Editor’s note: to vote for Fictionist in the contest, please click HERE!
As you may have recently heard or witnessed, Fictionist has reached the Elite Eight of a contest that will put an unsigned band on the cover of Rolling Stone for the first time in the iconic rock magazine’s history. Whether they move on to the next round will be determined by you, the music listener.
As part of their efforts to garner more votes, Fictionist has launched their own contest, which allows voters to win prizes including autographed memorabilia, CDs, and a trip to Bonaroo Music Festival. Additionally, they have been playing shows and telling fans to get out and vote. We were able to catch up with the guys after a recent show in Provo and ask them about their experience thus far. What follows is an account of Aaron’s door-knocking, Robbie’s hair care tips, and Brandon’s foray into the legal field.
Stuart: We made enough noise. Atlantic [Records] started paying attention, and they let us know about the contest.
Jacob: It was our management that sent us the invite they received from Atlantic Records.
Aaron: After that, I was notified by Jacob.
Brandon: Basically I got a bunch of contracts in my email inbox from Jacob, who got them from our management, who got them from Rolling Stone. Later I found out that Atlantic had invited us to do this and the band had some phone conversations about it. I’m about the last guy on a long totem-pole of information.
What was your reaction to the possibility of being on the cover of Rolling Stone?
S: Excitement. Rolling stone is iconic in the rock and roll world. To be featured on the cover would be amazing.
J: Yeah, I was pretty stoked, especially after seeing all the other past Rolling Stone covers.
Robbie: I was overcome with excitement. It seemed surreal.
A: It was pretty surreal at first, and then it was scary, and then it was cool.
B: Of course it was a surreal thought. Never in my wildest dreams (okay, maybe in my wildest) did I think that this was even possible. I realized that a Rolling Stone cover could essentially break our band and launch my career as a musician. Of course, I was a bit afraid of the endless contracts we had to sign. I actually stayed up and spent all night reading through them (without any legal training, this is a bear). We discussed it as a band, and felt like it was the right direction to go.
You did a day-by-day reveal on Facebook leading up to the announcement on Jimmy Fallon. Did anyone let slip the good news beforehand?
S: Yeah, I did several times.
J: It may have slipped a little to our family and friends.
A: Yeah I told a select group of people beforehand. I couldn’t wait!
R: Yeah, I told my whole family.
B: Owing to the non-disclosure agreement, which I was aware of from day one, I certainly wouldn’t have dreamed of telling any of my many close family or friends about this before the designated roll-out time on Jimmy Fallon.
Between reading the contracts and abiding by the non-disclosure agreements, it looks like Brandon might have a back-up career in the legal field of contract interpretation and analysis. Was it hard keeping it a secret?
S: It was hard in a way. Not that I wanted to tell everyone, but we were alluding to it for such a long time that it got a little frustrating there towards the end.
J: Yeah. It was hard keeping it a secret.
R: Same here. I’m not a good secret-keeper.
Before the contest, did you know any of the other musicians in the contest?
S: Very little. I mean, all I knew was what I heard online. When you are a DIY band, internet demos can mean very little sometimes.
B: I was surprised that I was unfamiliar with all the names. I thought that in our travels we would have met or at least heard about some of the other invitees. I had heard of [fellow Linescratchers artist] The Steelwells through Corey Fox and Velour in Provo.
S: We didn’t get the chance to meet The Steelwells, but we reached out to them when they came to town.
B: I’m sure we’ll get to meet them sometime. I really liked what they’re doing, and their video was awesome.
R: I didn’t know anything. It was nerve wracking to find out who we’d be competing against. But now we keep in touch.
During the second round of the contest, Rolling Stone flew you guys up to New York to tour magazine headquarters. Since the contest started, have you got a chance to interact with the other musicians?
B: The trip to New York in preparation for Round 2 was really nice in that way – it started off with a party where we met all of the other musicians. We were all staying in the same hotel and had meetings together, and whatnot. Everyone was nice.
S: Yeah we hung out with Tha’ Boogie a lot in NYC. They were really cool!
R: Right—they taught me how to pick my hair into a fro. It was an educational experience.
B: That band is awesome—they turned me on to some great music, and they are all very personable and nice. I like their music as well, lots of cool samples and fun beats.
S: Their music has a little bit of an urban flavor to it. But their listening taste was incredibly broad. We sat around and talked about music for hours and found that we were obsessed with some of the same bands!
A: I was incredibly sick the whole time in New York, so I didn’t get to interact as much with the other bands. I would say that I am a fan of The Sheepdogs. Their music is very classic, and very Canadian.
B: That’s right. They were classy gentlemen, very nice. I dig the southern sound coming from the Great White North. Lelia Broussard has done a great job with her recordings and videos. All of the artists are so diverse. They’ve put so much into the music they’re producing.
Did you size up your competition? Which band or musician, other than Fictionist, had the best chance of moving on?
B: The first thing I did was look everyone up on Facebook to see how many fans they have. I listened to everyone and scoped out their videos and general style.
S: I didn’t want to compare us to the other contestants. I just tried to represent myself and my band well. I love The Sheepdogs. Their music is really fun.
A: Agreed. I think The Sheepdogs are our biggest competitors.
J: Yeah, that’s too tough to call. They all have a really good chance of moving on.
