Cover Photo by: Meredith Kaminek
Steel… Coming at You Hard & Heavy
Article By: Rachel Rocks
Steel is a hard-rockin/metal band from right here in Mechanicsburg. If you’ve ever picked up a magazine in the last 23+ years, chances are you’ve seen them before, or at least saw their name. Steel officially started to call themselves Steel back in 1995, and they’ve advertised in the magazine even before that in their previous bands. The Steel line-up has been the same since 2000 when Trevis Becker came thundering into the band with his huge drum kit. There aren’t too many bands that can say they’ve had the same exact line-up for 18 years. Chris Redding is behind the mic with his amazing voice, Dave Magaro is laying down the bass lines, and Aaron Zimmerman is ripping away on the guitar. Chris can hold his own behind the mic, but it is nice to hear when Aaron and Dave add in their harmonies and backing vocals. When we asked what their secret is to staying together so long, I think Dave gave the best advice, “Don’t be IN A band.. Be a band!” And that’s exactly what they are. Not only are they a band of musicians that get together and play some great music, they are also a band of brothers. On or off the stage these guys are together, supporting each other, and listening to each other’s needs and yes life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, there are frustrations too, but you have to be adults and work through it and not just get mad and quit. There other secret is that all the money the band makes goes right back into the band. They treat their band like a business. It helps that 3 out of the 4 are self-employed so they understand what it takes to run a business. Hence the reason why they have the funds to advertise, buy the gear they need, etc. They also know they only thing they are trying to accomplish is to have fun! They aren’t out there trying to find the last golden ticket, that ship sailed a long time ago, they are happy playing out there 2-3 times per month, just having a good time.
Since we thought this was going to be the last issue when I did this interview, I decided to take some time to walk down memory lane with the guys. We’ll start with Aaron since he was the first one playing in Savage Bliss. Aaron originally started playing when he was 9 years old with a cheap-o acoustic guitar. He played in lots of “almost bands”.. or “true garage bands” but it took him until 1989 to get together with Jim Fagan, Jay Acri, and Ed Gobat and form Savage Bliss to be in a “real” band. Aaron also had a side project, Sole Grind, they were more of an acoustic band that played modern rock and covered bands like Weezer! Needless to say, that project didn’t last long, and changes were happening in the Savage Bliss line-up, so Aaron started looking for band members. Aaron knew Dave from the band circuit and quickly called him to get him to come play bass.
Dave started playing back when he was 16 years old and very creative, he was able to use a headphone cord tapped into an 8 track to be able to play his bass and he got hooked! When he was around 18 a woman at the time said it was either her or the band, and he couldn’t say “See ya honey!” fast enough. Music is in his blood. Before he was completely committed to Steel he was still playing with his old band, KareTaker, once again another advertiser. Maybe Dave is the secret to longevity, he played with KareTaker from 1980-2000. In 1995 after he was playing in Savage Bliss for a while, Aaron, Chris, and Dave decided it was time for a fresh start, so they had to come up with a name, Dave being the writer of the band, suggested the name Steel. Steel is hard, heavy, metal, and that’s exactly how they wanted to play hard and heavy.
Chris grew up with 10 brothers and sisters so one thing he learned early in life is you always do what Mom says. Mom wanted him to be in the choir in grade school, and that’s how his passion for singing began. He’s been in plenty of different bands, but his first big band was Falcon, back in 1977. He has always truly appreciated the PA Musician Magazine since the very first issue. He was a musician, just like Dad trying to get the word out there about his shows and his music, but there was no way to do it until this awesome family, The Nolls, started this magazine, back in 1982. After the PA Musician started you could see what other bands were doing, that there WERE other bands and where they were playing. It helped get people to spread out and get to know each other. Chris went on to play in Magnum, another advertising band, that played in a lot of shows. He was also in Night Flight where they actually had a trampoline behind the drummer so he could launch himself on to the stage! Scary Mary, another advertising band, and then Savage Bliss, which then became Steel. Needless to say he’s been playing music for a while, but one thing he always swears by is advertising and promoting your shows. A lot of people in this area’s music scene have become just as close if not closer than family and Chris says the magazine has a lot to do with it.
Trevis has been playing music since his Mom got him drums lessons in Kindergarten, but she said at one point no practice-no lessons, it took him until 4th grade to convince his Mom to let him try again, and he’s been practicing ever since. He was in his first gigging band at 14yo, they played parties and carnivals and anywhere they could find people who would listen. His first big band was Sabotage, they actually got to open for White Lion, some other bands he was in were Second Wind, Carousel Begins, Ashley Krump, Eclipse, then Steel. Trevis one day got a call from Chris asking him to come be in the band, they hadn’t seen each other for over 15 years, but Trevis said, “if you’re singing.. Sure!” Trevis learned how to play Rush’s 2112 overnight, and it’s a 20 minute, difficult song to play. He actually broke his snare playing so hard at his audition. After they were done auditioning the other guys said they would discuss it, then right there in front of him they talked about five seconds until they all said, “YES!” Trevis was just what they were looking for, and it’s been a perfect fit ever since.
The other 5th, silent member of the band, is the guy behind the board, Scott Sprankle. He’s been doing sound for Steel and working with Aaron and his sound & lighting company, Sonic Productions, since at least 1997. (Aaron has advertised Sonic Productions since he first began!) It makes it so easy to perform when you know you can count on the man behind the board. The guys are very grateful for all of the hard work and time Scott has spent making them sound as good as they can get! Scott is grateful for all of the friendships he’s made over the years, but he’s extremely grateful that they’ve changed the sound board over to all digital, even a digital snake! It makes life so much easier.
The guys also know that some of the people just come out to the shows to dance with the ladies of the band, and they don’t see anything wrong with that! One thing I’ve learned since my very first show at Angie’s 12 years ago, is that it doesn’t matter who you are, when you are at a Steel show, you are family. I was instantly welcomed into the crowd, and I’ve had a blast at every show ever since! When I was first going Out and About, Mom suggested I go see Steel, and I’m so glad she did!
So I really didn’t get a chance to say much about the band themselves, but I can tell you that if you like metal hair bands, you definitely want to check these guys out! Some people still refer to them as an Iron Maiden Tribute band, and they do play Iron Maiden spot on, but they also play so much more, some of my favorites are Uriah Heep, and of course Steel’s originals. They do have a CD with some excellent songs on them. They try and mix in about three original songs in every set. I know I personally love their CD. You can check out Steel’s schedule in this issue to get all of the details of their upcoming shows so you can get out there and check them out for yourself. You can check out their website too for even more information, www.steelrocks.com. Or if you would like to get them scheduled for your special event you can give them a call at 717-938-0611.