Interview with THE SUBHUMANS (Vancouver)



why did you guys decide to reunite?
gerry: i think we got back together in actually 2005 and um you know just, no particular reason we just felt like it would be a good thing to do… you know, because we wanted something to do to fill our time *laughs*
mike: i think gerry had been working writing songs and we got enthusiastic about the idea of getting back, you know putting back into the subhumans and he got in touch with everybody else and we tried to catch up and make a few of our own for that project

did you guys keep in touch over the years?
gerry: we didn't up to that point, we hadn't kept in touch, i mean i occasionally ran into brian here and there, we'd end up going to the same shows or something like that, occasionally we'd talk about stuff but i hadn't seen mike in quite a while actually and um, yeah the reason we wanted to get back together again was largely because we thought we had a bunch of material that uh deserved to see the light of day and the Subhumans was a good format to do it and yeah i mean this time around too… Brian and I had gotten the band together back in 1995 and did a little tour to back as far as winnipeg
brian: really that was, those were purely one off's, we weren't really reforming the band at those times…
gerry: well at the time we kind of thought it was, i thought it was
brian: really? oh okay!
gerry: i remember much music asking me 'so is the subhumans back in business' and i said 'yeah you bet ya!' but mike wouldn't come on board for that because we were flogging a dead horse, we were playing all of our old material and we weren't writing any new material… we asked mike if he wanted to join us and he wasn't interested so this time around the difference was that we told mike that we were gonna record a new album, we weren't just going to get back together again, we were actually going to record a new album with a bunch of new material, then he got interested
mike: and we started off right away doing new songs and were recording within a couple months or so
gerry: yeah that was like our first project, was actually getting together the songs and practicing the songs that we were going to record and going in and recording them even before we played shows or anything

so nobody was opposed to reforming this time around?
gerry: well our original drummer, sorry our second drummer, we asked to come on board but he wasn't interested so we ended up getting jon card from SNFU, DOA, and Personality Crisis

how has he changed the dynamic of the band and the sound?
gerry: the drums are a lot better now. *lauhgs*

do you guys still go by your nicknames?
gerry: not so much, well i don't care if people call me useless i don't care, they're still people in vancouver that call me useless
brian: i was actually looking the other day at like you know stuff people have posted on Facebook, you know like historical stuff, and just realized i must have had about ten different nicknames .. it's like, they last for about a year and then they're gone

did you guys give jon a nickname?
brian: no he doesn't have a nickname at all
mike: his name sounds like a made up rock star name anyway, jon card

so you guys had to re-record Incorrect Thoughts this time, do you have any new material on it now?
gerry: no it's not new, it's just previously unrecorded
brian: well there's six songs on it that weren't on the original so
mike: they were songs from the original era of the Incorrect Thoughts album though, stuff we were playing in the life shows but never actually got around to committing to vinyl

and you guys couldn't just re-release the album due to legal issues right?
mike: yeah, basically… it's a long and torcherous tale
brian: there's information on the record that you can read if you want to get our take on it
gerry: if you want to get the long factual story it's on the website too and stuff but, yeah it can be summed up basically by saying somehow the master tapes of the record ended up in this guys hands in San Francisco..
brian: and we ended up without legal paperwork proving that we should have the ownership for them so
gerry: yeah so this guy has the masters and we thought we'd send him a letter just because we'd heard that he had the masters, well no we figured he had the masters so our lawyer ended up sending him a letter saying 'look we're going to re-release the record, as far as we're concerned it's ours' and his lawyer sent us a letter back saying 'if you do that we'll see you in court' basically. so we talked to everybody and they said this guy would actually sue us, and it would be a long and lengthy irritation and the record might never get out
brian: it wouldn't do us any good anyways if we got sued because then we wouldn't be able to get the record out for people to listen to anyhow until it all got settled so this way we could be absolutely positive that we could release something that our fanbase could access
mike: nobody could stop us from playing our own songs basically
gerry: yeah so that was the idea was that we'd have control over it this time and we'd circumvent his claim to the masters, because he doesn't have any claims to the songs but he only has claim, he CLAIMS to have claims to the masters… we still don't even acknowledge that he does have a claim
brian: no he wont' actually prove that he has claims to the masters, it's just a big bluff
gerry: we've insisted he show us proof that he owns the masters legally and he never does

it's just easier this way?
all: yeah exactly.