B: Honestly, I was worried because everyone had pretty great recordings and a good chance.
R: There’s a lot of talent, and in totally different genres, which makes it hard to guess who will move forward. I guess it was nice to have some of the other rock groups eliminated since they felt like direct competition.
B: I thought The Steelwells and Go Periscope had a great chance. In the second round, I thought Lelia Broussard would move on, mostly based on her large Facebook following.
R: Right. It’s tough to say, but Lelia has always been our closest competitor as far as Facebook votes go. She seems to have a loyal fan base.
B: I’m just glad we made the cut to eight. Eight bands is a lot to eliminate!
S: All the groups have a lot to offer. I don’t think they would have made it this far otherwise.
After the first round of votes was over, Rolling Stone organized a live webcast where you found out whether you would be moving on. What was it like waiting on Skype to see if you had moved on? What was your initial reaction?
B: I didn’t think much about it until we actually started talking to them, and then I got the pre-show jitters.
S: I was kind of nervous grinning, or smile crying….I’m not sure which.
R: I was very anxious. It seemed like we pulled strong numbers in the voting, so I was hoping for the best, but still nervous.
J: They tried to make it seem like we didn’t make it, so there was a little fear at first, then excitement.
R: They said something along the lines of “unfortunately….you guys are going to have to pack your bags and come to New York”. They messed with us, and I was scared for a few seconds.
S: I was just glad to be done with that first round.
R: If you go back and watch the video, I look really funny – I’m the one on the far left staring intensely with my wide eyes.
What are you doing now to promote Fictionist?
S: Everything from playing shows to doing contests and things on our Facebook page. Tons of fun stuff.
B: All of us have been just getting the word out about the competition as much as possible. There’s something really validating about putting your name with such huge names like Rolling Stone and Atlantic Records. So, I’ve been sending mass emails, mass texts, sending personal facebook messages to get people off the fence, tweeting, blogging, status-updating, making ridiculous hot-tub videos…all the usual stuff.
J: We’re on TV news a lot, on the radio, anything we can do to get the word out. We’re also running a contest to see which of our fans can get the most people to vote for us.
A: Last night I went from house to house around Provo, knocking on doors and telling people about the competition. It was a lot of fun.
Spreading the word by knocking on doors in Provo. An interesting concept.
R: I’m doing everything I can, short of standing on the street wearing something ridiculous and waving a banner like that Liberty Tax Person. Maybe if we get into the Final Four I’ll even go to that extreme.
We’ll be anxious to see what kinds of ideas you guys come up with next. Obviously, you’d love to win the contest. Would you view it as a failure if you don’t get on the cover?
S: I hope not. My aim is to continue making music. Rolling Stone would be huge, but woudn’t be the end goal.
B: Well, it couldn’t be a failure because it has already been a success. We’ve reached a much larger audience and had validation by coupling our name with one of the biggest names in music.
A: I definitely wouldn’t view it as a failure. We’ve gotten so many new fans and tons of publicity out of this contest.
B: We’ve been pushed into something that has stretched us creatively and emotionally and even physically. Our playing is better than it ever has been, and our minds are constantly on how we can do better and be more creative. It’s exhausting, but it has taught us so much. We’re making a ton of huge realizations that help us refine our shows, songs, and marketing.
R: I’d be bummed if we didn’t get on the cover, but I would never consider it a failure. This has been the most amazing experience for me and all the guys, and I feel like we’re on an “onward and upward” road from here on out.
B: Plus, you just can’t buy that kind of PR. Not with our size pocketbooks, anyway.
What are some of the benefits that you’ve seen so far?
S: Mostly awareness. People are becoming more aware of the Fictionist sound, which makes me happy!
B: I’ve seen a huge response, all of my family and friends have been so nice to help us out and be supportive. The fans have done incredible things. Without asking, they were sharing and tweeting and voting. They’ve all rallied around us so nicely. Actually, I got a mass email about it from an acquaintance before I even sent anything out. It was a cool feeling.
J: Huge exposure, especially for people in the music industry.
R: Our fan base has exploded and that’ll just keep growing not matter what.
What has been the reaction of your friends/family/fans to this whole experience?
S: They are excited and super supportive, thanks family!
J: Very excited to see us have a lot of success.
R: I think they’re just surprised. I’m still just a little brother and the kid they went to high school with. I definitely get a lot of shocked reactions.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
B: Just please listen, watch videos, and vote. I’ve never felt better about our chances, but also never felt more vulnerable – it’s all in the hands of the music lovers out there. We are at your mercy! Please, if you have any decency, do not abstain! Involve yourself, and help me start my career! I promise that in return I will make you happy with the awesome music that I play.
S: Help put Fictionist on the cover of Rolling Stone so all your dreams can come true!
A: Linescratchers is the best!
For now Aaron, you guys are the best. To make Stuart’s wildest dreams come true, and to receive the gratitude of the coolest beard in Provo not attached to a statue in the quad, vote for Fictionist by Liking them on Facebook or tweeting about them by clicking here:
UPDATE: The link to Fictionist’s contest to win tickets to Bonaroo is on hiatus while awaiting the results of the next round of the Rolling Stone contest. In the mean time, you can still help out by tweeting or liking them on Facebook by clicking on the link below:
UPDATE #2: Looks like they’ve advanced! Vote here: