Billy Sullivan hits top form in first solo album release.
As a musician, Billy Sullivan’s always seemed like a man in a hurry. After releasing five albums in little over seven years when leading his former band The Spitfires, Sullivan was already writing and recording his debut solo album Paper Dreams as the dying embers of his former band were still smouldering. And what an album it is. Paper Dreams is his best work to date, a brave, p….
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We’re pleased to announce that Billy Sullivan’s solo debut album ‘Paper Dreams’ will be released 10th March 2023 on Kickstart Recordings.
Recorded over just three days in Liverpool’s Coastal Sound Recording Studios, ‘Paper Dreams’ is Sullivan’s first collection of songs since the demise of his former band The Spitfires.
The singer / songwriter remarked on his upcoming 12 track release – “I can only really compare each album to the previous one. The last Spitfires LP ‘Play For Today’ was so thought out, from the sound concept to the lyrical subject matters. Every tiny detail planned and poured over and then of course debated. ‘Paper Dreams’ was the opposite – completely natural and a collection of songs that myself and Simon Dine just wrote for fun, without us particularly working towards anything in particular. I lost my way towards the latter part of 2021 and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I believe these new songs paved the way to make the decision for me to split the band.”
In February 2022 – Billy headed back into the studio with a stripped back team of Simon Dine (Producer and Co-Writer) and Euan Crawford-McKee on drums. “Simon and I have worked together for over four years now and we were able to just click back into what we’d always done – get on with the job with the songs being the only focus. I’m lucky to have Euan too as he’s a fantastic drummer – it was an incredibly creative and liberating few days for me.”
The first example of the intense and creative three days in the studio was debut single ‘Overcome,’ released back in May. “It had this kickstart, back to basics feel about it. A positive message with a rock solid backing. It made me want to smash my front room up.”
Another cut to surface earlier this year is the strings-laden ‘I Will Follow’, highlighting Sullivan’s softer more vulnerable side. “I’m older and a lot more comfortable in my own skin these days” says Sullivan regarding his songwriting. “I was able to pen a song like ‘I Will Follow’ and not be embarrassed to show that side of me. I was going through new experiences and feelings in my life, and I didn’t feel the need to be overprotective about it. I was proud to show that in my writing.”
Through blistering opener (and recent single) ‘Running Out Of Time,’ the 60’s garage/freakbeat narcotics-influenced ‘The Fear’ to the beautifully mournful timelessness of ‘Old Familiar Ways’ and acoustic-led album closer ‘I’ll Find A Way’ – ‘Paper Dreams’ is an eclectic mix that oozes confidence, regardless of which musical path it ventures down. ’Carry On Like This‘ and ‘Wont Come Naturally‘ sit alongside the classic sing-a-long anthems that Billy has produced from his days with his former band, proving you can’t keep a good songwriter down for long.
His influences on this record come from sources the press wouldn’t normally equate, and for that alone, makes for a fresh and exciting future without the baggage of the past.
‘Paper Dreams’ confirms that Sullivan is back. More focused, confident and with more bite than ever.
Photography by Lawrence Watson
Commenting on the new material, Sullivan says: “‘Overcome’ just seemed like a great
starting point for me. Lyrically it’s got that sense of, ‘no matter how bad it seems at the
moment, we can get through it’, which I think will resonate with a lot of people for obvious
The track is the first of a batch of new songs that the former frontman of Watford four piece
The Spitfires has been working on behind the scenes for the past few months, following the
band’s fifth and final album Play For Today, released earlier this year on Acid Jazz
Sullivan openly admits he had a tough end to 2021 and a rocky start to 2022 when it came to
his mental health. “The split of the band affected me more than I assumed it was going to,”
says the songwriter candidly. “I’d poured everything into making the last Spitfires album
during the pandemic and I became tired of constantly having to fight losing battles. It made
me lose confidence in my writing and performing too, which I’ve only recently got back.”
Of embarking on his new solo career in the wake of The Spitfires’ split, and marking a
change of musical change of direction that felt natural and timely, Sullivan says: “Personally,
it was these songs that guided me out of The Spitfires and gave me the confidence to
pursue something new and different. Musically it’s a bit of a return to a more guitar-led sound
and I think as a debut single it’s got the urgency and the balls to stand up.”
“I now feel like there’s a massive weight lifted off my shoulders and I love the fact that I have
control again of what I’m doing. I’ve surrounded myself with great musicians, so musically
everything has gone up a notch. I also feel this new material better represents my
personality and what I’m into.”
On the new material, Sullivan’s now unbridled ambition is given plenty of breathing room to
move away from The Spitfires’ template, displaying a broadened sonic palette that takes
heavier influence from the likes of The Smiths and 80s post-punk/indie bands, and even
finding room for a ripping guitar solo.
Originally formed in 2012, The Spitfires played their final show at a sold out Electric
Ballroom in London this February, a fitting punctuation mark for the quartet who built a cult
fan base on their own terms over the past decade with their five albums Response (2015), A
Thousand Times (2016), Year Zero (2018), Life Worth Living (2020), and Play For Today
The band received support from BBC 6music, Radio X, CLASH, Louder Than War,
Gigslutz, Classic Rock Magazine, Fred Perry Subculture and many more, with both
critical acclaim and their independently-won commercial success underlining Sullivan’s own
credentials as a songwriter of exceptional merit.
Further details of new music from Sullivan and additional live dates will be announced over
the coming months.