From Herbert Street to the 100 Club
Subculture bio "From Herbert Street to The Hundred Club" Subculture was formed by school friends Dean Tyrrell (Guitar) and Phil Parker (Bass) in late 1980. They began by playing punk covers with other school friends, jamming whenever they could get the chance. As their musicianship improved and they began to write their own material, they recruited drummer Nigel Kimberly via their friend and soon to become singer, Tom Hipkin in 1981. After a few months of practicing, they soon had enough songs to play their first gig at the old Sound Cellar in Cambridge, warming up for local Talking Heads wannabees Placebo Thing, who featured singer Boo Hewerdine, later of the Indy janglers, The Bible. Too loud and too raw for them, he advised the band in his words, to Give Up Boys - which in turn inspired them to write the song of the same name. A studio version, of the song, which was earmarked for the band's second single in 1983, is included for the first time on this compilation and has never before been released. The band continued rehearsing, mostly in Dean's bedroom, and later in a soundproofed shed in his back garden when things got to loud for the bedroom. Local gigs started to roll in with the likes of The Addicts, and pretty soon the band began carving out a good reputation in the local area. In April 1982, the band then recorded demos at the now mythical Spaceward Studios, with whom Stiff Little Fingers had recorded Inflammable Material, and Iron Maiden had cut their first recordings. The raw, rough, unedited mixes of the demos are included here; Voice of the Young, University City and The first version of Stick Together. Although the band couldn't afford to go back and mix them down to a polished state, and saw little point at the time anyway as Spaceward wasn't a cheap studio, they proved good enough to attract the interest of London promoters Dave Long and Laurie Pryor, who, on the strength of these demos, invited the group to play regular gigs at The Angel, in Islington, London, where a dedicated new punk night was happening weekly under the banner of Skunx. Carrying guitars and Marshall amps down on the train for each gig, the band had to sit through the afternoon striptease before they could do a sound check for the first night's gig with Red Alert. It's a tough life in the world of Rock n Roll. Along with backing Red Alert, at Skunx they also played with Blitz, The Business, and Peter and the Test Tube Babies amongst others, and established themselves in the street punk / Oi scene forming in London at the time. Mentions in the music press followed, with encouraging reviews, particularly in Sounds and Melody Maker. The Band were on the way: "Subculture show a lot of promise for the future " and "the sort of band you could see yourself raving about after seeing them a few times" Despite being labelled "young Cockney Rejects sound-alikes", they didn't see it as such a bad thing at the time. If you're gonna sound like someone else, which all bands do to start with, at least sound like someone good. The Rejects could play well, and had a tough sound, so the band took it as a compliment. A good example of why this comparison was made lies in the track Better Than You, another track that was never released, probably not to add fuel to fire with Rejects comparisons, but finally appears here. A poor sounding studio rehearsal version of "Better Than You" appeared on the Captain Oi release, The Oi Collection. The guitars may be unashamedly borrowed from the Geggus riff library, but the Rejects guitarist would be the first to tell you that he in turn was influenced by the Sex Pistol's God Save the Queen, and of course Steve Jones, when he started playing. In May 1982, guitarist Dean received a phone call from Laurie Pryor inviting the band contribute a track on the 4th Oi! Album, 'Oi, Oi, that's yer lot!'. They chose Stick Together, which was produced by Micky Geggus, a dream ticket as the band were of course big fans of the Cockney Rejects. Mick gave Dean some much appreciated playing tips in the studio, getting him to tighten his style up a bit, and was really interested in getting the best out of the band's performance, transforming the song from a loose, rowdy demo to a punchy, muscular anthem. Mick added his own ideas to the track, and can be heard joining in on backing vocals for the middle eight. He injected a lot of enthusiasm into producing it, and with the copyist tag hanging over them, Mick's positive input was taken as thumbs up to the song and to the band. All the Rejects were present in the studio during the two sessions, and were equally good chaps too. At the time of this recording session, singer Tom Hipkin left the band, after the first session, and his voice never appeared on the track, resulting in a less that satisfactory version in the band's eyes, as they had to get their friend / roady, Carl to deputise and sing the lead vocal. Still, the band was on the LP, and with one of the standout tracks according to press reviews. The version you hear on this compilation is the original track, but remixed with Tom's vocal. This is how it should have appeared on the LP. It is the definitive version of Stick Together. A classic street punk anthem. At the time of the Oi LP recording, the band were offered an album deal with Dave Long's label, Syndicate. Everything seemed great, until they took some advice from a couple of music biz pros, who told the band that the contract was more than a little one sided, in Syndicate's favour. The band turned down the deal. In hindsight it was a bad decision as even though they might have been tied to a bad deal, at least an LP would have been made, which would have put the band into a different league, and who knows what after that?. After this temporary setback, the band recruited a permanent singer in Peter Matthews, and soon after that, drummer Matt Johnson replaced Nigel Kimberly, who decided to leave the band to concentrate on his career with British Rail. In early 1983, Phil answered and add in Melody Maker; "Demos wanted by new punk bands". The band had just recorded another demo session at Gary Numan's Rock City Studios in Shepperton, so a cassette was sent off. Phil was