Based out of the Bay Area in Northern California, The Subtle Way are never home, always touring across the country and making new fans and friends along the way. One of the most underrated post hardcore bands on the scene today,their amazing new album Thus Far, The Channels Speak is sure to gain these guys a good deal of admiration and respect. We recently sent email questions to the subtle membership to find out more about their story thus far…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in The Subtle Way, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Jamie and I am the lead vocalist in the band. The Subtle Way has been together and serious about music for about two and a half years now.
Where is the band from and what is the local music scene like there?
The Subtle Way is from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, Fremont to be exact. The scene there is a bit peculiar and hard to explain. The kids are awesome and are very willing to come to a good show as a whole, but it seems that there needs to be more than one band on a bill that is well liked for the crowds to come out. All in all I’d say our home town is pretty rad, especially compared to some places we’ve been to around the country.
How has the tour with Look Alive been going and what have been some of the highlights?
The tour so far has been really fun, in fact I’d go as far as saying it’s the most fun we’ve had on a tour so far. I think a big part of that is because we’ve toured a few times before this and we have friends in all the places we’ve been so far, so we have people to hang out with, and connections to new friends. Highlights for this tour, aside from the awesome shows we’ve been lucky enough to play, would be playing an acoustic show for mentally handicapped kids in Roswell New Mexico, and all the skateboarding we’ve been able to do, which I’m still sore from by the way. This tour is just beginning though so I’m sure we’ll have more stories before we are in our own beds.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Thus Far, The Channels Speak?
I wouldn’t say there’s a story behind the title of the record, but it is supposed to be a reminder to us as a band that even though things have seemed really hard for us in the past and still do, and that we
have such hardship ahead of us, so far things have been good and we feel blessed for the luck we’ve had in getting as far as we have with our music, and to remember that every time we play one of our songs.
Where did you get the ideas for some of the lyrics on the new CD? Please cite two songs and what the lyrics are about.
I’ve always written about things that I find important throughout my daily life, from reading interesting books and taking notes in my girlfriend’s philosophy class for example, to having conversations/relationships with people, and even mishearing what people are saying and having that trigger my brain to bring up brand new ideas. The Breath and The Breathing, for example, is a song that I wrote about how I have a symbiotic relationship with the people that enjoy my band and how meaningful such relationships are. While writing that song I kept thinking of it as a “thank you” song to all of the people that have helped us thus far and tried to say thank you at the same time as express how so much of this world is in sync with human nature. Another good example of my writing style is in the song Clockwork, which came from taking notes from a lecture on Socrates and Euthyphro about the meaning of piety and justice, and a conversation that the two supposedly had about the subject, but at the same time I tried to make it relatable to those that may not have ever read that conversation. My lyrics are for myself and for everyone else, as they want to take them.
How has the commitment to your band changed from your days of high school up to now? You’ve lost a few members actually since the formation of your band…
The commitment has drastically changed since high school for sure. In high school we would just play local shows and maybe in Southern California (6 hours away) every now and then, but after high school, we all went to college for a bit and would tour in the summer and winter breaks as much as we could. Finally we realized that touring every now and then wasn’t going to cut it anymore so we stopped going to college and prepared to tour full time in hopes to make this our career, and here we are going for it. We have switched up a lot of members but we are all very happy with the dynamic we now have and that could explain why this tour has been the most fun one yet.
You have been on quite a few tours across the country at this point. What is the best and worst part about touring and being on the road?
The best part of touring is getting to do what we love every night and making new friends everywhere we go learning about different parts of the country and growing from each experience. The worst part is definitely missing loved ones at home. It’s tough leaving those friends and family that could really use your help at home, and it really puts a strain on relationships with girlfriends and the like.
What advice would you give a band about to go on tour for the very first time?
Make sure your van and trailer will make the journey, prepare to pay for a lot of the first tour out of pocket, and bring a decent amount of food so you’re not buying off the dollar menu for every meal.
Where did your name The Subtle Way come from and what exactly is “the subtle way?”
The Subtle Way came from the idea that too much pride is one of the worst things to have (at least the wrong kind of pride) and as a band, humility is one thing that we try to stand behind.
Who did the artwork on the CD and how much input did you have on it?
Justin Reich did the artwork for the record. As far as my input went, I told him that I wanted to base it on the line “to your feet and to the stars” (as in if you try, anything can be possible) and he came up
with the main idea of the cover, and I asked him to put in some neons and what not to make it jump out, and I was really happy with what he did with it.
Describe a live The Subtle Way show for those who have yet to see you play.
We strive to have an intense live show and we work very hard on it to make sure it can be entertaining regardless of what your musical base may be. After every show I can wring my shirt out at least 3 times and still have sweat drip out of it. It’s really gross but I’m just trying to show how much we move around up there. Also our bassist Chad has done a lot of electrical work, rigging up a guitar hero controller that lets someone control our light show and really fun boxes that trigger lights to go on when stepped on. There are often front flips off the stage and every obstacle is taken advantage of, from hanging rafters to stage side speakers, to the walls that line the stage.
Are you or any of the other members of The Subtle Way involved with any other bands or outside projects?
No, we’re all just in The Subtle Way. I have some acoustic songs that I’ve written for fun, but nothing I’d think about pursuing at this point.
What’s up next when the current tour ends?
When we get home, we’ll be readying up for our next tour in April, tightening up our live show as much as we can, and playing a few shows around our area in California. Maybe even start writing for our next record.
Any messages for your fans or those reading about you for the very first time who might want to check your music out?
More than likely we have something for you. Every song is different, but you can tell it’s a T-sway song!
(Interview by Kenneeth Morton)
The Subtle Way on Myspace