Sub-Radio‘s high-energy live performances and variety of outstanding vocalists have put them on the map up and down the East Coast. The band’s clean guitars, dance-floor rhythms and powerful vocals have garnered comparisons to established pop-rock acts like Walk The Moon and Two Door Cinema Club. Multiple songs have been recognized in national songwriting competitions, and Sub-Radio has gigged heavily across the region, playing at the Cherry Blossom Festival, Celebrate Fairfax, Firefly 2017 and more. Following the success of their 2016 debut “Same Train//Different Station”, the band embarked on a series of monthly singles in April 2017. They will be putting out a new project in mid-2018.
— — —
Mehnaz Ladha: Kicking it off with your hometown area of Washington, DC, what really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the surrounding area?
Michael Pereira: DC is a very busy town. Of course, it’s one of the most powerful cities in the whole world because the hub of the United States is here. It’s really interesting because there are people here from all over the world. There are all the embassies. There’s a lot of culture here, but the culture of DC changes so much because there are so many people coming in and out of DC all the time. There’s also a new administration every four years, and there are a lot of other terms that are relatively short term compared to a job. Compared to Chicago or New York where there are a lot of industries and people could be there for their whole lives, it’s not necessarily true about DC. You get a wide variety of people and it changes every couple years. It’s pretty cool.
As far as where I would send a first timer, I really like food trucks. The food trucks in DC are super good. There’s this Mexican place called Rito Loco and my favorite thing to get there is a burrito bowl with chicken and a bunch of different sauces. It’s really cool to see them gain popularity and some notoriety. The ones that make a little more money can buy their own establishment and kind of graduate from the truck.
ML: There’s something very special and different about eating at a food truck. It’s a cross between comfort and authentic food.
MP: Yeah, the food trucks make a name for themselves by having just really, really good food and good service. If you go to any of these places that have graduated from the truck, you know you’re going to get really good food.
ML: Describe the music scene in DC. How does it compare to other cities you have been to?
MP: There’s a wide variety of venues of course and it’s really interesting. Each venue tailors to its own music genre, but there’s a lot of acts from outside of DC that play in DC regularly. It’s a little bit more difficult to find locals at some of the more noteworthy venues. But, there are all sorts of smaller venues that locals are in everyday, and you can pop into any of them like Velvet Lounge or DC9. Of course, there’s the 9:30 Club and the Anthem, one of the coolest venues in the United States, that bring in massive touring acts too.
ML: What was your first real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to create your own and eventually pursue it as a career?
MP: Personally, I started music late in high school and I’m self-taught. I never really had lessons or anything. One day I picked up some drumsticks, a friend of mine had a set of drums at his house, and I was hitting around on it for a week or so. I thought it seemed cool, and it kind of took off from there.
I started playing my freshman year of high school. We all met basically our sophomore year. Our guitarist kind of recruited everyone. So, it’s the same guys, all the same core six members since our sophomore year of high school. We’ve all been in this group now for eight years, which is pretty wild.
ML: Definitely! And, all of you are so young but have come so far, that’s amazing.
MP: Yeah, and we have always been writing. It’s a little difficult to say where it comes from. Since we all listen to different styles of music, there was never anything logical to cover. We’ve just been writing music since we got together, and [our style] kind of just gone from there.
ML: That’s a great story! To create music, and traveling to promote it, must be such a feeling. What’s the most impactful and meaningful part you cherish about it? Does the travel help inspirationally?
MP: I grew up traveling with my family. I’ve lived overseas coming from a government family. I find a lot of personal value in traveling, because of all of the people that you meet and cultures you experience. I like to say that every time the band or I goes somewhere, you learn something new, not only about the place that you are going to, but something new about yourself just because you’re interacting with a whole new world that you would have never experienced otherwise.
So, traveling with the band is really cool, because you see what styles of music hit with different areas. Certain songs will vibe with different people in different places, which is really cool to see. Traveling on a personal level helps you write, because the more that you experience in the world, the easier you can relate to people. You have a better understanding of where people are coming from, and it’s a little bit easier to be empathetic. That can come true in your writing.
ML: It definitely opens your mind even to just immerse yourself in a different environment, whether that’s abroad or right here at home.
MP: Absolutely! One small point is that I love to travel to different places and actually go dancing there, as well as playing music. Playing music is great, but going to another place and going out dancing is one of the coolest things that I actually love to do. I took a trip to Central America and went out dancing, among many others. I’ve been jazz dancing for a while now too, but it kind of opens you up to moving to different types of music. I feel like that has broadened me personally.
MP: Rather than the band traveling as a unit to different places and the music changing, I would say it’s more the different places that the individual members have traveled over the years. The inspiration that each of us has gotten individually from our personal travels when we come back to the band and write music together, it brought out new ideas. Like all sorts of European pop styles, synthesizer sounds, Latin grooves and others as well. It’s evolved to be more rhythmic, groovier and a little bit more fun I think.
ML: So, what’s been your favorite place to perform in so far?
MP: My favorite place was Firefly this past summer. It was super fun and we got to play twice. We played at a campground stage, which was super fun because it wasn’t quite when people were getting up, but just about. People were already up, but it was before the actual festival starting. We were one of the first things that people could see and we were super loud. So, we had a bunch of people wander over and we had a pretty sizable group.
We also got to play a second time at the Toyota stage. Unfortunately, there was a different band that dropped out, but since there was an open slot, we got asked to play this other set. It was kind of a surprise to us, but it was a blast.
ML: What are some places you hope to perform in the near future? What’s one of the dream destinations for the band?
MP: I personally would like to play in as many different countries as possible. I would love to play in Europe. I think we all really want to play major festivals like Lollapalooza, Summerfest and Bonnaroo. Those are probably the highest on our list in terms of actual tangible shows to shoot for.
ML: One of our core objectives at SCP is to bring people together while traveling, not only to influence people to see and appreciate our beautiful world but to also minimize cross-cultural divides. What effect does traveling, specifically surrounding music, have on humans in this regard? How has it broadened your perspective of the world?
MP: If you travel anywhere outside of your comfort zone, you literally travel to a whole new world. The experience of putting yourself somewhere where you are not comfortable, maybe you don’t speak the language or maybe people walk through life in a totally different way than you ever thought of. The feedback that at least I’ve gotten, is that there are so many different ways to walk through life than what you do every day. The only way you can ever know it is by going out and meeting people, talking to people, learning about people and sitting with people. The more people that you do that with, the easier it is to relate to the next person.
ML: Whether you’re traveling for the band or for leisure, what are you most excited about when visiting a new destination?
MP: Food! Trying out local food is the first thing. I love trying out local cuisines. I like to go to a new place and try stuff that’s hole-in-the-wall style, the local stuff.
ML: It’s always awesome to ask the locals who can direct you to the non-touristy venues for the most authentic experience.
MP: Exactly, I love that! Eating local food is the first thing I look forward to.
ML: Lastly, I know there’s a new EP in the works, so what do the next couple of months have in store for you and the band?
MP: The next couple months are going to be pretty busy. We actually just announced that we are putting out a single [soon] and the name is still not released yet. Then after that, we’re planning a music video that we are shooting in a couple weeks. Hopefully, next month we’ll have a music video out for the single. Then we have a few more releases and the month after that, we’re planning another single. Then, in April, we have another EP coming out that we’ve been working on. We’re super proud of it, and it’s composed of five songs that we think are pretty much better than anything we’ve written so far. We’re super proud of this work and we’re excited about the release for everyone to hear it.