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[Interview] The Subways

Added on 30th October 2004

The Subways - Billy, Mary-Charlotte and Josh(image)
The Subways - Billy, Mary-Charlotte and Josh

Over the past 6 months The Subways have been making their mark on the indie live circuit through supporting bands such as The Von Bondies, Stellastarr*, The Datsuns and Charlotte Hatherley. They recently released a very limited edition single (only 500 copies were pressed), and these have been going on eBay for up to £50! They are also in the middle of their first headlining tour of the UK. Not bad for a band who started out when singer/guitarist Billy Lunn taught his brother (Josh Morgan - drums) and girlfriend (Mary-Charlotte Cooper - bass and vocals) to play their instruments in order to enter a local bands competition. I interviewed Billy and Charlotte before they played in Leeds. Josh had "prior engagements" (he was talking on the phone to his girlfriend!), but apparently he hardly ever talks in interviews anyway.

First things first, who are you, and where do you come from?

Billy: I'm Billy, I'm the guitarist and singer, and I come from Welwyn Garden City.
Charlotte: I'm Charlotte, I'm the bassist and singer, and I come from Essex.

When did the band first start?

Billy: We first started when I entered a local rock competition. I had just taught myself the guitar and I was playing a few of my own songs, and I really needed people to work with. So I asked Josh who is my brother to do the drums, and Charlotte who was my then girlfriend to play bass, and I taught them how to play their instruments within about a week, and we entered and got to the semi finals.

If you weren't in the band what would you be doing?

Charlotte: I'd probably be at university by now, because I've just finished my A-Levels, and that was the plan before all this kicked off.
Billy: I'd still be doing my job, cleaning. I used to work in a hotel, collecting dirty sheets and packing them away and delivering them. If I wasn't doing this I would probably be cleaning office blocks, or whatever. And I'd be reading during the day, because reading is such a big pastime of mine. It's so important.

Who are your favourite authors?

Billy: Bukowski at the moment, and Luke Rhinehart who wrote The Dice Man. I'm actually really getting into Sci-Fi Fantasy at the moment, and I never thought I would. I'm more of a realist kind of guy, and I like my psycho-analytic novels.

What would you say to people who might dismiss you as another "The..." band?

[laughter]
Billy: I'd have to say that if anyone does dismiss us purely because of our name then they shouldn't be listening to our music anyway. They don't deserve to listen!
Charlotte: There's nothing wrong with "The" bands, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones. There's some great "The" bands!
Billy: Its happened since the beginning of rock music.

Your limited edition single 1am sold out even before it went on sale. Were you surprised at how well it did?

Billy: [After a few seconds of thought] No, I don't think so.
Charlotte: The song has been around for a while in our set, and on our website there were a lot of people asking about it, so we knew that it was going to go quickly, but we didn't realise that it would go that quickly!
Billy: That's the thing, we thought that once it was on sale it would go, but having sold out before it was even released was just amazing. A big shock.

What was it like when you first heard 1am on the radio?

Charlotte: The first time was actually on Claire Sturgess's unsigned session so we had all our families listening. It was really exciting!
Billy: We recorded it at home in our living room and it meant so much more with it being all our own work, because I produced it and we all contributed to the mixing, so it meant so much more.

Are there any plans for a standard single release?

Billy: Yeah, we are looking to release a single off our album around January time as a general release to kick off, and then release an album in about May time.

Which producers are you looking at working with for the album?

Billy: We're just looking around at the moment. We've just had a barrage of producers put their names forward, which is fantastic. We had one wannabe producer down in Newport who came and watched us. He got so excited, all he kept shouting between the songs was "You rock and roll motherfuckers! Lets get in the studio!"
Charlotte: He was very cool!

I first heard of you when you had won the Glastonbury New Bands competition. How did that come about?

Billy: Well, I was producing a local band, because in our hometown I produce a lot of local acts that are up and coming, and I asked them what they were going to do with their CD once we had finished mastering it, and they said they were going to send it off to Michael Eavis for Glastonbury. So I basically just photocopied the forms that they were going use, sent one of our newest demos in, got a call back saying they wanted us for the New Bands tent, and then got a call 2 weeks later from Michael Eavis saying that he wanted us on The Other Stage.

