Local to Michigan, indie/alternative band Steppes has stepped onto the scene with lyrics that have a honest take on life while flooding your speakers with joyful melodies that will have you singing in your car.
The band consists of three members.
While still in their infancy Steppes has released three singles including “Go (Starting over)” and “Rachel”and their newest single that was released August 31st “Marceline the Vampire” which is a high-energy rock anthem staring Marceline. “She is inspired, in part, by Pendleton Ward’s creation ‘Adventure Time’, the new song from Steppes features the name and characteristics of Marceline, a vampire in a post-apocalyptic world with a love for music”, as stated by Steppes officials.
Steppes has shared stages with national acts that include Bad Bad Hats and Soccer Mommy, as well as local Michigan legends Michigander, Joe Hertler, and Mike Mains, according to their official release. The band’s second single ‘Rachel’ has found radio success across several stations in the U.S. and has accumulated over 75,000 plays on Spotify.
Behind the lyrics
Who is Rachel?
Josh: “I get asked this question a LOT. She’s not my girlfriend, in fact, she’s not really anyone. Rachel is all about figuring yourself out. I’m a big fan of coming-of-age stories like ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’, ‘Stand by me’, or even ‘Good Will Hunting’ (to some degree). To me, it’s such an interesting thing how the choices you make, the people you involve yourself with, and the way you respond to your situations end up shaping who you’ll be for the rest of your life. The song refers to those moments where you either choose to be something or are shaped, by your circumstances, into something different. (Neither one is necessarily bad by the way).”
Go (Starting Over)
Josh: “Go was the first song I wrote for the band. It’s a tribute to my experiences with the uncertain. I wrote it during my last semester of college. I was to graduate soon and I still had no idea what I wanted my life to look like (still figuring it out, to be honest). I remember feeling like the things I had spent so much time on weren’t going to make me happy. I felt stuck in a mundane routine. It’s still my favorite Steppes song to date. The chorus “I’m used to being down, I’m used to starting over” speaks to the comfort that is available in consistency, and the opportunity available in the midst of your failures.”
Q & A
Q: Where did you get your band name from and were there any others in the running?
It took us forever to name this thing. Most people think its an alternate spelling of “steps” but actually a “Steppe” is a geographical term for the large grasslands in Europe. It was a name Caleb suggested early on and it always stuck around.
There were a LOT of names in the running. Some of them were just funny; most of them were bad. We actually booked our very first show under the moniker “Capitol Bill” (a play on the schoolhouse rock short). We changed it to Steppes like 3 days after.
Q: How long have you all known each other and how did you meet?
Josh: Caleb and I went to high school together. He’s younger than I am so I didn’t see him as much, but I knew who he was. I met Austin through a church in Flint. We were both playing in the band together. He’s still the best drummer I’ve ever played with.
Austin: I’ve known the guys for probably 5 years now. I met both of them playing drums for a young adults event that happened every Sunday night in Flint.
Q: What inspired you to make music together?
Josh: For a long time I was writing and playing in other bands and I just really wanted to try doing my own thing for a while. So I started writing more singer/songwriter songs. I wasn’t on social media, I didn’t have any recordings, and I didn’t play a ton of shows. I got offered some really decent gigs that I knew would be well-attended so I asked Austin and Caleb if they’d be interested in helping me “beef up” my set-list. It went really well. I think there’s a chemistry from playing together so long and we all have similar musical inspirations so we decided to scrap the singer/songwriter stuff and write whatever we wanted. What we do now is much more collaborative.
Austin: This was mainly Josh’s doing. He had a solo gig lined up and asked me and Caleb help him out. After that, we played a couple more gigs together and things really jelled. The rest is history.
Caleb: We all had the same drive and want to be in a band and write music.
Q: What are/is the main theme behind your songs?
Josh: I want to write music that is fun, catchy, and memorable. They don’t always have to dig deep; I like writing those songs too, but I want to write something for every mood.
Austin: I always think of our music as bright, fun, and energetic.
