Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Interview: The Subways

Formed in 2000, The Subways got their break by winning Glastonbury's Unsigned Band competition and landing a slot at the festival. From there, they've gained a reputation as one of the best live bands in the UK scene right now and have currently released four albums.

The band have always worked at being as completely involved in every aspect of their career as possible, starting from tirelessly producing their own demos in the early days, so it's no surprise that these days the they are embracing fan-funding platform PledgeMusic; their latest album was funded that way, and their current campaign is to fund a North American tour. 

Drummer Josh Morgan was kind enough to answer a few questions for this blog, check out what he had to say below!
You guys formed when you were all in your teens. How long have you each been interested in making music?
Billy reached for a guitar for the first time having heard Supersonic by Oasis during his early teens. He had always been a fan of popular music such as Blur, Oasis and Nirvana, and developed a taste for song writing early on. I believe he was always destined to do something within the arts. 
Charlotte had been classically trained on piano, and I'm sure on a wind instrument too. They were dating at a young age so Billy encouraged her to learn bass to join the band. 
And I just followed suit for a bit of fun.

Were you involved in any bands before The Subways?
No, The Subways has been our only project. We developed ourselves for The Subways and not the other way around.

Musically, who would you say your biggest influences are?
A wide range of bands. I'd say Nirvana/Oasis/ACDC for the guitar sounds. Motown/Fleetwood Mac/The Vines for the vocal melodies. Muse/Garbage for the Bass sound. And The White Stripes/The Von Bondies for drums.

You've funded your last two albums through PledgeMusic, and are now funding your North American tour the same way. Do you think fan-funding platforms like PledgeMusic give bands more freedom?
It gives us an opportunity to tour areas we can't afford and not bankrupt ourselves doing so. There's no doubt that the state of the industry forces bands to be creative with the way they finance things and this is one of the genius ways to keep music moving. We couldn't ignore the pleads from our American fans any longer and this was the best solution. My suggestion of selling Billy's body to finance the tour was quickly shunted down.

When it came to your most recent album, you decided to record/produce etc the whole thing yourselves. What led to that decision?
We felt that we had learned enough from Ian Broudie, Butch Vig and Stephen Street to be able to attempt it ourselves. Each of them had taught us a tremendous amount about our instruments and sound. Billy worked his arse off and began to find his rhythm during the process. It was really fun.

Now that you've experienced both, do you prefer the DIY approach to doing things?
Definitely DIY. Not only is it financially viable, but watching Billy lose his mind over something like floor tom phasing is just too funny.
I've interviewed a few bands about their experiences of sexism within the music industry, and I was wondering if this has ever been a problem for you as a band (ie not being taken seriously for having a female member, Charlotte being treated differently than Billy and Josh etc)?
Billy is a huge feminist, and sexism has been an issue for us. One example from the top of my head is when a man from a record label exclaimed to us that women should not be in rock. Very mindless and stupid and it has an vindictive affect on us. It's shocking for us to see any form of discrimination and we are all willing to fight for equality. I think lack of education may be a factor behind discrimination, and certainly intelligence. It's extremely archaic.

Once again, this years festival line-ups are shaping up to feature very few women on their stages. What are your thoughts on that?
It's strange. If it's a conscious decision for promoters/agents to ignore or underestimate bands with females in then it's ridiculous because we are missing out on some amazing artists. I saw a band recently that astounded me called Tiger Bells. I was really impressed with a natural knack of songwriting ability within the group and their performance was phenomenal. The band after them was 4 good looking lads dressed in black with not a decent song to their name. Tiger Bells have been overlooked and Wanna Wanna is the best song I've heard in years.

You've played at quite a few festivals yourselves, do you have a favourite festival to play?
Most festivals on mainland Europe are exceptional. My favourite must be Hurricane/Southside due to the atmosphere. In the UK, the smaller, the better. 2000 Trees is one of the best.

A lot of bands seem to get tired of playing the "hits", particularly ones from earlier in their career. Do you ever feel that way about the likes of Oh Yeah and Rock and Roll Queen, or do those songs still seem as much to you as they did back then?
No, we love playing these songs. They are really fun and still feel fresh when we play them. Some of my favourite songs to play are from the first album.
Do you have a favourite song to play live?
A song of our new record called We Get Around gives me such a buzz that I feel urged to trash my kit from adrenaline. Unfortunately it was the fifth or sixth song on the set list on the last tour so I would have to reconstruct the kit.

And finally, is there anything else you'd like to add?
We are just so damn exited to be going back to America. Thank you to all the people participating on Pledge especially, as we have been able to finance this tour and come meet you all. I hope we all have a great time together!

Thank you Josh for doing this interview! Check out The Subways' current Pledge campaign here.

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