Published on November 15th, 2008 | by Denise Borders
The Syncope Threshold (interview w/the band!)
Syncope (pronounced like “sync-a-pee”) is the medical term for fainting, a sudden, usually temporary, loss of consciousness generally caused by insufficient oxygen in the brain either through cerebral hypoxia or hypotension but possibly for other reasons. Typical symptoms progress through dizziness, clamminess of the skin, a dimming of vision or brownout, possibly tinnitus, complete loss of vision, weakness of limbs to physical collapse. These symptoms falling short of complete collapse, or a fall down, may be referred to as a syncoptic episode.
Welcome boys and girls…. The Syncope Threshold.
The Syncope Threshold was formed in 2006 and consists of Joe Garcia (vocals), Ryan Cano (guitar), Tom Borboa (guitar) and brothers Ron (bass) and Mike Tole (drums). Their collaborative effort combines the best elements of punk rock, heavy metal and post hardcore music in an aggressive and melodic display of technical prowess that is far beyond the years of most bands these days.
Hailing from La Verne, CA on the east side of Los Angeles County, the band credits a long and diverse list of influences including everyone from Pink Floyd to Bright Eyes to Between the Buried and Me. But one collective goal in this explosive project prevails: to defy the constraints of popular music and unleash a unique sound on the world at large. Their 6-song EP â€œEnd of the Beginningâ€ was described as â€œoriginality at its finestâ€ by AMP magazine, and provides a much needed breath of fresh air to a market that has been suffocated by the mediocrity of cookie-cutter bands. With the release of their debut album â€œTale of the Complex Circuitâ€, TST is bound for international success as they demolish the boundaries of traditional genres and bring a new standard of musicianship to the table.
I had the pleasure of talking with the boys of TST, and asking a few questions that I believe every fan and music lover would want to know.
Me: Where did you all come up with the name, “The Syncope Threshold”??
TST: We wanted to evoke some mystery. [Ryan] I passed out on my feet one night, never happened before or again.. I was watching some really cool musicians, and I thought I was going to be sick, so I had to excuse myself. I pushed off from where I was standing, fell, and blacked out! IÂ had to get stitches and my face was all mangled. The neurologist said he had NO clue why it happened, but told me alcohol can lower the syncope threshold, and I was like â€œwhaa..?â€ We liked that, but now weâ€™ve come to find out no one can pronounce it. We wanted something without death, grave, killing, etc.., thereâ€™s too much of that stuff. Plus, it happened while listening to three bands we love and were influenced by, Protest The Hero, Strung Out and Death by Stereo. Rody [PTH] actually drove me to the hospital. Very nice guy.
Me: Who did you all grow up listening to?
TST: [Mike] Backstreet Boys, New Kids, Menudo… I auditioned for Menudo. (ha). [Tom]- My dad was a huge influence, my household was filled with Rush and Van Halen, and when I started doing my own thing, it was be more punk rock, old Green Day, Strung Out, NOFX, Lagwagon, the whole Fat Wreck Chords era. From there, it kept going and changing directions. I started DJ’ing and everything just went from there. [Ron] Me and Mike both grew upÂ withÂ our dad building us around jazz, big band, stuff like that.Â As we got older, we branched out, listening to Van Halen, MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e, stuff like that. Later on, got into MXPX, Green Day, Pennywise, Operation Ivy. I used to be a little skater kid, and all the skater punk musicÂ was my deal. Growing more, walking into Protest the Hero, Strung Out, Death By Stereo, All That Remains, all the screaming and metal aspects. Right now, I think Iâ€™m in a comfortable spot,Â but still more to come. [Ryan] I grew up with a father who hated all metal.. aluminum, mostly the heavy kind. (ha ha) Most of the stuff I heard around my house was like, classic 70’s rock, Paul Simon, the Beatles, oldies stations. Once I found the radio, I found Black Sabboth, Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, Anthrax… but I wanted to go faster, so I started listening to punk rock.Â [Mike] same boat. Joe likes death metal, indie, all that stuff, he listens to all kinds of stuff.
Me: Tell me a little about how you formed as a group. Are you all original members?
TST: [Tom] We are all original dudes.Â The three of us, Ron, Mike and myself were in a band called Unfinished Business for a few years, and went wayward. Ryan came in,playing guitar, and the music changed. Then Joe found us, and we’ve been the same dudes since day one. [Ryan] I arrived on the departure of Ian, their singer and rhythm guitarist. Things started changing, and when Joe came in, we had a totally different voice, everything was different at that point. We were changingÂ direction, so we had to change the name, start over, start something new and start fresh.
Me: Ron and Mike are brothers, so do you all have a special relationship compared to the others? Or does it cause you to get in “brotherly” fights a lot?Â I grew up with two brothers around the same age so, I know how that can do sometimes….
TST: We actually live in the same room in bunkbeds. It’sÂ true! Gotta throw it out there. We used to slap each other around when we were kids, but now weâ€™re kind of connected at the toes.Â We all get along really well, it’s pretty rad. We hear horror stories of other practice sessions [of other bands] where people walk out looking different than they walked in, but weâ€™re all brothers, thatâ€™s the mentality. We have been through a lot with each other. But I mean, we all have a cut-off switch, if someone’s too loud, we all have a tendency to be like, “Fuck you, I’m going outside, ” and cool off for a few minutes.
