Burnley music duo's Christmas joy as public help fund new album

Two of Burnley's hardest working musicians are finishing the year on a high note after a generous public pitched in to fund the recording of their new album.

Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 4:21 pm

Billy Strahan Jr and Jonathan Towers, who record under the Design Rewind name, have spent 2020 struggling to keep their dream career afloat amid industry-shattering restrictions.

Their usual year-long packed gig schedule has been decimated by a never-ending stream of cancellations with feel-good festival appearances and packed out bars nothing but a distant memory.

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Billy Strahan Jr and Jonathan Towers

However, the pair will start the new year with renewed optimism after a Crowdfunder page set up to raise money for their second album amassed more than £1,000.

"We thought we'd just give it a shot," said Billy, a former St Theodore's pupil. "We've been severely impacted by Covid and the Crowdfunder was a way of replacing our loss of earnings.

"We have a strong following in Burnley so we knew we'd get some support. We've been receiving donations from all over the world as well though. It's been incredible.

"We offered incentives for different levels of donations – free hoodies and copies of the album, things like that. And everybody who donated will get their name printed in the album sleeve. We just want to try and give something back to the all the people who have supported us.

"We managed to record quite a bit of the album in lockdown. We've called in a lot of favours to get down the guitars and the synths. We're about 60% to 70% of the way there. We have a two-week studio booking in January now, and this money will pay for the drum and vocal tracks meaning we should pretty much be there now."

Design Rewind released their eponymous debut last year. The duo toured the album extensively as thousands of listens on Spotify were been backed up by mainstream radio airplay.

Album number two – 'Room 96' – is slated for a springtime release, and Billy can't wait for fans to hear how their sound has evolved.

"Lockdown has certainty made me a more proficient musician," laughed Billy, who has been giving drum lessons to earn extra income. "I'm definitely a better drummer than I was a year ago.

"We're seen as quite an instrument-led band, but we've been dabbling a lot with synths so there's a more 80s feel to this record.

"We've definitely developed a lot, especially in our songwriting. There's some real radio-friendly songs on there, but there's some real deep lyrics as well.

"One song's about homelessness. Whenever we played in Manchester we used to get around 10 to 15 homeless people coming up to us outside venues asking for change. It's about that but as I've faced the same issues this year, it hits a lot harder."

When the Express interviewed Billy three months ago, he was unashamedly candid about his struggles with money and depression in what's been a turbulent year for musicians.

He does see the recording of this album as a welcome distraction. But not only that, it's the culmination of three years' hard graft, fittingly signed off by a loyal fan base who have backed the pair when they needed it most.

"We're just taking these setbacks as they come now," said Billy. "There's been a real sense of emptiness. We've been doing this since we were 13. It's our lives. It's our careers. And we don't know what's going to happen next.

"I've been able to claim grants but by the time I get that money, I'm using it to pay back all the people I've had to borrow off.

"It's been really disheartening but we're trying to look at the positives.

"Recording this album is everything to us right now. We've been working hard for over three years writing and preparing it, and now we can finally get into the studio and finish it off."

Design Rewind's donation page will be open for another month and can be found by clicking here.