Spitfires frontman Billy Sullivan on finding 'his fire' ahead of Blackpool Bootleg Social gig

Billy Sullivan, Sam Long and Matt Johnson of The Spitfires
Billy Sullivan, Sam Long and Matt Johnson of The Spitfires

Modern mod rockers the Spitfires bring their sound of street tunes to Blackpool's Bootleg Social tomorrow (October 4)

The Watford power trio are carving out the sound of today but taking giant nods from The Jam and The Specials.

Their songs are emotionally charged and thrilling, with their sound of the street lyrics bursting with social commentary for these uncertain times.

“I believe subcultures – Punk and Mod - can be looked at from a modern perspective rather than a nostalgic one, and we just try and put a different slant on it for our generation,” says Spitfires frontman Billy Sullivan.

Sullivan’s vocals could be Paul Weller barking out Eton Rifles or Going Underground when The Jam were in their pomp, but he does despair at the state of the nation.

“On our song Dreamland I say: ‘There’s no flicker of light in these times of misery and austerity and the revolution’s waiting for a Facebook event,’ and that’s how it feels to me.

The Spitfires

The Spitfires

“A lot of people are feeling trapped and they’re being told to blame this person and that.

“We played a gig and afterwards someone came up to me and made a comment about a certain religion taking over the country.

“And five minutes before he’d been raving about how much he’d enjoyed our songs.

“I thought have you actually listened to it.

“What part of it don’t yet get mate?

“We live in depressing, but interesting times and it is about time a band sung about it.”

He adds: “You can’t fix the world through music, as much as I’d like to.”

The Spitfires have penned three albums, and despite support slots with The Specials and Weller, Sullivan admits they’ve had to work their socks off for recognition.

Suddenly, though, they are making all the headlines.

“At first it felt like a losing battle,” he said, “And with Year Zero (latest album) it was like, ‘Is my song-writing worthy – or should I be doing this.

“On the other albums It was a bit like ‘poor me’ but I’ve got my fire back now and we are getting recognised.”

His greatest influence is The Redskins, a left-wing skinhead band from York who enjoyed a minor hit with their catchy tune Kick Over The Statues in the 1980’s.

“They were extremely political, and their sound had a cutting edge of soul, punk and funk,” he said.

“Today, for a lot of bands, it is how funny you can be on a bland video or if they look good.

“The Spitfires just make good songs and try and reflect what is going on around us.”

The Spitfires, play Bootleg Social Friday October 4 followed by Clitheroe Grand on Saturday, October 5.

01200 421599, www.thegrandvenue.co.uk