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The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

Band Shares Music Inspirations

Credit: Regan Barger
The Rat Utopia Experiment poses for a photo together.

The Rat Utopia Experiment is a weird name for a band.  

“I was in 8th grade English, and I was watching a video about this thing called the Mouse Utopia Experiment,” says PHS sophomore and the band’s frontwoman Sophia Barger. 

“And I was like, ‘Hey, that’d be a pretty cool band name. Wait, but if you change [the word mouse] to rat, it abbreviates to T.R.U.E’… Now it sounds like punk,” Barger said. 

The group formed in June 2022 through a program ran by Ted Brown Music known as Live It Outloud. 

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“You pay X amount of money. You audition, get placed in a band with people of your similar ability. And then you play four shows and get to record a song in a studio. There’s awards, and if you’re lucky enough, you get to record a music video,” Evan Fry, the band’s drummer, said. “That’s how we were formed. We have had some member changes since then, but that’s how we started. 

When you’re listening to a song of theirs, you might recognize influences from many different bands and genres. 

“We have a hodge-podge of different genres. Like one of our songs, ‘Europa,’ is far heavier. We’re working on another song right now that’s very nu-metally. You listen to Part/Whole and Minds Like Concrete [songs that the band has released], they’re completely different. So, I wouldn’t say we have one unique identity. I must say that we are all individuals who bring our own specific genres to the band. And then we all work as a team to kind of express that,” Fry said. 

 Fry says he was influenced by his father, who was a high school band director. He grew up around music, and that naturally progressed into playing his own music. 

“I’m a big fan of Zeppelin and Primus, so I try to really harness the Bonham and Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander feel. And then I started off as a jazz drummer, so I try to have a certain amount of flow and feel in my stuff as well,” Fry said. 

Similarly, Barger grew up with music as a major part of her life. 

“My dad’s a musician, too. He’s been in many bands since the ‘80s and he also produces music now. He taught me guitar and I was like, ‘Wait, that’s kinda cool,’” Barger said. 

Aine Templeton, who plays bass for the band, says she’s influenced by nu-metal and specifically Talena Atfield, the bassist for the iconic metal band Kittie. 

The duo of Maddox Mullins and Jackson Jones, who both play guitar in the band, bring influence from classic heavy metal. 

“I like when metal gets more melodic, so I try to bring that into my riffs,” Mullins said. 

The band also cited Sonic Youth as a major influence on their work. Their varied tastes in music have coalesced into three original singles that have been released on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and more. 

“I’ll bring a drum beat that I really liked, or… anybody will bring a riff that we think is cool. And then it’s just us jamming on it, not really writing anything per se. And then we figure out the parts of it that we’d like, we go back to it, we figure out a structure and after we have a good structure for the song me and Phia [Sophia’s nickname] begin writing lyrics,” Fry said. 

Fry and Barger are the main lyricists of the band, but the other members have input on all parts of a song. 

“There’s times I’ve come with to the band with already done songs, but we usually work on them from there anyway,” Barger said. 

It’s clear that the band has great chemistry, with laughter and gentle joking throughout the interview. 

“Last rehearsal, I just came in with a beat that I really like. And Maddox and Aine immediately jumped on it and Jackson jumped on it. And we recorded it, and now it’s gonna be a new song that we’re working on. I just love the fact that we did that in 15 minutes. It’s ‘Go go go go go’ and I love that,” said Fry. 

Despite the amount of songs released already, the band shows no signs of slowing down, with plans to release more singles, an album called “Schrödinger’s Rat” and continue playing shows. Their next show is December 1 at the Spanish Ballroom. 

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About the Contributor
Ethan Barker, ACE Editor
Ethan Barker is the ACE (Arts, Culture and Entertainment) Editor for the Viking Vanguard student newspaper at Puyallup High School. This year, which will be his second with the Vanguard and his junior year of high school, he hopes to improve his interviewing skills and work with the editorial team to investigate issues facing students. He consistently turns out reviews of blockbuster movies and shows, along with feature stories that focus on unique people and places. In addition to these, he enjoys playing guitar, swimming for PHS and his club team and reading the closest book he can get his hands on.

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