ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Sterling, Man Alive

The Oscillator Lounge is a new DIY venue located on Milwaukee’s East Side. This past weekend they hosted their second show, featuring Milwaukee bands Sterling and Man Alive as well as Green Bay-based Radio for Pets.

Sterling consists of vocalist/guitarist Rob Deangelis, vocalist/bassist Paul Meitz, and drummer Marc Reyes. Their sound could be described as emo indie rock with a touch of post-hardcore. They have been a band for about a year and a half and just played their first show a month ago. Meitz explains how the band came to be.

“Rob and I played together for a while; he started on drums and was singing but then after we lost our old guitarist we reached out to Marc and then Rob transitioned to full-time guitar. Marc found us online. He listened to the older stuff and it was funny because he mentioned that he really liked the sound but I don’t think he was prepared when he came on board for some of the new stuff Rob and I had been writing.”

“We went through drummer after drummer after drummer,” Deangelis added. “I kept saying to Paul that the right guy would walk through the door, and then that’s exactly what Marc did.”

“We had already talked about a lot of the influences,” Reyes said. “One of the songs we laid down the drums the first time I showed up, and for the most part that song has remained unchanged.”

Meitz shares where the band’s name came from.

“Rob and I both really like nostalgia, like a lot of 1950’s art deco vibes with cars and old refrigerators. It sounded shiny and new.”

Sterling recorded and released their debut EP “Sky” last year. Meitz explains the process it took.

“When we originally started, we were writing songs that were just for us. Rob and I have been playing in bands for other people for a long time and we decided because we didn’t know when live shows are gonna come back, let’s just write music for us. We wanted to write from our influences and bring them together. We really didn’t care what other people thought; we didn’t really think anyone was ever gonna hear it. The “Sky” EP came from just bringing our sounds together without knowing if anyone’s gonna like it.”

Reyes adds, “The upcoming record I would say is the same philosophy. I came in and I hadn’t played music with anyone in like a year, and I just wanted to play without caring what it was and just go with it. The record is the same process with a different end result, which I think is cool when you have a member change.”

Speaking of their upcoming record, Deangelis shares more about it.

“After our old guitarist left the band we had to figure out what we were gonna do, and I jumped on guitar and we just started writing again. We knew the direction was old school indie with an emo twist and some post-hardcore. Me and Paul have been really tight on the direction and we knew what we wanted to do with this. We specifically didn’t write any music for the drums so that when drummers came in we could hear what they brought to the table.”

Meitz adds, “We wanted to put down a bigger vocal element into it, which we didn’t have as much on the “Sky” EP. With Rob stepping up front too, even though he sang on the last record, having him be up in the forefront allowed us to be closer in writing style. When we wrote “Sky” we didn’t know where it was going but with this record we really want to harness our sound – a sound that we can continue to build upon. Now that we can play live, we’re excited for fans to grow with us.”

Sterling plan to finish up and release their record next month. In the mean time they play X-Ray Arcade on October 27th and then Skulloween at the Harley-Davidson Museum the following night.

Man Alive is a punk rock band featuring vocalist Eddie Ahrenhoerster, guitarists Max Hennum and Bill Haught, bassist Jake Dufner and drummer John Pankow. This was their first show ever; they formed about a year ago during quarantine. Dufner gives some backstory.

“We all played together – me, Eddie, and Max – in a band before, plus Eddie’s been in a band with John. We went to see a Jimmy Eat World concert at Summerfest in 2019, and the band opening up was Direct Hit! and I love those guys. We started talking about how we missed playing in a punk band. This is a very new experience for me; I did a little project before that was kind of punk-alternative in high school, and then after that we were in a band that was all covers of adult contemporary like Goo Goo Dolls and Gin Blossoms.”

Ahrenhoerster adds, “John and I were in Nobody’s Fault at this time. Like the rest of the world, everything shut down and we couldn’t do much. I don’t know how much longer after the pandemic started that Jake, Max, and myself got together again to play just to do something band-related, and then shortly thereafter John and Bill joined up with us. This band feels the most familiar in that it’s closer to a band that I was previously in called Second Charm, which was more of a pop punk-type thing. It feels most comfortable to me. The only thing that’s different for me now is that I don’t play guitar and sing; I just sing in this band and it’s been a fun challenge.”

Ahrenhoerster shares what he’s been writing lyrics about.

“I’m writing similar things to what I was doing in Nobody’s Fault. This past year has been a difficult one for me as much as everybody else, and I’ve been writing about how I’ve been feeling throughout the year, working through stress and anxiety.”

All that said, Ahrenhoerster shares what the band’s plans are now that their first show is out of the way.

“We have at least half a record written. We’re planning on putting a few songs out now; some of them got put on CDs we burned tonight about an hour before the show started (laughs). We’re gonna keep recording and then somewhere down the line we’ll think of something for a bigger release.”

Man Alive play with Radio for Pets again at X-Ray Arcade on November 7th.

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