Pittsburgh's Steelesque plays Southern rock for a U.K. label | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh's Steelesque plays Southern rock for a U.K. label

"Your art is about what you want, not who is interested."

For the art of it: Steelesque's Rob Eldridge
For the art of it: Steelesque's Rob Eldridge

Rob Eldridge began Steelesque not as a band but as a pseudonym that he wrote under as a music critic. But while reviewing shows and hobnobbing with bands like Counting Crows, Wilco, Sonic Youth and even Bob Dylan, he began to develop a taste for making music himself. He set out to learn guitar — and the more tedious process of songwriting. 

As he learned, he developed a respect for the creative act, in Eldridge's opinion, nothing more than the creator — an art-for-art's-sake approach. This is the philosophy that Steelesque the band took into recording and releasing Johnny on the Spot. The rockers made music for themselves and then trusted their own sensibilities. This trust will be rewarded when small U.K. label Tuppence a Bag Records releases the EP later this year. 

Originally from Vermont, Eldridge moved to Pittsburgh when his then-fiancée took a job at Duquesne University. Fifteen years later, that fiancée is now his wife, and Pittsburgh remains Eldridge's home, as he testifies to the growing art scene which he describes as a renaissance. "I have a feeling that the city will emerge as one of the finest in the country," he adds. 

Steelesque plays a Southern-influenced version of blues-rock reminiscent of acts like The Black Crowes. Throw in some Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper and catchy pop hooks that seem straight out of Ray Davies' playbook, and you have Johnny on the Spot. 

The diverse influences are hardly distracting, though, as the band makes every song its own, establishing the EP as an original and cohesive collection of blues-rock. With drummer Josh Egan the only other permanent member of the band, Steelesque maintains a rotating cast of characters; Eric Bee, Mick Lykens and Kevin Maurer round out the lineup on the record.

Eldridge sees the band's association with Tuppence a Bag as a boost, but not something that changes his approach. 

"Your art is about what you want, not who is interested," he posits. "I want to be a good husband, a good dad and a good songwriter. Nothing is going to change the fact that I want those things.

"Sure, different decisions will have to be made, but when the house lights go down and the stage lights come up, it's only about rock 'n' roll."