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- Posted on Mar 12th 2010 11:38AM by Tom Henkenius
How would you describe your sound?
We do pop-rock love songs.
"Latin reggae rock" is not the best description anymore?
Well, our last album was that.
So this new album is a departure for you guys?
Yeah, from our first album – it was sub-produced, kind of amateur. So we went to the next step, creating real radio-friendly stuff that appeals to the masses more than just stoner college kids.
It's interesting you say "stoner college kids." The date of the release of the new album is 4/20. Is there any significance to that release date?
No, it was from when we got it mastered it was eight weeks from then, and [that date is] a Tuesday, which is when albums are released. It happened to be purely coincidental.
Do you define this -- more than just as a departure from the stoner college crowd -- more as a coming-out album than your first one was?
Yea, the first one ... was just getting our feet wet. This time, it was like 2006 and we were just out doing some dates in Cali and we literally just showed up at [Mike Cosgrove of Alien Ant Farm's] house and knocked on the door. And we're kind of like, "Hey we're Subrosa Union, want to be our producer?" He really took us in and showed us the ropes and made us grow as songwriters and musicians. We were like, "Wow, we don't have to play reggae anymore? We have other options and other musical avenues to go down?"
That's pretty ballsy to just show up on the guy's doorstep.
We go for what we want. He was producing some bands I had heard and we needed a new album and we just decided to ... You know, it was kind of ballsy. We took a risk. You know the worst thing that can happen is they say no, and you move on. The best thing that can happen is they say yes, and you create opportunities.
Do you worry about alienating your old fans who loved your old sound?
It's already happened. We just played Texas Independent Fest the other day; it was kind of like a three-day camping music fest. It was kind of hillbilly, redneck central, but there was a couple fans there who expressed, "What happened to the reggae?" It just comes down to, I want to play music that I enjoy playing. We had been jamming and playing reggae since we're 14, for 10 years. And our natural progression was you can only write the same reggae song so many times over and over. For the one person we lose who liked our reggae, we gain 10 fans who go, "Ah, this is great. I've never really liked reggae but I've heard your poppy, rocky stuff and it's just great."
You mentioned you guys have been playing together since you were 14, but how did you form Subrosa Union? When did that happen?
It was my freshman year of high school. I was 14. We are originally from El Paso. I knew Chris [Paulos, bass player] from a friend. Paul [Valuenzuela, drummer]: He's a little older than us, but I knew him through my older sisters; they were friends. We have another guitarist, who's playing guitar and doing harmony, his name's Marc Martel. He just started playing with us in July because of the new stuff. We started doing more guitar parts and harmonies and all that stuff. So we added a ghost member.
Who are your musical influences? Who's inspired you?
I'm really into classic rock like Zeppelin or Santana, AC/DC -- that kind of stuff. I was really inspired by reggae stuff like Steel Pulse, obviously Bob Marley. I also like stuff like 311, Alien Ant Farm. I just went to a John Mayer concert last night. I like his new album. Basically, anything that's good songwriting and good melodies I'll dig.
If someone asked me who you sounded like on the last album, I probably would have said Sublime. Who would you point to sounding like on the new album?
I was talking to a radio director the other day and I asked him, "Who do you think it sounds like?" And he said, Third Eye Blind and Maroon 5. And I said, "I'm a huge Third Eye Blind fan. But I don't know much about Maroon 5." But I don't know; we sound like Subrosa Union.
Where did that name come from?
We are a secret that is full of flavor. [In Spanish,] sabrosa with an "A" – we spell ours with a "U" – means "full of flavor, delicious-tasting." We have this mix of musical influences, we thought, this is pretty tasty. But also just sub rosa [in Latin] is "under the rose bush," and to me that's like a secret. It started off as Subrosa but later on we figured out there's a couple other Subrosas, so we added Union because everything to us is to be fair, like a family.
Tom Henkenius is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.