The Subjects are a delightful Brooklyn-based four-piece who have garnered praise from various media outlets for their brand of thoughtful-yet-fun rock. Comprised of two teachers and two of their former students, The Subjects have one of the more interesting stories with regard to a name that we’ve heard. BTR was lucky enough to catch up with both Dave and Joe from the band to get the scoop. First up, the story from Dave’s perspective.
“Joe and I were teaching at this high school, and we were both interested in music, so we decided to put a band together to perform at the school carnival. We got a couple of other teachers together, including Greg Wiz (now drummer in Joseph Arthur’s band), and wrote some songs about classes in school, most notably “The History Train,” and “Will I Pass P.E.?” After the carnival, one of our friends heard the recordings of the tunes and offered to send it around to some clubs. This resulted in some gig offers from some of NYC’s best-sounding and prestigious venues – The Continental (R.I.P.), Tribeca Rock Club (R.I.P.), and Siberia (R.I.P.). At this point, Joe and I found it unable to continue working with the other teachers in the band because of various complications such as addictions, conflicting egos, solo careers, and so on. We found ourselves with gigs and songs, but no band.”
“At the time, I was teaching a video class that had only two students, and we were making an epic high school musical called “Platinum Dreams.” The two students in this class were working on music on their own as well, and we were working really well together. They were about to graduate at this point, thus ending the conflict of interest inherent in teaching them during the day and rocking with them at night, so Joe and I figured we would see if they were interested in joining the band. We first asked their parents, and then asked them one at a time if they would like to join The Subjects.”
Joe picks up the story where Dan left off.
“The band name, however, did not go unchallenged. We contacted the owners of thesubjects.com (R.I.P.) to see if they were interested in selling it since it had not been updated in well over a year. They responded with an email including phrases like, ‘We are on the verge of signing a major record deal and will have a record out by the end of the year.’ ‘How did you get this email address?’ ‘Get an original bone in your body and make up your own name.’ ‘Stay in your world, dude, and stay out of our way.’ After deliberating changing the name, we decided to keep things the way they were.”
The Subjects Live:
May 16- 8:00P, Bowery Ballroom – w/ Long Blondes & Drug Rug- New York, NY
Another Brooklyn-based band, Tall Firs, take their name from further west. Inspired by an Oregon basketball team, the longtime friends decided to adopt the nickname as their own.
“Tall Firs actually refers to a depression-era basketball team, which is a little ridiculous given that two of us don’t know the rules to any organized sport outside of bowling and pool. Anyway, Aaron married a lady from Oregon and the ‘Tall Firs’ are sort of state heroes there. The team were actually called The Ducks, but were nicknamed “The Tall Firs” because of the towering height of a couple players. They won the first NCAA championship back in 1939, overcoming great odds, and as a result were deemed Oregon’s best sons. Cut to sixty some odd years later when Aaron and I are finishing our first record, as Ryan was just flirting with becoming a full fledged member at that point. We needed a name for our thing since we wanted to find a label, play shows, go on tour and you know, basically do every other thing that people in rock bands do other than spend sleepless nights recording.”
“The record we made, which became the first Tall Firs album, was kind of a diary about our friendship and all the things we’d been through both together and apart during the time we’d known each other. Obviously, it meant a whole lot to us and as you might imagine it was pretty tough to come up with a name for it. No matter what either one of us said, the other undoubtedly thought it was too ‘Spinal Tap’ or whatever. Everything we invented just sounded like a cliché. Aaron came back from a trip to the in-laws with the ‘Tall Firs’ thing, and it just stuck. I don’t think any of us really associate it with sports, the imagery in the words just feels right. That said, I do like the idea that ‘Tall Firs’ is just a cool nickname for three plain old ducks.”
Catch Tall Firs Live:
7/12 Seattle WA Sunset Tavern (early show)
7/13 Portland OR Town Lounge (doors at 9:00)
7/15 San Francisco CA Du Norde (doors at 7:30)
7/17 Santa Cruz CA The Crepe Place (doors at 9:00)
7/19 Los Angeles CA Mountain Bar (doors TBA)