Did you watch the other bands from in the field, or did you do the showbiz thing and watch them from the side of the stage?

Charlotte: We were only allowed behind The Other Stage on the Saturday. We saw the Von Bondies from backstage, and we saw all the other bands from out the front. It's still nice to see them from out the front, because you don't get the same energy [from the side of the stage]

Was it as a response to you playing at Glastonbury that you were booked for Leeds and Reading and the other festivals you played over the summer?

Billy: Well, our agent put us forward [for Leeds and Reading] and I don't think Mean Fiddler had any spaces left, and at the last minute I think someone pulled out and someone said The Subways straight away. That was amazing.

Which has been the most enjoyable festival that you've played?

Charlotte: I think I would have to say Reading, because me and Billy have been going there as punters for about three years now, with our friends. We always go to the Carling Stage. I think the Carling stage is wicked! So to actually be there playing, on the other side of it all, was amazing.

You've supported many bands, who were the best band to support?

Billy: Charlotte Hatherley was great. Its really hard because we've supported some really fantastic local bands, which I have to say are a lot better than the really big mainstream bands that we've played with.
Charlotte: With Charlotte [Hatherley], we had such a great time on that tour. It was really cool. All the rest of her band were lovely as well. That was really cool.
Billy: Yeah, Charlotte Hatherley was probably the most enjoyable.

How different is it touring in your own right compared to following other bands around?

Charlotte: Its a lot nicer! Its great to support, but doing a headline show is special.

And you get bigger dressing rooms too?

Billy: And more beer!

If you could support any band, past or present, at any point in their career, who would it be?

Charlotte: Muse at Earl's Court in a few weeks time!
Billy: For me it would have to be...
Charlotte: It's a very hard question! Even though I answered it just like that, I was thinking about that gig earlier today.
Billy: I think it would have to be Nirvana's first show in the UK in Newcastle.
Charlotte: Are you sure it wasn't in Newport?
Billy: No, Kurt Cobain proposed to Courtney Love in Newport, they came over to Newcastle and they played with Tad. So yeah, Nirvana in Newcastle, their first UK tour date.

You seem to know quite a lot about Nirvana! Are you big fans?

Billy: Yeah! I tend to look up a lot about bands. If I feel a real association with a band I'll learn everything I can about them. I'll learn all the stories, you know, The Doors, Nirvana, Oasis, Blur, The Beatles, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads. I really do get into bands, and I find that if I associate with them I might as well go the whole hog and learn the whole history.
Charlotte: There's some great books out there, like Wonderland Avenue by Danny Sugerman, who managed The Doors and Iggy Pop, and hear about all of that. Theres some fantastic stories out there.

If you could play a gig at any venue which would it be?

Charlotte: The Viper Rooms [in Los Angeles] would be quite cool.
Billy: Owned by Johnny Depp!
Charlotte: Just because Johnny Depp might come down and say hello!
Billy: I'd love to meet him, because he's such a fantastic actor, and he seems like a great personality and I'd love to learn about him.

What's the most Rock and Roll thing you've ever done?

Charlotte: Play a gig I think!
Billy: Yeah, every member of a band gets up to something silly or stupid or drunken and I think it's not rock and roll, its just having fun.
Charlotte: It's just what happens at a gig really.
Billy: And people like to sensationalise all the wrong doings of people. I think the most rock and roll thing a band can do is play an awesome show.

So you haven't trashed any hotel rooms yet?

Billy: Yet! [laughter] We haven't come across any really annoying receptionists at our hotels yet!
Charlotte: That's because we're not supposed to be in the rooms, we're all supposed to be children!
Billy: So we all have to leg it past!

Who are the most famous people you've got in your phonebooks?

Charlotte: I don't have anyone famous at all!
Billy: Imran Ahmed for me. The new bands editor from the NME. I was going to call him up and really drunkenly shout profanity down the phone!

Would you ever change the type of music that you do in order to get more fame or more money?

