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Gavin's Underground

Fictionist, Oh! Wild Birds

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2009-06-28 -

Hey, look, its me and 200 of my closest friends... seeking shelter!

Day two of band interviews for you straight from the Utah Arts Festival, which at one point looked more like a hurricane was passing by. Rain and lightning filled downtown on Friday night, forcing the festival to shut down for about thirty minutes. The only band able to continue playing was John Henry, on the count that most of their instruments didn't require an outlet, bringing the equivalent of a captive audience to their tent. But more on that down the road as you can check out pics from day two and a little of day three, while today we chat with six-piece rockers Fictionist, and the hauntingly beautiful sounds of Oh! Wild Birds.

Fictionist (Robbie Connolly, Brandon Kitterman, Stuart Maxfield, Aaron Anderson, Jacob Jones and Spencer Harrisson)

http://fictionist.net/

Gavin: Hey Stuart. What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Stuart: I started playing music as a kid, I took violin lessons and I really loved that. My parents were both very musical. When my older brother got into Jr. High he formed a band, and they needed a bass player, I had no idea what playing in a bad was all about but I joined anyway. From then till now, I have always played in a band, it seems to be the trend. The rest of the band has a similar story, Robbie's older brothers had a band. I actually saw him play at a high school dance when he was 12 or 13. Brandon's older brother and dad played and got him into music, we actually played in a band during high school. Jacob and Aaron played together in a band in Sacramento growing up. Spencer's mom is a piano teacher and he grew up with a lot of music in his home. So music has always been a natural extension to our lives.

Gavin: How did you get together and form the original band?

Stuart: The original band formed because I was dabbling a bit in song writing and I really needed a band. As I went looking, the guys were my first natural choice. I knew a lot of them from childhood. I think of the band as a bit of an all star line up. After all the years I have played music, which isn't a lot compared to some, these guys are the ones that have risen to the top in my opinion.

Gavin: Originally you were called Good Morning Maxfield. Why the later name change?

Stuart: Well Good Morning Maxfield formerly just Maxfield, was a band that my older brother and I formed. It wasn't a huge focus for either of us. We practiced occasionally and played some shows. Toward the end of GMM we all tried a bit harder, but it still was a side project more then anything else. As we got serious about things, and got all our current members together, it was obvious that the music we all wanted to play was way different then GMM. Plus my brother had moved to Boston, and the whole Maxfield thing was really just and after thought at that point. In my mind GMM broke up so Fictionist could be formed.

Gavin: A lot of groups have hard times making the six-piece ensemble working. How was it for you when rehearsing and during live shows, finding your sound and making it all cohesive?

Stuart: It can be tricky, but we chose to have six members because a lot of the time our music calls for it. We all tend to be pretty intuitive, and we are careful not to step on each others toes. Our sound is a combination of the people in the band doing what we do best. The cohesiveness of the band is tied into the identity of its members and our concept of good art. Six just seemed to be the magic number with us.

Gavin: What was it like recording the Invisible Hand album?

Stuart: It was exhausting and fun at the same time. Since we did it almost entirely live, it actually happened really fast. The tracking of the album took place in a matter of 5 or 6 days. Post production took a little longer because of some scheduling issues, but even that was pretty speedy. It was a huge step for us, it being our first release, and we are proud of what came out of that time period.

Gavin: What was the public reaction to it after its release and how did you take it?

Stuart: We have had mostly good reviews. Just a couple bad ones. All in all I think it was well received. We like the album, and as far as I can tell our fans do too.

Gavin: How did you come to sign up with Red Owl, and what's it been like working with them?

Stuart: Well, Red Owl was pretty easy to sign with, because we own it. My brother originally started it, but when he moved to the east coast, I bought the business license from him. It has been a challenge to run, just ask Jacob, seeing that he has done most of the leg work on it. Its been good for us because it has allowed us to get our stuff out there a little better.

Gavin: Are there any plans for a tour down the road, or mainly playing around locally?

Stuart: We will be announcing our fall tour dates pretty soon. We have a couple local shows this summer. This summer we are rehearsing for our next album which should be a pretty big deal.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Stuart: I really don't know what to think about scenes, and still not sure what exactly makes a good one, but in every good music scene there is this synergy and excitement among the artist and listeners. We really thrive off that. I can't think of a town that seemed really bad to me yet.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

Stuart: Artist should make great art, and venues and bookers should book them.

Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Stuart: I have respect for all high minded artists. I don't know if I have favorites right now.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

Stuart: Mostly bad and a little good. But that depends on the radio station. KRCL is great.

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?

Stuart: It doesn't bother me, maybe it should. I think sharing music is healthy. It's true that musicians need to make money, but its good to remember that Music is a gift to humanity and ought to be treated as such. I would encourage people to buy their music, but I also wouldn't discourage someone from sharing their favorite album with their friend.

Gavin: What can we expect from you guys the rest of the year?

