Oliver Rye, '17, films a close-up of Mikale D'Andrea, '15, strumming his guitar for the music video of Break Booze on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015. Steel City Sunrise is shooting their new music video in anticipation of their upcoming spring break tour. (Molly Brooks/B&W photo)

Steel City Sunrise: An album, a tour and a grand finale


Steel City Sunrise is making noise. With its soon-to-be-released EP “419” and its upcoming Spring Break Tour, the folk-rock band from Lehigh University is setting its sights high for 2015.

The group of five that got its start playing small, open-mic nights and basement shows around campus, has become a staple in the Lehigh music scene. Now they are taking their music beyond Bethlehem’s borders with their most recent undertaking– The Spring Break Tour. Kicking off March 7 in New York City, the tour will make its way across the Northeast and conclude with a performance at Lamberton Hall on March 24. Despite its newfound popularity, the band says its most prized possession is still its fans from Lehigh.

“We’ve played so many amazing shows with our fans,” drummer Evan Eckersley, ’17, said. “They’re the reason we do this.”

Eckersley also credited the fans for inspiring the tour itself, motivating the band to share its music with college students everywhere.

Steel City Sunrise plans to repay its fans for their continued support by means of a grand finale– a closing performance to end their tour right here on campus. A performance that the band says will be its last. Lead vocalist and guitarist Mikale D’Andrea, ’15, said Lehigh is the perfect place for the last show, considering it’s where the band got its start. They wouldn’t celebrate their ending anywhere else, he said.

For fans who have followed Steel City Sunrise from the beginning, the band’s farewell is bittersweet.

Dan Soskey, ’17, said he is sad to think the band will no longer be performing around campus, but he is excited to see where the group ends up.

“They’re a talented group of guys with the potential to make it big,” Soskey said. “They have the passion. They have the commitment.”

The band has been working nonstop, building advertisement campaigns and contacting venues daily in preparation for the tour. Running a successful band is like running a business, Eckersley said.

“We have to deal with financing, marketing, and building connections in the industry,” he said. “After all, we’re selling a product– our music.”

But planning a tour is not the only project Steel City Sunrise has been working on – a new EP is also on the horizon. During winter break, the band spent a week in a professional studio, recording new music that, according to banjo player John Pehnke, ’16, redefines the group’s old classics. The EP will feature five new songs, including the single “Breakin’ the Booze,” for which the band is currently filming a music video.

D’Andrea, who started Steel City Sunrise with bassist James Copti, ’15, in March of 2013, describes the band’s music as a dynamic combination of Group Love and Mumford and Sons. He believes this new set of music will be even better received than the group’s self-titled, debut album, which was released this past August.

Lead vocalist and ukulele player Jacob Newman, ’14, said the new album contains the band’s best music yet.

“Our chemistry as a band has improved,” Newman said. “And as a result, so has our music. And we’re super excited to share it with everyone.”

But Steel City Sunrise says it is most excited about its final performance at Lamberton – the culminating moment when the grueling work of the past two years is met with an explosive live show. And an even more explosive crowd. They have given their all to become who they are as a band, they said. Now they can’t wait to see their hard work reflected through their fans.

“Everyone who comes to a Steel City Sunrise show is part of the band,” D’Andrea said. “And we’re hoping all the friends we’ve made will come out and share this last night with us.”

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