"I fell totally into that thing Vic Godard said 'We oppose All Rock N Roll', Avoid all these cliches"
Lawrence, Felt (Mojo Magazine, May 2012)
"Whenever Godard adopted a style it became a genre and when it became a genre ... he did something else"
The Daily Telegraph, London
Welcome to a site about the great Vic Godard & the many faced Subway Sect. Vic Godard (born Vic Napper in London, England) is a vocalist, Subway Sect frontman, songwriter & postman.
Vic's musical adventure which has taken him from post-punk to postman began in 1976 when he formed the Subway Sect with assorted South London soul boys, Rob Symmons (aka Simmons/Miller) on guitar, Paul Myers on bass & Ray Price on drums (replaced later in 76 by Paul Packham (aka Smith) then Mark Laff, then Bob Ward). They formed at the suggestion of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren (who wanted another band for the line-up of the 100 Club Punk Festival) after spotting Vic, Rob & Paul at a Sex Pistols gig. Despite their inexperience, Subway Sect made a successful debut at the festival. They went on tour with The Clash on their White Riot Tour in 1977, as well as becoming a regular feature on the new Punk scene. They released their debut single, Nobody's Scared' / 'Don't Split It, in March 1978 on Braik Records, a label owned by Bernie Rhodes, who managed both The Subway Sect and The Clash. Rhodes however subsequently sacked all the band except Godard and the original Subway Sect ceased to exist. The album was never released, although the classic single from the sessions "Ambition" was released on Rough Trade Records, with the B-side "Different Story (Rock and Roll Even)" also taken from the same sessions. The single was a major hit on the alternative charts. A further track "Parallel Lines" was released from these sessions as a track on the C81 cassette produced by NME magazine. The original tapes from the 1978 album were lost.
Godard re-formed Subway Sect in 1980 with new musicians and released the album "What's The Matter Boy?" The influence of London soul/funk contributors The Black Arabs and the Chimes brothers on this LP produced a poppier, more soulful, sound. Following a summer tour with Buzzcocks, Subway Sect disbanded again. Vic was employed by Bernie Rhodes as a songwriter.
Bernard Rhodes on Vic Godard. 2012
In 1981 Vic got together with musicians whose talents allowed him to experiment with Jazz, Swing and Motown. This version of Subway Sect included Chris Bostock, Rob Marche, Sean McLusky and Dave Collard. The result was an album of '40s-style crooner music, "Songs For Sale", which included a version of Cole Porter's "Love For Sale" and as a single "Hey Now (I'm In Love)" backed by Vic's tribute to his hero Tony Bennett (Mr Bennett). Island Records sold the rights to London who released it. A run of shows at the newly formed 'Club Left' nights hosted at 'Ronnie Scotts' and 'The Wag Club' in London followed. This version of Subway Sect split after a tour with Altered Images, the rest of the band went on to form JoBoxers and record the hits "Boxerbeat" & "Just Got Lucky" (with Vic original, "Forget Me Love", on the flip) with new singer 'Dig Wayne'.
In 1982 Godard recorded an album at Olympic Studios, called T.R.O.U.B.L.E. with London Jazz group 'Working Week' and 'Pete Thomas’s Jumping Jive', a sophisticated swing-jazz album. It was so sophisticated in fact, that its £30,000 budget was soon swallowed up by musicians' and studio fees. "They panicked" rues Vic, "They shelved it." It was eventually released by Rough Trade Records in 1985. The album which contained a new set of songs in a Jazz/lounge style augmented by a couple of covers & re-workings of earlier Vic & The Subway Sect songs. The song "Holiday Hymn" was released as a single on the 'El' label in the Benelux countries (the album was re-released as an expanded CD in 2002 on Tugboat, re-named In T.R.O.U.B.L.E. Again, including songs not released at the time). Rough Trade also gathered together, the tracks from "Nobody's Scared',,"Ambition" and the two Peel Sessions and issued them as "A Retrospective" a fine introduction to Vic's varied ouevre. Sales were again disappointing and Godard retired from music and became a postman..