do you guys still play your entire catalogue from even when it was just Brian left in the band?
mike: we don't play much off of no wishes no prayers
gerry: we don't play anything off that album *laughs*
mike: what's the reason for that gerry?
gerry: ahhhhhhh well the bass is too hard for me.
brian: shouldn't have gotten chris wire*?* in the band at that time
gerry: yeah that was a mistake, see!
*laughs*

are you guys still as politically active as you were in the 80's?
gerry: well we still write songs that are politically charged you could say… we write songs about things that mean something to us at the time that we're writing and sometimes those are kind of personal politics, and sometimes they're more world politics, um as far as being politically active i don't know if any of us are
brian: i haven't gone out to any huge demos lately really
gerry: the last demo i went to was the uh against the invasion of iraq so that was a while ago
mike: i don't know if you can confuse what a band does when they're writing political material with what real activists do, you know that's a real calling that we don't necessarily aspire to.

so are you guys still as crazy on stage as you used to be? you used to get naked…
gerry: that was an accident! that's when brian had his clothes ripped off..
brian: i don't usually play naked… i was thinking about it
gerry: yeah me too! maybe we should tonight!
brian: you can put me in a diaper or something
gerry: yeah i was suggesting that brian wear a bonnet and a diaper with a raddle but he hasn't gone for that yet

yeah man my roommate, Julian's band actually does that shit on stage all the time, those gimmicks, I''m pretty sure they've dressed up like babies before even..
gerry: that's great! i think that stuff is great, it's just fabulous! but no our concerts have settled down a little bit, but we played the cobalt what was it, a year ago, it was the last show at the cobalt in vancouver and we had decided to have this woman friend of brian's come on stage and play accordion for one of our songs, one of our songs off new dark age parade actually called "mindless tough guy" and uh she was very excited about doing this show so she had a few drinks and ah at the beginning of the song she ended up falling over, face forward onto the stage and landing on all of mike's guitar pedals at the same time, switched the guitar completely off, laying on the stage sprawled out, flailing around with her accordion and yeah i thought that was the highlight of the show! but again it was an accident, it wasn't planned… a lot of these things that people think were great stage antics weren't planned. i'd say to be completely honest, i'd say that we're probably a little less mobile than we were at some of our shows you know in like the late 80's, i mean i don't swing from the chandeliers anymore
brian: but we used to get like absolutely out of control crowds at a lot of our shows, which were mostly in vancouver where we had like you know kind of like a reputation as one of the first bands with a lead singer that stage dives which was more created by being dragged into the audience than actually leaping, but it was you know… the crowds maybe we're playing for these days aren't nearly as uh in your face… there's usually big barricades between them and the stage and stuff like that
mike: and a lot of the wildness in the early times didn't really come from the band, it wasn't like a spectacle that people were like trying to stage, it was just the energy of the audience and so on
gerry: although saying all of that the last gig that we played brian got really drunk and was crawling around the stage for quite a few songs, crawling i think counts as stage antics although it's a little bit more relaxed… you were feeling a little more relaxed when you were laying there on your belly
brian: i don't know, i'm doing what i'm supposed to do while i'm up there as far as i can tell *laughs*

so what do you think about the BC punk scene now as opposed to when you started?
mike: that's a tough question..
gerry: i think it's still pretty active but i don't think a lot of things have changed, i think that people still try to put on shows and it's really hard to put on shows… it's a lot of talent in vancouver musician wise… i don't know i think scenes are always based around sort of a younger group of more sort of mobile people that are out and about frequently you know…
*john walks up asking if he can take our order… since we did it at shanghai… we get introduced… yadda yadda yadda*

so have you guys heard of chris walter? (punk literature writer)
john: i'm an old time friend of his from winnipeg, i've known him for 30 years!
*gerry shows me his t-shirt that is from his book release show that they played at that he just so happened to be wearing, that i didn't notice.. oops*
gerry: we played his latest book release at the cobalt, and we played his book release before that too so yeah we see chris!

