New album, more original songs and a full summer ahead for The Steppin' Stones

eshaw@islandpacket.comJune 11, 2014 

  • UPCOMING SHOWS


  • 6:30 p.m. June 12 at Coligny Plaza on Hilton Head Island

  • 7:30 p.m. June 14 at Liberty Oak Stage in Harbour Town

  • 5:30 p.m. June 15 at Wild Wings Cafe in Savannah

  • 6 p.m. June 18 at Tiki Hut on Hilton Head Island

After eight years of playing countless gigs on and around Hilton Head Island, teenage rock band The Steppin' Stones are showing no sign of slowing down.

The group just released its first full-length album, "Looking Glass," and has a heavy rotation of shows lined up for the summer. It's a step in the right direction for the band, which is striving to move beyond playing covers of classic rock staples from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty and Janis Joplin.

"I guess we could still be classified as a cover band, but we've taken way more interest in original music in the past three years," said 17-year-old lead singer Hannah Wicklund. "We've been trying to work in our original music because ultimately that's what we want to be known for."

The nine-track LP sticks to The Steppin' Stones classic rock roots and is stylistically consistent with their rock 'n' roll influences. The album throbs with energy, hard rock guitar flourishes and catchy hooks that could readily be mistaken for a classic radio hit.

"Some people have said that our songs have been stuck in their head, which is my favorite thing to hear," Wicklund said.

Feedback from fans has been overwhelmingly positive so far, 19-year-old drummer Ryan Tye said.

"We've had a great reaction with our fanbase on the island and with our out-of-state fans. They definitely seem to enjoy the new music and are really appreciative of how hard we worked on it."

The biggest change for the band has been the addition of 19-year-old bassist Andrew Ottimo.

"That's probably why everyone likes the new CD so much," Ottimo joked.

"As you can tell, he's really humble," Wicklund said.

Ottimo, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design, joined The Steppin' Stones in September of last year. The first time they played together was on his birthday.

"It was the best birthday present he's ever gotten," Wicklund teased.

"Yeah, she's humble as well," Ottimo shot back.

The trio often fights like siblings, knowing how and when to push each others' buttons. But despite any family-like bickering, the band has been able to come together to grow in popularity. In May, The Steppin' Stones were invited to play at the First Flush Festival in Charleston, sharing the bill with big acts like The Avett Brothers.

"We were surprised that our name was actually on the bill," Wicklund said.

"And we weren't actually at the bottom," Ottimo added.

The band plans to increase its influence by playing more traveling shows this summer and working on a new album in the winter. It's a full-time commitment, but the teenagers seem to have found the balance between work and play.

"It's something fun that we look forward to," Ottimo said.

Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.

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