Step Rockets blasts off Fourth of July weekend

Local indie-pop band Step Rockets poses in their rehearsal space in Minneapolis on June 25. The band will headline a show at Mill City Museum on July 4.

Juliet Farmer

Local indie-pop band Step Rockets poses in their rehearsal space in Minneapolis on June 25. The band will headline a show at Mill City Museum on July 4.

Jackie Renzetti

After forming in 2012, the Twin Cities band gained attention with their 2013 single “Kisser,” which garnered over a million plays on SoundCloud. Since the buzz, the band has released singles and remixes. Before heading off to Wisconsin to play at Summerfest, they will play for the Red, White & Boom! celebration at Mill Ruins Park. In September, the band will play WAM-O-Rama.  
 
The band said they are currently recording and plan to release an album in the near future. 
 
“I think the idea is just to make sure everything is ready to go. We do a lot of this stuff on our own … It’s important that when we do release, it’s done in the right way,” said lead singer and guitarist Josh Von Mink.
 
The band has played venues across the country, including trips to the South by Southwest Music festival. During long drives, the band keeps occupied with audio theater and famous speeches. 
 
Guitarist Brady Lillie said he picks out “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar,” “The Hobbit” and “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” for the band to listen to, but he also enjoys the Clive Cussler books on tape.
 
“It’s like James Bond meets Indiana Jones, and he’s a biologist,” Lillie said. 
 
Keyboardist Anthony Schulz said he wants the band to create a James Bond theme song someday.  
 
Von Mink originally came up with the name “Step Rockets.” 
 
“At first we were like, ‘Maybe we don’t want to do that space thing so much,’ but then we were like, ‘We really dig space, and we really like watching YouTube stuff about space, so let’s just go with that,’” Von Mink said. 
 
The band, which has a poster of a spaceship in their studio, has said in previous interviews with different publications that they want to be the first to play on the moon. 
 
“It’s one of those things you can get away with saying and never have to do,” Von Mink said. “But Brady’s serious.”
 
Lillie said he hopes to tour in Europe and have the project grow into a full-time job along with playing on the moon. 
 
“We all want to go play on the moon, definitely, but I don’t think anybody wants to die in space,” Lillie said.
 
Prior to forming Step Rockets, Von Mink, Schulz, Lillie and drummer Johnny Syn performed in a cover band for five years. Lillie said they played about 150 cover band shows per year under various names including Soul Tree and Vintage Mink.
 
“I think the cover band really allowed us to have the free time to spend all day working on music and then go play at night,” Von Mink said.
 
Members said they enjoyed playing “You Can Call Me Al,” “No Diggity” and “Ignition” at cover gigs, and they still pull out covers at their shows from time to time. 
 
When it comes to serious influences though, the band cited Alabama Shakes, Son Lux, Joywave, electronic music and the new 102.5 hip-hop station. 
 
“Regardless of the musical influences and tastes we have, we all enjoy strong 
melodies and song structure,” Lillie said. 
 
Their hit single “Kisser” features a catchy chorus, a dance floor ready beat and a memorable keyboard part. Their latest single “Turning Tides (By Your Side)” similarly highlights the keyboard and chorus, with heavier drums. 
 
Von Mink and Lillie said their upcoming album will reflect a more developed sound.
 
“It sounds like honey dripping on a hot pepper,” Lillie said.  
 
Von Mink said following the positive response to “Kisser,” the band shied away from producers and music industry professionals. Currently, the band has released five songs, not including remixes.
 
“It’s easy to get starry eyed and give it all away – but we try to do things our way and not other people’s way, and that’s resulted in us just taking our time,” Von Mink said. 
 
Step Rockets
 
Where Mill Ruins Park, 130 S. Portland Ave., Minneapolis
 
When 8 p.m. Saturday
 
Cost Free