Q & A with The Steele Syndicate

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The Steele Syndicate are all about the groove. Steele McMahon’s Brisbane-based octet is raucous, punchy and fun, with a genre-bending sound that reimagines elements of old school funk, reggae, ska and indie rock.  The band packs a blistering four-piece horn section and a rhythm section to match, creating music from soulful, contemplative ballads to dance-inducing funk frenzies.

Alright Steele Syndicate…. Trombones are not generally what one associates with funkiness…saxophone, yes. Bass and drums.. oh yeah… so, what’s the story?

Whaaaaaaaaaaat! Trombones are MEGA funky. Maybe if we named it the Funky Oboe...

As for the song, it had its beginnings in early 2016.
The band had recently added its horn section and Steele created the hook that sounded cool to play. Steele writes the lyrics last, after the song itself has been created. ‘Play the Funky Trombone’ started as a placeholder until we realised it was a pretty groovy line and fit the song. Interpret meaning from this tune and its lyrics as you wish but just know it started as a collection of funky-sounding mumbo jumbo.

Steele, (songwriter/lead vocalist) you moved to Canada pretty much as soon as the tracking was completed on ‘Funky Trombone’. So, the mixing process would’ve been a little more tedious and difficult without being able to be physically in the studio. How did you overcome this?

A lot of late nights and messenger audio chats! Funky Trombone was produced by Studio Truth and mixed by Brock Western who are both Brisbane based which meant that the 9 or so hour time difference required a lot of back-and-forth-ing with new versions of the song. They’d be sent over in the morning in Brisbane, received at night in Canada, then discussed about the next Canada morning.

For reference, the final mix of Funky Trombone was version 13(C).

You can add, ‘Have played at the Sydney Opera House’ to your bucket list. What was that like?

Amazing! We played a gig out the back, looking out over the harbour. It was pretty surreal, especially as it was the first time we’d headed to Sydney for a gig. Our claim to fame is that the director of Australian ballet came down to tell us to turn our bass guitar down as it could be heard during their performance. Swan Lake always needed that extra funk anyway.

South East QLD is known for pumping out roots/reggae/ska outfits of a high calibre… one might say more than anywhere else in the country. Why do you think this is? Who’s on your ‘must watch’ list?

We love the SEQ music scene - who knows if it’s the warm weather or active lifestyle but people just wanna get dancing! Some of our favourite crowds we found in the Sunny Coast, no one seems to be unashamed in enjoying the music.
Our ‘must watch’ list contains Fat Picnic, Bullhorn and Cheap Fakes. All killer acts with a great sound. Hopefully this shoutout will us into their good books for potential supports.
We love Jason Daniels and his band as well and am super excited that they’re supporting us again in Solbar.

‘Funky Trombone’ is paving the way for what’s in store for this year… shall we expect a long player later in 2018?

You betcha! We’re fresh out of the recording studio with a new and evolved sound. It’s groovier than ever! Keeps your eyes peeled and your ears pricked for new gigs and new music.

Thanks, legends! We’ll see you at Solbar on March 3rd!

Thank you! Looking forward to it.

Catch The Steele Syndicate at Solbar on March 3rd with Jason Daniels Band.