A Retrospective on The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground was an American Rock band from the big apple. It was formed by Lou Reed and featured John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Angus Maclise. The Velvet Underground was managed by Andy Warhol for a spell, and was the house band for some Warhol events from 1966 to 1967.  Warhol insisted that Nico, a German singer, collaborate with TVU at some point, and after a year of working on the album, it was finally released by Verve Records in March of 1967. The album cover is famous for its Warhol flare: a yellow banana sticker with “Peel slowly and see” printed near the tip of the banana. Consumers who peeled the banana skin found a pink, peeled banana beneath.

downloadAlthough they had almost no success during their existence on the shelves and streets, the Velvet Underground is now recognized as one of the most influential bands of the rock era. Their album featuring Nico that debuted in 1967 was called “the most prophetic rock album ever made” by Rolling stone in 2003.

After TVU moved on from Andy Warhol as manager, they made White Light/ White Heat, which was often referred to by the band as an album that reflected, “consciously anti-beauty”velvet

From “Who Loves The Sun”, which sounds like a mix of the Smiths and the Beatles, to “Femme Fatale”, which sounds like a melancholy tune from a coming-of-age comedy-drama movie by John Hughes, The Velvet Underground has a wide span of music. While “Pale Blue Eyes” acts as a quiet lullaby to a lost lover, “Sister Ray” is a 17 minute rock anthem to drugs, violence, and transvestism. In 2013, Velvets fanbase spiked with the death of Lou Reed. Today, The Velvet Underground is an “oldie but a goodie” and is more popular than they ever were in the 1960s. rs-15392-20140519-velvetunderground-x1800-1400535552

Homecoming Spotlight – Fictionist

It’s that time again to welcome back students and alumni to celebrate being a University of Utah Ute. Homecoming week will run from September 30th to October 9th. During this week, there will be many entertaining festivities from Songfest in the Union to the Crimson Rally on the Union Lawn. Let’s not forget the biggest highlight of Homecoming: the football game against Arizona. With all of the excitement, what better way to start Homecoming week than with the Student Dance featuring native Utah band Fictionist.

Hailing from Provo, Utah, Fictionist consists of singer and bass guitarist Stuart Maxfield, singer and guitarist Robbie Connolly, guitarist and bass guitarist Brandon Kitterman, and drummer Aaron Anderson. With the exception of Anderson, the band had been playing music together since their high school days in Salt Lake City. With their realistic lyrics, energetic melodies, and astonishing guitar solos by Connolly, the band has garnered lots of attention. Their first album Invisible Hand, released in 2009, won an Independent Music Award for Best Pop/Rock Song for their single of the same name. They yet again managed to win the same award in 2011 for their song Blue-Eyed Universe from their second album Lasing Echo.

During that same year, Fictionist received the great honor of being one of sixteens bands to compete in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Do You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star” contest. The winner would land a coveted spot on the magazine’s cover and a record deal with Atlantic Records. Although they were eliminated in the fourth round, they left a positive impression and were still signed to Atlantic. Through their new label, they released a 6-track EP titled Fictionist – EP.

Things seemed to look up for Fictionist as they were working on new music and they even got to tour with Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees. All seemed to be going well, but unfortunately, the relationship with their record company was quickly deteriorating. In an interview with the Daily Herald, Maxfield is quoted saying, “In hindsight, everything about how things came together was wrong.” The band felt as though their label did not understand them as they were asked to rewrite many of their songs and omit many of their signature sounds. In the end, they never released their album and were dropped from the label, but the group was anything from sorrowful. They kept their head high and looked back at the experience with gratitude as it gave them more of an opportunity to rehearse and work on new material they were actually enthusiastic about.

Finally free from Atlantic, Fictionist has been rediscovering what kind of music they wanted to produce with the release of Free Spirit – EP. While being a relatively short EP, only consisting of four songs, it packs enough of a punch to leave the listener wanting more. The opening track Free Spirit sets the tone with an exceptionally cheerful tune that would have anyone jumping around. This song might be their farewell from their old label with the lyrics, “But you don’t have to stick around/if you don’t want to.”  We Can Sleep When We Die is one of the more mellow songs with a slower tempo. However, it never lacks the upbeat theme of the EP. High Society brings the funk with its moody bass and grungy guitar. Fictionist proudly closes with the most spirited track Right Now. Maxfield passionately sings throughout the song with triumphant electric beats wonderfully complimenting him.

Homecoming week kicks off on September 30th with the Student Dance taking place at The Depot at 8:00 p.m.

The Geekwave Episode 7: Gretchen McClain

Our final interview for Homecoming 2015! Thanks so much to the Alumni Association for getting us these great opportunities.

In Episode 7, we had the opportunity to bring Gretchen McClain into the studio. We get a chance to hear about her career, her memories from the University of Utah, her work on the International Space Station, her thoughts on Utah’s water situation, and her advise to engineers. Honestly, this whole interview is riddled with good advice. We loved talking with her, and we hope you enjoy listening in!

The Geekwave interviews Nolan Bushnell

Thanks to the awesome folks at the Alumni Association and in honor of Utah Homecoming 2015, we had the amazing chance to interview Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and UofU Alumni. We talk to him about his time at the U, some memories of Utah and Atari, and what he’s working on now. But you don’t want to hear from us: Listen to the man himself on Episode 6 of The Geekwave.

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Images courtesy of eteknix.com and forbes.com