Me: Tell me some of your guilty pleasures. Do you watch reality TV? Listen to Ryan Cabrera? TELL ME!
TST: [Tom] I can definitely speak for Ron and Mike on thatÂ we all watch realityÂ TV. It’sÂ like crack. In the moment ,you’re into it, but then you’re so ashamed afterward. Another would be we smoke a lot of cigarettes. It sucks, but we definitely do it. We meddle around with The Pickup Artist. [Ryan] I smoke a lot of crooked cigarettes, the alternate hand rolled kind. My gfâ€™s chihuahua is one of my guilty pleasures, Pinner.
Me: What do you all like to do besides play music? Any sports fans? Art geeks?
TST: [Tom] I’veÂ been doing art for a while now. I want to do more. I’ve been painting graffiti art, as well as Ryan, off an on, since we were in high school.Â It just kind of stuck with me. I look football, too. I’m a Buffalo Bills fan, even thoughÂ I’ve never been to Buffalo. [Ron] I play video games. I got a Nintendo GS, Brain Age, Zelda, etc..
Me: If you weren’t pursuing music, what would be your dream career?
TST: [Ryan] I’m an elevator mechanic in the real world. (*I then asked him if heÂ had control over theÂ elevator music.. and unfortunately, he does not). [Tom] I know that I’d be doing something art related. When I was in high school, IÂ was offered an internship with Walt Disney. I’d be a pickup artist. My wingman would be Mike, he’s the “pretty boy”, the drummer.. but then again, he’dÂ steal every girl… soÂ It’d be Ron, he’s the ugliest, haha. Nah, Mike is legit. [Ron] I started out going to school for recording engireering, recording technology, soÂ I’d probably continue that and get into a studio somewhere, work my way up the ladder, and hopefully Â get to the point of producing.
Me: Your music is very technical. Is there a lot of metal influence in your writing?
TST: This band started as a pop-punk band originally. We were all about straight, punk rock. Joe came along, the metal came, it was all put into a blender and here we are!
Me: I saw the video for “Discretion is Advised” on YouTube.. who’s basement was that filmed in?
TST: It was in our practice room. It’sÂ the most viewed thing we have on YouTube, but it’s an accidental thing, really. The guy filmed it and never finished it, did the final touches, or anything. But he posted it on his website anyway.
Me: Do you think you all would enjoy a nationwide, headlining tour better than being on a full Warped Tour?
TST: It [Warped Tour] manages to sell out all over the place, it’s huge.Â It’s great exposure, butÂ you donâ€™t get to play long, so there are ups and downs. It’d be rad to meet a lot of kick ass bands we look up to, networking that way [at Warped] would be awesome. However, doing your own tour would be awesome too. It’s way less draining, playing indoors and stuff.Â Â Warped tour is random and spiratic every day, and really more about the exposure.Â Plus, you get to listen toÂ other band’sÂ music every day too. Oh yeah… and free food.
Me: Do you whip each other with belts whilst listening to Ace of Base, often…? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UboLhjuaIYY)
TST: More often than you can imagine. And actually, those were cooking spoons. There’s been pool cues, lemons, oranges, you get to the wee hours of the night and towels start getting snapped, mikes usually the initiator of all this man on man violence. Mike knows all about that.
Me: Last but not least, where do you see your band in 5 years? 15 years?
TST: [Mike] Dominate the world, of course. Not even in 5 years, less! Weâ€™d love to be huge tomorrow if we want a pipe dream. Weâ€™ll keep working for it, and if in 5 years we can get big,Â or in 15 years, if we all go back to work, we jipped the system for 15 years and good for us! The main objective is to keep pushing forward, as long as the fan base keeps growing and everything is moving forward, then shit, excellent! Just keep it going and have it get better and better. Â [Ron] I donâ€™t know, I’d pretty much have to go with the “always strive for bigger and better things.” Where we are today, compared to two years ago, is amazing. I’m flat out knocked on my ass. The response so far on the two songs weâ€™ve released on our new album and EP, shows a lotÂ of what we’reÂ capable of. If we stick to our guns, dreams could come true. I’d consider ourselves unstoppable, but anything can be unstoppable if you work hard enough. In 15 years, hopefully weâ€™re bigger and better. I’d love to be 80 years old in a wheelchair, still rocking out withÂ someone holding my guitar for me. [Tom] Our band isÂ an open window, no “let’s a do a couple albums and call it a day” thing,Â it’s wide open. If we could do it for 20, 30, or moreÂ years.. great! 5 years from now, touring the world, being internationally popular, being able to live a decent life, being able to take care of ourselves, is the goal. Â Also, to continue to make better songs andÂ making overall solid stuff. Our new stuff blows away our old stuff and hopefully it continues in that direction as a band.
Alright kiddies, that’s all for now! Check out www.reverbnation.com/thesyncopethreshold and sign up to be a part of the street team, so you can receive updates on the band and missions to help them out. Also, check out their myspace, www.myspace.com/tstband
and check outÂ http://www.youtube.com/tole31house for a variety of TST videos.
Stay tuned… more to come!! Weeeee!!