The Subways Charlotte Cooper talks about loving Sheffield, a new album and their UK tour

This week, the reinvigorated trio embark on their anniversary tour. Bassist and city-dweller, Charlotte Cooper spoke with The Star ahead of their show at Crookes Social Club in Sheffield as the band head out on a slightly waylayed but no less energetic tour of the UK.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 12:22 pm

After announcing a 15th anniversary tour that began, and faltered to a halt, in 2020, The Subways are taking their debut album on the road once more. Bassist and founding member, Charlotte Cooper spent some time speaking to The Star about getting the band back together, juggling motherhood with gigging, musical and physical evolution, and what is next for the much-loved English rock band. And it’s fair to say 15-years on the gig is not quite up yet… and with a reinvigorated approach the possibilities are limitless.

Your Sheffield gig (at Crookes Social Club) is the second date on your 15-year anniversary tour for your debut 'Young for Eternity', what's your secret to staying - or at least feeling somewhat - young?

Haha after the past year I feel ancient...like everyone else in the world! But I'm sure as soon as we step on stage, I'll feel my youth return. Being on the road, playing gigs every night is a bit of a Peter Pan lifestyle; its brilliant.

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What message were you trying to share with your music? Has this changed much at all over the years? Do you think motherhood has inspired a change in the music you personally (or collectively) want to make or not at all?

Our music has definitely changed a lot over the years. Young For Eternity was written and recorded when we were 18 years old and now we're in our mid-30s. I know Billy's lyric writing has evolved over the years to cover a lot of topics and what he wants to write about and what is important to him is totally different now. He wrote our most recent single, Fight after attending a Black Lives Matter process last year - it's a gesture of solidarity to the black community and a wake up call to the white community. Since becoming a mother I know I feel a lot more deeply and am far more emotionally affected by things; I'm sure a lot of parents would say the same. This has definitely transferred to when I'm making music; especially on the new album as I was pregnant for a lot of the recording process.

Your debut album was somewhat of a rallying call... unbridled fun you could say. Would you say that this feeling is something that the world needs more of right now?

I think we all just want to be reunited with our friends and family and do things we've missed and love. I hope the people who come to the shows can forget about how messed up the world is just for a short time and we can all have some fun together.

The Subways, photographed at YFE studios in September 2020, Sarah Louise Bennett

Who were your biggest influences as a young band... and in the intervening years? Is there a sound that makes you think oh crap, we need to do something like that?

When we first started Nirvana were a huge influence for us. I learnt how to play bass by covering their songs. Personally, a lot of female musicians made me want to make music, like Shirley Manson, Charlotte Hatherley, Hole and PJ Harvey. For the 5th album, Billy and I were both obsessed with the Stranger Things soundtrack and have taken inspiration with some more synth led tracks.

Why did you choose Crookes Social Club? Did you choose it for a particular reason? Do you live around the corner so it's a short walk? We won't judge.

Haha...well it is certainly very convenient for me, living in Walkley! I suggested we look at Yorkshire for the additional shows, as we got a bit of (well-meaning) stick for not including any on the original list. When Crookes Social was suggested, I jumped on it straight away. It's a venue that has personal significance as I've been to baby/toddler classes there and could not be more local to a place I love living.

The Subways, photographed at YFE studios in September 2020, by Sarah Louise Bennett

Why did you decide to move to Sheffield? Other than it being the greenest (and best) city in Europe?

I totally agree - I've been to a lot of cities in Europe and it is the best! My husband is from Rotherham and we spent a lot of time in Sheffield when we first met - I fell in love with the city and I'm so happy I moved here.

Josh Morgan, the bands original drummer left in October, right? How does it feel to be going on a tour without him? The original trio stayed together for so long, through so much, is Camille a permanent member of the band now?

I do miss Josh and it will be a different touring experience without him. The three of us have been through so much together. But I'm really excited to play a show with Camille. We've had some great rehearsals, I can't wait to feel the excitement of being on stage with her.

The Subways, photographed at YFE studios in September 2020, by Sarah Louise Bennett

How has this new dynamic affected your songwriting?

We've just started talking about working on new songs and I'm really excited to see what direction we go in now with Camille's influence.

How excited are you to play some of your older songs that you've not played since the beginning?

It's a special thing to do a tour celebrating an album in full. It takes me back to the time of our first shows, tours and festivals and the wild ride we went on.

It's now been around 5/6 years since your last album, how are things going on the new album? Have things been hampered at all by the pandemic?

The new album is now finished- hurray! We plan to release sometime next year, though I think there will be singles before then. The pandemic did hit when we were over half way through recording, but we found a way to record remotely. I set up a mini studio in the corner of my attic bedroom (I live in your typical terraced Walkely house, so I'm sure you can imagine what it's like!) and sent recordings down to Billy at his studio in Hertford. I really enjoyed the process of getting lost in music up there, and was very grateful to have something positive to focus on throughout lockdown.

The Subways, photographed at YFE studios in September 2020, by Sarah Louise Bennett

What's next for The Subways?

We are starting to look at tours and release dates for next year...it's all getting quite exciting!

Finally... What is it about Sheffield that you love so much? This shall by proxy apply to the rest of the band.

I love that Sheffield has everything that a big city has to offer, with the Peak District alongside it. I love that I can walk to Crookes, City Centre, Endcliffe Park, Botanical Gardens, Rivelin, Hillsborough Park and more - so grateful to have so much to do without needing to get in a car. I have made so many friends since moving here, in the music, triathlon and running world and more recently parents of similar aged children - I've always felt welcome, no matter what I'm doing. I love the hills! Bolehills is my local park, I go there almost every day, and I'll never get tired of the view from the rocks. We have some damn good pubs and cafes too!

The Subway will be performing an intimate set at Crookes Social Club, Sheffield on Thursday, 10 September, 2021.

Tickets can be purchased from: https://myticket.co.uk/artists/the-subways

The Subways, photographed at YFE studios in September 2020, by Sarah Louise Bennett