Although Provo seems like a regular college town to many, a growing music scene has emerged in BYU’s backyard.
Since its founding in 1860, Provo has always been a small dot on the map. However, thanks in large part to the founding of Velour Live Music Gallery in January 2006, Provo is now respected as having its own legitimate music scene.
Utah Valley has produced bands such as The Used, Neon Trees and Fictionist. Although they are widely different regarding what types of music they make, most bands from Provo credit Corey Fox and Velour for building it up.
Grey Fiction is a Salt Lake City-based band that came down to Provo for Velour’s most recent Battle of the Bands this past December. The band won its first night on Monday, then came back Saturday to win the finals.
Paul Muusse, frontman for Grey Fiction, said the band had heard great things about Provo and decided to play Battle of the Bands because of it.
“We’re more of a Salt Lake band,” Muusse said. “But a couple months ago we were told, ‘If you want to be taken seriously, play in Provo.’ ”
The band began playing Velour’s weekly Open Mic Night, and slowly began getting a fan base in Provo, which led to victory at Battle of the Bands. Muusse said he loves now being considered a part of Provo’s scene.
“The bands in Provo make a name for themselves,” he said. “It’s just that scene down in Provo that we just wanted to get on board with.”
Grey Fiction is still working on it, but Provo-based band Fictionist has garnered much attention on a national scale. Like most local bands, Fictionist started out small, thinking of the day the band members would play Velour.
“We played a lot of apartment shows, and built a fan base,” Fictionist drummer Aaron Anderson said. “When we were able to draw a decent amount of people, we were finally able to play Velour.”
The band credits Corey Fox, owner of Velour, in helping them get fans in Provo — and signing with Atlantic Records.
“Corey has helped us do a lot, in letting us play weekends and putting us on good bills,” Anderson said. “Just having that venue where he’d let us just play and try new things out on our crowd, that made all the difference in the world.”
In the past few months, Velour has hosted two CD release shows — hosting Fictionist’s show to celebrate being signed by Atlantic, and Rocky Votolato and Matt Pond PA, for a stop on their national tour. Kaneischa Johnson, spokeswoman for Velour, said it seems natural for local bands to make Velour their home stage.
“Many bands have come to us and said, ‘We know that we can’t get very big as a Utah band unless we start at Velour,'” Johnson said. “That’s really flattering but it’s also the truth.”
Because of the work Fox and Johnson put into local music, they enjoy when Provo based bands succeed.
“When a band gets really big, it’s kind of a success for all of us because we’ve put in a lot of effort on their behalf,” Johnson said.
Fox said he loves helping bands succeed if they are willing to put in the necessary effort.
“My motivation is to find new talent and then to build that talent to help them be successful,” Fox said. “It takes commitment and a great work ethic to succeed.”
Fictionist pianist Jacob Jones said he respects Fox and the work he has done for local music.
“He’s known for making bands work harder than they would in other cities,” Jones said. “From that work, people have realized they can go bigger and have more of a vision on how to do that.”
When bands from Provo gets exposure and tours the country, they receive mixed reactions upon telling the crowd they are from Utah. Anderson said many people are surprised when they discover people from Provo know how to rock.
“Provo is a lot cooler than people know,” he said.
CORRECTION: When originally published, Underoath was a band cited as being from Utah Valley. Since they’re from Florida, that’s obviously not the case. The Used was the band intended.