Billy: Never!
Charlotte: Not to get more fame. I think our music will change, but just as a natural artistic progression.
Billy: Even now our artistic development is ongoing, we're writing newer songs that we've never really played before. Each song we play has its own personality, is the way I look at it, and we write songs and play them because we love the way they sound and the way we play them. If people then like it then it's great, it's a bonus.

Would you ever bow down to record company pressure to write a "hit"?

Billy: I've already written a hit! I've already got a load of hits up my sleeve. It's them [record companies] who are trying to persuade us to sell them on their record label.

Where do you see yourselves in 12 months time?

Charlotte: Coming off the back of the festivals, probably thinking about second album by then. Hopefully embarking on a bigger UK tour, maybe Europe as well.
Billy: I'd like to have toured Japan by this time next year.
Charlotte: Yeah, I'd like to have been to Japan.

Can you see yourselves rocking into your forties and fifties like U2 and The Who?

Charlotte: Yeah! I want to play forever!
Billy: I can seriously see myself fading away. Probably after the third album, getting out of this place!
Charlotte: If we're not in the spotlight though, we'll still be playing our instruments until our fingers stop working.
Billy: More playing for ourselves.
Charlotte: Even if its not playing under the fame or whatever, we'll still be playing.

And finally, your current single is called 1am. What were you doing at 1am last night?

Billy: We were in the hotel.
Charlotte: We were watching a re-run of Frank Skinner with Graham Coxon on it, weren't we?
Billy: Yeah, and we think that Graham Coxon is probably the sweetest being on this earth!
Charlotte: He's so cute!
Billy: He's brilliant!

The Subways are definitely a band to look out for in the near future, and the energy they have on stage is second to none. They are definitely on their way up in the world, and their infectious mix of blues-punk-rock will set radio, and your CD collection, alight.

--

The Subways were interviewed by: Jack

The Subways Official Website

Comments

Gravatar frannie says:-

I think that the subways ROCK!
OH YEAH is one of the best songs ever. I think Charlotte is so cool and she has inspired me to play bass.

20th April 2005 @ 18:49:30 GMT

Gravatar Paul says:-

Rock n Roll queen n oh yeah are defently the best songs of 2005 they deserve big things they such a great band they will soon become rocks number 1

7th May 2005 @ 12:01:42 GMT

Gravatar sam elleston *lee hagues friend* says:-

i think i want to hear what you got to say is amazing and catchy. saw u guys at the doctors tonic! pretty fab! luv 1am as wel..
best to u guys !

23rd May 2005 @ 14:49:04 GMT

Gravatar Louise says:-

I love oh yeah, one of few songs i can actually play on drums which is great! Charlotte is such an inspiration to all us girlies who are into the musical side of things! Thanks guys! Keep rocking

4th June 2005 @ 20:58:52 GMT

Gravatar Rall says:-

She is?!

But she's so... short... and blonde.

4th June 2005 @ 21:51:25 GMT

Gravatar Kat says:-

OI! I'm short and blonde....and in a rock band so screw u!
Subways kick ass! They're gonna be around for a loooooooooooong time yet :oD

10th June 2005 @ 16:02:26 GMT

Gravatar Rall says:-

Thank you. For making my point for me.

11th June 2005 @ 20:09:12 GMT

Gravatar Rich says:-

Subways are a great band, its amazin to have found a young band whose songs reflect life at such an exciting time. 'I want to hear what you have got to say' is so damn passionate from my point of view! The intro sounds a bit close to one of my bands songs though, it shit me up big time when i first heard it! check us out brakelane.co.uk

5th July 2005 @ 11:31:11 GMT

Gravatar johnny says:-

The Subways r ma are my favourite band and always will be, i lyked u liked you a lot then i saw u you at the radio one big weekend and i got hooked, yur your album is the best in my collection and i av sum have some really good cd's in it.

[sorry, couldn't resist fixing some of it, it's still awful... - Bob-Ed]

14th July 2005 @ 21:39:41 GMT

Gravatar Rall says:-

They can't help it if they haven't finished their education yet. If they do at all.

