Les-Festive: Interview with Estrella

Les-Festive_Dec_2013Estrella are a band we first came across back in July when cackblabbath.online hit Les-Fest 2. Impressing us so much with their confidence and individual take on Classic Rock, we knew we had to speak to the band and find out a bit more about them. Vocalist Paul Gunn and guitarist Luke Gunn were kind enough to take a couple of minutes out of their recent gig at the Ivory Blacks where they headlined the Friday night of Les-Festive to have a quick chat with us.

You’re spent the last twelve months busy touring up and down the country, but if anyone hasn’t had the chance to see you guys onstage yet… can you explain a little bit about your style?

Luke:   We are Estrella. We are initially from Thurso, which is up in the Highlands in the far north of Scotland. Our style is very like Stadium Rock bands, such as Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Areosmith. Not just the music though; the stage-craft, the performance, the stage gear… The whole package. We want everyone to enjoy the show and see it as a big kind of spectacle. That’s about it really!

Paul:   Laughing. Well you’ve impressed me! We sound good eh?

Being from such a small town, did you find it intimidating to begin with gigging down in places like London and playing alongside big names, such as Tigertailz on your recent tour?

Luke:   I think that when we rehearse, we adapt ourselves to think that we are playing bigger venues and stuff.

Paul:   If you feel like you are playing a bigger venue when it’s just a wee slither of stage, then I think you just prepare yourself for any sort of stage or any sort of bands. You’ve got to be on the same level as them, because if not you are… I don’t know… you’ll struggle to ever be on a bigger level. I just think; “We’re up there, we’ve practiced hard, we’re out here doing it”. I think we’d honed our craft with all of our gigs around Scotland before we moved down to England to play London and stuff, so we were prepared more. I’m not sure how it would be if we had just gone straight from Thurso to London… That might have been different! That might have been terrifying!

Luke:   You say that, but when we moved from Thurso to Aberdeen, our first gig was Free At The Dee which was in front of 30,000 people. That was our first gig in Aberdeen!

Paul:    So you might say we got chucked right in at the deep end! I liked that! I just wanted to play gigs like that all the time! It hasn’t worked out that way, you can only get so many in a pub! That really was great though and it really did help us a lot.

Luke:   To feed of a bigger crowd… it’s not as intimate, but the masses of faces… that’s cool, you know?

Paul:    The more people, the better!

You’ve been together for nearly ten years now…

Paul:    Yeah… it’s getting close to that! God!

Luke:    Originally the band was formed by us three brothers just in school. We’ve gone through quite a lot of line up changes. The drummer we’ve got now, he’s been with us for three, coming on four years. It’s when he joined that we really got our heads down and got into the studio and got the first album done. As a whole, as you say, it’s been nearly ten years!

Paul:    Being three brothers, we have always been in bands. We’ve always just jammed together. We were always getting up into the attic and just practicing. It’s easier when it’s your bros because you can just run into their bedrooms and shout “wake up! It’s practice time!”. Then it was just a quick walk up the steps to the attic and we could rehearse. It was easy!

So have you always been playing together, even since you were really little? Your parents must be so patient! 

Paul:    We always found it was more the neighbours that complained. Mum was always fine with it! Yeah, she’s always been very encouraging and just wanting us to go for it. It was more the neighbours that were complaining.

Luke:    They would start coming round with decibel readings and stuff…

Paul:    … I think they learned to live with it! I actually brought people round, because there was a lot of houses around us and I think a lot of them just wanted to listen to music!  They actually used to have a laugh because we would have a lot of arguments when we were playing and it was all through mics! They were hearing every word and must have been thinking, “what the hell… where’s that coming from?” as we are all like, “no you did it wrong, it’s a B… Not a C!” I think they probably secretly enjoyed it and just thought they’d leave us to it most of the time. It was like a fly on the wall documentary!

Did you find it weird at first being brothers and having someone else coming into the mix with you?

Luke:    When Leo came in, he just felt like another brother. He liked the same things as us, he’s a great musician and we just got on. He’s got the same passions, the same drive as well for the music industry and it’s just great.

Paul:    He’s got the same humor as us which is quite helpful. When you’re touring in the van, it’s not that big so you have to get on and damn quickly or there’s going to be trouble! What do they say? He’s like a brother from another mother! Is that what they say? Yeah… there’s been absolutely not problem on that side. He’s great.

Come Out To Play only came out last year. Why do you think it took you guys so long to release an album?

Luke:   It was due to having quite a few line up changes. We had pre-production stuff and we’d record all the drums and that and the guitars… and then the drummer would leave! Then we’d have to rerecord everything again. Also with having a new drummer coming in, he was a much better drummer, so he wanted to put new stuff in and he had new ideas and stuff. We wanted to let him put new stuff in and so we gave him free reigns to put his style over the songs rather than just copying what was already there.

Paul:   We had a bit of trial and error with studios as well.

Luke:   We’re here now though. First album’s out. Second album is on the way…

Paul:    We also have more knowledge now. More knowledge about that whole aspect, so it should come together a lot quicker this time. With your first album you are just learning the ropes… Writing great songs and then putting them together and getting it recorded.

