The Subways

The three members of The Subways have an average age of 21, but the British band hasbeen honing its craft for more than five years, embracing a DIY, fans-first approach with  relentless gigging and promotion that has skyrocketed its profile.

The group, which recently joined the likes of The Killers and Modest Mouse with an appearance on “The O.C.,” has had the same lineup since its inception: Billy Lunn on vocals and guitar; his girlfriend, Charlotte Cooper, on bass and vocals; and his brother Josh Morgan on drums.

“Billy used to record our demos at home and then I’d spend ages on the Internet finding venues to send CDs out to,” Cooper told Pollstar.

The trio also had help from friends, family and manager Ben Kirby, who convinced the band to be his first client after seeing a performance when the members were in their mid-teens.

When the energetic rockers heard about the Glastonbury Festival Unsigned Bands Competition, they submitted a disc and soon got a phone call that they’d won and would be performing at the 2004 event.

“It definitely set us in motion, I think,” Cooper said. “We’d been playing around the London area for about three years prior to that. When we won the Glastonbury competition, it allowed us to play some more festivals later that summer and also gave us enough of a profile to book our first U.K. tour.

“And we’ve pretty much been on the road ever since, apart from taking time out to record the album.”

Indeed, the band was getting so much attention by September 2004 that Kirby decided to reach out for help from an industry veteran: longtime Pretenders/Chrissie Hynde manager Gail Colson.

Colson told Pollstar she is “very fussy” and doesn’t take on new clients very often, but was immediately intrigued by the idea of co-managing the group.

“I was sent three tracks, demos, which I thought were really great,” Colson said.

“It basically appealed to me because, you know, I’ve been managing people for 30 years and I don’t particularly want to go out on the road with them anymore or hold their hands.

“So it suited me fine to have somebody who goes off and does that, and I can just help and go shout at the record company and things.”

Speaking of record companies, the band eventually signed with Warner subsidiary Infectious Records, which released the debut album, Young For Eternity, in the U.K. last July.

The Subways


The group then inked a U.S. deal with Sire/Warner, which gave the album a Stateside release in February. Lunn, Cooper and Morgan promptly flew over for a March club tour that saw them selling out a number of venues.

“We were so amazed at the amount of people that came along to the shows, and with the response we were getting as well,” Cooper said. “Even though a lot of people only had the album for a couple weeks, or only knew the single ‘Rock & Roll Queen,’ everyone was still really willing to get into the set and to have a really good time with us at the gigs.”

As on their previous visit a short December promo tour The Subways headlined all gigs rather than finding a bigger band to open for.

“It’s something that we really wanted to do. That’s how we’ve made our fan base in the U.K.,” Cooper said. “We have to play the small club dates but you really kind of make more of a connection with the people in the audience, I think. That’s what it’s all about for us. So it was great for us to get back to the small crowds and meet all the fans after the show. It’s fantastic.”

Back home, the band is playing venues with capacities upwards of 2,000.

“We’re going to try to get out to as many places as we possibly can,” Cooper said.

“We’ll be doing a lot of festivals around Europe over the summer and then going in to record the second album as well, towards the latter part of the year which is going to be really exciting. We’ve got a lot of songs ready that we’re really excited about and can’t wait to get down.”

“They have an amazing work ethic, and they know it’s going be a long haul, and they’re up for it,” Colson said. “Billy is probably one of the most ambitious musicians I’ve ever met.”