Life After Death

A buzzard beanie baby sat alone on the coffee table backstage. “Someone threw it onstage last night, while we were playing our song ‘Buzzard’,” said Subrosa’s Jack Griego, the drummer (“and merch boy,” he added) as he crouched by a box of band T-shirts. Singer and guitarist Travis Michael Tooke, guitarist and keyboard player Mike Amish, and bassist and backing vocalist Andy Lord spoke with me before their show with Creed and Love Canal at the Chili Pepper in Fort Lauderdale for 94.9 Zeta’s T’aint Ball.

Figuring they were sick of talking about it, we did not dwell on the accident; in September 1995, the Gainesville band, then known as Four Squirrels, had released their debut album, Example, on Sony 550 Music. It reached Billboard Magazines’ 200 album chart, and things were looking good, but when they were returning from playing at CBGB’s at the CMJ Convention in New York City, the bands’ van blew a tire and flipped, killing original singer Jack Vigliatura, bassist Bill White and tour manager Tim Bender.

The band regrouped, and with the addition of new members, emerged as Subrosa. In medieval times, knights brought to the brink of death, consumed under oath, could be reborn under a new oath — an oath to the death for their cause, their loyalty, their integrity. This was called an oath under the rose, their private crusade to a new life, a new meaning: Subrosa.

They performed at Zetafest, and Subrosa have been on tour with Creed for the last two months in support of their latest album, Never Bet the Devil Your Head. The title comes from the most fantastic antagonist of them all — adversity. The band has moved forward with their lives with hope and realism, yet they vowed to “never bet the Devil their heads.” Featuring thirteen songs that were recorded at Le Studio in Morin Heights, Canada, the album was produced by Nick Launay and Subrosa.

The band associates their music with the soul. Travis takes care of most of the writing. He said the music on the album is personal and deals with through learning from life experiences and going through a process of rebirthing. “It’s a message of experiences,” he said.

In January 1998 the band is headed to Los Angeles to record a video and then go back out with Creed. Never Bet the Devil Your Head contains songs about grasping what is just out of reach and what is too close at hand. “We are just trying to attempt at living through music, for ourselves or anyone else.”

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