The Steelwells: The Hardest Working Band In Orange County?

The Steelwells: The Hardest Working Band In Orange County?

That's what their publicist says, anyway. Since nabbing the coveted best new artist award at the 2010 OC Music Awards, as well as the best song award for the track "El Capitan," the guys from Fullerton have been keeping busy. They're currently serving month-long residencies at Costa Mesa's Detroit Bar, as well as San Diego's Beauty Bar, demonstrating that they are much more than hapless recipients of good fortune. This is evidenced in 30-year-old singer Joey Winter's take on the band's recent accolades.

"It definitely helps to know that people dig what you are doing, but the way we look at it is the pressure is on us," Winter says. "Most of us think what we've done in the past isn't the best we can do and we can always do better."

In addition to the two residencies they are currently fulfilling ,the band also served a month-long residency at the Silver Lake Lounge earlier this year. 

"I know that people feel like (residencies) have become a trend in the last couple of years. I was never aware of (them) as a fan before I was in a band," Winter says adding. "The great thing about doing a residency is you get to play around with the set."

And play around they do. One recent show at Detroit Bar involved people dressed as a rabbit and a chicken wrapping the band and audience in construction tape throughout the set. It was a not-so-subtle visual expression of the Aesop fable inspired "Our Fabled Little Rabbits."

Like a hearty cabernet saturating your taste buds, a good band always has a distinct range of notes to dance across the ear canal. It's just more fun for the brain to process. The Steelwells have been playing together since 2008; their music makes one think of an aural vineyard. Take any song off their 2009 release Shallow on the Draft and one can clearly distinguish between the band's influences: Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, and even dare we say, Coldplay. Yet they manage to package it in a format that is uniquely their's, and always slightly askew.

Winter elucidates the band's wonky approach to performance and songwriting when discussing the artists who have inspired him over the years, most notably Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline period. This was the album wherein Dylan presented a radically different, almost unrecognizable voice to his audience.

Take the song "Lay Lady Lay," Winter says. "It's got a quality to it where he was going somewhere he hadn't gone. But it's popular for a reason. It's got a good hook and that's where musically I like to go. I like to do things different but still give something for people to hold on to musically."

The Steelwells will be playing every Monday night at Detroit Bar for the rest of June. Admission is free.


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