The Subways looking forward to second U.S. tour


June 25, 2006


"Hope I die before I get old," the Who famously declared in "My Generation." Four decades later, the Subways boasted of being "Young for Eternity," and as the title promised, their debut album was both an explosion of youthful vitality -- two of the three band members aren't yet of legal drinking age in the States -- and an update of the vintage mod, R&B and psychedelic sounds that swept Swinging London in the mid-'60s.

"We are all lucky to have grown up in households that appreciate good music," Subways bassist and vocalist Charlotte Cooper says of how she, her fiance, vocalist/guitarist Billy Lunn, and his younger brother, drummer Josh Morgan, were first exposed to the British Invasion sounds so readily referenced on their album. But their definition of "classic rock" also may surprise some fans: Cooper adds that the first album she heard that made her want to join a rock band was Nirvana's "Bleach."

"I had never heard rock music before I met Billy and Josh," Cooper says, laughing. "Billy was really into Nirvana, so he said, 'I'll play you this one before I let you hear the really popular one' ['Nevermind']."

For Lunn, the moment that convinced him to strap on a guitar and try his hand at writing songs was watching Oasis perform "Supersonic" on "Top of the Pops." And the influence of the Gallagher brothers -- especially the early, modder efforts, before the onset of their bloated Beatles phase -- looms large in the exuberant rhythms and sing-along choruses of Subways songs such as "Rock & Roll Queen" and "Oh Yeah."

"I know a lot of bands get annoyed when they hear people say they sound like other bands, but we're not bothered by comparisons," Cooper says. "We're pretty willing to admit that we sound a bit like Oasis or Nirvana. These are the people that made us want to do music and they have had a great impact on our lives, so of course, they're gonna shine through on some of the songs."

Adopting his mother's maiden name, Lunn left school at age 16 and worked a series of menial day jobs while practicing and writing songs at night. In time, he recruited his brother on drums and taught his girlfriend to play bass -- "This is the only band the three of us have ever been in, and I think it works because we have all learned how to be a band together," Cooper says -- and the trio began to attract attention in the United Kingdom.

When the group won the Glastonbury Festival's Unsigned Performers Competition in 2004, it suddenly went from performing in half-full pubs to playing for 10,000 people at the big British music festivals. Eager for some fresh newcomers to laud after the Arctic Monkeys, the New Musical Express proclaimed the Subways "the sexiest thing to sweep rock 'n' roll off its feet in years." Floating their songs via the Internet helped the band win a bridgehead in America -- the fact that "Rock & Roll Queen" appeared on "The O.C." didn't hurt, either -- and the trio finally released "Young for Eternity" last February in the United States.

"At this point, it seems like ancient history since we made the album," Cooper says. "It was quite daunting: We had never really spent that much time in the studio before. We had some songs completely ready that we just jammed out, but then there were other songs that we made up in the studio, which we never really had the opportunity to do before. It was something that really excited us. We were able play around with different guitar, keyboard and bass ideas that we wouldn't be able to do live, and working with someone like [producer] Ian [Broudie of the Lightning Seeds] was great -- he has had such a great career as an artist as well as a producer, and he was a guiding force throughout the whole process."

One of the Subways' biggest charms is how thoroughly they convey the excitement of passionate discoveries, whether it's first love or that initial brush with the sense of indomitability that comes from forming your first rock band. The word "jaded" clearly isn't in their vocabularies.

"On our first trip to America, we did eight showcase dates last December, and we got to see so much of this country, especially on the drives between the shows," Cooper gushes. "We got to see everything from the deserts to the mountains, and we're just incredibly excited about coming back and seeing even more. We still can't believe that people are so excited about us: We sold out almost every show we played, and at almost every gig, everybody was incredibly receptive, singing along and all of that. It's really just amazing!"