The Spitfires burned bright with their The Jam, The Kinks and Oasis influenced beats. With the band going their separate ways front man Billy Sullivan has turned his hand to now going solo. With some exciting new material on the horizon plus some live dates also in the bag Gigslutz caught up with Billy to discuss his background and future plans:
Hi Billy, hope you’re keeping well?
Hi Matt, all good thank you!
Tell us a bit about your upbringing?
I was born and brought up in Watford. My family originally come from North London (specifically Camden Town) but my Mum and Dad moved out to the suburbs, where they decided to have me!
What was the first music you can remember hearing?
My Dad was really into music and it was played in the house constantly. From a really young age I’d pick up on Oasis, Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene e.t.c with it being the mid to late 90s. I also loved The Beatles and strangely Van Morrison.
What/who influenced you to start singing?
I decided I wanted to be in a band when I was at primary school and even from the age of around 10/11 I was attempting to write songs. Being a singer just happened really as even though at first I wasn’t any good, I had the confidence to do it. I also couldn’t stand the thought of someone else being a frontman.
How about playing guitar, who influenced you to take up the 6 string?
I seem to remember we were offered the opportunity to learn an instrument at primary school and the guitar just seemed completely natural for me. I never learnt how to read or write music or took an exam e.t.c – Once I had been shown the basics, I learnt by watching people on the telly. I’m not a very technical player and how I looked playing it was always just as important.
You’ve had a successful period in The Spitfires, but the band have now split up. Why did the band split?
The Spitfires had naturally come to an end. We’d had numerous line up changes in quite a short space of time and by November last year it was pretty much a new band anyway. We were dealt quite a shit hand in terms of some of the people we had working round us – no support (financially or otherwise) and there was no confidence shown in our last album (Play For Today) from our label, which me and Simon Dine (Producer) had spent months writing and recording. It was actually a real struggle to even get it released.
I think it’s fair to say musically I was also exploring things that other band members may not have necessarily been into as well. But I still believe it was the best album the band ever made.
What was the final gig like?
It was a great night. The perfect way to celebrate that band and what we done best. It was great to be surrounded by all the old crew too, as I said earlier it had changed so much by the end. The crowd were fantastic and it was really humbling to see people that had travelled far and wide to be there.
The Spitfires finished with our best album being released and our biggest headline show – doesn’t get better than that.
What are you plans now?
I have announced recently that I’ll be pursuing a solo career which I’m very excited about!
Are you demoing a lot of material at present?
Another album was written between October and December last year which probably added to my decision to split The Spitfires up. The songs felt a bit more personal lyrically and style wise it lent itself more towards what I’m into. I started working with Euan (who plays drums in my band) the middle of last year and even though he’s a bit younger than me – he reminded me so much of what I was like when I first started The Spitfires. He’s got a bit of fire and passion about him but is also a fantastic musician. And we both love 60’s soul and pop records which led me to rediscover all this music I’d grown up with. Due to The Spitfires being a labelled a ‘mod band’ and the whole nostalgia trip bullshit, I’d completely separated myself from some of those records – however now I’m a bit older and experienced I can hear these tunes in a new light.
Do you have any plans for some gigs?
We have a short run of shows for June in Northampton, Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham, Guildford and St Albans. Also a Scottish show in Paisley in September. There will be lots more added for later on this year.
Are you getting together your own band?
So my band consists of Euan (who I spoke about earlier) on drums, Sam Long (who was obviously in The Spitfires and I’ve worked with for 9/10 years!) on bass and Liam Taylor on lead guitar. Liam was in a band years ago who supported The Spitfires a couple of times back in 2017. I wasn’t sure about the band he was in, but I thought he had really good stage presence and was a confident player – so I kept him in the back of my mind until late last year!
Finally, whats on your turntable at present?
Fontaines DC. Last few singles have been superb – Jackie Down The Line for me is the best guitar single since I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor.
Lots and lots of Morrissey solo albums – particularly Vauxhall and I at the minute. Obviously he’s a knobhead these days and flirts with opinions and ideals which should be left well alone but there’s no one like him in terms of lyrics and how he portrays his sense of humour in his words.
The Girls Are At It Again compilation. Rare and obscure female sung 60s singles which blow me away in terms of production and melody.
Billy’s tour dates can be found via the following link: http://linktr.ee/BillySullivan