Interview: The Subs
28 March 2011
A few weeks ago we caught up with The Subs at a press day in Brussels. The guys looked a bit worn out, no wonder: “The last couple of days we’ve been rehearsing our live show, did a couple of try-outs and the next morning we’re leaving for an Australian tour”. But nevertheless the threesome is very eager to tell us all about the release of ‘Decontrol’, their highly anticipated second album which drops this week. Whoever thought The Subs are targeting the charts with a second ‘Pope of Dope’, guess again: ‘Decontrol’ is a massive collision between frenzy acid, obscure italo and bouncy techno!
- by Dimitri Cologne
"The Pope of Dope was a one night stand" - The Subs
Q: First things first. Highbloo joined the band.
Papillon: We’ve been doing a lot of studio work together with Highbloo (rightside of the picture) recently and It didn’t take long to initiate him as a new band member. For a minute we thought about The Subs as a foursome but that wouldn’t work out in the end. Anyway there’s no conflict involved with changing the line-up. We’re still good friends with Stefan and he wanted to pursue other projects such as a rock band.
Q: So this means there won’t be any more guitars on stage during a Subs gig?
Papillon: There aren’t any guitars on both albums either... From now on we only perform live with synths and drum computers. But no worries: the rock attitude will remain. You don’t really need a guitar to be punk!
Highbloo: Actually on stage we use the “keytar” and, less familiar, the “zendrum”, both look like a guitar but are in fact midi-controllers, triggering any sound we like.
Q: Who actually does what on stage?
Papillon: We all play whatever equipment is on stage. There are three units and we go round during the show. In a way, The Subs live is perfectly comparable with what we’re doing in the studio: a healthy mix of analog and digital gear.
Q: Since you’ve become member of a very busy band, how will you manage to combine the tight schedule with your school studies at the Brussels Jazz Conservatory?
Highbloo: I dropped out of school. It was good for getting familiar with instruments, but jazz isn’t my kind of music so it didn’t work out. Plus on the other side, doing my own productions and working with The Subs I felt more creative compared to just sitting at school learning how to play an instrument.
Papillon: Most great talents quit school, don’t worry!
Q: On the album sleeve Highbloo is mentioned three times as a guest. Did you only work on those three song?
Highbloo: Correct. But as from today I’ll be fully working on every Subs production.
Q: We can’t avoid this question: “The Pope of Dope” is not on the tracklist. Why not, being your most successful single to date?
Papillon: Honestly. Do you think this song would still push the album forwards after it has been in everyone’s iTunes and featured on a dozen compilations? It was also more of a Partyharders track, we had fun doing it but that’s really it.
DJ Tonic: Plus, listening to the album in its whole, “The Pope of Dope” just wouldn’t fit on it.
Q: So for those who are wondering about it, you’re not working in the studio on another sing-along festival anthem?
Papillon: Not really. “The Pope of Dope” was a one night stand.
Q: Jeroen, in the press text of ‘Decontrol’ you stated that The Subs make music for the shuffle generation. What exactly do you mean by that?
Papillon: It’s not that we make music for people to just listen to it for a few seconds and then skip to another one. The shuffle generation moves from one style of music to another, very diverse and without any boundaries.
Q: What’s great about The Subs is that you’re still one of the few acts that keeps on building further on the sound which you became appreciated for instead of just going along with the flavour of the month.
Papillon: True. We could’ve done dubstep but it would’ve been more interesting doing that a year ago. We stick to our sound because it’s one that allows itself to keep evolving. We can add a flute on a scorching electro beat and it would still sound awesome.
Q: If you had one ambition with this second album; What would have been that and did you succeed in it?
DJ Tonic: Making The Subs sound like a real band… I personally think it’s going the right way.
Q: A great band album sound diverse and “Decontrol” manages to do that. One of the standout tracks on the album is the epic “Hannibal and The Battle of Zama”. You have been listening a lot to Giorgio Moroder?
Papillon - We always do, being suckers for old school.
Q: What’s actually the story behind making a track with a title that refers to a great battle of ancient times?
Papillon - I started working on it the day after a massive argument with my girlfriend, I just had to let it out. The melancholy and switching to upfront rhythms, it all makes sense. I might’ve felt like Hannibal at the time.
Q: Hannibal lost the battle.
Papillon - I probably lost it too, but luckily it was that kind of argument which involves drama but passion as well!
Q: “Decontrol” is released on Lektroluv Records, never thought about moving on to a bigger record label while aiming for a worldwide breakthrough?
Papillon: Not really. Why hook up with a major if you can work with a well organized label that knows what it’s doing. And just have a look on what’s happening on Lektroluv Records now: Sound of Stereo, VNNR, Mumbai Science, G-Tronic,… It’s a seed-bed for talent and we’re happy to be a part of it!
Check out The Subs: