By: Lee Allcock
The Band: The Spitfires
Watford four-piece indie-mod rock ‘n’ roll band, The Spitfires are heading to Teesside next month to perform at the Georgian Theatre, Stockton so Lee Allcock caught up with frontman Billy Sullivan to discuss past Teesside gigs, having a tour DJ as support, and working without a major record label.
Lee: For those readers who don’t know you, perhaps we could start with an introduction. Who’s in the band and what do you all do?
Billy: We are The Spitfires. I am Billy the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter. We have Sam on bass, Matt on drums and Chris on keyboards.
Lee: You’ve come quite far since your first Teesside gig at Doc Brown’s in Middlesbrough. Do you remember much about that first gig up here?
Billy: Yes, I remember that gig very well as it was the first time we'd played to a busy crowd up North. We were a fairly new band and just happy to play regardless of if it was in front of 6 people or 60. We also made a lot of friends and fans from that gig that have still stuck by us now!
Lee: You seem to have quite a following in the North East. How does it compare to other parts of the country?
Billy: It's one of the best crowds we play to. It's not too dissimilar to where we come from and the sort of lives we've had growing up, so there's a lot of common ground when we chat to fans after gigs. And I think they see that and appreciate it.
Lee: You have a Tour DJ on this tour instead of a support band. What’s the thinking behind this?
Billy: Well we thought that it makes the gigs more of a night out or a special occasion. It's also the influence of reggae on our new material and that whole sound system culture that we're trying to bring in.
Lee: Your influences have been quite well documented in the past but what about some artists people might not associate you with, past or present?
Billy: People think they've got us all worked out and that we listen to The Jam and The Clash and some shit mod bands. But that's definitely not the case - we've been listening to a lot of reggae, The Streets, Paul Heaton. That's what's influenced our new tracks and the direction we're going in.
Lee: We’re always on the lookout for new young bands or artists breaking through. Anyone we should be keeping an eye & ear out for?
Billy: Samuel Rogers from Birmingham is a great songwriter and performer. The Novatones from Southampton are a great band too.
Lee: What you’ve done without large amounts of radio play or major label backing is an inspiration to others really. What’s your take on it?
Billy: We do what we do. I think we're passed caring if we're accepted for it. The music industry seems to think we're uncool or out of touch because we dress smart and don't succumb to the ways they think a band should be. But I'm sure one day they'll be kicking themselves for not jumping on board sooner. What matters to us is the fans who work all week and earn money to then spend it on our albums or our gig tickets. That's who we look out to.
The Spitfires play the Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Friday 2nd June in association with Into Tomorrow. Tickets, priced at £10.00 in advance and £12.00 on the door, are available from teesmusicalliance.org.uk.
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