Caleb: Teen angst.
Q: Where is your favorite venue that you’ve played so far?
Josh: MY favorite venue (so far) has got to be Hart Plaza‘s Pyramid Stage in Detroit. The thing is designed kind of like a small coliseum with a stage in the center and seating rising up in front of it. Caleb and Austin both prefer the Pike Room in Pontiac. Which is also a great spot.
Q: Dream venue?
Josh: My dream venue is definitely Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. I’ve never seen a more beautiful place.
Austin: I’ve always loved the atmosphere of live theater shows. Growing up in Michigan, I’ve always thought it would be the coolest thing ever to play a show at The Fillmore theater in Detroit.
Austin:Nsync. Without Nsync, we might never have had JT…
Q: Show you are looking forward to seeing this year?
Josh: Some friends of mine are playing a show with Hippo Campus in October. Definitely excited to see that one.
Austin: Not sure. I’d like to see Lettuce if they ever come to town.
Q: For the guitarists, obviously. Do you have a dream guitar? Are you brand loyal or did you pick them based on appearances or just went by cost?
Josh: Yes! For a long time I’ve had my eye on a Gretsch White Falcon. I’ve never owned a hollow-body and I’ve always wanted one. It’s about $4,000. Maybe one day.
Austin: I play drums haha
Caleb: No, I haven’t made it yet. I choose a guitar based off of a lot of factors like play-ability, pickups, wood quality, build quality, overall tone… if it beats the criticisms I have for the guitar, it’s worth buying. That being said, I play one I built myself.
Q: Aside from music, what are your other hobbies?
Josh: I’ve got a lot of these (mostly nerd-culture stuff). I’m a big movie guy and (I’m kinda nerdy about videography specifically). I like to read; I’m going through the Harry Potter series for the first time and I’m always talking about it. Sometimes I go disc golfing haha.
Austin: I’m a pretty active person. I like to get outside and do things as much as I can. I like to run, kayak, disc golf, hunt, and go to the gym. I also enjoy working on my latte art and enter random competitions in the local coffee scene.
Caleb: Video games, reading, fixing up instruments.
Q: What song do you enjoy playing the most?
Josh: This is a tough one. I think there are parts in all our songs where we mesh well, but there’s something exciting about playing new songs for me. That being said I think Marceline the Vampire is probably my favorite. It’s usually the first song in our set and there’s just something energizing about it.
Austin:Rachel is probably my favorite song we play live. I love the energy that it brings and it is usually the last song of our set. We also have a song we’ve been working on titled “Pride”. I’ve really enjoyed playing this one also. It’s been evolving over time into something special.
Caleb: Mine is “pride”.
Last but not least, What has been your craziest onstage experience?
Josh: “We all agree the craziest on-stage experience happened at a festival we played in Detroit. A great friend of ours was filling in on lead guitar and broke a string first song. You’re supposed to pack a back-up guitar for stuff like that, but the fest had very strict rules about how many cars we were allowed to bring, so we only brought what would fit into my Jeep Compass haha. He had to, basically, re-learn how to play all the songs with the strings he had available. On the spot. Honestly, he did an amazing job and we could not have been happier with the way that show went.
Bonus Answer: Craziest OFF-stage experience was having our money stolen at a show.
It’s the only time I’ve had to call the police and fill out a report.”
Be sure to keep an eye on these guys. They are definitely one to watch!
The crowd gets pumped, the opening chords blast through the speakers, the beat from the drums echo through the venue and the show begins. It’s little things like a sound check that bring back memories from a previous time. Where everything is carefree and it’s all about the music.
If you are a music scene local to either Beaufort, Bluffton and even maybe Charleston the name The Apprehended may ring some bells for you. The band consists of five awesome guys who I actually have the privilege to call friends.
It saddens me to say that last month on July 6th and 7th the band hung up their instruments and ended a major chapter in their lives that opened in 2009.
