Interview mit Charly Harper (UK Subs) vom 02.2014

Konzerttouristen: Hi Charly, I just counted, and it’s 38 years of UK Subs.

Charly: Wow…
Konzerttouristen: … so it’s like a punkrock dinosaur maybe.
Charly:  We were built as punkrock dinosaurs 30 years ago.
Konzerttouristen: so what is it now?
Charly: We must be back in the fossilation.
Konzerttouristen: Ok, so you not just lived with punkrock, you are one brick of it. You created punkrock somehow.
Charly: Well, that’s a nice term. One brick of it. (Laughs)  Because we have a song which was written in 1969 which we still do on stage now. And it was published in 1970. So there is a proof of this. Yeah we play it not every night, but alot of nights. So, there you go. There was a certain vanguard, it was mixed in with a westcoast sound you know. That generation was of cause the rolling stones, the kinks, not so much the beatles, because they were to clean, but the rolling stones were certainly the punks of their era.
Konzerttouristen: You made 24 albums, I counted them,  and you made a new one last year. So I was wondering, is there still something to say?
Charly: Oh yeah. Well, look at the world today.I mean there is riots from bangkok to the south america. Of cause in the balkans, its not the balkans really, you know, in russia, ukraine. You know, our thing is to try and expose the criminal governments, because that’s what they are. People think, that the government is gonna help them and do nice things for them but they just exploit them. And it’s the same all around the world. And it’ s not that extend. Some governments take probably 80% of the country’s money and put it in the banks in switzerland and no one ever sees it and the country is starving. Or they put it, like in north korea, into kind of just the military and the military runs the country with an iron fist. None to do with communism or any kind of regime. It’s just an old powerful king with the army. Egypt’s got the same situation but a little less. A little more free perhaps. All criminals need exposing. And now because of the internet, the people are rising up. They are not taking it anymore. You know, we have all this trouble.
Konzerttouristen: I really think the internet is a big chance for the people and I really see that things are changing, even if they change slow.
Charly: Well, things change even quite quickly, aren’t they really? When you look at the historical point of view, it’s a flash.
Konzerttouristen: Currently yes. You are right. I agree. But I think also think  music is a very big part of that movement. It’ s the internet and news flashing around very quickly and you get other kind of news like people having their mobile phones filming things and it is not the mass media who bring the only news to the people. Like filtered news. It’s a new kind, but I think music is really involved in changing things. This is, where I also see punkrock. It’s a task of punkrock.

Charly: One example is Pussy Riot. I mean, poor things, they are musicians, if you can say that, but they are. They are musicians and artists. You know, they are a band of our time. Just getting beaten up by Putin’s thugs. Putin’s psychos. More like that. And this is what we have to fight against. All the time. It’s a never ending struggle. And I don’t think live’s complete unless you’re in the struggle. Otherwise you are sitting at home s  omeday and the bombs will start falling. And you didn’t listen to anybody, and that’s what a lot of our songs are about. In an early warning system, this can happen anywhere. Now look at the horror in New York when they bombed the trade towers. I mean open other’s eyes, nowhere is save, really.

Konzerttouristen: So you talked about Pussy Riot. I just read today that they again started something new. So again they are out on the streets, even though they have been locked up for, I don’t know, one ore two years. But now they are free again. During the Olympic games they started again something against the regime so they are really tough ladies fighting.

Charly: And got beaten up.

Konzerttouristen: Yeah. It’s really impressive.

Charly: It’s really stupid, because so many people will be following Pussy Riot’s example now. They are kind of Punk heroes. They are heroes of the vanguard of the movement. Wether it is punk or art or freedom fighters. So anyone who is going to see Putin’s thugs beating Pussy Riot is very anti Putin now. You know, he is a hero to a lot of people, but really he is a nasty character. He is meant to be a politician but he might as well be a Mafia or Gangster.

Konzerttouristen: It’s not a hard line in between there.

Charly: No.

Konzerttouristen: OK, so let’s stick to something different. I read that you were the first band that toured a communist country in 1983. But I did not find out where you toured.

Charly: At that time it was just Poland, which was kind of strange, because it was  the communist government of Poland who took us in. To kind of quieten the people down. Because they were on the verge of civil war and Lech Wałęsa was in jail at that time. An then we came along. We had solidarity T-Shirts made, that we were forbidden to wear them, but the drummer wore his at the back and we got away with it. And we were in the dressing room and people came in and there were army outside. They have been the security. The army with machine guns. And they let, say, 5 people in and at some show they let 10 people in. And some of the young people wearing a solidarity t-shirt caused trouble. Well you shouldn’t do this. Well you know, on the verge of civil war this is divisive. But I must say 99% of the young people wanted freedom. It was just a few of them who thought it was divisive.

Konzerttouristen: It was not similar, but 15 years ago I went to Serbia to play some shows with my band. It was really a difficult kind of travel. Just some kind of adventure.  Well what you told was not just an adventure.

Charly: We went out while the war was still on. We called up the british embassy and they said: Well don’t you know there’s a war on. So we thought we better not go. So we’re in the hotel, quiet a large hotel in Vienna and we were talking to some blue berries. And we said, yeah, we can’t go in there but he said: No, the road is open. It’s very safe. Don’t worry. So we went. And from the show I went to a radio station. And in the room there is like a big freezer in the corner and on top of the freezer, there is all these tank shells which have fallen around the radio station. And then we discovered that the gig was on the hill, just 200 meters from the presidents house. So if there was any bombing we got really closed to it. But it was good that we got in and out fine.

Konzerttouristen: Great, yeah. And you are here so everything went well.  So, one last question. We already talked about it a little bit but what does punkrock mean to you?

Charly: A lot of people ask that question. It actually does mean different things to different people. To me it’s about doing it yourself without a record company. We use a record company of a friend of ours, who loves our music, who markets our music better than we can dream of and he does a great job. But it is not a corporate. It is a one man show. And that is what it really is about to me. It’s independent music. It’s indie music. An it’s about complete freedom. Not getting involved with censorship. So therefore we don’t kind of hit the media. Because they censor the shit out of our stuff. It also is about that punkrock is like, compare a wild animal, a leopard in the wild to a domestic cat. Where a stripped down wild animal does what we like. Where the cats got confinements, it’s either confines with house or fat food. So on and so on. Punkrock is like that wild animal. And it kind of can’t be tamed

Konzerttouristen: So, thank you very very much for your time.

Charly: Lovely. Good interview thank you.

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