Van Eps – A Seattle Mainstay in the Music scene

Van Eps – A Seattle Mainstay in the Music scene

Seattle Sound Live would like to invite you to a virtual meet & greet with the members of the Seattle band Van Eps. Allow me to introduce Matt Strutynski (Lead vocals, guitar); Jake Jovanovich (Drums, vocals); Bobby Steenrod (Bass, vocals); Brad Steenrod (Lead Guitar)

Van Eps has been a mainstay in the Seattle rock scene since 2006. Their sound can best be described as a “classic feel with a modern edge”.  Influenced by the likes of  the Foo Fighters, ACDC and Led Zeppelin, Van Eps takes to the stage June 29th   for the KISW and The Men’s Room presents REDFEST in Seattle WA.



Why did you pick your band name? How did you form? Why did you decide to play the genre or genres you do?



Van Ep(p)s is the name of a mountain pass in the snoqualmie area where our drummer, Jake, used to snowmobile. When he brought up the name we thought it was unique enough to catch the eye and it shows a little love for Washington. About 2 months into having the name we decided to drop one of the “p’s” and instead of Van Epps we became Van Eps.

As far as formation.. Long story short, we all went to the same high school. Though I (Matt) didn’t really know the guys till I was in college when Jake’s cousin asked if I wanted to jam with them. Our first time playing music things just clicked so we kept on playing and writing.

We started off playing rock covers so that’s what came naturally to us when we would write together. On our own we each have very different styles of song-writing. Once we bring all the pieces together it becomes what it is.. which is a blend of classic/southern rock with catchy hooks and melodies.




What do you feel are the main reasons Van Eps is able to be a mainstay in the Seattle rock scene after so many years?



Hard work. It’s not just about goofing off and playing shows. That’s the BEST part of it all, but there’s another side to this business. After all, in the words of Gene Simmons, it is called music “business”.

Since our sound is such a melting pot, we are able cross over genres. One night we’ll play with heavy rock bands and next show we’ll be playing alongside an americana band, or a punk band. Because of this, we are kind of in our own niche.

When that happens it can be hard to stay part of “the group”, and that’s why one of the main reasons we’re still around is because our awesome fans and friends. They come out to every show, singing and dancing. We have a great stage show that lends to dancing around, but it’s our fans who put on a show for us and we love them for that.




Your website/other reviews have describes your sound as having a classic feel with a modern edge. Do you agree? Why or why not?

[quote]I do agree. A lot of our guitar riffs definitely have a classic rock sort of vibe. Vocally, we tend to be more on the modern/pop vibe. I like catchy hooks and music you can dance to. My voice is a little raspier then Justin Timberlake’s though J haha![/quote]


Do you write out your lyrics? Do you ever change a song’s lyrics in live sets?

[quote]Yes, I write lyrics out. Lyrics are changed in live sets very seldomly. If something like that happens it’s most likely to be something small.[/quote]


Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process?

[quote]Songwriting inspiration can come from anything. I like writing about things that are personal to me, but every once in a while I like to take more of an outsider’s perspective on a situation and write about that. It also depends on the vibe I am getting from the tune, because we almost always write the guitar riffs, melodies and structure of the song before I ever write any lyrics.[/quote]


Do you have a band website? Why or why not? Do you have a Facebook or Twitter? Do you use Bandcamp, Spotify or SoundCloud to share your music?



Yes we do!

In this day and age you could potentially get by with just a Facebook and Twitter. That is where everyone, including ourselves, puts most of their updates about shows and song/video releases, etc.

I do, however, think it’s important to have a personal website where your fans can go for all things that involve your band. You’re not stuck to the confines of facebook or twitter and you can really show who you are to your fans. You can make things more personal between you and them.

We do have a Bandcamp, but we primarily send people to iTunes.




Do you think that online presence is important for fans to find you and critics to find your music to write about?

[quote]There is no doubt in my mind that online presence is important. Unfortunately, we are not very tech savvy and have to push through more by word of mouth, but you need to have your music available online. Whether it’s free or on iTunes, people need to have a way to access it when they get home after your show and jump on the computer.[/quote]


What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?



Online music sharing is not a bad thing. It’s a great way to get your music out there. We’ve done it in the past. Currently you have to get our music through iTunes, Amazon, etc.

This is our craft, our product.. what we want to be our livelihood, and I think that people have decided that music has no worth anymore. Free music sharing, in my mind, is what has engraved that lack of worth into people’s minds. We have made this product. It has taken a lot of time and even more money, and I believe it has great worth.

Someone builds a chair, or makes clothing and you pay for their product. Why is it that when someone makes music people just assume they should get it for free?




Since everyone was a startup once, can you give any smaller or local bands looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?



 One of the biggest things I can say is go out to shows and network. Having a solid product is a good start, but go out and support your scene. People will support you back! Like I said before, people’s view on the worth of music is the lowest it’s ever been right now, so us musicians need to have each other’s backs.

Like any business, it’s largely about who you know. Work hard, have a band/sound you believe in and keep at it. Lastly, remember that in this business you will be rejected more than you will ever know. By venues, radio stations, labels, other band’s fans, etc. Stay strong, and keep at it and you will find your niche in the music world.




Anything you would like share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums?



We are doing a show at the Sunset Tavern this Saturday (June 15th) where we will be doing a sneak preview of our lastest single “Nineteen”, shot by Jamie Chamberlin of Black Dahlia Films. Also playing that night is Black Diamond, Lady Justice and Johndus  from The Mothership.

Other shows you can catch us at:


June 22nd: Rock and Roll Marathon – Seattle – 8am (SR99 at the Western Ave Offramp)

June 29th: KISW and The Men’s Room presents REDFEST with Van Eps and The Mothership– Seattle- 3pm (Elysian Brewery off Airport Way in Georgetown)

July 13th: The Center– Spokane, WA- 7pm (with The Nixon Rodeo and Witchburn)

August 16th: Showbox at the Market– Seattle- 8pm (w/Moneta, Orison, Sky Pilot and






Christian Hamilton

Christian Hamilton

Christian is the founder and Editor of Rock Paper Rock as well as a freelance concert and event photographer serving the Pacific Northwest and Beyond. He is a certified member of the PPA and Gold Level member of the CPS. He has recently began working with Mental Itch Records and has launched his own Photography website.

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Join us for a celebration of Mens Room Original Red at Mens Room Original REDFEST on Friday June 27 & Saturday 28, 2014 ​at Elysian