The final shows were preformed at El Rocko Lounge in Savannah, Georgia. Followed by a performance in Augusta, Georgia at The Epicenter. However, it brings me great pleasure to be able to say that for the last seven plus years I’ve known them they have not only grown as artists but as men and I was proud to be there for their final moments. I know they all will look back on the years spent as “The App” and remember all of the amazing moments they shared on many different stages.
The first time I had met the guys it was April 2011 and they were opening for Mayday Parade at the Music Farm here in Charleston, SC. It was the second show I had ever been to in my life and I walked out with five goofy life friends and family. (Joshua and I bonded over Cheetos at the merch table.) I remember seeing them on that stage for the first time. Michael and Preston screaming “check check” as loud as they could during the sound check. Back then, they used to open their set with “An oak tree is just an acorn that held it’s ground”. The heavy guitar riffs along with some major head banging and jumping on stage hyped you up and grabbed your attention. The intense“we’ll set this place on fire!” lyrics followed by a cheerful “Hey guys! We’re The Apprehended” from Michael opened up the night.
From that point on I watched this group of guys mix and create songs that I can honestly say may not leave my memory. I think Commission and Safe in Beecher’s Hope from their EP Defining Home will go down as my favorites. This also could be from hearing them at the minimum of a thousand times while they were creating them. Everyone who’s had the chance to know them has a fond memory with them and the band house.
The weekend was full of love, emotions and of course loud music but over all it was a weekend I think everyone will look back on and remember fondly. Fan favorites were played. One being “The Great Commission”, which if you have ever seen them play it live you’ll understand when I say that it is definitely a crowd’s song. The second the first chords are played you can hear the out cry of voices shouting “I’m so sorry…I mislead you.” One of the original members, Kevin Gornichec stood in on guitar and vocals for Jade Williamson for two songs each night to play Commission and also “I dream of the past, I dream of the future”. See below for a clip from the performance at the Epicenter.
“I dream of the past, I dream of the future” starts off as another one you can feel the crowd give into. Austin Ramey‘s intense growl at the beginning sets the tone of the song and it’s always crazy to hear it come out when he lets it go.
After that weekend I followed up with current and past members about their time as a band.
Q: which song did you enjoy playing the most?
Matt: “I dream of the past, I dream of the future. The bridge/ breakdown part lends itself to me just letting go and having fun. Always my most erratic moments on stage.” Michael: “It’s hard to pin down which was my favorite song to play live. I have specific incredible moments tied to almost every single song we’ve played. Specific nights when the crowd really just gave it all back to us during The Great Commission, times when I NAILED the high note in Can We Just Speak?, the night after the massive bombing in Paris when we dedicated Wisteria to the victims and all the emotions that came out because of that, the meltdown I had at the end of Passenger during Kevin’s last set with us, and every time I injured myself on stage because it was all just too much haha. I straight up don’t have an answer for this one.” Kevin: “I always had the best time playing The Great Commission. The eerie introduction to our set quickly turned into one of our first experiences involving our crowds singing our lyrics back to us, which gave me the heebie jeebiez in the best way. Fuckin’ neat. Plus it’s just bouncy and sing-along-ey and really set the tone for the rest of our set.” Josh: “Still Flyin’ was always a blast on drums.” Austin: “Can We Just Speak?” Jade: “Commission. I didn’t have anything to do with writing it so it has some cool things I wouldn’t think to play.” Preston: “It’s a tough one but to avoid story time we’ll say By the way Mr. Hero…”
Josh Dooley and Matthew Snow- Savannah, GA
Q: what was your craziest onstage experience?
