My Music DNA: Billy Lunn of The Subways

Formed in 2002, The Subways aka Charotte Cooper and Billy Lunn multiple chart-worthy album releases including Young for Eternity (2005), All Or Nothing (2008), Money And Celebrity (2011), and The Subways (2015), spawning a slew of hit singles including ‘Rock & Roll Queen’, ‘Oh Yeah’, ‘Girls & Boys’ and ‘We Don’t Need Money To Have A Good Time’.

The first track to be taken from their forthcoming new album, latest single ‘Fight’ is The Subways’ first release without long-time drummer and founding member Josh Morgan, who announced his departure from the band in October 2020, shortly after studio sessions were completed.

The Subways new single is Fight

Produced by Lunn and mixed by Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Muse, New Order), ‘Fight’ is a precursor to the sonic texture of the new album, without giving too much away too early. In the advent of COVID, Lunn is producing and mixing bands in his Welwyn Garden City-based recording studio (with social-distancing measures in place) until touring resumes.

Billy Lunn recently revealed his Music DNA inspirations to Andy Howells

What was the first song that made an impact on you?

It was The Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The song didn’t just make me fall in love with music; it made me fall in love with the concept of love. What happened to the subject of the song that made them write and sing about it in such a way as this?!

Every time I hear it, wherever I am, I have to stop what I’m doing and sing along (albeit nowhere near as sublimely as Smokey). It’s majestic. I think this song is also one of the reasons why I love the sonnets of Petrarch so much – that feeling of unrequited love is so powerful, that only rhyming couplets can reach those heights.

What was the first single you bought?

I’m so thankful about this, because so many of my friends regret their first purchase, but mine was a CD single of Brimful of Asha by Cornershop. I remember putting the CD into the player, pressing play, and thinking ‘what the…!’

You see, I’d only heard the Norman Cook remix, which is both sped up, and a semitone higher than the original version (and with a load more sampled sounds peppered in). I actually grew to love the more sultry, lo-fi version of the original, but I still always get a kick of joy (and pride) when I hear the Norman Cook remix being played somewhere. I love that it was my first purchase.

What was the first album you owned?

Parklife by Blur. Oh my lordy, what an album. I was obsessed with the song Girls & Boys after I first stumbled upon it on a Now! That’s What I Call Music cassette tape my friend had let me borrow, so I begged my mum to get me the whole album. It wasn’t anything my parents had given me, or anything my friends had loaned me, it was all mine – a choice I’d made with regard to my own, cultivated music tastes. I still get that pang of that bittersweet melancholia listening back to it, just because so many memories from my childhood are attached to it. I’m also still in awe at (and baffled by) those licks of Graham Coxon’s on the guitar.

What’s your constant go to track?

It always changes, but at the moment it’s My Heartbeat by the Norwegian synth-pop princess that is Annie. It’s such a mix of so many great things: it’s upbeat, so you can dance to it; its chord sequences are minor key, but it’s actually quite celebratory; the key change going into and out of the choruses is song-writing brilliance!

What’s your constant go to album?

Again, that’s always changing: but at the moment it’s Volume 3 of the Stranger Things Original Soundtrack. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have catalysed in me an obsession with the Roland range of synthesizers – so much so, that, for the first time ever, I’ve introduced synths into our song-writing process. We’re no longer just rigidly sticking to the drums, bass, guitar instrumentation format – especially for our new album. So expect some new sounds from The Subways next year! Even now, three volumes in, Dixon and Stein are making remarkable original sound tracks that stand up in their own right, and Volume 3 is the first vinyl I get spinning when I turn all my equipment on in the recording studio.

Who’s your latest music discovery?

A synthpop duo called CATBEAR. That they’re still unsigned is an absolute travesty! Every time they release a new song on Bandcamp, I just sit there and think ‘how do they keep making such incredible music every single time?!’

What’s your own track that best defines you as an artist?

I would have to say our new single, which is coming out later this year. It still calls back to our early releases (such as those from our first album, Young For Eternity), but it’s an indication also of our unwillingness to inhabit a singular genric sound. It’s also about love, which is a subject I simply cannot escape as an artist. It consumes me.

What’s the track that best defines you as a person?

By another artist, Sabotage by The Beastie Boys. Raucous, unwieldy, erratic, and constantly sabotaging by compulsion. The Subways track that best defines me as a person is probably the title track from Young For Eternity.

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