early-01.jpg (11953 bytes)UK Subs - The Early Years - By Nicky Garratt

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Chapter Five - U.S. Subs

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UK Subs - The Early Years
1 London
2 Band From The Pubs
3 John Peel & CID
4 In The Charts
5 U.S. Subs
6 Top 10 & The New Subs
7 Endangered Subs
8 The Cold War
9 Aftermath

Table Of Contents
UK Subs Main Page

Back To Bands

With the advent of organized tours came the need for a full road crew. Dave Fullbrook was now on salary and we added tour manager, Warhead 7"Greg Price and a second back line roadie, Bald Eagle from the Witon crew. The PA crew from B.A.N. were Dave Flockton (sound), Wevens (monitors), Mick Staplehurst (driver) and Mike Clements (lights). Things were escalating. The pressure for us to play Europe was growing and management were negotiating a support slot with the Ramones starting in Amsterdam on February 11th. However, much to our surprise a short US tour, including some opening slots with the Police, was squeezed in before Christmas and fresh off the UK tour we were whisked away to New York.

JFK airport was a bustle as Mike Phillips, Greg Price, Dave Fullbrook and the band, peeled out of the terminal. We were shocked at the size of the stretch limo waiting outside. It was not for us however. We were met by Katie Durst, who worked for Ian Copland our US agent, and drove us into Manhattan to the Iroquois hotel on 44nd Street. Already staying at the hotel were the Police and Madness. Madness were playing hurrahs the night before us. We were booked into CBGB’s, Hurrahs and the Palladium (opening for the Police), in New York City. RCA, who had just released Tomorrow’s Girls in the USA, had thrown a party for us in the huge RCA sky scrapper in Manhattan.

We arrived in the lobby of the RCA building and proceeded to the front desk.

“UK Subs here for the party” we announced.

“Who?” replied the receptionist.

“UK Subs”. She thumbed through the enormous RCA directory. “Umm I have no listing. Which label?”

“GEM in the UK” She looked through her label directory “Umm don’t see it.”

“You finance the label G-E-M, Gem records?”

“No, it’s not here” She replied closing the book. At that point an RCA courtesy guy came into the lobby and asked if we were the UK Subs. We signed the guest book and took the elevator up to the top floor where a party for us was already underway complete with caterers wearing chef’s hats and some of the top brass of RCA. I was introduced to a guy and was told he was the head of RCA records. I shook his hand and told him not to worry you have to start somewhere. He just stared at me. Tomorrow’s Girls was the only record RCA put out in the USA.

The Palladium show was crazy. Pete, Paul and I were at the side of the stage waiting to go on but Charlie was nowhere to be found. The promoter was shouting at us and told us we had to go on without him. I suppose it wouldn’t make a lot of difference because the 3,000 people were there to see the Police. We discussed what we could do without Charlie and decided to try “She’s Not There” by the Zombies, but at that point Charlie rushed in. He’d gone outside and they wouldn’t let him back in. The other shows went ok. Among the better shows were Bethlehem PA, Boston and Philadelphia (again with the Police). We also played in Canada before heading on to Europe and the Ramones tour.

We had a window before the European tour with the Ramones to record. Our second studio album was produced by Charlie and me at Underhill studio at the end of January. I took care, along with engineer Laurie Dipple, of the sound while Charlie and I arranged the material. I feel this album was much better than Another Kind Of Blues. New stage favorites like “Emotional Blackmail” and “Kicks” stood along side Paul’s classic “Warhead” and Charlie’s Teenage. Warhead & Teenage were released as a singles backed with non LP tracks. First came Warhead on brown vinyl backed with my instrumental tribute to Charlie Harper “The Harper” & Lou Reed cover “Waiting for the man”. The follow up was Teenage on pink vinyl with “Left For Dead” and “New York State Police” on the B side, making it one of our best loved 7” with the hardcore fans. The artwork for Warhead was reproduced from a drawing I made of a soldier who has a shell instead of a head. That image became one of the most used images connected with the band.

We used to use PA company Supermusic from Yorkshire for some of the early tours. Headed by Dave Leaper, Supermusic had put together a hotch potch PA system which was patched together precariously. However, the crew, Dave (sound mixer), Chutch and Martin (back line), were great and very well liked by the band. Chutch in particular with his dry sense of humour, good nature and great one liners, became an integral part in the Subs organization eventually defecting from Supermusic to work for us directly.

Teenage 7"The Ramones tour was the biggest thing we’d done yet playing many basketball stadiums in Italy as well as gigs in Holland, Belgium and France. The Italian gigs were run by the Mafia and the main promoter “Franco Mamone” and his interpreter were like characters from the “Godfather”. Trouble was expected at the Palalido Sport arena in Milan between fascists and communists. Although paranoia was running wild for over a week, nothing happened at the Milan concert. Instead, all hell broke loose at the Palasport arena in Turin. Our set had gone without incident but shortly after the Ramones started playing, house bricks rained down from the stadium seats behind them - the first one hitting Marky’s cymbal. The fascists with short hair and leather jackets were behind the band while theBrand New Age communists with long hair and red head bands were at the front of the stage. We were caught at the side of the stage and the Ramones took cover behind their amps. Meanwhile Franco Mamone stood defiantly on the stage with his chin in the air. That show was pretty much ruined for the Ramones. We had only the French part of the tour before returning to the UK.

We played Top Of The Pops promoting Warhead which had charted at # 30. The Brand New Age album released on clear vinyl charted at # 18, even higher than Another Kind Of Blues .

Stiff Records, who we’d approached more than a year ago, now cashed in on the bands success by releasing the complete Roxy recordings from 1977 (Live kicks). We were not pleased, not least because we didn’t get paid (and still have not). In addition the record was not well mixed and the sleeve showed the current line- up, not Rory Llyons and Steve Slack.

UK Subs On Top Of The Pops“Teenage” had been packaged with the most horrendous sleeve. On the front was the tea boy from the GEM office in a jumpsuit holding a brick and a cigarette. On the back the same guy was standing in a suit. I went crazy and tried to throw the boxes of sleeves out of the record company window. Despite the sleeve, the single again charted and again we played Top Of The Pops.

Another tour! This time Scotland but starting with a Middlesborough show on the way up on April 5th. The tour was only a week long, using B.A.N. again but went as far as Aberdeen. The Brand New Age tour closely followed. The Spectacular Subs Stage Set From The Early EightiesIt was not only our biggest tour yet but it was also the most intense. It was clear that Charlie and I were in one mindset while Pete and Paul were in another. This came to a head when Paul was drunk and kicked in my hotel door while I was with a woman. I got up, naked and punched his lights out. The main problem was while Charlie and I were mostly concentrating on the songs, recordings and the general well beeing of the band. Pete and Paul seemed to be there for the ride. There wasn’t anything specific but I think they were bored or tired of the constant touring. Nevertheless, Charlie and I decided during the tour that we were going to change rhythm section. This was a tough decision as we were at the high of our popularity. The big London show was at the Rainbow theater on May 30th which was recorded for an upcoming live album, and was to be the last show with the Slack/Davies rhythm section.

Casual PhotoOur last feature in Sounds with Davies and Slack appeared on June 7th. Again the article was by Gary Bushell. During a meeting with management after the tour, Charlie and I were preparing to announce that we were going to continue with a new rhythm section but Paul Slack beat us to it by quitting.

 

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