Interview: Josh Morgan of The Subways @ Rock and Roll Hotel, 4/12/16

the subways jan 2016
Josh Morgan, Charlotte Cooper, and Billy Lunn of The Subways (Photo courtesy Earshot Media)

Just hearing the garage punk thumping of “Rock & Roll Queen” by The Subways instantly takes you back 10 years, when the UK trio introduced the earworm to the world.

Now, The Subways are poised to return to the United States on tour for the first time since 2008. Vocalist and guitarist Billy Lunn, vocalist and bassist Charlotte Cooper, and drummer Josh Morgan will kick off a US tour here in DC at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Tuesday, April 12, marking the US release of their fourth album (self-titled) the following Friday via Bodan Kuma Recordings.

By the way, the band launched a campaign on Pledge Music to raise money for their tour. They are offering meet and greets, handwritten music, signed records, signed set lists, signed photos, personalized poems, and even their tour drum kit available for fans to own via pledging their support! For details, visit http://www.thesubways.net. (The band has almost reached their goal, last I checked, and the campaign still has 12 days remaining as of today.)

Mickey McCarter of Parklife DC caught up with drummer Josh via email to chat about why the band has been away from the States, the new record, and the old records!

Mickey McCarter: This is your first US tour in eight years! What kept you away for so long?

Josh Morgan: It was circumstantial. We absolutely adore the USA, but unfortunately the opportunity to tour never arose. It has been on our minds for years to go back, and we are pleased things have finally pieced themselves together nicely. We are so buzzed with excitement.

MM: You produced the new album, due here in the United States on April 16, yourselves! Can you give us some insight on how the three of you worked together on this album? How was it different than working with a high-profile producer as you did in previous albums?

JM: It was actually an enjoyable dynamic with just the three of us. It was a familiar experience really as we have always demoed our songs, but instead of sending the demos to a producer we just released them. Billy felt the brunt of change since he took the job on solo, as well as writing the guitar parts, vocal melodies and lyrics. He worked his socks off! Spending 16 hours per day behind a monitor. I got plenty of PS4 time during this intense period.

Watch the official music video for the single “Good Times” by The Subways on YouTube:

MM: The new album sounds great (I’m listening to it now on Spotify)! But I often think a great producer can make or break an album. You guys worked with two of the best in the past — Butch Vig of Garbage, who produced Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Sonic Youth, and Stephen Street, famous for his work with The Smiths and Blur. Any insights as to what it was like to work with such high-profile producers? Did you take anything away from those experiences and incorporate it into your work afterward?

JM: They were all a pleasure to work with. We learnt huge amounts from all of them and they kept a really nice environment which is very important to us. The main thing Billy took away from the experiences are some new recording techniques, which he is still developing and learning as he goes now. I learned a lot from Stephen Street on intricate details within a song, like cymbal use.

MM: Where do you guys find the energy? The new, self-titled album sounds as powerful and as frenetic as your first!

JM: Thanks! That’s very kind. We write songs with live performance in mind as our lives revolve around touring. And trying to get that energy onto an album is challenging. But, I think Billy knew exactly what he wanted from each song and spent all his effort to recreate an essence of our live ferociousness.

MM: I’m a big movie buff, so I have to ask you about your appearance in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla. (I find his films appealing in part because they seem so uniquely British.) How did that come about? Have you considered being in other films?

JM: Guy phoned Billy one day and mentioned that he was a fan of ours, loved our live performance and wanted us in his next movie. I think Billy was lost for words as he is a movie buff himself, but managed to scramble some sentences together to organize the event! It was amazing and we felt humbled by Guy’s interest in us. We would love to appear in other movies if the opportunity arises!

MM: Welcome back to the States! We look forward to seeing you in DC, and we hope that you’ll return sooner next time

JM: Thanks! We are so excited to go back to the Capital! Thanks for the interview 🙂

English noisepop quintet PINS open for The Subways. (Read our review of PINS from their visit to DC in June 2015.) Tickets are available online.

The Subways
w/ PINS
Rock and Roll Hotel
Tuesday, April 12
Doors @7pm
$18-20
All ages

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