In 2008 The Subways released All or Nothing, their second studio album. Since then, they have been all over the place, including regular slots at the Reading and Leeds Festivals that have earned them a bit of a cult following. But nearly three years on, The Subways are back in the studio recording their third hotly anticipated studio album, and The EDGE’s Hayley Taulbut was lucky enough to catch up with them in the process. She chats to lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Billy Lunn.
1. It’s been nearly three years since the release of All or Nothing in 2008 – where have you guys been?!
Billy: We’ve been touring mostly – but at the beginning of 2010 we began writing what would turn out to be this new album! It’s been a much longer process this time, as I rarely wrote any new ideas whilst touring All or Nothing because we were so busy! We went round Europe a good couple of times and it was incredible. That’s the thing with us. We’re an enthusiastic touring band – we love to be out on the road and we love to be on the stage – and sometimes we forget we have to write a new album!
2. So, with the new album in fruition, how is it all going? Has it been stressful and intense or enjoyable in the studio?
Billy: It’s been all three of those and more! Because we spent some time at home with our families we really got back into the routine of everyday life, which is very strange when you’ve spent the last seven years on the road. And because of that I think I wrote a series of very observant songs. I had time to sit back and watch the world without being fully involved in doing my own thing. I wrote, at the very least, three tracks a week after I moved into my new flat in Hertfordshire, and took those ideas to Charlotte and Josh and we’d demo them immediately after piecing them together. Sometimes I’d go for months writing terrible songs. I’d be tearing my hair out and then five great ones would come along in the space of a few days. By the end of the rehearsal and demoing sessions we’d recorded tracks that were very, very close to the final versions. We even used some of the demo parts in the actual recordings we made with Stephen.
3. How will this new record fit in with your other two releases – is it a new direction, what is it about thematically?
Billy: Thematically it’s much closer to the first record. It’s more about stories to do with me, my friends, celebrity culture, money, love, partying. It’s much more varied in terms of the subjects I’m dealing with in the songs than the second record, which was mainly about heartbreak and trying to find love again! I’d say we’ve gone back to the style of the first album – raw!
4. You are working with Stephen Street, best known for his work in the 80s with The Smiths, for this new record. He has also produced for Blur, The Cranberries, Kaiser Chiefs and Pete Doherty. What’s it been like to work with such a legendary figure?
Billy: It’s always mind blowing to be working with someone whose records you fell in love with. I remember on a drunken night out after a session of recording guitars I disclosed to Stephen that the song Girls & Boys by Blur (a track he helped make with Blur on the album Parklife) was the soundtrack to my first obsession with a girl. He’s a very intelligent and very approachable guy. The demos were all pretty much there when we went into the studio with Stephen, but I was more than happy to hear his ideas and amendments to the songs – not only because his ideas were always so good, but also because of his experience.
5. So, when can we look forward to the album’s release?
Billy: The album will be released in September, though hopefully we’ll have the first single out by June so we can get people excited about it.
6. In June you are touring up and down the UK – it’s been a pretty long time since you have done a full tour, how are you feeling about it? Nervous/excited etc?
Billy: We’re so excited about touring we’re almost depressed that it hasn’t happened yet! Bring on June!
7. And following this, what can we expect from you guys over the Summer and into the future?
Billy: Hopefully a much bigger tour after the summer and then some festivals next year! I’m getting sick with excitement just thinking about it!