Matt: “I’ve fallen a couple of times on stage. It’s always embarrassing but most of the time it was from doing something crazy that I shouldn’t have.” Michael: “I got food poisoning right before a battle of the bands. I showed up late and weak right before our set. The boys played a killer show, and I tried my gosh darndest, but I couldn’t give it everything for fear of explosions bursting out of…well yknow. Our friends there mic crowded, Matt sang several of my parts, and just…they carried me. That’s the most vivid. And the time I broke my foot before our set. Wtf.“ Kevin: “There’s a couple. Setting foot on the Ernie Ball Stage at Warped Tour 2010 with the boys is a big one. My 13 year old self thought something like that was super unattainable, I may or may not have peed a little up there. I was electrocuted more than once. I got sticky hands. There aren’t as many go-to “onstage experiences” that mean as much to me as just the adventure of touring, playing new cities, and making lasting friendships with people from other bands and folks from all over the place. (Quick shouts outs to From Ashes to Empires, Come What May, Me and The Trinity, Any Otherwise, Us, Ghosts, Vices & Vessels, Sent By Ravens, and Set Apart.) I’ve never/will likely never laugh as hard as I did in and out of the van with these guys.” Josh: “I’d have to give it to the last show we had in Savannah. With family, friends, and even new faces singing our songs, having a good time and just being there for us that last time gave such a crazy feeling that it took its place as my favorite show.” Austin: “Right before we played a show, in Rincon, GA, I had just won a hot sauce eating contest. Probably the dumbest thing I’ve done right before a show. Not only was I on the verge of puking the whole show but I got dizzy many times and almost knocked over stacks of people’s equipment throughout the whole show.” Jade: “Every App show was totally bonkers on stage. A blur of fret-boards and unfamiliar faces and ceiling-mounted LEDs is all that I tend to remember. But I remember the first time we played Speak at a sold out New Brookland Tavern. Never had i hard or have I since heard such a roar from a crowd. It turns out it’s a lot louder when people face you as they roar.” Preston: “With the Apprehended, there’s lots of great memories to choose from, But, my favorite memory still is the first Tour we all did together with FATE. Just 10 guys traveling the coast together. I’d never give up those memories. Also, probably be any time we played it’s dangerous business walking out your front door. Kids would swallow me whole during that song.”
Q: Where did the origin of your band name come from? Michael: I think a Adam suggested the name as a joke to poke fun of various members’ past incarcerations. We were just a cover band back then. I think they settled on it while I was away one weekend and came back like “oh. Okay haha” it was nbd back then. Then it stuck haha”
Q: Were there any names that were also in the running? Michael: “I don’t remember what other names we were considering. The only ones I remember were the ones I liked haha. “We Were Lions” was one. When we were considering a name change when we were in talks with Imminence to sign, we thought of a few good ones but the only one I can remember is “Because The Carpenter” but that had a little too much of a Christian center to use.
Q: How long have you all known each other and how did you meet? What Inspired you to make music together? Michael: “Matt is really the keystone in The Apprehended relationships. Matt and Preston got me in the band, Matt’s brother Christian was a member for the formation, later Matt’s childhood best friend Austin joined in, and I’m sure Matt was the first one to reach out to Jade when we were in search of an new member. If we don’t know each other through Matt, it’s because of the music scenes we’ve been involved with. The inspiration to play is different in every heart. And different in all five of us. We have loved being on the road, the catharsis of a live performance, the accomplishment of writing, the struggle of pushing ourselves to be better, and the journey of self discovery as people and artists. What drove The Apprehended to be a band was to connect with every fan, turn them into a friend and then family over something as deep and personal as our shared passions.
Q: What was the process of creating a song for you? Did someone write the lyrics and then the melody falls into place/vice versa. Michael: “The songwriting process changed a bit over the years as we grew or changed members, but the central pillars largely remained the same. Usually the guitars would exchange riffs or ideas until they could start to form a central movement to a song. I would sit in for as long as someone who knows so little about music theory and try to help them navigate the riff soup. It was mainly for me to learn the mood or voice of the song and to put me in the right head space to write for that specific song. After that the boys would start to work on it in the room with drums, letting Joshua really transform the song. After that would come tweaking both in the room and on the computer where the songs were always demo’d in a bootlegged copy of Protools. This process could and definitely did take months. Meanwhile, I was working out melodies or refining lyrics. I can’t truly work out a melody until I’ve sung to the song in the room with the loud ass amps, half busted PA, and most importantly for me, the drums. After that, it’s just learning parts, adding sexy little touches of character, and figuring out if I even wrote vocal parts that were possible in a live setting haha.
