Interview: Getting to know Brisbane funk-meisters, The Steele Syndicate

Brisbane octet, The Steele Syndicate, have been elevating themselves to larger than life status since their formation in 2015, becoming one of the city’s most loved funk acts. Blending funk in with ska, soul, reggae and a dash of indie rock (for good measure), The Steele Syndicate have recently dropped a new single in “Funky Trombone”, as the band anticipates a busy year of touring and new music ahead.

As The Steele Syndicate’s current tour makes its way down the east coast, the band tells us some more about themselves and the music they make.

When did you start making music?

We started playing as our current line up for a university battle of the bands (which we won!). At the end of the gig we were all like, “Well… Let’s keep doing this!” We make music because we love it. We also have a 10/10 time playing live and we want to share that joy with everyone who comes to see us play.

What sacrifices have you made to pursue a career in music?

We drive crazy places and usually get home at crazy times, but it’s all just part of the adventure.

With your new single out, what are your goals for the near future?

We’ll be cramming ourselves into the band van and playing a bunch of shows along the East Coast between Wollongong and the Sunshine Coast.

What do you love most about performing?

Seeing the crowd dance. We know we are doing our job right when we see the people start to groove.

If you could pick any dead or alive artist to work with, who would it be and why

James Brown – Dat Funk on point.

What is the story behind your band name?

Originally, the band was just ‘Steele’, named after our frontman Steele McMahon. Steele had gathered some high school and uni mates into a four-piece to play the music he’d been writing for his solo EP, People of the Storm. The music was a lot more folk sounding back then. Then the horns started showing up. Trombone, trumpet, sax. Soon we were six, then seven, then eight, and the music began to shift to incorporate elements of funk and blues. Before the release of our debut EP Antipodes, we changed the name to better reflect the new line up and direction of the band.

Do you have a pre-show ritual before you go on stage?

Find our drummer, Jordan (usually having a dart).

What is your proudest moment/greatest achievement as a band?

Playing to our biggest crowd ever at the The Triffid for our last EP launch. Our favourite venue in Brisbane to play and to see it filled up with so many old and new fans singing our songs and dancing along is a treasured memory.

Tell us 3 bands that we should be listening to/be keeping an eye out for?

Bullhorn – A local favourite. Seven horns, one drummer and a killer MC have one of the best live sets we know of.
Pink Matter – These Brissie girls are so smooth, and their neo-soul, Hiatus Kaiyote like grooves were in high demand last year. They just released a new single, too, so check it out.
Vulfpeck – Join the Vulf Pack.


February 21st | Rad Bar, WOLLONGONG
February 22nd | Marlborough Hotel, SYDNEY
February 23rd | Federal Hotel, BELLINGEN
February 24th | Pacific Hotel, YAMBA
March 3rd | Scarborough Originals, REDCLIFFE
March 3rd | Sol Bar, SUNSHINE COAST
March 4th | Nobby’s Beach SLSC, GOLD COAST
March 10th | The Zoo, BRISBANE