Music + Five Members = SubTotal
Working without any good music playing in the background is my idea of purgatory. So naturally, I procrastinated for a good ten minutes before I did anything productive, and there, I found SubTotal; a pop-rock/indie band originally from Birmingham who have one dream: to make it big. With their powerful vocalist Sophia Whitehouse (19), lead guitarist Tim Dutton (21), guitarist and vocalist Mike Whitehouse (21), bass player James Harris (24) and their drummer Oliver Thurman (20), it seems as if this new band has a huge shot at achieving their dream goal. I was lucky enough to get to interview the band members about their musical past, their current projects and their future ambitions.
What created SubTotal? Where and how did you all meet?
(Oliver) So initially, Tim and I met at University; we lived next door to each other in student accommodation. After getting to know each other we discovered we both had musical interests. We met Harris on joinmyband.co.uk. We jammed and decided that we would start a band. Now we just needed a singer.
(Harris) After we had practice one night, I went to my friend’s college gig where I arrived just in time to see his band set up and that’s where I saw Sophia. I knew she was what the band needed.
(Sophia) After that we decided to thicken our sound up, and we got my brother Mike in to be our second guitarist.
How did your love for music grow? What made you want to be involved in music?
(Sophia) Quite simple, music is fun. Whether it’s just listening, playing along to tracks or jamming n a band. It’s all good fun and it makes us feel alive to be on stage.
Was music something you always wanted to do? How long have you had a passion for music?
(Harris) Music for me has been what I wanted to do as a career since I was about 16 and I first started learning bass guitar. We pretty much all started instruments in our early-mid teens.
How do you write your songs? Is there a specific procedure or genre?
(Tim) I don’t think there is a set routine yet in terms of how the songs are written. I think, if I had to generalise though, it would be that the tracks are jammed by all of us and everyone jumps in with ideas on the spot.
(Oliver) Another thing we appreciate in the band is our openness to suggest ideas or changes for instrumental or vocal parts. It’s good, as a band, that we don’t just concentrate on our own instruments; I reckon if we didn’t do this, then our music would never improve.
What inspired you or is still inspiring you to make music?
(Oliver) The rewarding feeling after recording new songs, playing gigs and seeing our fan base increase keeps us driven to continue as a band and work harder to promote our bands image and reputation.
Who would you collaborate with if you had the chance?
(Mike) That’s a hard one; there are so many possibilities! Maybe someone from a strikingly different genre of music, for example, rap.
(Harris) I’ve actually always wanted to introduce some Dubstep style bass tones into the band. Maybe in the future it’ll happen!
(Oliver) I plan to add some classical percussion such as Timpani’s to one of our songs when it gets to the time! Maybe some more percussion if my band will allow it!
Are there any disagreements between the five of you? How do you resolve any conflict?
(Tim) Democracy! With five members there can never be a tied decision. If there are any conflicts, we all make decision and the most popular one goes ahead.
(Oliver) I think the fact we get along well as a band, solving many of our arguments is smoother than expected. Luckily after the many arguments we’ve had together, we still get along perfectly well and continue to work harder for the future.
What is the hardest part of being in the music industry?
(Mike) Making it work! It demands so much of your time with everything involved that it can be very financially straining. Something has to suffer when working alongside a band: either your band, of your wallet!
(Tim) Getting your name out there, creating songs that will attract listeners, it goes on and on! It’s costly to, especially with promoting the band. From the start of the band, we have never pocketed any money for ourselves.
(Sophia) All the money we make is added to the band fund, which is then used on band related expenses, be it promotion, gear etc.
What do you enjoy most about being in the music industry?
(Tim) There are many good times but nothing can ever beat playing live and having your songs sung to you before you even play them. That is a very, very satisfying moment.
Any favourite gig memories to share?
(Harris) We have played a fair few gigs over Birmingham and Coventry. We did a gig for New Year’s Eve last year – that was really fun. Everyone was in such a good mood and they seemed to enjoy themselves so much!
Where do you see SubTotal in five years? What’s the ultimate dream?
(Sophia) Touring with an album out would be an absolute dream. Gonna be a hard push, but we’re willing to give it a damn good go!
What was the inspiration behind your catchy new single Fag Break?
(Harris) This is a funny story actually. Back when we’d first formed, we used to jam with a friend of mine who was a guitarist. Me and him were the only smokers in the band so we went outside to go have a smoke. When we came back into the rehearsal studio and I could just hear this chord progression being played with this awesome drumbeat underneath it. As they say, the rest is history.
Anything new to look out for?
(Mike) We’ve recorded three more singles so far; one has been released so there are two more to look forward to.
(Sophia) And we will be back in the studio again before the end of the year to record the fourth!
(Harris) Our plan once those four singles have been recorded and released, they will make up our first EP.
What advice do you have for any aspiring musicians out there?
(Tim) It’s a lot harder than it looks to make anything of it. You will be shot down and will have the confidence smashed out of you so many times. It’s not surprising that a lot of musicians are arrogant, because you absolutely have to be. You have to believe in yourself and force yourself out onto the music scene before anyone will give you an ear.
(Harris) I totally agree with what Tim said. In terms of advice; learn your craft, write music that you enjoy and don’t just emulate everybody else; you’re always more likely to make it into the industry by being original.