Spell Bound: After a European vacation, SLC’s Subrosa get back to work. 

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Subrosa’s Rebecca Vernon always dreamed of touring Europe. Recently, with a Clark Griswold-like determination, she took her Salt Lake City heavy-folk/metal band across the Atlantic for a few dates with Swedish band Under the Frozen Soil, playing venues small and mammoth-size, including the Dutch Doom Days Festival. City Weekly recently sat down with the group to discuss the trip, lineup changes and detailed stories from the road.
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City Weekly: How did the tour come about?

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Rebecca Vernon: This label from Sweden added us on MySpace. I could tell they weren’t quite our style, but I [responded to the label owner] and asked him if he was accepting demos. So that was the sign. I told him right away I really wanted to tour and that we’d love to come over. Then one of his friends, Linus from Beneath the Frozen Soil, heard us and liked it from the very beginning and invited us to tour with them.

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This started last summer when they tried to get us on a tour in April. We bought our plane tickets, and three days later, they fell through. We thought about canceling but, instead, we decided that we had to try and fight for our gigs.

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CW: You recently made some changes to the lineup. First your drummer Bonie Shupe left, then your bassist Leena dropped out as well. So where did you pick up Zack Hastis and Rachel Hastis?

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RV: Well there’s this garbage can outside my house. ... But really, Oz, the bassist from Iota [brought us together]. We found out we were all friends with Kim [Pack], and that they were playing in a project with her the next day for a wedding.

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CW: So, technically, the first time you all played together was for a wedding?

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Sara Pendleton (violinist): Yeah. We covered The Used’s “I Caught Fire in Your Eyes.”

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CW: How long did you practice before you knew you’d be good to go for Europe?

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RV: Basically, by the time the wedding was over, I knew I wanted to play with them.

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CW: How did you decide to bring along both violinists Kim Pack and Sara?

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SP: I was gone for eight months, traveling. When you leave for that long the band has to move forward. So Kim [started] playing with them. We always planned to integrate [our roles when I returned]. I was really nervous because not only did I not know how the chemistry was going to be between us, but I also didn’t know how the two violins were going to sound together. It was difficult at first, like pulling teeth a little bit. But now that we’ve worked on it, the songs sound better than they ever did before.

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RV: The violin part to “Christine” changed dramatically. We changed both parts and it sounds so much different and better now. It’s almost haunting—and I always thought of it as a swift kick in the ass.

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CW: What are you working on now?

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RV: We’re trying to write and get a new record done. We’re looking to record late winter/early spring so we can have a new album to tour with this summer.
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CW: You didn't touch much on transportation. How did you get around from place to place?

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Zack H: Basically we had a nine passenger van with all our duffelbags and nine people in there, and all the equipment.

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Rachel: And it wasn't small equipment, it was seriously a full backline and nine people. And we were all luckily on the smaller side. And the other band were big metal dudes, big and tall.

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ZH: One of them was a wrestler too.

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RV: A Swedish ex-pro-wrestler. He wore a potato sack over his head. We watched videos of him on YouTube, it was so awesome!

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Rachel H: Yeah, it was a nine passenger VW Van. It ran like a dream and was easy to drive. The only tough part about it was getting all our gear in there.

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ZH: And getting used to the Autobahn, which is full of fucking people zooming right past you. One funny thing that happened to us is that we only had specific cards for the GPS, where if you went through specific countries from one to the other, your GPS card might not read in that country. So you have to find the closest city to the border and hope it's still on the Autobahn, and then pop the card in once you cross the border. So we got stuck in Cologne, German on the last day on our way to Dutch Doom Days Festival. We were stuck in Germany trying to find Rotterdam.

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RH: And we were stuck on the street asking people “How do you get to Holland?”

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RV: It would be like asking someone here in SLC “How do you get to Vegas?” Like, how do you get to the more fun place?

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CW: We've touched a lot on the various places you've been to. What was the best and worst of them all, and why?

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SP: The best ... There's a little village in Slovenia called Pivka (Pu-Ka). These kids got a grant from the country to turn an old prison into a community house, and they have a venue down in the basement which is not unlike what the Red Light Bookstore used to have here in SLC. And they have an internet room, a kitchen, bathrooms and a lot of more big empty rooms. That's the place where we were fed vegan soup. They set us up to sleep in a big empty room that had mattresses all over the floor and a space heater... but it was perfect and somehow enchanting and awesome. And it felt like that was the one where the most people showed up because the energy was so incredible, the give and take between the audience and the bands was so perfect. I never felt better than there on the whole tour, and the kids were so generous with their money it just broke your heart. It was really, really cool.
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nZH: When we were driving into Pivka we had no idea where we were going, and all of a sudden this guy starts waving us down and it turns out he was the promoter who set up the show. Like he knew that we were going to be driving down this one road and saw us coming.

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RV: The local townsfolk were like “we think your band's here, there's some weird people driving around.” The whole town is a roundabout and then four side streets, it was awesome. And outside the farm was so rural, we saw the cabbage farms going down a one lane road headed to this venue. I started freaking out that we were lost.

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CW: Like traveling to Panguitch almost.

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ZH: It was like playing in Cedar City, only with culture.

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CW: And the worst?

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RH: Well that's the thing, none of the sleeping accommodations were awesome, there were the few nights we had a hotel where the beds were nice but for the most part it was just mattresses on the floor somewhere.

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RV: In hotels some of us would sleep on the floor and we would rotate. But we were trained to be as cheap as possible, so if we could get a room for 57€, which is $70 why would we get two rooms for $70?

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CW: How was it meeting the ex-owner of I Hate Records?

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RV: It was so awesome. He's just great in every way, and I knew he was great just by email with just so much intuition and intelligence, totally into everything in the music world, our music, politics, our culture and government, social commentary. He's just such a deep person. And meeting him just confirmed all those things.

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SP: I think we all pretty much fell in love with him and his personality and his intellect, his ability to communicate with everyone at the festival, and champion us. He was amazing.

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RV: Championing us, that's a good way to word it. He signed us to I Hate when we really didn't fit the roster, and he knew he was taking a risk but he really wanted us on board because he liked us.
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