Q: Did you have a definite set list or do you switch it up for different shows? Michael: “As far as set list goes, we tend to work one out and stick with it for a couple dozen shows. We’ve changed the set list up to fit a certain crowd that for sure, but that’s the bonus we’ve always had musically; there’s a little bit of something for everyone in our music.
Q: What are/is the main theme behind your songs? Michael: “So. The central theme for my lyrics, and it really reverberates into the rest of our music due to the aforementioned writing process, but anywho. The central theme is basically frustration with oneself. Most of my lyrics are voicing a frustration or expressing the pain behind a certain struggle. Wisteria is about experiencing the death of a loved one, Dream is about the changing of band members, Speak is about how fucking hard it can be be open and honest in my everyday life and art, and Quick Hands, like a few others, is about my guilt over past infidelities and people I’ve hurt or wronged. Every song…well excluding Quick Hands actually haha, ends with a resolve. Through writing the song I often find a way to cope with a pain or move passed a current block in my life. So…I guess the central theme to our lyrics is “coping through expression” and we really built a small little community from that. An incredible family with roots that extend waaaaaaaay out.”
Then of course had to ask the fun stuff.
Josh Dooley – Augusta, GA
Q: What’s the first show you went to go see?
Matt: “I believe the first show I SAW was like… O -Town at Wild Adventures but the first show I SOUGHT OUT to see was My Chem with Flyleaf in Orlando at the Nokia Live taping they did. We didn’t pre-purchase tickets and the show sold out so we had to buy $20 tickets for $50 each.” Michael: “My first concert ever was Weird Al Yankovich. Yupp.” Kevin: “Fucking MUSE. And U2..they were alright too!“ Josh: ” I had the honor of being able to see Avenged Sevenfold a few months before The Rev passed away.” Austin: “Trivium, Machine Head and Lamb of God at the House of Blues.” Jade: “Winter Jam 2006.” Preston: “idk… ummm I think it was a Sevendust concert in Hilton Head! Haha they played with a band called Karnivool.”
Q: song currently paused in your Spotify or iPhone?
Matt: “The whole UnderoathErase Me album.” Michael: “Well it’s not paused but I’m listening to Eden by TesseracT from their album One.” Kevin: “Always Focused by Tiny Moving Parts.” Josh: “Oxygen by With Friends Like These.” Austin: “Burn Nice and Slow by Hail the Sun.” Jade: “Mess by Get Scared.” Preston: “It’s actually a band Kevin just showed me…Wavelengths By Deadlights.”
Q: favorite T-shirt from a concert?
Matt: The Ongoing Concept with a pick axe cross on the back. It was a big “festival” we played in Savannah with them and quite a few other bands naturally. I mean, it was a festival. Michael: “I went to a Maylene and the Sons of Disaster show a while back with Preston. We both bought shirts and the first thing we did was cut the sleeves off.” Kevin: “I have a pretty sweet I The Mighty Tee. It’s gray and has a blue circle on it.” Josh: “My dance gavin dance shirt I got on their Mothership tour. It has a cat with a bow tie on it so it was hard to turn down.” Austin: “My Coheed and Cambria GAIBSIV tour.” Jade: “A Day to Remember’s “Fuck You From Florida” shirt is awesome.” Preston: “I’m bending the rules here but I have a windbreaker from a Thrice show that’s just so sweet. “Together We’ll fight the long defeat”
Q: biggie or Tupac?
Matt: “I plead the 5th.” Michael: “Ain’t nobody flow like Pac.” Kevin: ” The Degrassi Soundtrack.” Josh: “R.I.P to both. They were both talented men who were taken from this earth way too soon. If I had to choose though, I would give it to Tupac.” Austin: “I plead the biggest 5th.” Jade: “OutKast?” Preston: “Biggie.”
Q:First album you owned?
