trying to fit stuff in for the sake of it.”
So who out of those individual musicians would he highlight?
“Well, this is why Vinnie Paul of Pantera has always been one of my main influences. Not in a way that I want to put his beats into punk tunes, but in the way that he only plays what is required... and then throws something in to keep you on your toes. This is what I like about these ‘Brand New Age’ tunes that I've been listening to for my first tour. I can hear how the Subs’ drummer at the time (Pete Davies – ed) is playing mostly only what needs to be played. I'll definitely be listening to and using past Subs drummers to influence me too.
Rancid are also a massive influence. Great tunes, great sound, great players. It’s also really cool that I'm gonna be playing in a band that Lars used to be in too.”
Dave is certainly joining a band that has a long history of having talented musicians, many of which were drummers, and each has given the band’s sound a different dynamic, so how does Dave feel about joining that long list of Subs players and will he be combining his time with Subs alongside Reign of Fury still?
“Yes, you mentioning previous members and drummers of the U.K. Subs… I’d also like to point out that obviously I'm gutted for Jamie and I know he was well loved in this band by both the band members as well as the fans, but it's not often you get the chance to play with your influence's influences as it were, so I am absolutely determined to give it my all. It really does feels great to be given this chance.
As far as combining time with my other bands, I should know Subs tour dates well in advance, so I will work around them for that. Everyone in Reign of Fury has other projects going on anyway so it'll work out fine.”
Talking of ‘other projects’, I enquire about Dave’s hobbies, other jobs or interests besides his obvious love for drumming?
“I’m a zero hours contract casual worker so I always have other stuff going on. But that also gives me the freedom to work on music and go on tour when required. Alongside guitar and drum teching I also run a vintage clothes and furniture shop in Cheltenham which is called ‘Malones Vintage’ with my wife. I also buy and sell seconnd hand band shirts online mostly the ones that don't fit me! That's called ‘Rockstar Vintage’ on Etsy and ‘The Metal Detector’ on Depop. The job that I really like doing however is working as a stage tech at my local theatre ‘The Everyman Theatre’ in Cheltenham. That's a fantastic place to work with a really good bunch of people. I also do a bit of steel fabrication at ‘The Fab Shack’ in Tewkesbury sometimes.
I basically hate being contracted to a ‘normal’ 40-hour week to one place, so having other things going on keeps me sane and keeps things interesting.”
It’s become clear quite quickly that Magic Dave is a multi-talented multi-tasker, and yet more impressive experiences he’s had comes up in our conversation, that between touring as a drummer, he also teched for The Damned for five years and more recently with The Alarm.
Alongside his local theatre stage tech work, he’s already got an eye-catching CV before he became a U.K. Sub.
He self-deprecatingly tells me that this work ethic comes naturally to him, modestly commenting that “I just love to tour and work within the scene and industry.”
You’d have to say 99% of Subs fans will also love The Damned, so I feel compelled to ask Magic how did the work with the Damned (and The Alarm) come about? It would also be interesting to know what challenges he encountered and again to tell of some highlights of these experiences.
“I worked with The Damned from 2008 to 2013. A few years earlier 4ft Fingers toured with them and on the last day of the tour I told Pinch that if he ever needed a drum tech to give me a shout. I passed him a scrap of paper with my phone number on it – remember – there weren’t many email addresses back then and I didn’t really expect him to follow it up!
But then about two years later, I was working as a bus driver, hating every minute of it when I got a phone call from The Damned’s tour manager asking me if I would still be interested in drum teching for The Damned. Hell yeah!! I went to work the next day and told them I needed a month off because I’d been given an opportunity to go on tour. Luckily, they didn't argue.
It really was a life changing experience. They had burlesque dancers as their support act. They were also travelling on our bus and one of them, Missy Malone is now my wife!
Apart from that as an obvious highlight, there were many others. Touring with Motörhead, learning what real touring was all about, working with Captain Sensible, meeting my idols, living on a tour bus and many, many, more.
Once we had a week off, so we took the bus to a caravan site in Whitby and had a holiday. We, yes, The Damned, the crew and Missy, hired push bikes and went bike riding for the day. We even threw a white sheet over the bus, rigged up a guitar cab and overhead projector and had our own outdoor cinema on site. We went round to the other caravans and holiday homes on site and told everyone they were welcome to join us at 8pm to watch the new Star Trek film!
What a week that was.
I subsequently got The Alarm job through The Damned. The Alarm were tour support for a Damned tour and I teched for them too. So when they went on tour afterwards, I went with them too.”
We touched upon the nickname Magic being given to him by his wife earlier in this interview, and the full explanation from him is that:
“The name ‘Magic’ was given to me by my now wife Missy Malone when we met on that first tour together with The Damned, as I mentioned she was the burlesque dancing support act. She nicknamed me ‘Magic Dave’ because of my ability to adapt to situations and keep things rolling and make sure that the show still continues. It has stuck ever since.”
That can-do, indefatigable character trait is surely something that will endear ‘Magic Dave’ to all three of his new band members, mainly because Charlie, Alvin and Steve have that same in-built musical DNA.
