Subtle Oak Complexity was a Santa Cruz band (1997 - 2000) consisting of Tony Burchyns, Justin Ward, and Mike May (drums). Singers-guitarists Burchyns and Ward teamed up with May in fall 1997 after Ward met May while working at the Cowell dining hall at UCSC. The band played its first show at the Howling Cow Cafe, Kresge College, just weeks later. They went on to rock dozens of local underground venues during the next three years, building a reputation as one of Santa Cruz's finer indie acts. Burchyns and Ward split the song-writing duties and traded off on bass and guitar. May pounded the drums as hard as anyone in town. Metro Santa Cruz writer and Exploding Crustaceans frontman Matt Koumaras heard S.O.C. for the first time in July 1998 at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall. His description? "Openers Subtle Oak Complexity featured exceptionally nimble bass, just perfect vocals and a drummer who's a dead ringer for the Muppets' Animal. This mild-mannered band embarked upon an Unrest-styled indie pop set that unexpectedly seized musical moments of simple grandeur. Subtle Oak Complexity was a desperate dose of Viagra, and things started moving in me that haven't budged in years." In fall 1998, S.O.C. released a 7-inch "Biograph Girl" on Fiver Records, a label started by Santa Cruz-area native Tim Dunegan, bass player for Great Divide. The record included three early songs, "Look Around," "America On Odessa Steps" and "Charmed Innocence." The band entered its busiest phase in late 1998, leading up to a highly anticipated full-length album "Architect and Designer" in May 1999. After taking the summer off, the band regrouped in the fall with Ward devoting himself solely to bass. Following a tour to Chicago in summer 2000, the band parted ways amicably. May proceeded to help launch popular Portland band Science of Yabra, featuring former Great Divide guitarist Luke Clements. Ward and Burchyns each started new Santa Cruz bands. Ward reunited with high-school bandmate Richard Myers to re-start the Sucks, which would evolve into Pedestrian. Burchyns resurfaced with fuzzed-out grunge band Half Czar in 2002.

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