Matt: “Backstreet Boys – Black and Blue.” Michael: “That I bought myself? River of Dreams by Billy Joel. Metal af.” Kevin: “Who Let The Dogs Out LP – Baha Men.” Josh: “Disturbed – Ten Thousand Fists.” Austin: “Nirvana – Nevermind.” Jade: “Switchfoot’s The Beautiful Letdown.” Preston: “I actually bought Hybrid Theroy by Linkin Park and Chocolate Starfish and the hotdog flavored Water (Atrocious album title) by Limp Bizkit on the on my 10th Birthday on November of 2000! ”
After their final song the emotions ran high and we all ran to the nearest bar.
The overflow of support that these guys have received is beyond words. As individuals and as a whole they gained millions of life memories that no amount of time can erase.
Sunday, May 27th Bishop Briggs dominated the stage at Charleston’s best Music Farm as part of her Church of Scars tour.
She opened the show with my new favorite White Flag. I personally had only heard her song River (which she did play as a second encore!) and was waiting to hear her new songs live. I bought her record the second I left.
She then led into her song Wild Horses and part of Briggs’s charm are her moves on stage! The girl is jumping around and dancing with so much energy that aside from her amazing music you can’t help but dance when you see her.
She then addressed the audience and introduced the next song which would be Tempt my Trouble which is the first song off her new album Church of Scars and again it is amazing. At just 25 almost 26, she dominated the stage like many seasoned artists do after years and she’s just really begun.
The U.K. singer came on the scene in 2016 when she released her EP which included River, Dark Side and The way I do and from there has had her music in 50 shades freed and XXX: Return of Xander Cage. In April 2018, she released her first full length album Church of Scars and has set on her tour through this September.
Her set was about an hour long and included not just one but two encores. She came out on the stage and mentioned she had something special for the audience. She had a demo of a new song she wrote and only wanted to play it for special occasions and said playing Charleston was one of them. The song was called Baby and I’ll be the first to say she needs to hurry up and release it because I loved it. She even noticed the young fans in the audience (at the doors there were these parents who told me it was their two little girls’ first show ever) and before she began the song she did tell the audience there was some swearing just to warn the parents.
Not only was she a total badass, girl boss on stage…she was also a complete doll. She mentioned telling her family about her new album before she really could and followed it up with “sue me!” and laughed because she’s right. You’re producing your first album that’s going to change your life OF COURSE you tell your family. She spoke on Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons and their song Lyin and how she realized he is a superhuman. She also mentioned their mutual love for the LGBT community and equal rights. She even announced that at the merch table they had a donations box for GLAD which is all about promoting equality and making the world a safer place for the LGBTQ community.
If you have not seen her live you need to. She gives her all on stage and really lights up the room. You can see the rest of her tour dates here and prepare to have her rock the house.
She is definitely one to watch. I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot of great things come from this woman.
You can check out my Instagram for more from the show here 🖤📸
I’ve been snapping pictures at shows since I was 16 and saw Prince for the first time. There’s even pictures of me taking pictures of artists at shows. I personally enjoy snapping a photo and seeing how the lighting looks. Last night I think I snapped at least 100-200 photos during my second night interning at a local music venue in town. It felt weird getting told “hey you can go up there to get better shots” and watch others get told no. I went to the show alone. Didn’t really know anyone. I just did what I enjoy doing. *click* (let’s be honest, there’s no clicks on cameras on phones but you get my drift.)
I was exhausted this morning and it made me wonder how I stayed out until 1-2am on show nights and then go to school the next morning during my senior year of high school. I remember passing out in my second period history class with the faint X marks on my hands that I forgot to finish scrubbing off in my morning shower.
I don’t know how long this internship with last. This semester, maybe longer. However, I know I’m going to enjoy it and soak in as much as I can.
No I won’t just be snapping pics lol but for the nights that I do…well it’s not even going to feel like work. 🤘🏼😊
Check out photos and videos from last nights show on my Instagram! 🍉 <–it’s going to just become a thing.
Just a 20 something who's just getting by and documenting it