Provo rock band Fictionist may sound like Pink Floyd, but another color prevails—blue. Three of its members are Cougars, and all five are returned missionaries. They were invited to participate in Rolling Stone magazine’s Do You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star? contest to vie for an appearance on the magazine’s cover and receive a recording contract with Atlantic Records. Out of 16 bands, Fictionist made the final four before it was eliminated. It came as a surprise, then, when Atlantic Records contacted them to sign a record deal anyway.
Keyboardist Jacob D. Jones (BM ’08) says, “I believe one of the reasons Atlantic signed us is because we played for them before the contest and they saw how hard we worked.”
“The contest also played a vital role in getting our name better known outside of Utah,” adds lead singer and bass guitarist Stuart B. Maxfield (’08).
Jones, Maxfield, and drummer Aaron D. Anderson (’11) say they owe some of their musical success to BYU director of jazz studies C. Ray Smith (BM ’75). Through various experiences—from private lessons to a summer camp—each had the opportunity to be mentored by Smith. “I learned a lot about music and soloing from Ray,” says Anderson. “BYU is where I expanded my mind musically,” Maxfield adds.
According to Rolling Stone, Fictionist—which also includes guitarists Robbie Connolly and Brandon Kitterman—is a “laid-back, space-rock quintet.”
“When we’re on stage,” Maxfield says, “we like to improvise, create magical moments, and engage the audience.”
In the band’s early days of 2008—before the competitions and recording contracts—the band did all they could to survive. Their transportation was an old converted city bus with welded RV seats, a cage for equipment, and sleeping quarters. Volunteers helped with marketing, the band booked their own shows, and their studio was a converted garage.
Now that they have a recording contract, their days of sleeping in parking lots could be at an end.