They’re best known for covering hip-hop classics in their unique, funk band plus steel pans vibe, but Germany’s Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band show there are spookier arrows in their quiver when the time of year demands it.
They’ve completed – in their own inimitable style – two Halloween themed cover versions that arrive on special orange 7″ vinyl so that it’ll match any pumpkin lantern you care to place close it.
The A-side is a rendition of the theme from TV show of the moment ‘Stranger Things’, the second their version of the title theme from the film ‘Halloween’, originally penned by the master horror soundtrack maker himself John Carpenter.
To celebrate the single’s release yesterday, we caught up with Björn from the band to find out more about Germany’s finest funk/steel pan experts…
Tell us a bit about the band’s roots and history…
Bacao is first and foremost a funk band. I brought a steelpan back from a longer stay in Trinidad and Tobago, where I studied jazz and musicology at U.W.I. and introduced the instrument to the my crew. First as a live feature, and eventually we recorded a couple of tracks for a 45. That’s we gave the project its own name to reflect the musical concept. It’s neither a steel band playing funk, nor is it a featured steelpan soloist in a jazz ensemble. It’s a rhythm & steel band, a funk band with usual instruments combined with a section of pans instead of or added to a horn section.
Was there a point at which you started doing versions of more unexpected songs? Or was that streak there all along
When you do cover versions, it’s important to surprise listeners. It’s pointless if there’s no quirk to your version. A funk band with steel drums is unexpected by default, but by now, our followers would expect us to do a steel funk versions of a hiphop staple, so we’re trying to break with this tradition from time to time. It’s not a dogma and in the end, what counts most is that it sounds good on pans and that the version has some relevance and something that is entirely ours. Otherwise it can get gimmicky.
Tell us how you ended up choosing these two tracks and how do you feel they’ve come out?
Big Crown Records came up with the idea of doing a Halloween 45. We chose the Halloween theme as it was a cool challenge to do it in 4/4 and make it a dance-able track.
Was there a massive long list of spooky tracks to consider? What else do you fancy having a go at?
We talked other spooky classics like ‘Thriller’ or ‘Somebody’s Watchin Me’, but did not feel like we could do a worthwhile interpretation. I was checking out playlists and was almost ready to scrap the project as I could not find a second number for the single. A couple of days later, all of a sudden, someone put on the Stranger Things during a rehearsal and we recorded it right away. We recorded something else in that session that is not really spooky, but a theme from an 1980s 8-bit computer game, which was great fun.
Any plans for the immediate/mid/long term future we should know about?
We’ll be releasing our fourth album next year. We started touring this year, and as we’ve now brought it to the stage we hope play many more shows. It’s just begun really.