The Next Best Thing (Part 2)

Written by Scott Manning on . Posted in Local, Music

You may have read my previous article dated several months back with a similar title. You may have even liked it and are ready for round two. But it’s far more likely that you have never seen the first part of this multi-article compendium and are jumping in right here, so here’s my little disclaimer:

Provo may seem quaint at times, but underneath it all there is talent that stretches far beyond these city walls. This series of articles aims to bring attention to all the musical good that’s been quickly growing, and even more quickly now that bands like Neon Trees have trailblazed the way to nationwide — if not worldwide — success.

So without further ado, I present to you two more of this town’s Next Best Things.

Associations aside, Empirates has taken an opportunity the size of a snowflake and turned it into an avalanche. It started off late last year with a goal to win BYU’s Battle of the Bands using unknown cover songs. But with the addition of a bassist and drummer, their 3 a.m. practices quickly gave them hope in winning it with their own music. Since that win they’ve been busy, and just a year later they have performed in front of crowds of thousands and distributed over 6,000 bootlegs, demos, and EPs — all for free.

“That has been the biggest help of all, I think,” says Empirates singer and lead guitarist Travis White. “Lots of people come back to shows singing along with us, and we have no clue who they are or how they got our music.”

So what’s next?  Reaching out to the rest of the country is now their top priority.

“We’re working with a couple promotion companies that will put us on over 300 college radio stations, and we’re having lots of success with online radio already,” says Mark Donovan, the band’s rhythm guitarist. “We have been seeing a lot of new international fans as well. A fan in Mexico said she was telling her friends about us the other day, but they had already heard our stuff online. That’s kind of exciting.”

Style: British Post Punk / Indie Rock

Similar Artists: Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, White Stripes

Likely Labels: Matador Records, Domino Records

Strongest Weapon: Hardcore determination

Largest Accomplishment: Won BYU Battle of the Bands 2009, featured on Grooveshark and, distributed over 6000 albums

Network/Connections: Through balsy efforts to contact people in high places they have made connections with We Are Scientists, Sub Pop Records, several high-end promoters, and more.

Shark Speed
Out of all the band posters that everyone has seen on various poles around town, none have been as ingrained and recognizable as those of Shark Speed. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, they’re the ones that have a person holding a portable announcement board that say “Shark Speed” on them. Go figure.)

But behind the unique posters is a band that has already taken their marketing strategy out-of-state. Since their latest release in April 2010, they’ve hired a PR company and been raking in multiple music reviews by online blogs and magazines with some very positive results — both nationally and internationally. In fact, that’s something they recommend to any band that’s trying to stretch their arms a bit.

“Researching PR companies that have connections that reflect your particular style is huge,” says Thayne Fagg, the band’s lead singer. “Trying as hard as you can to get your stuff out of the ‘local’ level and on to a serious, nationwide band is key.”

When it comes down to it, though, Shark Speed’s not in it for the money. Hoping only that they break even, what they wish to get out of their time and effort is making music that people — and themselves — can enjoy.

Style: Indie Rock / Math Rock

Similar Artists: Minus the Bear

Likely Labels: Indie

Strongest Weapon: Strong fans and Thayne’s mustache

Largest Accomplishment: Tons of online reviews, large local fanbase

Network/Connections: Various top notch music blogs and PR companies

Rhombus is refreshed and here to bring to you the greatest and most important news in the local music scene. If you want to be up to snuff in what’s going on, look no further. Otherwise, feel free to keep the bubble alive. Maybe The Daily Universe will catch you up after it’s old news.


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