15th July 2005 @ 23:40:24 GMT

Gravatar Nick says:-

Saw you at Guildford on Saturday you rocked! Guilfest on the other hand.....

18th July 2005 @ 12:46:28 GMT

Gravatar Amber says:-

just wanted to say that The Subways rock and I love all their songs and when they play, they inspire me.

18th July 2005 @ 18:38:56 GMT

Gravatar frannie says:-

i luv the subways. i saw them at glastonbary and they were incredible!

19th July 2005 @ 13:25:38 GMT

Gravatar DbN says:-

[edit: No spamming :P - Bob-Ed]

oh, and the subways rock!!!!!

2nd August 2005 @ 09:31:15 GMT

Gravatar Frank says:-

The subways are awesome, Mary is the best song of the century! they deserve to be the biggest band around. good luck

9th August 2005 @ 15:13:46 GMT

Gravatar katherine says:-

the subways are an amazing band, they will be around for ages! oh yeah is by far the best song of 2005! love you the subways - keep on rocking!

1st September 2005 @ 12:28:30 GMT

Gravatar dan says:-

saw them supporting razorlight, totally awesome band and seeing em in november cant wait most definitely the best around. mary charlotte has to be the sexiest girl in rock n roll

18th September 2005 @ 14:27:49 GMT

Gravatar daisy says:-

saw the subways on friday night and got to go backstage to meet them...and was given joshes signed drum sticks that he used to play rock n roll queen....wot an anthem!they are THE best ever cheers dudes x x

2nd October 2005 @ 15:10:12 GMT

Gravatar lee says:-

theyr pretty over rated. If they didnt have a blonde with a short skirt on bass who would be interested?

3rd October 2005 @ 15:39:23 GMT

Gravatar Yahoomedia says:-

The Subways Rock......saw them recently on tv in North london..keep up the good solid punk....oh and keep the mini...you really suit it too
yahoomedia.co.uk
moonshineonline.co.uk

4th October 2005 @ 14:18:45 GMT

Gravatar Alanna says:-

Subways are the best band around at the moment!! They kickass dudes!! I went to your concert in germany! My friends finbarr and rory and Nicky got to meet u! ARGH i hate them i wish i cud have!
Rock on Billy lun Mary charlotte and josh!

4th October 2005 @ 20:28:21 GMT

Gravatar fran says:-

i think subways are a great band. their passion and love for what they do has inspired me so much!

29th November 2005 @ 20:58:53 GMT

Gravatar Kieran says:-

Yeah, I think the subways are OK. Thing I find most amazing - the way it seems to me anyway - is that charlotte doesn't sound arrogant. She doesn't appear to be one of those stuck-up brats just because she's part of a popular band. Of course, anyone who thinks like this is a snot-nosed idiot that clearly needs brain surgery!!
Anyway, thats my $00.2.

18th December 2005 @ 15:24:18 GMT

Gravatar Rick says:-

HER NAME IS NOT MARY-CHARLOTTE, IT'S JUST CHARLOTTE. YOU ARE AN IDIOT JACK!!!!

19th December 2005 @ 13:06:17 GMT

Gravatar Bob says:-

No need to shout... at the time of the interview, the press called her Mary-Charlotte. So go away and stop moaning :)

I don't understand why you're calling people idiots for something that wasn't wrong at the time of publishing, get a life 'Rick'.

19th December 2005 @ 21:37:41 GMT

Gravatar rebecca says:-

i met the subways yesterday, the day after they played at big day out in auckland (which was amazing). They were so so lovely.
I love them x a kabillion

21st January 2006 @ 21:56:06 GMT

Gravatar andrea says:-

i wish the subways would come to canada. i f-ing love them! and so do all my friends. that's pretty much all i have to say. except that the subways are awesome..... kay bye
-andrea<3

4th February 2006 @ 23:38:52 GMT

Gravatar jurgen says:-

i think yore great i love yore band ever since i heard it in the program of the O.C i loved it rock n roll queen and i want to hear what you got to say and also one of my favorites son is OH YEAH!!

so i wish u great things good luck

5th February 2006 @ 20:28:01 GMT

Gravatar emillie says:-

That's just a fantastic band. Love them. Oh and "No Goodbyes" and Rock n' Roll Queen are really cool

24th February 2006 @ 14:15:54 GMT

Gravatar will says:-

the subways are amazing no goodbyes is great and so is with you,THE SUBWAYS ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10th March 2006 @ 20:55:54 GMT

Gravatar laura && kirsty says:-

were gna hav ther kids!!
april 7th wooooo
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx laura nd kirsty x
SUBWAYS ROCK ALOT.

