The Montreal band’s self-titled EP offers a diverse variety of rock sounds. A particular strength of this release is how it manages to convey a sense of live, uninhibited sound in a truly rare way. While Vidyarthi refers to Subject-Object as “digital blues,” drummer Stefan Jovanovich describes the sound as “deceptively heavy.” This label is particularly fitting for the first track, ‘Watergun,’ which features a driving blues energy, rough vocals akin to The White Stripes and heavy yet catchy riffs and jams. At times Subject-Object reminds me of Trail of Dead, but the album also features jazz and funk grooves, alt rock energy, skilled solos and solid drumming.
The often hard edge is clean and punctuated by synths, which create a sense of suspension on the slower, more ambient tracks. ‘What You Believe’ is a softer song that features reverb on the guitar and floating, distant vocals. ‘Surf Song’ is a straight up rock song that features echoing guitars and the outro is epic, punctuated by a booming bassline and low robotic synth sound that melds the rock elements together in an unexpected and appreciated manner.
Q: Subject-Object has a powerful ‘new’ and somewhat classic sound derived from rock, tell us a bit about your influences…
A: The guys came together with completely different influences and a few bands under our belts and we hybridized all of our styles, trying to lean back to each of our roots … It was a love-in between my “digital blues,” as I like to call it, and the jazz/rock drums, funky aggressive bass and electro-poppy synths of the rest of the guys.
The White Stripes were a big influence for me, same with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Blind Melon … These are bands that put an amazing new spin on old ideas. Speaking of old ideas, Howlin Wolf and Elmore James, two old blues men that could really make your blood boil. Between the old and the new, CCR, The Doors, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young and Zeppelin move me a lot. ‘Freewheelin” Bob Dylan kills me, but I’m not as deep into his other stuff.
The ‘new’ you refer to comes from an addiction to electronic music that started with hip-hop, moved toward trance, house and eventually grew toward ambient music. From Rakim, The Sugar Hill Gang, Tribe Called Quest and Gangstarr to Daft Punk, Moby, Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, Zero 7 and the like. Electro strikes me as a modern version of the rhythmic Indian classical music I was exposed to as a kid … Repetition and drone can put you in amazing mind states.
When I was about 19 or 20, I started to make my own music. Since then I’ve discovered bands like The Dandy Warhols, Hawksley Workman, Modest Mouse, Placebo, Interpol, Cake, The Strokes, Nirvana, The Vines, Mute Math, Mogwai, Arctic Monkeys. They were all inspiring me by doing what I wanted to do … Taking the best of the honest old, mixing it with the electro soundscapes and production of the digital new, and adding their own flavour.
I’m also into some jazz, especially Mingus and Davis, old funk/disco stuff [like] Parliament, Kool and the Gang and some heavier punk/metal like Iron Maiden, Danko Jones, Refused.
A: About seven years. Never was a musical kid, just started fucking around with guitars and microphones one day.
I learned a lot touring with my first band, The Coloured Lights. I was experimenting with singing and new guitar sounds and I got a lot of stage experience. We were naive party animals with big dreams. That band dissolved in a bit of ego chaos, conflicting opinions, altered consciousnesses and the like. But we managed to get an album down [‘Twelve Steps to Space.’] After that band broke up I joined an existing band so I could keep exploring the live dynamic. Found some great guys in the city called After The Weather and I joined the band as a drummer for a while – we played some unforgettable shows.
While playing drums in ATW, I spent some time building a signal-forking guitar amp setup you hear on the Subject-Object EP. Found some amazing players to bounce ideas against, and that’s that! Since both of my previous band’s albums failed to capture the live feel, I was adamant on recording Subject-Object entirely live off the floor – I’m really happy I did that. With this EP, I feel like moving ever closer to getting the live magic down to record. Not there yet, though.
Q: Tell us a bit about your name – the relation of subject to object and how this name relates to your music…
The music I was writing while forming this band was really a shift in perspective. The name is really representing a transition period for me between the objective and the subjective … I was gaining new understanding on the power of the subjective – all that exists is truly influenced by our own perception of it. The songs mostly center upon this rebirth into a worldview that embraces the subjectivity of everything and the power of changing your perceptions.
Q: What are your future plans, music-wise?
To me, music is a beautiful way to communicate when you have a real message to get across. You need to get out in the world and fill up your paint can. You can’t run on empty, you can’t lock yourself in your room. This world needs to piss you off, give you euphoric orgasms, frustrate you, stress you out, toss you around, bless you with love, steal your love … And then you can come back and unload it all onto the canvas.
I’ve temporarily moved out to Vancouver to pursue some ideas at an art school and I do plan to start a new project here. But this isn’t the end of Subject-Object. If there’s two things I’m sure that music can do, it’s bring people together and transcend time. I’d love to get the four of us together again in a year or two and see what’s changed in our paint cans … Maybe there’s enough for a follow-up record.
When might we be able to catch Subject-Object live next?
Don’t remind me. We played Montreal last year a lot. We were focusing on the album and didn’t have time to tour it, but as I learned in both my earlier bands, it steals the magic of music when you try too hard to push it out there, so in a way I’m happy that we’re all still excited about it. We’re all working on new projects now, but like I said, at some point will revisit this line-up.
You can download the Subject-Object EP for free here: http://www.thecolouredlights.com/subobj/