“We should always choose to do what makes us the happiest. For some it’s working hard for their dream job, and for us it’s making music.” – Steel City Sunrise
What’s your band’s name? Where’d the name come from?
Steel City Sunrise. It came from our hometown in Bethlehem, which was home to a huge steel industry. I guess it’s just a reminder to stick to our roots, and to never forget who helps us on the way.
The Yellow Collar Collective is all about the daily grind musicians go through to perfect their craft, what has been your biggest struggle and accomplishment as a musician?
Since we have started, we have worked independently. Yet, that has not stopped us for setting ambitious goals. Last year, we organized our first tour, the Spring Break Tour, which brought us to 6 different college towns in a week of touring. We had not played in any of these areas previously (besides our hometown) and had to work with the limited connections we had to try to book venues in each location and draw crowds out to hear some band of college kids they had never even heard of before. But we got creative and worked hard for a few months and put together a really successful tour that has left us with followings in each of those towns throughout the tristate area. One of our overall biggest goals is just to meet new people and connect to them on a personal level through our music and conversations. On the tour we were able to do that, just as we have in our hometown. And because of those personal connections, we have gathered the most amazing group of fans in the world.
What other instruments can you and your fellow band members play?
We play many instruments on stage. Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Electric guitar, Mandolin, drum set, percussion as well as Stand up and Electric Bass. Some of our members frequently swap instruments to set specific tones for each song. We also have begun to include an electric lead guitarist on much of our newer music. And, as always, we rely heavily on some killer vocal harmonies.
Why’d you start making music and why specifically did you choose your genre?
It kinda happened naturally at an open mic. We were all proficient with our folk instruments at the time, so it seemed right. We’ve since become much more comfortable in our skin, and we’ve been able to form our own genre, a mix between rock and folk. But we can’t forget that we’re mostly inspired by Polka Death Metal.
Do you have any memorable musical experiences that have shaped who you guys are?
We started off playing basement shows at Lehigh with a few close friends and fans. By the third of these shows, the house overflowed and we blew out the PA system. The energy in the room was incredible, and in a short time, the number of people on campus that followed us grew immensely. But the best part of these shows was the connection we got to share at the shows in an overly cramped, hot, and load basement. When the PA blew out on that last show, we went acoustic and had the entire room singing along to our songs Hypotheticals and Breakin’ the Booze. You see a crowd full of people singing the lyrics to your songs, dancing their hearts out, and just losing themselves in the music, you realize you’ve had the chance to experience something incredible.
Have you ever released any albums or are working on any now? Any special projects?
Last summer we released our 419 EP which was produced by Jesse Cannon (known for his work with Animal Collective, Transit, Man Overboard and more). It contained 5 songs and was released to overwhelming support by our fans. We plan on heading back to the studio at the end of this year to record a single for our next EP, which we hope to release sometime next year.
Do you collaborate with other artists? Inside and outside your genre?
Yes we often bring our musician friends on stage with us to perform together. It adds a lot to our live shows, and makes it a lot more fun for us and the fans.
What venues and events have you performed at in the past five years? Which has been your favorite?
We have performed at festivals like the Highlands Festival, Musikfest, and numerous college festivals. We have opened for bands such as Sugar Ray, Yarn, and Harkland. And honestly, we have played all kinds of venues and events from bars to basements to weddings. Our favorite shows have been right here in Bethlehem though. We have developed such a strong connection with our fans here and they really become a part of the show with us. One of our favorite concerts was at Steel Stacks at the end of this summer. The crowd was incredible. However, we love to travel and meet new people in any state. It’s all part of the adventure.
How do you acquire shows and promote yourself? Do you have any recommendations for other artists?
I would say don’t stop trying. Once you e-mail a venue, e-mail another one. Then call them. And then e-mail them again. Venues are really busy, sometimes all they want to see is that you can work hard to get a finished product.
Do you have any mottos?
We have a symbol. ((+). The parentheses represent Steel City Sunrise, and the plus represents a crossroads. We all have a moment where we’re not sure what we want to pursue full time, and we should always choose to do what makes us the happiest. For some it’s working hard for their dream job, and for us it’s making music.
What artists inspire you?
We could name a thousand artists that have inspired our music, but I think that would limit us to their success. We consider ourselves as unique as those artists did, and that’s why music rocks.
What do you do when you’re not listening to or making music?
John paints rocks, Evan dances lyrical, James is a black belt in Karate, Alex is a part time Rabbi, and Mikale pursues a career in Korean architecture.
What’s your favorite song(s) right now?
Call Me Maybe by Taylor Swift.
Thank you Steel City Sunrise for taking time to do this interview for all of us!
Check out more of Steel City Sunrise and their music through the links below!