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Summer 2005 | Volume 28, Number 2 | Alumni

Two Popular Local Bands, Graham Travis and United State of Electronica, Include SPU Alums

THE SEATTLE BAND Graham Travis is making a name for itself up and down the West Coast with the help of two Seattle Pacific University alumni: Paula Best ’99 and Lacey Brown ’03. (Graham Travis, the band’s namesake, is an alumnus of Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., with a degree in biblical studies.) Travis’ captivating music is sometimes labeled “Indie-pop” rock, but in the end it is entirely unique and decidedly Christian. Influenced by 1960s rock ’n roll and pop — The Beatles; The Beach Boys; Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Neil Young — the band also admires contemporaries such as Jeff Beck, Damien Jurado, Wilco, The Long Winters, and Death Cab for Cutie. Ultimately, Travis says, the greatest influence is his father, a Seattle musician during the 1970s and 1980s.

Brown, who majored in music at SPU, plays drums for Graham Travis. She is also a songwriter, guitarist, and keyboardist who performs with her own band. “I want to write about things that matter,” she says. “I want people to relate to my music. I want them to feel hope and love.”

Best plays keyboards and provides back-up vocals. “Each of us offers a different dynamic that makes our stage presence unique and our music that much more engaging,” she says. “We have a lot of fun playing together.” Best, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Seattle Pacific and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Mars Hill Graduate School in Bothell, Washington, is an individual and family therapist in Edmonds, Washington.

The local band phenomenon United State of Electronica (U.S.E.) began as a lark in 2002 when several of its current members — including SPU alumni Jason Holstrom ’98 on guitar and Noah Star Weaver ’00 on vocoder (a device that makes voices sound robotic) — got on stage at a local club and pretended to be a nonexistent band from Mannheim, Germany. They were an instant hit with the crowd. Three years later, U.S.E. claims to be “Seattle’s premier party rock super group,” and for good reason. “U.S.E. can turn the surliest grouches into incurable optimists,” wrote The Stranger’s Dave Segal.

Holstrom says, “U.S.E. rocks a house party like it’s a stadium, and rocks a stadium like it’s a house party. Whether there were five or 500 people there, people said they were having the time of their lives.” The band is gaining popularity abroad as well: They traveled to Japan in April and again in July to play the Fuji Rock Festival.

It may not be long before Graham Travis, the band, goes international as well. First they’ll make a September 2 showing at the Seattle music festival Bumbershoot. Perhaps these two SPU-alum-powered bands will be household names in the not-too-distant future.

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