Musician James Force isn’t just a dreamy heartthrob roaming around Boston venues playing shows and breaking hearts. Ok, so he kind of is. But he is also the founder–and sole member–of Subpar Co-star and has picked up a few tricks of the local trade. But before his show tonight (6/5/12) at Precinct, he was able to spare a couple of moments to divulge all of the knowledge he has acquired.
How did this project even get started?
Subpar Co-star came together as a solo recording project in Portland. I have always tinkered around with recorders, like my dad’s reel to reel as a kid, a tascam 4 track when I was in high school, and then digital programs–coughgaragebandcough.
I spent a year putting Gigdets and Gadgets together in my home studio. The low fi sound I was getting during the recording really hit a chord with me, so I embraced it and had fun working with the obstacles rather than hiding ‘em. I thought it made the whole cd more personal and engaging. I keep the same approach in the live show.
What do you mean?
I am constantly trying to find ways to get everyone involved. My latest silliness is draw your own cd’s at the show. It is awesome to get off stage and have someone show you their crayola cd cover. Then we press it together. Awww.
How are people receiving this?
I think Boston is receiving Subpar pretty well. A lot of people have grabbed the cd’s and drew their own. Some great musicians have joined me for the sets and some great bands have invited me to play with them. I get a kick out of it cause the show isn’t what you’d expect it to be, and it is cool to see such a positive response to songs like “The Polar Bear Joke.”
I’ll ask more about that later. What do you find more effective for promoting yourself–technology or good ol’ word of mouth?
Definitely word of mouth. I used to think you needed a strong internet presence–[that's how] you could get your name out in the world. I still think it is important for a band, but not the best way to start building a fanbase. There is a site for people to find if they like it, but mainly I have just been going to open mics and playing as an opener as often as possible.
DIY tends to operate that way.
Doing the DIY live looping shows and handing out home recorded cd’s has definitely gotten me some odd looks in Boston. I think it’s because we’re spoiled musically. There are so many talented sound professionals, musicians, and studios in the city that we’ve gotten used to pro music performances. Subpar is going in the opposite direction and embracing the personal side of the songs and performances. I just think it adds a different twist on what a show should be.
Any favorite Boston venues?
O’Brien’s was the most fun, but Harper’s Ferry was my favorite. Although, I haven’t tried out the Brighton Music Hall yet. I’ve been trying to get involved with some of the house shows and other DIY groups that are running strong.
What would you consider your signature drink after one of your sets?
Maker’s Mark on the rocks–but tequila on good nights.
JUNE 12, 2012
70 UNION SQ.
Photo by Julie Stoller