12th March 2006 @ 10:39:10 GMT

Gravatar emma says:-

SUBWAYS REALLY REALLY ROCK and thats coming from a ten year old!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[hmm, that atucally makes them rock less! - BobEd]

12th March 2006 @ 13:11:56 GMT

Gravatar lucy rose says:-

i luv the subways! i heard them in a local music store and fell in love with their brit sound...only some canadians know about their music. the ones who enjoy indie and brit music. but i'm positive their going to be a huge hit in canada soon.

13th March 2006 @ 02:25:37 GMT

Gravatar Kirsty says:-

The subways are great! charlotte rocks! Billy, is my type of guy! He's gorgeous! xx

26th March 2006 @ 17:23:32 GMT

Gravatar mirjam says:-

why is everybody talkin about charlotte? You've forgotten billy, he's the hottest singer since I don't know when, and I love his voice :D btw, subways are great !!!!!!. love all their songs!!

29th March 2006 @ 17:40:10 GMT

Gravatar lea says:-

_THE SUBWAYS ARE SOOOOOOOOOO GREAT.EVEN WHEN I HEAR THEY I'LL BE HAPPY ^^

[This comment makes no sense - BobEd]

1st April 2006 @ 09:06:45 GMT

Gravatar Russ.B. says:-

As a sad old git ive seen the birth of many bands over the years from 1975 to now and ive learnt the smell of fresh new talent, The Subways have it, dont loose it,keep going,be raw,be new,be you,succeed.Where's the new stuff kids?c'mon feed my make me young again....Russ

6th April 2006 @ 19:38:29 GMT

Gravatar Russ.B. says:-

Soz 4 the last comment,a bit drunk last nite. The Subways- fresh faced,raw sounding,kickass mothers of a band,give it some more welly on the next tune guys, 2006 is your time,go for it.

7th April 2006 @ 18:46:41 GMT

Gravatar Scott says:-

The Subways are fuckin awesome. I first heard 'Rock n Roll Queen' on the O.C and since then I've been hooked. There should be more bands like them. Keep on rockin.

26th April 2006 @ 17:15:53 GMT

Gravatar pepsi says:-

The Subways are cool!!

12th May 2006 @ 17:01:24 GMT

Gravatar Russ.B says:-

I love subways real lots, they cheeky, they cool motherfluppers,they are real big time good,thanking you holy sheet mammas!

12th May 2006 @ 19:39:38 GMT

Gravatar Melli says:-

Ich liebe euch ihr seid die geilste band aller zeiten

5th August 2006 @ 13:03:35 GMT

Gravatar Matt says:-

I love Charlotte!!!! Billy can burn in hell.

5th August 2006 @ 19:58:05 GMT

Gravatar alessandro says:-

I am the singer of the cover group Italian of the subways and would have need to speak with billy and charlotte my number is urgent:is {number removed}

[I doubt this is the best place to get them to call, and i very much doubt they would anyway. I've removed your number because it's very silly posting it on the interweb for all to see. - BobEd]

15th October 2007 @ 19:43:30 GMT

Gravatar polly says:-

The subways are brilliant, its a shame about billy and charlotte splitting up, but im so glad the band stayed together, after all where would we get our inspiration from?

25th November 2008 @ 18:03:13 GMT

Gravatar The Subways says:-

i think yore great i love yore band ever since i heard it in the program of the O.C i loved it rock n roll queen and i want to hear what you got to say and also one of my favorites son is OH YEAH!!

so i wish u great things good luck

welovethesubways.com

6th February 2009 @ 01:29:55 GMT

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