5 minutes with … Sunday Cruise

Side Street Studio Arts has spent the last five summers giving up-and-coming new acts exposure to fans (and to each other) with its summerlong Battle of the Bands.

Speaking to that connection, it’s interesting to find that last year’s winner inspired Sunday Cruise, this year’s champ.

Sunday Cruise has proved to be a delightful competitor worthy of that title. The winner of last weekend’s finale, this band of young artists (all aged 15 to 17) sports a mellow groove and a maturity both musically and lyrically that one would come to expect from more seasoned performers.

Eric Leith, the band’s guitarist, gave us the lowdown on Sunday Cruise.

Band members and hometowns: Zoe Garcia (vocals, guitar) from South Elgin, Devin Kazmierczak (drums) from Elgin, Victor Zura (bass) from Wayne and Eric Leith (guitar, bass) from Elgin

How do you guys know each other? Give us a little history.

Zoe and I (Eric) met in seventh grade because of a mutual friend and started a couple different cover bands last March in 2017 with Zoe on drums and vocals and me on bass. After seeing the Mt. Pocono EP Release Show at Side Street Studio Arts we were blown away by how strong the Elgin music scene was as well as how much we liked the music. For the next three months Zoe and I wrote and recorded our EP at Lubeck Studios. We’ve both known Victor since middle school, and Zoe met Devin in the Larkin Academy Drumline.

What started you along the musical path?

Zoe’s been taking drum lessons since she was 6 years old and that’s what made her interested in music, then she started guitar lessons in middle school. Devin has also been taking drum lessons since he was 6 and plays in a separate metal band. Victor has been listening to music his whole life but has recently been teaching himself bass and guitar. And I’ve been listening to and seeing live bands ever since I was a baby, so about a year ago I taught myself bass and guitar.

The Side Street Battle of the Bands was a summerlong event featuring lots of your musical peers: How did it feel Saturday hearing your name called?

As you can see in the video of Tanner calling our name, it felt so good to be where our biggest inspiration, Mt. Pocono, was last year. Also it was crazy because we just started out like six months ago.

What do you guys have coming up in the next few months?

We’re a pretty new band so we haven’t had a ton of shows, but this show coming up on the 18th at Side Street is going to be super fun.

We’re going back to the studio soon to record a couple more songs so that way on Nov. 23 (both me and Zoe’s birthday) we will release our full LP.

Anything else you’d like readers to know?

We would like other readers to know that the Elgin scene is poppin’ and y’all should come out to more shows to support it. Also don’t be afraid to do music no matter what age you are.

• Get a sample of Sunday Cruise at soundcloud.com/sundaycruise.

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When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18

Where: Side Street Studio Arts, 15 Ziegler Court, Elgin, (847) 429-2276 or sidestreetstudioarts.org

Tickets: $5 suggested donation