Our first signing as Transgressive Records, the single '1am' was an exhilarating slice of 'Punk 'n Roll' that launched their career.
Bringing together the hard guitars and attitude of punk, the ear-catching melodies and choruses of pop, and the pomp and swagger of Brit-pop, the Subways started as teenage upstarts on the U.K. music scene and matured into a more polished and experienced group without sacrificing their outgoing personality. Formed by Billy Lunn (guitar/vocals) and Charlotte Cooper (bass/vocals), the Subways were still working through their influences on their 2006 debut, Young for Eternity, but 2008’s All or Nothing firmed up their approach and put their music into tighter focus. Their self-titled 2015 LP touched on personal themes without dulling their edge, and after dealing with personnel changes within the band, they were back with 2023’s polished and high-spirited Uncertain Joys.
The Subways were formed in Welwyn Garden City, a community in Hertfordshire, England, in 2000. Guitarist and vocalist Billy Lunn and his brother, drummer Josh Morgan, spent a lot of time hanging out at a neighborhood subway stop, talking about music, when they decided to form a band. The brothers, both in their early teens, practiced at the family home, where they jammed on songs by Nirvana, Green Day, and other punk and alternative favorites, as well as material from their folks’ record collections, such as the Beatles, T. Rex, AC/DC, and the Carpenters. A television performance by Oasis encouraged Lunn to put more effort into his guitar work, and when he met Charlotte Cooper, she impressed him with her knowledge of bands like Mudhoney, the Pixies, and the Jam. Cooper became Lunn’s girlfriend and the budding group’s bass player, and they named themselves Mustardseed. That name soon gave way to Platypus, and they started making the rounds of local rock clubs, circulating live tapes and demos of their original tunes. Having built a makeshift home studio rather than spending money on studio time, the band had stacked up an impressive number of rough recordings from Billy and Josh’s old hangout by the time they changed their name to the Subways. In 2004, when a band cutting a demo at the home studio mentioned they were submitting a tape to the Glastonbury Festival’s Unsigned Performers Competition, they decided their group should follow suit. The Subways won the contest, and with a gig at the U.K.’s most celebrated music festival, the music business began to take notice.
After more festival dates and an extensive U.K. tour solidified their reputation as a strong live act, the Subways were signed by Infectious Records. With Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds as producer, their first album, Young for Eternity, was released in June 2005, and Reprise Records picked them up for North America, where the album came out in February 2006. An appearance on the popular television series The O.C. helped promote the Subways in the United States, where the single “Rock & Roll Queen” earned a gold record. The group traveled to California to record their second album with producer and Garbage co-founder Butch Vig; by this time, Billy Lunn and Charlotte Cooper’s romance was falling apart, and the songs on 2008’s All or Nothing often reflected their contentious relationship, and a harder-edged sound more informed by mainstream rock. The album fared well on the British charts, peaking at number 17, and produced two singles, “Girls & Boys” and “Alright.” The Subways cut ties with Infectious Records and Reprise, and crowd-funded the recording of their third LP through Pledge Music. The album, 2011’s Money and Celebrity, was produced by Stephen Street, best known for his work with the Smiths and Blur, and was issued by the venerable British independent label Cooking Vinyl. The release was followed by touring in the U.K. and Europe, and In 2014, the Subways began work on their next LP. Recorded and mixed entirely by Lunn, The Subways came out in February 2015. The supporting tour hit a bump when Josh Morgan briefly dropped out of the group, citing stage fright. While he returned to the lineup several weeks later, it was the beginning of a period of reduced activity for the Subways; a digital EP, Acoustic Adventures at YFE Studios, appeared in 2016, but it wouldn’t be until 2021 that the group released new music, a single called “Fight.” The song was the first preview of the Subways’ fifth album, Uncertain Joys, a more pop-influenced effort that was issued in January 2023. By the time it came out, Josh Morgan had officially left the band, citing family issues. Camille Phillips, formerly a member of the Ramonas, joined the band in his place.