Wes Cohen, who is part of the Bournemouth and Dorset based Radar Proof Recordings collective, who are releasing the new U.K. Subs DVD 'Soft Lights & Loud Guitars' very soon, in assocation with this website, has also recently conducted an excellent interview with Charlie for his TAPED Webzine site...
CLICK ON THE BELOW IMAGE TO SEE THE INTERVIEW IN ITS ORIGINAL FORM
The interview is archived below...
A Work In Progress!
Exclusive TAPED Interview with Charlie Harper, May 2010
After interviewing Charlie for the first time back in December 2009 at their 'Talking Heads' Southampton gig, which appeared on the 'Soft Lights and Loud Guitars' DVD, I sent a few questions to Charlie a few months later for an interview for TAPED.
Thanks to Mark Chadderton for editing the interview.
I started off by enquiring of Mr Harper as to how the recent European tour had gone and what were the most memorable gigs?
"The Euro tour was great as ever, and that is why we go back every year!
I would say that the memorable shows were Hamburg, as always. You really should visit the Rock Fabrik someday. Also, we found that Lithuania was a huge surprise for us, in a good way. The people, food, country, equipment, it was just great all round."
As you indicated, you've been playing many of the Eastern European countries for several years now. Have you seen many changes in the audiences in countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic, such as in their general behaviour to the band and the general gig going experience?
"I think that every year we see the places grow. Even the roads have got a heap better; the Czech Republic is about to overtake the West! The public too is growing with the new East but outside of punk, we are still from another planet and the hundreds of thousands of Eastern workers in the West, treat us like lepers. Inside the gigs it is our world in a bubble, so everyone gets on fine."
Do the audiences abroad tend to have different favourite songs to that of the UK audiences or is there one particular song that always gets the best reaction of the night?
"Well it's just like here but more! More people, more intense, more love! Warhead is the killer, followed by Riot and then ending with Stranglehold. The killer blow will guarantee an encore. A cunning plan that we won't change!"
And out of those three songs you mentioned, two are from the first two studio albums. Your set list still contains a majority of songs from Another Kind of Blues and Brand New Age. You obviously still get a lot of pleasure through playing the old favourites, but I'd like to know which of your other albums do you rate as the best, and which do you think is the most under-rated?
"Yeah well, the current songs we perform are dictated by the fact that we have Paul Slack back in the band, and he wrote a lot of the first two albums. As to the best, Endangered Species was really under-rated on its release but not now, loads of people have a lot of respect for that one these days."
Have you ever done, or considered, doing an 'alternative' tour, where you play a completely different set to what you are playing at the moment? If you have, how did it go and if not, is it something you may try one day?
"When we released Flood of Lies back in 1985, we actually did the whole LP on the tour of the same name. Only in London and Manchester did we do fine! The rest of the tour went down like the proverbial lead balloon! However, we have an idea to get Knox from the Vibrators/Urban Dogs on keyboards and do all the more atmospheric songs like Sensitive Boys, Ice Age and all the other songs that we have keyboards on and play them live some day."
I see that you debuted the song Creation at Camberley in March. A lot of Subs fans regard that as a new Subs classic, so are you going to keep that song in the set and are there other songs that you are considering throwing into the set here and there?
"Yeah, Creation is now a permanent fixture in the set on this tour and we will be adding more new songs very soon."
When we spoke in December last year, we chatted about future album plans. How have you managed to progress with the X-Subs project, bearing in mind the touring you have been doing? Can you let us know which ex-members are definitely on board for X-Subs?
"Well. Lars Fredrikson for one. Then there will be Nicky Garratt, Paul and Steve Slack, Brian Barnes, Alvin Gibbs, Alan Campbell, Alan Lee, Pete Davies, Terry Bones and there are a few that I've forgot."
But before X-Subs can see the light of day and be properly worked on, you obviously have the eagerly awaited 'W' album to write and record, have you any news for us on that?
"Yes, we are presently working on Work in Progress and about to demo the songs. We have also given the artwork to the great Vince Ray!"
So where are you recording the new album? Is there an ideal date when you would like the album to be released?
"We are recording with Pat Collier at his studio in Southeast London. Hopefully the album will be out next February at the latest. The album will sound very rocking with a lot of ideas I have found on my Japanese travels, they are a little chaotic but very exciting."
Can you divulge any possible/potential song titles?
"Man Made God is currently a stand out track but all the songs are just working titles at present."
I'd also like to ask about your side projects. Has the forthcoming acoustic Urban Dogs album been finished and does it have a release date yet? There will be a lot of fans eager to know if any live dates have been organised yet?
"Stan from Demented Are Go is producing the album, and he just went on tour. We have mixed the single and just have to mix the album now. I did hope it would be out for my birthday bash at the Gaff, in London, on May 24th, but it now looks like it will be ready for the Rebellion Festival where we will get up and do some of the Dogs songs."
You are seemingly constantly on the road, so it'd be interesting to learn how you fill the time between gigs while you are on tour and occasionally when you are not?
"Hey, this lot took me all bloody night to answer, and there's many more to do! Haha - but I have my new glasses now and at least can see something! Then there are the new T-shirts to design, new posters, it just never ends - but we love it."
OK so when you have a bit of time to yourself, whilst you are working
on new designs etc, or travelling to gigs, what type of music do you listen to?
"While I'm doing this, I'm trying to watch the Jools Holland show. Favourites are the Ramones, Stooges, Damned, New York Dolls, MC5, the Sonics and all the real old stuff like that. However, I have found some kinda new pop bands like the Kills and the Dead Weather, the girls' voice is mega!"
Of all the new and/or relatively unknown bands you have played gigs with recently, which of them have impressed you the most?
"The Restarts aren't too unknown these days, we did a great show with them in Paris just a couple of weeks back. Look out for the Braseletts from Camden and we have just played with the Open Sore once more! They are an old Roxy band just reformed, they are the band that did Vertigo on the Farewell to the Roxy album, released back in 1978 but recorded at the end of 1977. And of course, we all love OUT4AW from Blackpool."
For the very latest U.K. Subs news and comprehensive historical archive visit www.uksubstimeandmatter.net