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Q&A: Trace Spath, guitarist for OLY

What does a band that started in high school, and toured around America, look like now?

OLY onstage at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, Calif., on June 21, 2022. The band wows their fans beneath a sky of red. // Photo courtesy of Trace Spath.

Trace Spath, a current Western Washington University student, has an enormous passion for music. Spath and his friends formed the band OLY while still attending Tumwater High School. 

They began with small shows around Olympia but snagged a rare opportunity when they were offered to tour around the country.

From there, OLY has continued to push forward in the industry, reaching over 28,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. 

The Front had the chance to talk to Spath about his journey in music and the origins of OLY.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about OLY, about how you started and about how you’ve progressed?

A: The beginning of us as a group was just a few musicians meeting each other by making music around town. I played guitar in a few groups. We played covers for school events. I was in a band in freshman year but moved away from that to do more bluesy rock. I ended up meeting Max Gaver, the lead singer of the group, through [our] choir. He released some solo music that I worked on with my buddy Jude Edwards. The three of us got together and started focusing on it.

That was our humble beginning, and all of a sudden stuff started to click. We played a few shows around Olympia. Fast forward to a show where, unannounced, the lead singer and manager of Kings Kaleidoscope came. They saw something [in us] and came up to us after the show. They said they liked the vision and wanted to talk about bringing us on tour.

Halfway through senior year, we all had to figure out a way to go on tour for forty days. We came up with a band name just because we had the pressure on us. We brainstormed for a little bit, then one of our dads said ‘why don’t you call yourselves OLY?’ We didn’t go with it at first, but after a couple days we decided we liked it. It’s just a cool name for a band, but it still means stuff to us. It’s a little taste of our roots, coming from Olympia.

Q: How do you balance the responsibilities of the band and your passion for music while still pursuing school?

A: Going to Western is nice because I’m in the music program, so a lot of my professors understand when I want to take time off for that.

In high school, it was a little bit of a different conversation. I didn’t ask anybody and finished my credits before I had to graduate. I was done with school by February. I figured it would be okay. I talked to my teachers, and everything worked out. I didn’t get kicked out and I got to walk.

Now it’s a little different because it’s my education – I’m buying it. The last time we went on tour was in 2022. The biggest thing is making sure you communicate with the people you need to.

Q: How many people are a part of OLY?

A: There are nine to 10 people that are on the songs. It’s like liquid for who is doing what. We’re a big old family of musicians.

Q: That’s all I had, but before we end this, I want to know if there’s anything you wanted to say that I didn’t cover in my questions.

A: The most important thing in following your dreams is that you have to love it so much that you will keep going no matter what.

One final thought, we’re releasing a single every month until our new album releases in July. Our first singles are out already … on all streaming platforms.

John Oakes

John Oakes (he/him) is an opinions reporter for The Front this quarter. In his free time, he writes fiction and not much else. You can find his work in Etherea Magazine as well as other venues. You can reach him at

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