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Provo, Utah, United States | SELF

Provo, Utah, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative


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"Empirates-Pretentiously Awesome"

I just got the album for EMPIRATES and it's bad ass. If you haven't heard of EMPIRATES, well, I wouldn't blame you. I never heard of these lads, either. They're from Utah, and they're killing it there.

Four stripped down rock songs make up the entire album of PRETENTIOUSLY AWESOME. Good songs, all the way through. This is the kind of album that you pick up after seeing a live show from a high-energy band. In fact, I'm guessing that's the best way to get this CD. And you should. Go check out one of their shows and then buy this album so you can remember how much you enjoyed seeing them live.
- The Biggest Letdown

"McRiprocks Lonestar Six Pack"

Empirates: Pretentiously Awesome—Well known for their high energy shows and their presence on college radio, they do a fair amount performing stripped down rock sound quite like their predecessors Franz Ferdinand and The White Stripes. Short, at only four tracks in length., this EP is raw and raucous although they contain a bit of depth rather than leave it at simple rock. - Austindaze.com

"And the winner is...Empirates."

Empirates rocked Battle of the Bands on Nov. 6 inside the main ballroom of Wilkinson Center! Smashing guitar solos by lead singer/guitarist Travis White highlighted the night (including one epic riff where White wielded his guitar up high behind his head and belted out a twangy solo). The Empirates put on a great show, and really did deserve this win. For winning the Battle, the band received $500 and a gig at The Velour. First Runner up was local hip-hop group Can't Stop Won't Stop followed by third-place finishers Goodnight Annabelle. - Underground Tracks

"Provo band to watch: Empirates"

I saw Empirates for the first time on Friday, April 15 at the Deathstar. They played The Lunatic’s EP release show along with the Howitzers and Glowing Heads. (The photo above is one I took at the show.)

I listened to one of their recordings before the show, and I wasn’t initially blown away by it, but after seeing them live I’ve been swayed. All four band members were very energetic and obviously had a lot of fun playing their songs. They’re probably the most entertaining band I’ve ever seen in Provo, and they also have the most dedicated fans I’ve ever seen in Provo. Several people toward the front of the crowd were wearing Empirates shirts and singing along to every song with faces flushed from watching such a lively band.

The few recordings I have found online since then still don’t quite capture the energy of the band, but they are being played on nationwide college radio so clearly they’re doing well with making an impact on people outside of Provo. I’m really looking forward to getting their album, Pretentiously Awesome. (The title is a stab at all of Provo’s hipsters, something I think we can all appreciate.) - alexPOW

"Rhombus Locals Compilation"

13. Empirates, “Disco Lights”

From the frantically hammered opening chords of “Disco Lights,” it’s apparent that Empirates are cut from the same Brit-rock cloth as popular acts like Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand. Though they rock harder than most bands in the folkified Provo scene, Empirates took the crowd at BYU’s recent Battle of the Bands by storm, bringing home the title and laying the foundation for a promising career. Needless to say, we’ll stay tuned. - Rhombus Magazine

"Music: The Next Big Thing"

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.” - Rhombus Magazine

"WLUR 91.5 FM: Empirates"

Artist: Empirates

Album: Pretentiously Awesome

Label: Self-released

Genre: Rock, indie

Comments: If you're into unpolished indie rock, you'll find this record at least intriguing. The production by "Indiephonics" is definitely lackluster. This may work in their favor in my book, though; I like the feel of a record that sounds like a group of friends wrote and recorded every bit of it in a basement over the span of a week.

Start with: 1, 3 and 4. - WLUR Radio


Empirates is a band that can deliver, from their self produced recordings to their live shows, Empirates never fails to leave an audience in awe. Whether it is their captivating energy and electrifying stage shows, or their simple approach to studio work: record it loud, record it right, and keep it simple. There is something about this Alt/Rock quartet that will see them to the biggest stages in the biggest venues to rock the biggest crowds; And they are proud to deliver their first radio promoted EP, Pretentiously Awesome. The lyricism of Travis White is something of a clever oddity, for Empirates it's not about the typical “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” Quite deft with his pen in hand he has scribed out the extraordinary from his everyday ordinary. This mixed with the bands ability to write perfectly catchy music aids them in turning their already good tunes into great songs. The four members of this band are more of brothers than bandmates; Travis White playing lead guitar also writing and singing the lyrical content, Mark Donovan backs up his best friend with rhythm guitar and second vocals, Archie Crisanto gives the band a throbbing heart beat with his articulate bass lines, and Mike Cook solidifies the group giving them forward drive from his throne. This band of four has more to offer than any other band; they are smart, charming and well mannered off stage, and yet become a more elite savage on stage. What Pretentiously Awesome has to offer. The title says it, this is Empirates out look on the self purporting world, where the bulk of their inspiration comes from; people that live to tell everyone around them how awesome they themselves are when they have no right. The music has been called Alt/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Disco; but whatever you term the genre, the songs on Pretentiously Awesome are heavy hitting and entirely their own. With the vast majority of their musical influences coming from the British post punk vein, that mixed with the flavor of American garage music, this band knows how to rock. - Powderfinger

"BYUSA's Battle of the Bands leaves Empirates in first place"

The post-punk band Empirates was crowned winner of BYUSA’s Battle of the Bands on Friday in the Wilkinson Center.

Finishing ahead of hip-hop group Can’t Stop Won’t Stop and punk band Goodnight Annabelle, the Empirates won $500 and a concert at Velour.