were you guys fans of screeching weasel when they covered "fuck you" ?
brian: i don't even know if i knew that screeching weasel did fuck you!
mike: yeah i didn't know that either!
gerry: i'd never heard of them but they phoned me up to see if they could use "fuck you" and i said 'yeah okay'
mike: did they really?
gerry: yeah joe got ahold of me first, shithead got ahold of me and said a band called screeching weasel wants to do a cover of "fuck you" can i give them your phone number? and i said oh what are they like and he said 'they're good guys they're good guys' and i said okay fine, it's alright.. and they called me. i mean when a band actually calls me up and asks me if they can cover one of my songs usually to me that's a real good sign, because most bands don't even bother asking they just do it and they don't tell you they did it or anything, so when they ask you i usually say yes.

what's the best gig that you guys have ever played?
gerry: best in what terms?

most memorable?
john: most memorable would probably be the some of the worst gigs!
gerry: which one was that?
john: peterborough probably?
all of them: oh peterborough, yeah
gerry: yeah peterborough, getting the bread bag tie in the soup… or whatever that was
john: that wasn't so bad it was just the guy that promoted it, the facilitator, he basically took half of the receipts and went out and bought drugs… and it was just like every band that comes through town there's stories about something like that, but anyways a little guy in peterborough i don't even remember his name

do you remember the venue?
john: it had two floors…
brian: and of course we had to play on the top floor
mike: it was the trasheteria
gerry: huge flight of stairs to get to the top, yeah it was brutal.. but for me it would be the gig where brian was pulled off the stage with clothes on and thrown back on the stage without any clothes on, that was fabulous… that was a great show.

so are you still staying on couches for this tour or have you moved on up to hotels this time?
gerry: well i don't think we'll be on the couch at my sister in law's place i think we'll be in beds!
brian: i think we're fairly solid until we get to the last part of the tour
gerry: quebec city and montreal there might be a couch or two

still DIY kind of tours then?
gerry: pretty much
mike: nobody wants to help us!
*all laugh*
gerry: nah people have helped us for sure, i mean melanie who has been our publicist for this tour has helped us and a fellow by the name of james maclean has been kind of our booking agent, even though he's not a booking agent anymore, so yeah we're being helped out… we're being helped out by my sister in law in ottawa who's putting us up there and our friend dave in montreal is helping us out… but yeah it's kind of a couch'y …
mike: we're not looking for help from the music industry in any way
gerry: yeah we don't get any help from the music industry, it's 3/4's hotels, 1/4 beds and couches and friends houses.

so how much longer should we expect to be hearing you guys?
gerry: i think this will be pretty much it, right about now! *laughs* probably until the end of this tour, i hope!
john: everyone has songs to be recorded and worked on and stuff so if we stick together there's never a shortage of music, we seem to be getting along okay… no bruises black eyes or anything at this point!
gerry: it's only day one of the tour!
john: that's true!

i'll talk to you at the end of the week and see what you're saying then!
gerry: haha yeah you caught us at a very unusual moment in the history of our band because usually whenever we're on tour we're all really sick and i don't think any of us are sick today
mike: you really shouldn't say that!

knock on wood!
*they knock on wood*
gerry: does anybody have any of that hand cleanser?

THANKS SO MUCH TO THE SUBHUMANS AND MELANIE KAYE!!!