When Branden Steineckert was first invited to a Real Salt Lake game in 2007 he didn’t know anything about the team or the sport.
“I have never gotten into sports at all,” Steineckert said. “My friend told me we should go to a Real Salt Lake game sometime and I responded, ‘What is that?’ My friend said it was a Utah major league soccer team, but I had never even heard of it.”
With some reluctance Steineckert, a former band member of The Used and current drummer for Rancid, decided to go and see what RSL was all about.
“Instantly the game was exciting,” Steineckert said. “We were screaming, but we didn’t even know what we were screaming about. We would react when the crowd would react. When the referee would make a call that made the crowd yell, we would yell too. We had no idea what we were doing.”
Once the game was over, Steineckert bought Real Salt Lake merchandise and became a season ticket holder. He was hooked.
After attending games regularly, Steineckert found an opportunity for fans to contribute more to the game. He had attended soccer games in Europe and noticed the teams had chants that brought the whole crowd together. He wanted something similar for Real Salt Lake fans.
“I wanted to create a chant that felt organic, starting small and then growing bigger as more and more people joined in,” Steineckert said. “I was toying with this idea with a notepad, and this song came to me one day.”
Adam Zastowny, corporate services manager for Real Salt Lake, first heard the chant after it was recorded.
“The idea was brought to us directly from Branden, who has been a huge fan and advocate for Real Salt Lake for quite some time,” Zastowny said. “He spoke with us here at Rio Tinto (Stadium) and let us know he was working on a possible chant. When it was finalized he brought it to us, and we all felt it was something that could work.”
With help from film maker Isaac Halasima, RSL fans and staff, Steineckert shot a video with the new chant called “Believe” and uploaded it on YouTube on Feb. 13, 2012. The video features Steineckert walking next to Rio Tinto Stadium singing the chant he wrote, while RSL fans follow him and sing along. Within three days, the video had more than 20,000 views.
“Immediately when it came out on YouTube it had an incredible number of hits,” Zastowny said. “It really got out there fast, and people grabbed a hold of it quickly. When we first played it in the stadium last year, it was like a light switch because everyone already knew it. It was a great feeling to hear all the 20,000 people singing it, even after we stopped playing it over the PA system.”
The chant became an instant classic and has quickly been adopted into the Real Salt Lake culture. Before the start of each match and after every goal scored, the chant is played to fire up the fan base and increase the energy.
“We have a large number of fans that comes from all different demographics,” Zastowny said. “We have college students, middle-aged people, families and even some of the older crowd who come to the games, and this chant has been able to link all these groups together.”
RSL defender Tony Beltran also sees the chant as a way to unify the fan base.
“We have always had excellent fan support, but the chant has definitely helped unite us,” Beltran said. “It’s nice to see how much the fans have welcomed the new chant and taken it in. There is no greater feeling than walking out and hearing the fans sing that song.”
Real Salt Lake players like Nat Borchers have seen the culture of the team completely change with the introduction of the new song.
“The chant overall has been really positive and has become a part of the Real Salt Lake culture,” Borchers said. “It’s great to have the chant before the game because it gets everybody on the same page and ready for kickoff. The crowd is cheering for the team, and it gets us going.”
Steineckert still has season tickets and can be seen in the crowd cheering on Real Salt Lake.
“As a musician I am used to that feeling of playing in front of a big audience and have them sing your song, but it was never something I solely wrote and created,” Steineckert said. “To be in the stadium and hear so many strangers that I have never met singing a song I wrote in my house is really surreal.”
The original YouTube video “Believe” now stands at over 132,000 views.