It's summer 1995, and the Zipperhead Room in Fort Lauderdale is filled to the rafters with safety pins and funny haircuts. It's the first South Florida show for England's Citizen Fish, a band composed of former members of early '80s punk icons the Subhumans-- in a word, a young Mohican's wet dream. One enthusiastic youngster gushingly approaches vocalist Dick Lucas with a request.
"Can you do a Subhumans song?" he predictably asks. Lucas' reply, while delivered with more humor than sarcasm, makes his position crystal clear: "I suppose you want me to sprout wings and fly to Mars too."
Three years later, the flying Brits took a trip to the red planet. Indeed, more than a decade after their final gig, the four blokes from Trowbridge reunited under their old moniker to play songs many of their fans thought they'd never experience live.
Formed in 1980, the Subhumans made its debut with 1982's The Day the Country Died. Among the anarchy-or-die crowd, the band distinguished itself by being more intelligent than most. Sure, the first Subhumans album had its share of clichés and paranoid delusions ("It's 1984/There's gonna be a war!"), but Lucas, unlike many of his mohawked brethren, eventually grew past the Manichean thinking and three-chord redundancies popular at the time. With 1984's From the Cradle to the Grave, the band codified its experimental excursions in the nearly 17-minute title track, an ambitious punk opera of sorts (what, did you think Green Day invented the concept?). However, Lucas' growing interest in ska signaled the end of the Subhumans. In 1986, he formed Culture Shock, and three years later, Citizen Fish (which still tours and records).
But the original foursome couldn't resist the temptation and re-formed in 1998. Now, two CDs and one DVD later, the Subhumans have made their flight to Mars a permanent venture. So put up your 'hawk, strap on some wings, and join 'em. -- Jason Budjinski