On Tuesday night, six bands will compete for prizes and publicity in the Southern Utah University Battle of the Bands Thunderground Competition.
The competition will be hosted by the KSUU radio station and will be broadcast for anyone to listen in on Thunder 91.1 KSUU. To abide by safety precautions, the radio broadcast will take the place of a live audience. Before you tune in on Tuesday night, get to know the bands behind the music.
The members of Velcro are from Spanish Fork and Mapleton, Utah. They combine multiple styles and genres to create a unique sound that they say ranges from punk rock to blues to jazz.
Velcro has been together for four years but got a new crew of band members and began performing under the name “Velcro” about a year ago. The members include Noah Newton and Tom Tippets who alternate between guitar and drums and Cleve Johnson, who plays bass. All three members of the band contribute vocals. Newton is an aviation student at SUU.
“We strive to create music and a safe place for everyone despite race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. A place where everyone is equal and together,” said Johnson.
For them, music is important because it’s a reminder that we are not alone. They are joining the Battle of the Bands to create a name for themselves in Cedar City and on SUU campus.
The members of Foxy Grandpa met as music students at SUU. They share a fondness for playing pop music and have a standing gig once a month at a shaved ice hut in La Verkin, Utah.
Love is a senior majoring in general studies from Orange County, Calif. who has been playing guitar for 12 years.
Kuhlemeier is a junior music education major from Las Vegas who has been playing bassoon for 10 years and the drums for three.
Holland is a sophomore from Taylorsville, Utah, studying music education who has played the saxophone for seven years and the bass for one.
Oliver, also from Taylorsville, is a freshman studying musical theater who has been playing piano for 10 years and guitar for one.
“Foxy Grandpa was chosen as our band name when [Kuhlemeier] had a fever dream one night in which a little man on a flaming Buffalo Chip stated ‘you will one day start a band and you shall henceforth call yourselves Foxy Grandpa’ and we weren’t about to argue with that in this economy,” the band said in an email.
They play classic rock & pop music that ranges from the 1950s to contemporary original songs. The band credits Ermal C. Fraze who, in 1959, invented the pull-top soda can as their biggest inspiration.
They entered the competition because they love performing and would like to expand their audience with the broadcast. The band members expressed that they aspire to someday play their music live at the Chili’s by Walmart in town.
“Our advice to aspiring musicians is to have as much fun with music as possible, but to learn theory as soon as you can… it makes everything easier,” Kuhlemeier said.
All Cedar City natives, the members of Fetching Forever include Cameron Sykes on vocals, psychology major David Nelson on guitar, biology major Jarom Bush on bass and guitar, Taylor Drew, who has not yet decided on a major field of study, on guitar and psychology and music major Aubrey Sykes on Drums.
Cameron said he has been “singing from birth.” Nelson has played guitar for four years, Bush has played bass for nine, Drew has played guitar for three, and Aubrey has played drums for a year.
“We were trying to choose a band name, and someone said it was taking us ‘Fetching Forever’ to pick a name,” Nelson said. “So we took that and stuck with it… It also is a homage to the fact that we are all from Utah, and thus say ‘Fetch’ on a regular basis.”
Nelsons also explained that from an artistic standpoint, the name represents that humans are always making mistakes or, in the band’s terms, “‘fetching” things to complicate the future.
“But we can’t let that get in the way of enjoying the present,” Nelson said.
Though only officially a band for three weeks, the members of Fetching Forever have played music off and on together for years. Nelson said that this sporadic nature of playing ended up working out nicely as pretty much everyone in the band were already friends or related.
They are inspired by several bands, including Apollo’s Army, All Time Low, Third Eye Blind, as well as Billy Joel, their own life experiences, and the USA Network television series “Psych.”
Their dream for their band is to “get big and drop out of college to tour the world,” Nelson said.
“We saw the poster, and figured it would be the best way to jumpstart the whole getting big and dropping out thing,” Nelson said. “Good thing we didn’t drop out yet though, since the competition is for SUU bands. Dodged a bullet there!”
Stevie Ragsdale is a guitarist from Seattle, Washington. Playing since elementary school, Ragsdale grew up loving and making music. He plays everything from blues and rock to rap and electronic dance music. He will graduate from SUU this year with a degree in exercise science.
Inspired by John Mayer and Mac Miller, Ragsdale just recently made an album and hopes to promote it through the Battle of the Bands competition. He emphasized the importance of putting in the work to get to the point that he has.
Mostly based out of Cedar City with a couple members from St. George, Yonic Geode formed at the end of July.
Members include Olivia Sham and Faith Read on vocals, Michael D’Orazio on guitar and vocals, Conner Cushman on drums and Antwon Montaño playing bass.
Cushman and D’Orazio are music majors and Sham is a theater arts major. Read recently graduated with a degree in theater arts.
The name “Yonic Geode” started out as a joke name, but was adopted when the band grew to love it. They generally play a mix of pop and rock, but branch out into anything the members of the band are interested in.
“Music is something that just simply has a deep root for all of us. We can’t get enough of it! It’s what keeps us going in our daily lives,” D’Orazio said.
Yonic Geode hopes to start writing more music and performing as often as possible to build an audience.
Their advice for aspiring musicians is to keep at it.
“It’s not easy, BUT if it was, then everyone would do it. And learn all that you can! Every type of music can help you in some way or another, and we mean EVERY type!” D’Orazio said.
Red Haired Friend:
Red Haired Friend was born just one month ago after the band members found a shared passion for music. It includes bassist and two year guitarist John Wooley from American Fork, Utah, 10 year drummer and vocalist Gretel Beal from Cedar Hills Utah, and four year guitarist, pianist, and lead singer Cooper Tolbert from Tooele Utah.
The band name was inspired by Tolbert’s initial misconception that Beal was a redhead. They mainly play folk and pop music.
All are current students at SUU. Wooley is in the Masters program for communication, Tolbert is a freshman studying Music and Beal is a junior in the graphic design program. They hope that the band can continue and keep writing songs and performing for others, and aspire to one day perform at Madison Square Gardens.
“Our advice for aspiring musicians is to practice,” said Beal. “And don’t be scared to go for it and pursue new opportunities. Put yourself out there, find places to perform, share your music and just have fun!”
According to the band, having fun and trying something new were the reasons behind their entry into the competition.
To listen to these bands compete, tune in to Thunder 91.1FM Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. You can also listen to the competition on suunews.net.
Story By: Larissa Beatty
photos courtesy of unsplash.com