Lee Casey interviews Estel.
Estel first emerged in 1998. Since then, they have released a cassette, a seven-inch and an album, all on their own Little Plastic Tapes label. In the course of the past year, having undergone a number of line-up changes, they have toured both Britain and Ireland, appeared on two independent compilation albums and recorded the songs that will make up their next slew of releases. This month sees the issue of a new single on their label, ‘True Stories’/’My Raymond is Contagious’. In addition, plans are underway for a split release with Australian band 99; they are due an appearance on the next Road Relish 7”, and they have organised a couple of Irish gigs with American electroclash duo Winterbrief.
All in all, a veritable cornucopia of activity, it would seem. But Estel is currently fighting an image problem. “People tend to think that we’re gone,” says drummer Andrew Bushe. “I think that we’ve been doing as much or more than a lot of bands, it’s just that we haven’t been playing big venues. I’m happiest now with what we’re doing.”
Grounded in this city’s longstanding hardcore scene, the same creative environment that has given birth to contemporaries such as The Redneck Manifesto and Joan of Arse, Bushe is concerned about the ongoing health of the underground. “In the past couple of years, there are more people coming to gigs than ever but it has really just become entertainment. When bands like ourselves, or Joan of Arse, or The Redneck Manifesto play in a bigger venue there are so many people there, but when you play in The Temple the next week, none of those people are going to come and see you. They only want to go to big venues.”
He sounds a warning note to his peers in the invisible community of bands. “We’ve become a little mainstream, almost, with its own stars and whatever else. I think it’s dangerous to sacrifice what the underground is worth and all the work that has gone in to building it just to pull bigger audiences.”
Bushe also poses some questions to people who go to gigs by local bands. “People have got to ask themselves why all these bands put their records out on independent labels? Why won’t they play with bigger venues? Why won’t they play gigs with bigger promoters? I think that you’ve almost got to ask yourself why are you there. I would hate to think that people were there just to have a chat and nod their heads along. You like to think that people are there for a bigger reason.”
But if these words seem negative or alarmist, Bushe’s motivation is sincere. A passionate advocate of the integrity of ‘the scene’, he is concerned that its message of interdependence and common cause will be diluted as it moves towards greater media and audience acceptance.
“I’d just like people to know there is a bigger picture than what they see and to remember that there is more than just a couple of bands here. Let’s keep it moving forward. There is a whole other scene out there. It’s going to change unless your heart is in it, so let’s try and do something useful with it. One day it’s going to be gone.”
Copyright Lee Casey. All rights reserved.