We Spoke to the Guy Who Made the London Underground Song

The London Underground song was the staple of my early school life, teaching me the word ‘cunt’, and how to cover up my internet history from a very young age. Everyone at school knew the lyrics word for word, and most us probably still do. When I listened to it again before emailing for an interview, I found myself gleefully singing the crude lyrics. 

The man behind Amateur Transplants, the revolutionary figure that wrote the London Underground song –  one of the soundtracks to our generation is Mr Adam Kay.

I was rather surprised that they were still an act. No doubt the song is genius and a staple of our generation along with things like Happy Tree Friends. But as a kid, I always thought it was a bloke messing around in a garage making this song. But I was hugely wrong, Adam is a successful comedian whose legacy extends far beyond the song. 

Adam is a former Junior Doctor turned writer and comedian. His writing career includes some notable names such as Mitchell & Webb, Very British Problems, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Crims (co-creator), Mongrels, Up The Women, Flat TV, Our Ex Wife, Child Genius. He’s even written a book on his previous life as a doctor and performed at Prince Harry’s 30th birthday party. 

So you can understand how monumentally chuffed I was when Adam replied to my beggy request for an interview, and to find out what he is up to these days. 

 

So you wrote and perform the super famous ‘London Underground song’, a song loved by millions in the UK, were you ever expecting the song to go as viral as it did? Do you have any idea why it went so viral? 

It was really quite extraordinary – I certainly wasn’t expecting more than a few people to hear the song; we recorded a few tracks to make some money for charity at my university Rag week. And it went pretty fucknuts. I guess my best guess for its popularity is that the Underground are a common enemy – like ISIS, or Jeremy Hunt. That, and it uses the word “cunt” a lot. 

Has your opinion of the Underground changed at all from when you wrote the song.

I used to utterly despise it, and now I only quite despise it to be honest. It’s much cleaner, seems to be a lot more reliable, some of the trains don’t look like they’re from the steam age. But then again it costs a fortune to use and they’re still striking, so what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts.

I remember when I first heard the song, desperately trying to understand the C word, so what did you think when you heard that quite a few of us as teenagers loved the song?

I get quite a few people coming up to me after shows to tell me that I taught them various terrible words in their formative years. It’s a strange feeling to describe – precisely half-way between extreme guilt and extreme pride.

Adam’s Tour Photo for: Fingering A Minor on a Piano

What’s the reaction like when you play it at your gigs today?

It still seems to go down well… In fact, I’d gladly never play it again but people get fucked off if I don’t. It’s my “Creep”.

Writing comedic songs is a bit odd, I imagine the process is a whole lot different to writing a sketch or a play, or just about anything. How do you go about writing a comedy song?

I generally hear a song on the radio, realise I could change one of the words to a swear word, then drag the whole thing out to three minutes. That’s pretty much my magic formula.

What your favourite song you’ve released recently, and why?

I wrote a song about Oscar Pistorius a couple of years ago to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody that still really stands up. Unlike Oscar. 

What’s your favourite lyric from all of your songs?

I love all my children equally

I saw you played at last years Fringe, where do you usually play and where is best chance to catch you?

I now spend most of my life writing scripts for tv rather than performing on stages, but I’m about to start a fortnight at the Soho Theatre, which is good for people who’ve struggled to catch me gig over the last few years, or people who want to know where I am so they can murder me.

How does it work when you have a gig on, do you just play songs all night, or is it a mixture of stand up and songs?

An hour of songs is pretty unbearable, so I try to keep plenty of stand up in there too. That way it’s all only reasonably unbearable.

Where can we find your next tour dates? 

The Soho dates are at http://bit.ly/adamkaysoho

Thanks to Adam for the Interview

Interview by Frazer Worboys

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