IT HAS been 15 years since the Subways released their debut album Young for Eternity

This week, the three-piece embark on an anniversary tour, with bassist Charlotte Cooper speaking with The Weekender ahead of their show in Glasgow.

Young for Eternity… 15 years old… How does it feel to be looking back on that album now?

It was such an exciting time and we were so so young. Of course, at the time we didn’t feel young, but looking back now we very much were. Ian Broudie was an amazing mentor for us, and the perfect producer for that album. He guided us musically, but also personally too. I’m really proud of that album and can say it was the best we could have produced at that time. But 15 years… on earth has that time passed?!

Of course, that Glastonbury gig and the subsequent festival shows in 2004 gave the band a huge platform at the time, but did you feel there was a lot of pressure to deliver a successful debut album?

We were very lucky to have wonderful management and a team at our record label who really looked after us, and I think that helped us to deal with everything that we experienced in those early days. I think we are all perfectionists, so any pressure we felt would have been more from us than anywhere else.

Was there a time during the recording when you just knew it had all come together? How confident were you that Young for Eternity was going to be as huge as it was?

I don’t think there was a moment in the recording, we were so engrossed in the process and just trying to make each song as best as we possibly could. I think it was the 2005 tour we played, which was really long, throughout the whole of the UK and all the shows sold out. I remember being quite excited about that and it was a real celebratory few months for us. 

Obviously, the band has been through a lot since 2005. But, do you still feel you are the same person you were when you were writing and recording Young for Eternity?

I think probably at the centre of who I am, yes. But I have grown up….a lot. And I like to think for the better. I used to be very quick to react, took things a little too personally, worried a bit too much about things that didn’t really matter in the great scheme of life. But I guess that’s probably the same for a lot of 18-year-olds. 

The National: The Subways play The Garage on Friday evening. Pic by Stuart NichollsThe Subways play The Garage on Friday evening. Pic by Stuart Nicholls

How did the idea come around to do an anniversary tour for the album? And would the playing of Young for Eternity in full include a performance of I Am Young? Or Automatic?

Ooo, perhaps! We are still working on the setlist, so there’s still time for additions! We have been talking about this for a long time - I think we just thought it would be fun! I think we were even starting to think about it at 10 years, but that felt a little soon. So we are all so happy to finally see it happen.

Are you excited about playing some of the album tracks that you have maybe not played since the record first came out?

Absolutely! There are some songs we’ve not played for years and years. I think Somewhere is one I’m particularly looking forward to. I often get accused of using the word “fun” too much, but this really will be so much fun!

If is to be believed, The Subways haven’t played a gig north of the border for almost five years. Wits wrang wae us?

Bloody nothing! Wits wrang wae US?!?!?! Criminal….I promise it won’t happen again! 

Other than a full performance of Young for Eternity, is there anything else the Glasgow crowd might expect from the show next month?

Well, the thing is with Young For Eternity….is that it's really short! So we’ll definitely be playing some other songs from our other albums. Any requests…please do let us know!

I wonder, are you going to hitch up to Glasgow and learn the tricks you ought to know?

Personally, one of my favourite songs from the four albums :-)

Also, playing on Friday the 13th – you’re not superstitious, are you?

I’d not even put that together! So, I guess not?! Second show of the tour though, so we’ll be highly excited!

The National: Cooper on stage with The Subways. Picture by Jaroslav Kutheil Cooper on stage with The Subways. Picture by Jaroslav Kutheil

Do you find there are many differences between the crowds you play to, whether in the UK, Europe or over in the States?

I think there are some differences, but the uniting thing around the world is that everyone just wants to have a good time, dance and sing to their favourite songs - and that’s beautiful to see!

The Subways have put out three albums since Young for Eternity, how do you feel the band have developed over that time?

As we were talking about earlier, we were so young when we recorded and released YFE, so there was definitely a lot of room for us to grow. I think we’ve all got a bit more adventurous and want to try new things, especially on the 5th album, which we’re working on at the moment. 

Quite a lot of bands seem to lose/replace members or bring in someone to supplement. Do you think having the steady trio at the helm has been the reason behind The Subways’ longevity?

It is amazing to think how long we’ve been doing this now. I guess we’re always excited about writing the next song, releasing the next album, and playing the next show. That’s what keeps us going. There’s a genuine love for it from all three of us.

In general, how does the songwriting process work for the band? Is it different with every song or is there a formula?

There’s kind of a formula that works pretty well for us at the moment. Billy is the main songwriter in the band and writes all the lyrics. He sends the initial idea for the song to me and Josh and we then work separately on it at home. We all live so far apart now (I’m in Sheffield, Josh is in France and Billy is still in Hertfordshire where we originally met) that this really works. I like having more time at home to work on different parts too - I think I do better with more time. It then means that when we come to the studio, the parts are already pretty much worked out so we can spend the time on getting a great sound for each instrument and part.

As an artist who made major headway in your teens, what would you say to younger musicians perfecting their trade?

Surround yourself with people you trust and who believe in you. Play live as much as possible. Don’t let the setbacks get you down, use them to make you stronger.

With a fifth album in the works, can we expect a different sound from The Subways this time around? What are the chances of a new track on the upcoming tour?

We will be definitely playing one or two new songs on this tour. We’re taking a lot of time with this album, really working on each individual song and very much enjoying that. Billy is producing again and is making everything sound awesome. We heard our first track fully mixed by Adrian Bushby last week and we were all blown away by how huge it sounded - we can’t wait to share it with everyone!