Luke:    They say you have a lifetime to write your first album, but you have about a year to write your second album. You have to get it out there because people are excited to hear what you do next.

How did you find the reception to Come Out To Play?

Paul:    It was amazing!

Luke:   It’s been so good. Big magazines, you know Classic Rock Magazine, Metal Hammer… they all gave it great reviews! I don’t think we’ve seen one bad review yet?

Paul:    A lot of radio stations around Europe and The States have played stuff off it… quite regularly actually and that’s great. It’s been received so well but we still know we can do better on the next one. We always want to get better. We learned the craft with this one, but now we want to go bigger and get better.

Luke:    We’ve been really lucky with distribution deals as well. We’ve got deals with The States, Brazil, Germany… a few in Europe actually. Japan! We’ve got Japan! We got an email one day from Japan saying they wanted X amount of our CDs sent over and that was just amazing.

Have you got a deadline for the new album to be finished?

Luke:   We have the first single done. Ready to go. We will be doing a PR campaign when we release the single and that will be before the album gets out. We are looking for… fingers crossed… because you know there is always set backs here and there… Fingers crossed, it will be Spring time for the second album. We have a big tour planned for next March so we are hoping to tie it in with that, with the UK section of that tour anyway. Hopefully not too many set backs…

Paul:     It will be fine! Positive thinking! Come on!

Apart from the debut album, what has been your ultimate highlight of playing together in Estrella?

Luke:    Probably the European tour.

Paul:     I’d say so. We got to experience so much stuff and all these different countries and we got to see how it all works over there. We got to experience seeing musicians like Robin Beck, people who have been in the business for so long and are so slick and I dunno, that kind of spurs you on to do better and be a better band. You know, these people tour the world! You have to think you want to be as good as them… or even better! You get to see different cultures as well. I know we have only done Europe so far and that’s been a big highlight, but if we get to go out to The States and everywhere else that would be so cool. Europe though, it’s been incredible.

What about when you get places on line-ups such as tonight, where there are bands who are maybe a lot heavier than you. Do you ever feel out of place?

Luke:    That’s a hard one because from touring all over the UK, we have found it hard to see another band who are similar to us. We are a rock band but we seem to be pigeon-holed as something else… which is great, because that makes us stand out even more! The tours that we have done, we haven’t seen many bands like us…

Paul:    Yeah, I think it’s always easier when it’s a band that’s similar because then all the fans from that band are in the same vein as Classic Rock, so you know you might be able to get some of them buying into some of your stuff. I don’t know, even if you’re playing with a really heavy metal band, they are still up for it and you can still have a good time. I don’t think it really matters because it’s still rock at the end of the day. If you’re good, they’ll like you. I’ve never seen a problem with it personally…

Luke:    You see it a lot more in Europe as well. You will have the more commercial rock bands playing alongside the really heavy ones. There’s just no problem. It’s cool.

With 2014 just around the corner, is there any big things happening in the next 12 months which you can tell us about?

Luke:    First off we have a tour in March in Europe with Robin Beck and House Of Lords… That’s pretty much been confirmed, the announcement will be coming out soon I’m sure…

Paul:     Laughing. I wasn’t actually sure… I didn’t know if I needed to stop you there or shout at you afterwards and remind you that you weren’t meant to say that! You should have briefed me beforehand!

Luke:   Sorry! That tour will take us to Norway, Denmark, Sweden. Then in Germany we are doing a tour aside from the Robin Beck tour and then we join back on for the UK leg of the tour. We are quite excited for that. That will take us to the end of March, start of April. Hopefully the album will be out by that time and then the big plan is to go over to The States at some point. It’s all about finding the right contacts and the right booking agents to get a decent sized tour. We shall see how we get on with that!

Paul:    Definitely next year we want to start trying to make a mark on The States. If we can get the right contacts and can get over… we’ll see… We can’t say too much right now, so we shall leave it at that just now, but there is stuff happening… There is definitely stuff in the pipeline!

How intriguing! Okay, final question before I get you into trouble for saying too much! Being from Scotland yourselves, is there anyone else on the Scottish scene just now that you think people should be checking out? 

Luke:   I’d say the guys from The Toi. We played a show in Glasgow at the start of this year and we had them as support. We’d heard of them before but from playing with them we saw what great guys there were. Great sound as well. Everyone loved them! Just by chance they are actually working in the same studio doing their album as where we are hoping to do our second album… So there’s a bit of a tie there between us. They’re a great band.

Paul:    Great guys. Great band. Just trying to think of any others? That’s the thing, there’s not  a lot of bands who are our style. We’ve only seen a few so I can’t really think of any one else to recommend! There probably is loads of great bands out there… What I’d say to them is get our there and do gigs and we will promote you! We will do tours with you! We can set up a big festival! That is my pitch for the night! I want to create a massive Classic Rock Festival full of Scottish Classic Rock bands! Make it happen!


You can keep up to date with what the Estrella boys are up to at http://estrellarocks.com/.

Also check out their recommendation of The Toi at https://www.facebook.com/TheToiOfficial.