Stuart: Our new album is in the works, and tons of shows during the fall.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Stuart: Just for more info go to our website.


Oh! Wild Birds (Jeremy Asay, Savannah Bouton, Ross Westwater, Liz Shuput, Waichira Waigwa-Stone and Jared Whear)

http://www.myspace.com/ohwildbirds

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.

O!WB: We're all passionate about the arts, and music especially. We love dancing and singing and anything that is good for the soul. We love old records and analog synthesizers. We love the mountains and abandoned cemeteries. We all have different musical backgrounds and realize we have no control over this journey. We like to let the music control us instead of controlling the music.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

O!WB: We've learned something from every genre we've heard and hopefully we'll learn from every genre we hear in the future. We love Jazz, Folk, Fusion, Experimental, Classical, Pop, Soul and many other styles.

Gavin: How did you get together and form O!WB?

Savannah: Our old guitarist Scoot Lee and I started the band after meeting and talking a lot about music. We were originally going to just play some gigs together each taking turns with solo material. We eventually started writing together and then I asked a friend of mine, Liz Shuput, to add her fabulous violin stylings. Actually I had been begging her for over a year to be in a band with me. Then we put an add on Craig's List for a drummer and we got a call back from Jeremy Asay who plays the piano, bouzouki, and the mandolin. That night we jammed and it was so sweet. We wrote for about three months and then booked our first show at Alchemy Coffee. We opened for a band called Drodna which is the project of the well know and amazingly talented Wallace. Noticing we didn't have a drummer Ross Westwater came up and asked if he could sit in on our set and play the snare. After the show we exchanged numbers and there you have it. Tis' how Oh! Wild Birds got their drummer. After about a year of playing out we added a bass player Jared Whear. He was formally in the band Dead Wall Revery and when the band broke up we jumped at the chance to have him a part of this project. Our newest member is Waichira Waigwa-Stone plays the Marimba and various other percussion instruments. And that's where we are at for now.

Gavin: A lot of your music has a rock vibe to it, but has a symphonic touch as well. Was the sound something you planned out from the start with your interests, or was it something you grew into while writing songs?

Jared: I would say that it wasn't really planned out, but was something that happened naturally seeing that at least three of our members are classically trained. Also many of us listen to classical music on a daily basis so I am sure that had an influence on us.

Gavin: Is it difficult recreating the music live, or have you gotten a system down?

Savannah: Sometimes it difficult because we use a lot of acoustic instruments plugged in so you have to get it just right. I would say this is something we will always be working on because our sound always changes.

Gavin: What was it like recording the So Long, Cowboy, and what was it like working with Midnight Studios to record it?

Jared: Recording So Long, Cowboy was definitely an arduous and painstaking process process. We sort of figured things like instrumentation and structure as we went along, but overall it was a wonderful experience. I don't think that the album would be possible if weren't for Kent Rigby, founder, builder and engineer of Midnight Records. If it weren't for his patience and generosity So Long, Cowboy would not have been possible.

Gavin: What was the public reaction to it after its release and how did you take it?

Jared: It seemed to be all very positive. We had a great turn out for our release party, we seem to have a pretty loyal fan-base, and we have sold out of our first printing of the album. All the attention was very good for band morale. Hopefully our next album does just as well.

Gavin: Are there any plans for a tour down the road, or mainly playing around locally?

Savannah: We always dream of touring. We're thinking next year sometime. and probably just a west coast tour.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Jared: We love the local scene here. I am constantly amazed at the wonderful acts this city/state produces. We have made many friends in the local scene. It would be great to turn SLC into the next Portland, Seattle or Omaha.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

Jared: If more bands in the scene started supporting each other, it would make the local scene a lot stronger. It seems that many bands have a hard time helping each other out. We should all help each other out because we are all in this together.

Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Jared: La Farsa is great... check 'em out if you already haven't! Libbie Linton from Logan is also spectacular.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

Jared: It depends on what radio station you listen to. KRCL plays some great tunes. which are very diverse, and tasteful. But as far as mainstream stations go it seems that music has been in a down-ward spiral for many years now, it's time for a revolution!

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?

Jared: Last year when Radiohead released In Rainbows in a pay as you like format, it was kind of showing artists how to use file sharing in a positive way. Major labels have been screwing musicians over for years, but that is all changing now tat to file sharing. It seems that if you used in the right way, file sharing can be a very good thing for a band as far as exposure and advertising are concerned.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Jared: Well we are going to focus on making a new set of music. We have also started work on an other album, which we are recording at Midnight Studios, so that will be pretty time consuming. As far as shows go we are probably going to take it easy since we are going to be focused on recording our new album.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Jared: We are going to be playing a great local music festival in August called Uncle Uncanny's. In runs through August 20-23, and it is up in Park City this year. It is going to be a wonderful festival, with a ton of awesome local bands, so everyone should come check it out!

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