The Band Steele – high school friends, Bo Steele and Ben Rubino – began playing music together at age 14 in Winston County, Alabama. In 2016, they released their debut EP, Tan Lines & Moonshine, which featured the tunes “Tan Lines,” and “Sit Awhile,” an anthemic tribute to the United States military and their families. In October 2017, the duo released their first full-length album. Moon in a Mason Jar, which highlights rocking guitars and unforgettable hooks alongside heartfelt country lyrics. Here, Bo and Ben kindly took the time to answer their Essential 8 and discuss songwriting, balancing each other’s talents, favorite concerts, and much more.
discuss their working relationship, and more.
Is there any particular story behind your album’s title?
The album is named after the title track and “Moon In A Mason Jar” says it all. The track, and the entire album, resembles small chapters of our lives — growing up in a small town…a good-time hang with best friends and making memories as the “time of our lives” …and then…there’s moonshine. Moonshine has always been an iconic symbol of the South. The album has it all; it defines who we are (both personally and artistically) and where we come from.
Do you write about personal experience, the experience of others, observations, made-up stories, something else or a combination?
The majority of our song ideas come from personal experiences and, sometimes, there’s just a “good story” that needs to be told—no matter where the idea came from.
What’s the best advice to give to a musician just starting out?
Work hard and never give up on the dream; if it’s in the stars, you’ll know it!
How do you kill the long hours in the van?
What do you love most about being on the road?
BO: I enjoy seeing the sites and sampling the various local fare.
BEN: I love travelling and exploring new places.
Which song of yours gets the best crowd response?
“Red Moon River”
Favorite (or first) concert you have ever attended?
BEN: Stone Temple Pilots
Favorite thing to do on a day off?
What makes the duo/band “work?”
BO: Ben and I have an equal love for music. We wrote and played music just for “fun” in our hometown and it grew into something a whole lot more.
BEN: There was no “ah-hah” light-bulb moment to KNOW what we were supposed to be doing—it was always there. We’ve been together a long time; we think the same and finish one another’s sentences.
BO: We’re a brotherhood with a strong bond.
What’s the biggest sacrifice that you’ve made in your music career and what have been some of your biggest hurdles?
BO: It’s a fun, but difficult, endeavor—to be gone for long periods of time and then to be home.
When we’re home, we “wait to be gone;” when we’re on the road over a long stretch, “we long to be home.”
BEN: This business can break you down AND build you up.
BO: The biggest sacrifice in this career is the time that road travel and touring takes away from my family and me.
BEN: I agree; my biggest sacrifice is being away from family and my home.
Describe how you balance one another as performers and as partners on stage and in the music business.
BO: I’m the “hot head” and Ben makes me stop to think before I speak. He calms my nerves and he brings our music to life.
BEN: Bo pushes me to be creative. Because “creativity” just pours out of him, he brings out the music in me. He keeps my passion and energy elevated—both on stage and when the struggle gets tough.
BO: We’re “creativity as the same entity;” The Band Steele just doesn’t work unless we’re together.
How would you describe one another’s individual talents?
BO: Ben is an amazing guitar player and a real good singer. He’s also a strong writer and knows how to “fit” the lyrics into our music. He’s got a great ear for music and that makes him an awesome producer.
BEN: Bo is just a powerhouse. He brings on the vocals like none I’ve ever heard; he just hits you in the face! The raw force and “punch” gets me every time he opens his mouth to sing. Bo’s songwriting is “easy-does-it” and authentic; he’s a true poet and has a knack to connect to all genres of music.