contacted a few days later by one Alan McGee, of pre Creation records and Oasis, who, suitably impressed by the Clash sounding Rogue Trooper, and instantly signed them up for a single and possible LP deal for his fledgling label Essential Records, to be distributed by Rough Trade. Alan took on the management of the band, and with his music biz savvy, got them press coverage in Sounds and Melody Maker. The interview never made press due to a bit of a rowdy happening with Carol Clerk at the MM offices in Covent Garden, and a gruelling photo shoot done before the interview at places like Centre Point and around the West End, was of course dropped too. During that shoot with one of the paper's photographers, Alan even managed to convince a retailer on Oxford Street that the band was actually The Clash, to get us posing in the store's window display. No one knows why he thought it such a good idea to this day. The band's debut and only single 'Loud and Clear E.P' came out in the early summer of 1983, with a new version of University City and Rogue Trooper recorded back at Spaceward especially for the single, so we all behaved ourselves and pretended to be professionals for the session. The single made a good showing in the Indy top 40 for a few weeks on it's release, and if you can find a copy now, they change hands on e-bay for around 60 pounds. The first rough mix of Loud and Clear is included here, and was recorded during Rock City session, along with the two other tracks from the session, Rogue Trooper and In My Time. We have included the rough, unpolished mixes of these tracks here because final mix versions have appeared on either the single E.P, or on compilations like "Oi, the Demos". The version of Rogue Trooper from this session is previously unheard anywhere. It is a different version to that which appeared on the single. The session was engineered by a likeable chap called Andy Llewelyn, who'd done stuff with Magazine and XTC. At the session Dean was using a vintage Marshall 50 watt Plexi head, now the holy grail of vintage Marshalls, which he had just bought really cheaply, as you could pick up stuff like that for peanuts in those days, because "proper musicians" were using new solid state amps. While he was doing the guitar overdubs, Andy was told that because of the extreme volume the amp was cranking out, the band in the studio next door had had to abandon their session because of sound leakage from Dean's dinosaur valve amp, and had gone down the pub. The band was 80s jazz funkers and "proper musicians" Shakatak. Things didn't last too long with Alan McGee. He had bigger plans, and after a band meeting during which Matt and Peter playfully ridiculed his ginger pre Goth quiff, he dropped the band like the proverbial hot potato and probably invested the gains from the Loud and Clear single, which had shifted around 7.000 to 8,000 copies, (pretty good for an indy single in 1983) on his new obsessions - the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Creation Records. He got pop success, and we got a box singles each for our efforts. At the same time as the single came out in July 1983, The band were invited to play at the legendary 100 Club in Oxford Street, supporting The Exploited, and went down sufficiently well enough to be invited back to warm up for Cock Sparrer a few weeks later. It was a big buzz to be on the same stage that had hosted the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, The Damned, Jimi Hendrix and anyone who's anyone in Rock history. In August of that year, riding high on the momentum from the single and the 100 Club gigs, the band put on what was to be one of their final shows in their home town, Cambridge. We have included a few songs from the live set, which was recorded straight from the mixing desk. The night was ruined by crowd violence, a stage invasion, (in Voice of the Young, you can hear Dean's Marshall cut out after being drop kicked) or enforced apathy from the audience, some of whom were reluctant to be seen enjoying themselves for fear of being singled out and beaten up by various thugs that had come to burst the band's bubble. The live recordings from the gig on this CD show how things were at those Punk gigs back in those days. While you can hear the band getting increasingly irritated by the events happening around them, the songs demonstrate that they were pretty good live too. Subculture never really got the credit the deserved, and certainly never reached their true potential. If they'd had some proper guidance, and been given a decent producer, things may well have been different. Also, coming from a provincial city like Cambridge, with it's stereotypical "posh" reputation, did them no favours. Everyone knows what happened around to the Oi! / Street Punk movement around this time, and when gigs became increasingly difficult to get due to recurring crowd trouble and unwanted dodgy political association, despondency followed, and by the end of 1983, the band had split up. Five Minutes of Glory, is another song that was never released, and has been included on the CD, with a new lyric that captures the band's brief but eventful career. Seventeen, just left school Hangin' around and playing pool City lights they shine so bright Let's go dancin' on a Saturday night Football, boxing, rock n roll, On a building site, or in the cold Join the army be a man, You'll have 'ave to catch me first if you can Arcross this land come walk with me Five minutes of glory Five minutes of glory From Herbert Street to the Hundred Club Marshall stack and Trojan dub Laced up boots and Corduroys In the Golden fleece with the Borough boys Football, boxing, rock n roll, Working in a factory, or on the dole Join the army, kill a man, You'll have 'ave to catch me first if you can Arcross this land come walk with me Five minutes of glory Five minutes of glory Seventeen just left school I hate hangin' 'round just playing pool City lights they shine so bright Let's go dancin' on a Saturday night Football, boxing, rock n roll, They 'll be down the factory, or on the dole Join the army, be a man, You'll have 'ave to catch me first if you can Arcross this land come walk with me Five minutes of glory Five minutes of glory.