Some bands “explode” onto the local music scene; others are merely on the verge of “blowing up”. And some bands let the kinetic energy of their music speak for itself. Provo band Fictionist eschews such metaphorical pyrotechnics, focusing instead on honesty within the creative process, as well as creating a sense of community within the 6-member band.
While members of Fictionist are influenced by various artists, including John Coltrane, The Beatles, Debussy, Steve Reich, James Taylor, and Smashing Pumpkins, Fictionist most closely resembles the space rock sound of Pink Floyd and Roger Waters. Fictionist hails from Sacramento, California and Salt Lake City, Utah, and was formed through mutual connections when band members moved to Provo to attend school.
Fictionist released their debut album Invisible Hand in January 2009. As the group continued to coalesce and create music after the release of Invisible Hand, they realized that they needed to write a cohesive album, rather than just a collection of songs. Bassist Spencer Harrison explains “We found ourselves within the creation of Invisible Hand… the release of Lasting Echo seemed a necessary step in our development.”
Fictionist toured extensively following the release of Lasting Echo, including stops at Austin’s SXSW music festival, as well as tour dates in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Future dates this summer include stops in Utah, California, and Nevada. In between tour dates, I was able to catch up with lead singer/songwriter Stuart Maxfield to talk about creativity, honesty, and what the future holds for Fictionist.
In a recent interview with KRCL Salt Lake RadioActive (available at http://www.krcl.org/), you stated “Honest music is good music.” Expound a little bit on that.
A: Honesty is the convincing power of art. People appreciate honesty. As an artist, when you’re writing music, you’re banking on the fact that the music has intrinsic meaning that someone else can relate to. That may or may not always happen. But you can only write what is in your heart, something that you have experienced. Many times, those experiences will seem ordinary to you, because they are from your everyday life. The challenge is to turn those seemingly ordinary experiences into extraordinary art.
How does that view of honesty in music influence the music of Fictionist?
A: We made a conscientious decision as a band that we were going to write honest music. There is this difficult area where art meets commercialism. Some artists feel this pressure to go beyond their personal experiences to try to make themselves more marketable. That wouldn’t feel natural to me. Creativity can be the darkest abyss—you have to be honest with yourself throughout the creative process.
What has been the response to this decision to incorporate honesty into your music?
A: Personally, I respect artists who are honest, who are speaking from their heart. I can tell when a musician is speaking from an honest place, and I can tell when they are not. There is a difference. People appreciate that honesty. I think our fans can tell that we are being honest with them, and that helps them connect with the music.
Your statement “Honest music is good music” came as a response to a question about your geographical identity as a band from Provo. All of the members of Fictionist are LDS. How does that idea extend to your personal identity as LDS musicians?
A: Obviously, you can’t escape that identity as an LDS artist. I would find it strange if there was a disconnect from your music and your belief system or your life. Obviously, our lyrics are not laden with Mormon theology. I write what is on my mind, so it’s not always deeply theological.
Assuming the current band members had met outside of Provo, would Fictionist have formed the way it did?
A: Good question. I have used the example of what it would look like if you tried to form a band in the Vatican. It just so happens that a lot of the best musicians here happen to be Mormon. If we had formed elsewhere, it would have affected the way we sound. We strive for good music, but at our shows, we don’t always play exactly the same way. Our songs are general roadmaps for the way we play at any given show. Different band members step forward at different times, and that influences the way we play. So I think we would be different if we had formed elsewhere.
What else are you working on?
A: I have recently been in contact with Nate Pypher and Scott Shephard here in Utah. They’ve been around, and are both pretty well-known in the area. I’ve known Nate for a while, and have only recently gotten to know Scott. We’re going to be working on something we call Monumovement, with a goal of creating and releasing music. It’s another outlet to satisfy my bottomless appetite for creativity, but it’s just a side project. Fictionist is still my main thing.
For more information on Fictionist, including blogs, music, and upcoming tour dates, visit their website at www.Fictionist.com or follow the advice of Bassist Spencer Harrison: “Type in ‘Fictionist’ into Google and may the great clicking frenzy begin.”