The Highlander

Rocking and rolling through life

Eric Stein: football player, charity worker, rocker

Courtesy of Eric Stein

Ben Davis, Reporter

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A part-time music instructor, a football player and a rocker walk into a classroom. Surprisingly, all three personas are wrapped into one admirable teenager—Eric Stein. A senior at McLean this year, Stein is juggling a complex schedule, but “The Stitch” finds a way to sew it all together.

Stein embarked on his musical career when his parents gave him a guitar at age 6. The guitar served as a consolation gift for having to give away their family dog after the dog bit Stein, forcing him to have to get stitches—hence his nickname, “The Stitch.” Stein’s mother soon saw that the gift became more than a mere toy for her son.

“Little did we know [that] when we bought Eric a guitar in the first grade, it would shape his life,” Doris Stein said. “Music…has made him confident, mature and a leader.”

Stein’s musical abilities landed him a job at Bach to Rock, a music school in the center of McLean, where he works with young children. In addition to the time he commits to his job, Stein has been a member of the same band since he was in the second grade.
Stein’s band, The Unexpected, consists of three members: drummer Jack Lichtenstein, bass guitarist Brian Bodell and Stein on lead guitar and vocals.

Despite attending different schools, the boys manage to jam together for at least two to three hours per week on Tuesday nights. When they are not practicing, the boys spend quality time with one another. Stein views his bandmates not only as friends, but as brothers. They have only positive things to say about Stein’s character.

“Eric is the perfect person to front the band because of his energetic nature. He also takes on the most difficult task in the band, which is singing and playing the guitar at the same time,” Lichtenstein said. “Eric is a great friend and bandmate to have.”

These natural qualities are what motivate Stein to give back to his community. Through involvement with his band, Stein participates in events for charities like Bands for Bikes and Families Fighting the Flu.

“It’s a really cool experience to play at places like Bands for Bikes, which my drummer sets up… We try to raise money to donate bikes to people in Africa,” Stein said.

Stein is drawn to charity work for personal reasons.

“I think of my older sister at these [events], because she died of the flu when she was 4 and I was 2,” Stein said. “[Now,] my family is really big on fighting the flu…In addition to my family being on the board of directors of Families Fighting the Flu, [my band] plays every year at a charity auction.”

Stein’s songs are inspired by true feelings and events that he has lived through. He recognizes his own life as a story that can be heard chapter by chapter within his music.

“Music isn’t just a pastime for me; it’s generally what dictates my life. If for some reason I don’t turn in my homework, it’s because I’ve been playing music and have been trying to learn one song for two or three hours,” Stein said. “I participate in other extracurriculars, but music is the only thing I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.”

In addition to playing in his band, Stein represents the McLean Highlanders on the football field. As starting center, he is required to practice snapping the ball for about half an hour a day, in addition to attending mandatory three-hour practices, games on Friday nights and watching game film at 8 a.m. each Saturday morning.

“My schedule is a hard thing to comprehend, but I honestly could not imagine devoting my time to anything different. [In doing these things,] I have made friendships that will probably go beyond high school, which really means a lot to me,” Stein said.

Stein graduates this year, but he plans to pursue music composition and continue playing with his band after high school.

“We are like brothers,” Stein said. “[With them,] I really think music for me is more than just a hobby for outside of school. To me, it’s more like something that takes over my life.”

Stein’s parents support their son’s hopes for his future as well.

“[Eric] and his band have excelled from being a cute, school-aged trio into an original music performing group that can frontline great venues and stand on their own,” said Gary Stein, Eric’s father.

Stein plans to keep in touch with his band mates throughout college. They have already planned a reunion tour for The Unexpected during their college years. Stein knows that the bond he and his band mates share is unbreakable.

“It’s always been the core three,” Stein said. “We are brothers.”

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