When the Scottish indie pop band Belle and Sebastian began the promotion of their most recent album Write About Love, the group invited their fans to enter what could be one of the coolest band contests ever. Fans who purchased a copy of the album were asked to write something — anything! — about love. Band leader Stuart Murdoch would personally select his favorite, meet them in their home town and write a song about them that would be released on a single later this year.
On Tuesday the band announced the winner of the contest on the Matador Records blog — 15-year-old John Ficenec of Omaha, Nebraska. Rolling Stone spoke with Ficenec not long after he got out of school on Wednesday. He said he was genuinely surprised to win the contest and had had fairly low expectation for his entry, a long paragraph full of earnest advice about love. "At the time I'd just gone through a break-up, and then I found a new girlfriend," he said. "So it was about experiences I went through in the past relationship and what I learned from it."
Ficenec's entry was met with some harsh criticism from fellow fans on the Matador site, but he's not particularly fazed by it. "Like with anything, nobody's gonna agree, but they're entitled to their opinion," he said.
Finecec was born in 1996, the same year Belle and Sebastian released their first two albums Tigermilk and If You're Feeling Sinister. He says that he discovered the band through skateboarding videos. "I'm an avid skateboarder and a couple skateboarding videos use their songs," he explained. "The first song I heard was 'The Boy with the Arab Strap.' I pretty much fell in love."
Finecec isn't quite sure just yet what he plans to do with Murdoch when the singer arrives in Omaha. "I guess I'll take him around Omaha," he said,"though there isn't really that much to do." He's also not particular about what kind of song the band writes in his honor, though he's a big fan of their soft, sad classics. "The ones that I really connect with are the older, more acoustic ones," he said, "like 'The Stars of Track and Field.'"
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