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Subways get up close and personal with fans via crowdsourcing

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From left, Josh Morgan. Charlotte Cooper and Billy Lunn are The Subways. (Courtesy Steve Gullick)

British power trio The Subways, playing in San Francisco this week, realized it had to adapt or face extinction, given the music business today.

Its fourth self-titled album (preceded by the “Dirty Muddy Paws, another anthem in its rabble-rousing catalog) is being delivered in a vastly different manner than the group’s 2005 debut “Young For Eternity.”

“Illegal downloading was around back then, but it wasn’t really widespread — I didn’t even know what it was at the time, to be honest,” says Charlotte Cooper, the band’s bassist-vocalist.

The Subways (Cooper, drummer Josh Morgan and singer-guitarist Billy Lunn) have not only survived, but thrived in shifting sands. As post-Napster file sharing increased, they adjusted their approach by growing closer and closer to their diehard following.

For the band’s third disc, 2011’s “Money and Celebrity,” The Subways tapped into that groundswell via a PledgeMusic fundraising campaign, which it also employed to finance the current American tour.

“PledgeMusic was a way for us to offer some different, more interesting things to our fans,” says Cooper. “We did these house gigs, but it didn’t have to be in your house — you could just have us play wherever. We did this lady’s 50th birthday party on a boat in Hamburg, and a guy in Belgium rented this art center for the night, invited all his friends down, and we played there. We just me these really amazing people, and we’re still in touch with a lot of them because it was such a cool experience.”

Additionally, The Subways — noticing the resurgence of vinyl — accordingly released deluxe colored-vinyl editions of the new record, featuring superhero-stylized comic-book artwork of its members on the cover, complete with fantastic storyline.

“We’re fighting the blob of boredom,” Cooper says, drolly. For the serious enthusiast, the outfit markets VIP concert packages that include soundcheck, a post-show meet-and-greet and photo taken with the group.

“We’re still sort of an underground band, and not a lot of people have heard of us,” Cooper says. “But the people that do know of us? They’ve all got a story when we meet them on tour, like ‘Ten years ago, I just started my first job,’ or “I just had my first kid.’ All about how our first album was around for them at that time, and they were listening to it a lot. And that’s been really cool.”


The Subways
Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. April 30
Tickets: $20 to $22
Contact: (415) 551-5157, www.ticketfly.com

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