A Chat with Estranger (09.06.20)

Influenced by horror, mythology, surrealism and other strangeness, Steve Theobald (vocals and guitar), Pete Radcliffe (vocals and guitar), Rick Hunter-Burns (bass) and Emanuel Buemi (drums) came together to form Estranger. A London-based post-hardcore metal band, they recently released their new EP An Ode To Fallen Heroes. We had a chat with Estranger (E) about the new EP, the Covid-19 pandemic and bad haircuts.

OSR: Cliche question, but how did Estranger form?

E: Theo (guitarist/singer) started the band by recording some demo songs, then putting out an advert for like-minded musicians in various music groups and sites. Within a couple of weeks, Pete (guitars/vocals) and Emanuel (drums) joined. Rick Wall (bass) joined last year to complete the lineup after the original bassist left to pursue other projects.

OSR: What about the band name? How did you come up with Estranger?

E: We are interested in all things strange and bizarre and use these themes in our songwriting. The name came from Theo who, at the time, lived with two Spanish housemates. One of the housemates would use an exclamation sounding similar to ‘estranger’ whenever something unusual or weird happened, and the name stuck from there. Theo started the Estranger Facebook as a place to share bizarre things at first, and then the name and page were adopted when the band formed.

OSR: Can you tell us about your new EP An Ode To Fallen Heroes?

E: The EP was recorded in the band’s various living rooms and bedrooms. The recording process started prior to the C-19 pandemic and then was finished after lockdown by each member recording their parts at home. The EP features three songs which each tells a bizarre story of a central character who eventually meets their demise, leading us to the name An Ode To Fallen Heroes. A quick note on the artwork: we commissioned an artist from Peru to draw the freakish chimera beast which reflects our love for mythology, horror and strangeness.

OSR: Does the EP have a significant meaning to you?

E: It’s the first piece we have worked on collectively as a band and we are really happy with the final result. Our sound has definitely progressed since our first EP was released and we think this a good reflection of what we are about as a band. We like the idea that it’s not too easy to define what style or genre the songs are.

OSR: Which is your favourite song from An Ode To Fallen Heroes and why that song?

E: Difficult to choose one, but we would say ‘Moleman’ is our favourite song. It’s based on the story of the Moleman of Hackney who spent 40 years digging tunnels under his house. We like how the flow of the song turned out, mixing melodic and heavy parts to reach the epic-sounding conclusion.

OSR: What about your least favourite song?

E: We wrote a demo song called ‘Cup Of Bees’ based on an amalgamation of dream sequences. However, after a few months of learning and refining it, it just didn’t quite come together and was discarded. We may resurrect it at some point to work on it further, but for now it’s consigned to the ‘maybe later’ pile.

OSR: What do you hope people take from your music?

E: We hope that people will try to enjoy it in the same way as when a restaurant brings you something you didn’t order but you forgive them and just eat it anyway

OSR: If you could, would you change anything about An Ode To Fallen Heroes?

E: No, we feel after a certain point you just have to accept it as it is. It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending an age refining things, but we would rather spend that time working on new material.

OSR: Do you think the Covid-19 pandemic will change the future of the music industry?

E: Not being able to practise together and play live has been the main impact for a local band like us. We are also regular attendees of small to medium-sized festivals in the UK and it’s a massive shame to see those cancelled this summer, as well as seeing lots of local venues struggling. We really hope they can all bounce back and, hopefully, this will encourage more people to go out and support local music after the lockdown is lifted.

OSR: What sort of challenges do you face as an independent artist?

E: I think the main challenge is to find the time for writing, practising and promoting in between other activities. We all have non-music related day jobs so we have to be productive when we get together and dedicate the time to it. There’s a huge amount of effort that goes into getting a recording together or getting a set ready for a live show.

OSR: What are the benefits of being an independent artist?

E: We enjoy the DIY aspect of our music, and we also get to meet many talented and creative people from other local bands.

OSR: Do you sing in the shower?

E: Yes, absolutely! The shower and car are our two main vocal practise areas.

OSR: What is the worst haircut you have ever had?

E: Current lockdown haircut has got to be up there. It resembles a straggly mushroom.

OSR: What advice do you have for other emerging musicians?

E: We would suggest listening to new music as much as possible. We find what we listen to comes through in the songs, so it’s great to have a wide range of influencs.

OSR: Do you have a message for our readers?

E: Thanks for reading this and supporting local music. Hopefully, see you at some local shows once the lockdown is over!

Thanks to Estranger for chatting with us! You can find more about the band on their Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Spotify.

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