Sub-Radio

Tonight at 7 p.m., the six-piece indie pop/rock band Sub-Radio will take the stage in Wilson Hall before Smallpools. The Sterling, Virginia-based outfit includes two JMU sixth-year seniors — Matt Prodanovich on guitar and back-up vocals and Mike Chinen on rhythm guitar and vocals — as well as 2014 alumnus John Fengya, who plays the guitar and keyboard. The band has seen Smallpools live twice, and in addition to considering them one of their primary influences, Prodanovich and Chinen see Thursday’s show as their most important gig yet.

The Breeze had the opportunity to talk with Prodanovich and Chinen.

Q: What was your initial reaction when you found out you were opening for Smallpools?

Chinen: They’re one of my favorite bands so it’s just really, really cool. Matt texted me when he found out we were opening for them and I just freaked out. I literally dropped my phone and fist pumped in the air.

Q: Have you ever opened for an artist you really admire?

Prodanovich: Not someone that we like this much. We’ve opened for other people who we definitely appreciate like Andy Grammer, Aloe Blacc, A Great Big World, Hot Chelle Rae. 

Q: How has the band prepared for tonight’s gig?

Prodanovich: We haven’t treated it just like any other gig — we’ve practiced this set probably six times through. In terms of pressure I think we always get nervous when we have a bigger show — but it’s not bad nervous, it’s like excitement more. It’s really fun to play in front of a lot of people.

Chinen: After playing the number of shows we’ve played, the way I see it is every show should be treated like a huge show. I used to be deathly afraid of playing in front of people, but luckily over the years that has gone away.

Q: Where does the band name come from?

Chinen: Back in high school, before I even joined the band, Matt and I sat down in his basement and we took out a Best Buy ad. We literally just randomly selected words and came up with something really random that only had one of our band name’s two words. Eventually we ended up narrowing it down — in the past we were called Sub-Radio Standard. 

Q: What is your approach onstage? How structured or improvised are your sets?

Chinen: It’s definitely a mix of both — normally when we play shows we don’t have a certain structure, but for this show we definitely planned out a few things. There are also plenty of things that happen on stage that are on the spot. Whatever you feel, just be comfortable and don’t do something stupid.

Q: What is the time commitment like being in a band while in college?

Prodanovich: Probably 80 percent of my weekends at JMU were spent in Sterling — which is why we didn’t play a lot around Harrisonburg.

Chinen: Our booking agent has gotten us a lot of shows over the past two years. Last year I’m pretty sure we were gone about 13 or 14 of the weekends, and this semester we’ve been gone for about 11 or 12. If you want to do this you’ve got to make different sacrifices, but it’s worth it.

Q: What are the band’s biggest influences?

Prodanovich: Walk the Moon was a big one when we were plotting the last album, and also, to be honest, a band that we really like is Smallpools. They were a big influence on us when we were writing the new stuff that hasn’t been released yet.

Chinen: Also in the past, old-school Maroon 5 — like “Songs About Jane” — had a big influence on us.

Q: What are your plans for the band after graduation?

Chinen: We want to keep going as far as we can. We’ve been together for so long [since 2011] that it would be kind of a shame if we didn’t. I think we’d all like to tour at some point; that’s kind of the goal. We’ve played out of state at a couple different festivals and conferences like up in New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Delaware, but we’ve never done a traditional tour and that’s what we’d like to move into.

Contact Sammy Criscitello at criscisj@dukes.jmu.edu.