Then in 1992, Vic began recording on his newly-acquired portastudio. Around the same time, Geoff Travis paid for the recording of several new tracks, including "Johnny Thunders', a tribute inspired by reading the obituary of the New York Dolls guitarist who had recently died. The track was released in September 1992 on Rough, Trade's singles club. When the money from Geoff Travis ran out, Vic began recording with Edwyin Collins in his bedroom studio. Amazulu's Claire Kenny played bass, while Sex Pistol Paul Cook drummed. The recordings eventually became the album "The End of the Surrey People" Issued by Postcard in the spring of 1993, the album turned out to be something of a minor lett-field masterpiece, with new songs like "Malicious Love" and "Same Mistakes" benefiting from an edgy, indie-rock treatment.
1995 he added backing vocals to Edwyn's Collins' "Gorgeous George" album and the single "A Girl Like You" (Collins later covered "Won't Turn Back" on his "Keep On Burning' single).
In the late 90's Godard also joined the band Long Decline with Kenny Wisdom and ex Sniffin glue editor/Alternative TV frontman Mark Perry. The band released an album on the Overground label before disbanding in 1998, but re-formed in 2000 with Godard, Wisdom, Lee McFadden, and Mina Sassoon, among others. Godard contributed guitar and some songwriting, but not lead vocals.
In 1998, Godard released the album "Long Term Side-Effect" on Tugboat Records including a duet with Roddy Frame.
In 2002, Godard & a new Subway Sect released the album "Sansend", reflecting Vic's interest in Hip-Hop, sampling & dub. A mainly a beats-and-samples-based album. A very modern, urban sound, underpinned by Vic's legendary songwriting talent, and it showed that the Mortlake maestro was not one for standing still in his musical career. Recorded over two years along with sample-meister Nick Brown, guest musicians include Chantelle Lamond, a very promising young vocalist, and Bitter Springs stalwarts Simon Rivers and The Wizard. Reggae veteran Larry Marshall adds an extra dimension with a magnificent vocal performance on Heavy Heavy Heavy Load, the album's closing track.
Back In The Void from Sansend
Godard released the "Singles Anthology" on Motion Records compiling all A-sides and B-sides from Godard's career upto 2005.
In 2007, as Subway Sect, Godard recorded the songs that were intended for the lost debut LP back in 1978, and released them as "1978 Now". The line-up includes original drummer Mark Laff. Original bass player Paul Myers also features on some of the tracks. He also toured a few dates in support of this album.
2010 saw Vic self-release the 'Blackpool' EP and a new album, 'We Come As Aliens'. His first album of new material in eight years, Vic was joined by Paul Cook (Sex Pistols), Mark Braby (Sidi Bou Said), Gary Ainge (Felt) and Kev Younger (Armitage Shanks). (You can buy the Download EP or CD here.)
2011 was a busy year for Vic & The Subway Sect. Among the projects that were completed were "Live & Rare: Vol 1" album featuring tracks spanning his entire career from unreleased tracks & versions of Subway Sect classics, including Holiday Hymn & Ambition. The coming together of a new Subway Sect line up including (original member) Paul Myers, Kevin Younger, Mark Braby & sometime Sex Pistol Paul Cook. As well as recording with Giorgio 'The Dove' Valentino (Out now as a download release) & Barcalona's 'Mates Mates' (in Catalan!).
October 2012 saw the release of "Live & Rare: Vol 2" on the GNU label, Vic also played a new Marc Riley 6Music session and shows with The Sexual Objects in London, Newcastle, Manchester & Glasgow.
2013 Future plans include the release of '1979 NOW' an Edwyn Collins produced project that will finally see the infamous Subway Sect post-punk/Northern Soul infused set of 79 released as an album including the 'Caught In Midstream/You Bring Out The Demon In Me' single.
Subway Sect will be touring and recording in 2013 as Vic Godard, Kevin Younger, Mark Braby, Paul Cook (ex Sex Pistols), Paul Myers (of the original Sect) & Yusuf B'layachi.