So how did the offer to join the Subs come about?
“Well, I saw what was happening online and got in touch with Yuko. Yuko let me know the situation and that they needed a permanent drummer for the UK tour starting in November. I told her ‘I'm up for it, send me the setlist asap and I'll start learning the songs straight away.’
That meant I had a month to learn around 23 songs. Then Yuko asked if I could do the Sinner’s Day Festival appearance in Belgium on November 1st. Of course, I said yes and so she sent me that set. So then I had 10 days to learn 18 songs. I've been listening to nothing but U.K. Subs songs since. Even my cat should know how to play them by now.”
Magic Dave’s delight at this opportunity really does shine through, he concurs:
“For me this is an opportunity. When life throws these things at you, you can either shy away and stay in your tiny comfort zone or choose to expand that zone into uncharted territory. Then when you do that, you realise your comfort zone can be much bigger than you think.
If I do a good job, then I'll become the newest member of the Subs. And I'm 100% determined to make that happen. By the time this gets published I suppose I'll know how well I did.”
Dave’s attitude is infectious, and his upbeat answers intrigue the listener to wonder about what exactly this new addition to the Subs mix feels he can and will bring to the band?
“I believe that my job in the Subs is to give a solid foundation that the other guys can work from. I play with power and energy which is lucky because that seems to be what U.K. Subs is all about. Fortunately, I have a similar style to Jamie so I think it's going to work well.
Firstly though, I need to be able to give Steve, Charlie and Alvin the confidence to almost forget they have a new drummer so that they can concentrate fully on what they are doing and enjoy it.
Secondly, I've been reading what people have been commenting about the different drummers and whilst I intend to stamp my ‘voice’ on the songs, they must not be overplayed. Songs like ‘Emotional Blackmail’ and ‘New York State Police’ have just the right amount of drumming and I think it's important to get close to that. Then you have songs like ‘Limo Life’ that seem to have sped up over the years, but I absolutely love how it feels when its slower, so I'll have to see how the guys feel about taking it back to its original speed as I'm not sure if it was a deliberate action or not. Either way, I can't wait to actually start working on things like that. Live wise, I like to be energetic when I play, so hopefully I can add to the band’s energy for the live ‘show’ and give the fans something extra to watch. First though, keep learning the songs!”
Having thrown himself into his new job, it must seem like a whirlwind has blown through his life, as usual he’s open, honest and realistic about his current feelings and the task that lies ahead, as illustrated by our final few conversations about his sub mission…
I tell Dave that I’m sure all the hardcore Subs nuts will be willing him on to do really, really, well and to enjoy it… Him joining could be the best thing to happen for the band as you just don’t know what’s around the corner - I for one certainly hope so… Dave thanks me for the encouragement, revealing:
“I'm pretty excited but trying to stay calm and focused. I've got to deliver the goods if you know what I mean. It's pretty mental to be honest. Crazy how things work out... The great thing is, the more you listen to these Subs songs, the better they get.”
Does he have any favourites so far that he’s been learning?
“Definitely ‘Limo Life’ when its played slower. It's got something about it. ‘Emotional Blackmail’ is an absolute blinder and so is ‘Fragile’ and ‘Down on the Farm’" has a place in my heart me being a Guns N’ Roses fan. Interestingly though, when I play ‘...Farm’ on stage with the Subs for the first time, I think I might be the only person in the world to play the two punk tunes Guns N’ Roses covered, on stage at a show with the original bands that played them. That’s due to me having got to play ‘New Rose’ with The Damned in Holmfirth, because Pinch had to run off to the toilet.
But aside from that I'm confident it'll be ace... but to keep my feet on the ground and to make sure I put the effort in to be the best I can be, I have to not take it for granted.”
To conclude then, it was an absolute joy chatting to and discovering all about such a passionate musician. With Magic Dave. the Subs have surely stumbled upon another Gem – if you’ll pardon the pun - but for old and new Subs fans alike, this really is another brand new age of excitement for us to all look forward to.
Below - photos of Magic Dave at his first band rehearsal - click to enlarge images
Pictured outside with Charlie, Steve and Dave is Jon Priestley, the current bassist with the Godfathers, who also runs and owns Abatis Studios. http://www.abatisstudios.co.uk/
‘MAGIC DAVE’ HUMPHRIES DISCOGRAPHY
2001 - "At Your Convenience" album
(Jamdown Records, re-released a year later through Golf Records)
2002 - "From Hero to Zero"
2004 - "A Cause for Concern"
(Golf Records and Go Kart Records in the USA)
2008 - "New Beginnings Of Old Stories"
(Not on your Radio Records and Pyropit Records in Japan)
REIGN OF FURY
2011 - "Psycho Intentions" (Good Life Recordings)
2012 - "World Detonation" (Mosh Tuneage)
2015 - "Death Be Thy Shepherd" (Mosh Tuneage)
2019 - "Exorcise Reality" (Mosh Tuneage)