Tampa band Macrame Owls bring life experiences to create indie rock melodies

Nicole C. Kibert /
Nicole C. Kibert /
Published Aug. 29, 2013

Macramé Owls are a quintet of Tampa 30-somethings who deliver up-tempo driving epics. Picture a modern Modern English, with electronically affected decorative piano flourishes and melodies that cry out for a sing-along.

The group is made up of Brian Steele, vocals and keyboards; Andy King, keyboards and background vocals; Michael Raimondi, bass; Jeff Langmaid, guitar; and Rich Lesniak, drums.

Steele and King let us in on the motives behind the songs, band, recording and more.

How did Macramé Owls come to be?

Steele: Basically, this started out as a project that Andy and I did about 21/2 years ago. We were sitting at a bar, and we're like, "We're just gonna record an EP." Over the next month we recorded all these demos on GarageBand and rented some studio time out in Lakeland at a place called the Vanguard Room, and we recorded an EP there. After we did that, (we) found some band members that we knew and formed a band.

These days, bands seem to be releasing EPs, as opposed to full-length albums. I find this slightly odd, because with the advent of the Internet, it's possible to release an album of almost infinite length. Could you share any insight?

King: Money. (laughs) There was really no ulterior motive. We only had enough for four or five songs, so …

Steele: We put about four grand or so into it, and we've never seen a cent of that back, so there goes my credit card bill (laughs). If you're able to do the home recording thing, which we've moved closer to, than you can afford as much as you want. Right off the bat, were just like, "We wanna go to a place where we like what it sounds like and we're gonna pay the money." We were really picky about the sound we wanted to go for; that was a big part of it.

Your EP, Evicted: Was the title drawn from experience? Was someone recently thrown out of their house?

Steele: I went through a divorce. Basically, what it came from was we were supposedly working through the problems. I went into our apartment one day, and everything I had was taken off the walls. I was like, "Oh, I thought we were working through this?" So it felt like I was evicted from the place. I tend to write from experience, rather than from abstraction.

What else influences you?

Steele: I really love the new ­National album. We tend to like indie rock that is okay being earnest, but not to the point where it's overwrought. I think there's been a movement in music recently where a lot of it's just ironic, and not necessarily our thing. Some people pull it off really, really well; we're a little more straightforward.

How did you come up with the band name?

Steele: We wanted something '70s-sounding, and nothing sounded more '70s to me than a macramé owl. It's the epitome of imagery from that time period: Macramé chairs hanging from the ceiling and everything like that. It just stuck out. Plus, finding a band name that no one's used is hard as hell to do.

Does anyone in the band actually macramé? If so, do they actually macramé owls?

King: Not a single person.

Steele: Not in the least.

What does the future hold for Macramé Owls?

King: I'm happy just getting more shows. We'd like to break even. (laughs) We don't have any ridiculous aspirations to be a huge band or anything like that. If something came along, we'd be really happy. We all love it. We love music and hanging out.