“I did not expect to win at all,” said guitarist Travis White, a freshman from Seattle.

Although the band has been together for two months, Friday marked its first show together. The Empirates did their best to get fans out to the show. White even turned his car into a billboard for the event, draping a sheet over it with a written invitation for people to support them, and parking it by the duck pond all Friday.

Still, the band seemed to be at a disadvantage. A quick look at their Facebook page revealed a following of 202 people. While an impressive number, it paled in comparison with the 835 fans of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, or the 615 fans Goodnight Annabelle had. Overcoming those odds, the Empirates worked the crowd and got people on their feet.

“Empirates were definitely the best,” said Whitney Donald, a recent BYU graduate from Tarpon Springs, Florida. “They got a lot of audience reaction.”

The Empirates’ sound relies on the highly syncopated percussion of drummer Joel Smith. Bass guitar is played by Scott Manning, and rhythm guitar by Mark Donovan, who also co-writes much of the band’s material with White. They cite the Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party as their influences.

“All our lives revolve around music,” said White, who works as an engineer at the Muse Music recording studio.

Runners-up Can’t Stop Won’t Stop played an impressive set and received some of the night’s loudest audience reaction. A mob of fans formed in front of the stage, including several students dressed as robots. The students reluctantly took their seats at the request of BYU event staff, but it didn’t stop them from cheering their favorite local hip-hop group on.

“I love our fans,” said David Peterson, a junior from Bethesda, Md. “I was shocked by their loyalty.”

The show was closed out by third-place finishers Goodnight Annabelle. The band electrified the crowd with their pop-punk performance and won a concert at the Wilkinson Center. - Daily Universe

"Empirates ready for more rockous times."

Eye patches, pegged legs, parrots and sunken treasure all might come to mind at the sight of an Empirates poster nailed to a telephone pole announcing an upcoming show. For the student rock band, however, the name has a completely different meaning.

“I’m a big soccer fan,” said Empirates guitarist and vocalist Travis White. “I love Manchester United. … One of the big [league] sponsors is Emir-ates and I was watching a game once and the coach was standing in front of an Emirates poster and that’s where the name came from.”

The band said it couldn’t just take the name “Emirates” because of obvious copyright reasons, so they changed it a little.

Empirates formed at the beginning of fall semester and consists of White, Joel Smith on drums, Scott Manning on bass and Mark Donovan on guitar and backup vocals. The band plays British post-punk style music similar to the sounds of Franz Ferdinand.

Empirates competed in BYUSA’s 2009 Battle of the Bands and, much to the band members’ surprise, won the competition.

“It was awesome,” White said. “We did not expect to win. It was the first time we had ever performed in front of anybody other than two or three people who came to see us practice. … We spent a lot of two o’clock, three o’clock mornings working on those three songs just to make sure we had them perfect.”

After winning the Battle of the Bands, the guys of Empirates said they have seen a difference in the amount of people who recognize their music. But according to Manning, the actual number of fans hasn’t substantially increased yet.

“It’s been a gradual process picking up fans,” he said. “After winning Battle of the Bands, … over the course of the following two weeks, I think we had 14 extra fans on our [Facebook] fan page. ... I didn’t understand that, but at the same time it’s the Internet, so it’s not real life.”

Since the competition, the band has played shows and house parties around the area and has plans to release a six-song EP in the next few months, “selling [it] for two or three bucks. Not much,” according to White.

All of the shows, recordings, battles and time put in are to help the band one day make a living as musicians.

“We would all like to be professional musicians,” White said. “Anybody that plays wouldn’t mind getting paid to play. … We would like to make it in the music industry and we’re working toward that.” - Daily Universe


Pretentiously Awesome: Empirates first official EP released in March of 2011 consisting of the songs Wrong Way, Time, Something Close to Beautiful, and Chelsie United. This release has been promoted to college radio nation wide in the United States and received airplay on college and independent radio stations from coast to coast.



Empirates is an Indie Rock group based out of Utah; formed in mid 2009 the group is well know for it's high energy stage shows and the thousands of burned demo CD's that have been circulating their home town since their start.

Formed in the summer months of 2009 Empirates rose quickly in their local scene, the two founding members Travis White(lead vocals and guitar) and Mark Donovan(backing vocals and guitar) had been writing songs since the spring and finally felt they had enough material to establish a band. Scott Manning(bass) and Joel Smith(drums) joined the band in late August and early September respectively. The band began practicing into the late night hours at the venue where White worked, this coupled with access to a recording studio aided the band in putting out three different demo's that help spread the word quickly about their new and quickly rising band. October of 2009 saw Empirates take the stage in front of over 1600 college students that cheered them into first place in the student associations Battle of the Bands. In early 2010 the band meet with an A&R rep from a small indie label that had heard and liked one of Empirates' songs; much to the dismay of the record company the song was written as a jest to the music style popular in the bands home town and with a refusal to change their style all communication ended. Joel Smith left the band to marry his long time girlfriend Morgan Olsen from the MTV show Laguna Beach; his last show with the band was April 13 when the band opened for nationally touring act The Ettes. He was replaced by Mike Cook who has been drumming since then. 2010 and the early months of 2011 have been busy as the band has replaced bassist Scott Manning with Portland, OR native Archie Crisanto and has spent substantial time recording and gearing up for their first radio promotion and summer touring.

That first radio promotion has helped Empirates in getting their music to a much larger fan base, being played on college and community radio around the United States.