It’s nice to get around the globe a bit, but it’s every bit as good to return to home territory and feature a band from the good old U of K…
How did you meet?
We started many moons ago when we were school kids, a friend of ours got speaking to someone at a party who was on the lookout for a support act for his band’s gig. He talked a good one and secured the gig but there was actually no band yet, so he set about creating one. Everyone for miles said they wanted to be in the band but only three of us turned up for practice! We practiced and did our first gig about a month later and quickly became a hit on our local scene, supporting the visiting touring bands and basically being the school party band. Fast forward 10 years and we met Stephen (vocalist) when Liam was studying Music Technology at Derby University.
How long have you been playing as a band?
We’ve been knocking around since 2004, but you can trace our lineage back to 1995 in various formations through school and college days, conquering our local scenes.
We got to work early on in 2004, writing our first songs together and self-producing our debut ‘Still in Time’ under the name Onion. Something was ignited back then, which ever since, has driven us to continue creating new music.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
The name comes from cult 80s series, The Mysterious Cities of Gold. Esteban is the central character who stows himself away in a merchant ship headed to the new world in the 16th century. The name fit our mission of exploration and adventure, seeking new experiences and knowledge.
What are your influences?
David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, John Martyn, Queen, The Beatles, Al Green, Michael Jackson, Simon and Garfunkel, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruno Mars, Pixies, Tom Petty, Pierre Bensusan, Chronixx, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Sam Cooke, The Stranglers, James Brown, Beck, Gil Scott-Heron, Genesis, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Vulfpeck, Yawning Man, Snarky Puppy, Marvin Gaye… the list is endless!
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
As a band we have never tried to fit in to a particular genre, we coined the term ‘Desert Funk’ to describe our sound and it stuck, it’s the sound that we have always made when the four of us get into a room funky bass and drums, four part harmonies with a bit of Latin guitar thrown in.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
We’re a conscious bunch, we learn, travel and live the human experience. This is an essential part of our writing process; we translate our experiences into the music. We talk about the world we live in, taking inspiration from ancient tales, drawing comparisons to our own lives and that of the people around us. We sing about love and loss and the special everyday moments we find ourselves in. But ultimately, we celebrate the creative process of being an original artist.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
It’s our bread and butter, we love the live thing, we lived for it back along sometimes playing 5 or 6 gigs a week, year after year totalling 315 gigs to date. We play hard with four-part harmonies and high energy; we took the show countrywide but the party didn’t stop at last orders I can assure you! If you were there for those shows then it’s like you are part of the family. We’ll be back.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
There is a bit of a list but I think we have a clean answer. We regularly played to a packed house at a very popular beachfront bar in Newquay. It wasn’t uncommon if, mid-song, we ‘had’ to drink the shots being poured down our throats by the staff (friends)!
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
- 2003 PRS Custom 22 – Artist,
- Furch G23-CR, Yamaha NTX-900FM
- Orange AD-30 – twin channel head
- Kemper profiles – Dumble ODS
- Toneking Imperial mkii
- Matchless Nighthawk
- Matchless HC-30
- 2007 Lakland USA Joe Osbourne bass number 476
- Matamp GT200 custom made amp
- Rothwell Heartbreaker booster and Love Squeeze compressor
- Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 Booster and Octave Multiplexer
- Emma Discumbobulator envelope filter
- 2007 40th Anniversary ‘Silver Temple’ Yamaha Recording Custom (9000)
- Meinl & Zildjian cymbals
- Roland V-Drums TD25-KV
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
We have just released our second Esteban album Jackpot Motel, a 16-track desert funk odyssey and we’re chomping at the bit to take this new record live! However, like everyone we’ve put the shows on the back burner for now. COVID has though for us, been a really productive period; we’ve doubled down on writing new material so, we’re heading back into the studio this year to record. Next year, we’ll be recording and hopefully playing live again.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Supporting Sly & The Family Stone would be the coolest thing on Earth. And, having Ozomatli getting the party started would set the night up for something unforgettable.
Bassist Ricky’s future brother-in-law is Manchester-based MC Just Banco. He invented his own genre, Trapanese, which fuses the lighter elements of grime, R&B, and rap, but moreover revolves around fashion and lifestyle choices.