Nothing stays the same, for better or for worse. It’s something that Jon Banda, frontman for The Subtle Tease, thinks about often. Just before the alternative indie rock/electronica quartet from Watsonville formed in 2009, Banda was in a dark place. “I was totally secluded and really having a hard time getting through a couple things,” he says. Serendipitously, Banda bumped into an old friend from Watsonville High School, bassist Clay Alves, and the first thing Alves asked him was if he was still playing guitar.
The two started jamming together and Alves quickly recognized an exciting chemistry in their sound. The pair soon recruited two other old friends from Watsonville High: lead guitarist Marco Garcia and drummer Matt Hargis. Alves says Banda had an extreme drive to make music. “He was just hungry, man,” Alves says. “He was coming up with all kinds of riffs and licks on a daily basis.” The band was about more than just music for Banda; it was also an escape, which took him to a positive state of mind, he says. The band’s sound is hard to pin down—Banda refuses to. He says listeners just have hear it for themselves. But Alves cites their influences as ’80s rock, Modest Mouse, The Strokes, Radiohead and Daft Punk. Banda says his lyrics are about personal introspections, experiences and changes. In the song “Walking Through Walls,” Banda recalls the house he lived in with friends until the end of last year. One night, after partying hard, Banda remembers walking down a hallway and seeing his girlfriend and best friends in the kitchen. “All I remember is that those moments, to me, are just absolutely the most important,” he says. “Because nothing is the same now.” Despite an element of heavy nostalgia, The Subtle Tease’s music is fun, upbeat and danceable. Alves says that’s what the band is all about. Since the new year, the band has shifted into overdrive. “We’ve taken it to the next level,” Alves says. “We just have that chemistry.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Thursday, March 7. Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-1338.