‘Turmeric. Slippery elm. Nail varnish to coat my fingertips!’ Estrons’ Taliesyn Källström is reeling off her tour essentials ahead of a string of dates across the UK and Europe this autumn.
After three years together – and scores of live shows under their belts – the Welsh punk-rock quartet have certainly racked up their fair share of road miles. Along the way, Tali has refined her approach. ‘Don’t bother bringing any pyjamas – it’s just extra baggage’, but always make sure you’ve got some loose change in your pocket for a service station coffee.
Formed over a love for all things fast, loud and crunchy, Estrons draw on a deep well of classic cuts from seventies’ punk to nineties’ grunge for their adrenalin-fuelled sound. It’s all-or-nothing onstage, with tastemakers and gig-goers alike falling over themselves to pour praise on the band’s visceral live antics.
Their anticipated debut album You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough lands on 5 October, drawing on years of hard touring and sonic experimentation for its inspiration. Ahead of its release, we check in with Tali to find out what’s in store…
You’ve been making music as Estrons for a few years now – how has your sound evolved in that time?
We’ve always been a melodically hook-based band, but we found as things got tougher in our lives the sound got more heated. You could say the earlier Estrons tracks were a lot softer, but our experience drove us to write more songs that play with the adrenaline – whilst still maintaining the emotion on many of the songs.
How do you keep things fresh?
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if my life stopped being so quick-paced and dramatic – would the world’s creator axe my character? The truth is that the greatest music needs inspiration from life. Sometimes that comes from an experience you’ve personally had, sometimes it comes just from overhearing a conversation. The way we write songs isn’t tactful, it’s definitely intuitive, and if we aren’t switched on to our surroundings then things very quickly become stale, which reflects in what we write.
What has been your biggest musical highlight so far?
It’s always those gigs on your way up the ladder that you expect no one to be at and then there queues out the door. Or those moments someone cries at you that your music changed their lives. A few months ago, a transgender female wrote to us that listening to us was the only thing that had stopped her from committing suicide and that what we did mattered. I cried when I read that email, and it is definitely moments like that which make it such a rewarding art form. It’s so immersive and people have the ability to react to it while you watch.
What have you learned along the way?
Being in a band and creating music is extremely rewarding in its moments, but those moments are sometimes few and far between when you consider the days of travelling and waiting around and working to the bone to get things done. The trick is to enjoy the ups and the downs. Everyone who is pursuing their passions can become disillusioned by the bigger steps they take as things progress, but actually the funniest times you have are on the journey there. Like that gin and tonic in the airport to your holiday destination that you pay a lot for but have the most stress and excitement with.
What’s the thinking behind your latest track Lilac?
The entire song including lyrics was written in about half an hour, so you could say it wasn’t the most premeditated track we’ve ever written but there was something about the sinister atmos guitars that Rhodri introduced as an idea in a cottage at a writing getaway that just reminded me of really dark nights out I’d witnessed out in Wales.
I remembered this girl I’d met and helped get home in the early hours in Swansea who was crying because her dad had cancer. I thought she was upset over something superficial, which clearly wasn’t true, and so I reflected on the assumptions I’d placed on her and on most people based on prejudices. I got angry at myself in some funny kind of way – the song wrote itself from the feeling.
How and when did it come together?
We actually wrote it over a year ago and have been playing it in the set for a while, so it was good to finally put it out as the first single from our debut record. The live aspect you feel in the recorded track is certainly a reflection from the energy we’d been manifesting into it on stage for that year and when we finally heard it recorded we knew it was the one.
What about your debut album – what’s in store?
The album is a journey and we certainly are not releasing a 10-track hard-hitting album. It’s cohesive because of our emotions and styles rather than the fact we follow a particular pattern, so I think people will be surprised by what comes next.
You’ve got a couple of UK and European tours in the diary for later this year – how do you prepare for life on the road?
Turmeric. Slippery elm. Nail varnish (not to coat fingernails but fingertips). Create a music playlist for the road and bring a minimum of £3.50 for a simple hot drink at a service station. Don’t bother bringing any pyjamas – it’s just extra baggage.
Do you have any tips for bands just starting out?
Don’t worry too much about the finer details, just make sure you are writing incredible songs that are true to yourself. Write good songs and the rest will come to you. Change lives, not haircuts.
What’s the Cardiff music scene like at the moment?
It’s bittersweet, venues are closing down everywhere. But the Cardiff music scene rallied together in 2017 to save our beloved Womanby St from developers and noise complaints regulations to ensure its survival. It was a fantastic grassroots moment and its still going and will be there whenever there’s danger again.
Which new bands should we be listening to?
Estrons’ debut album You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough lands on 5 October. Pre-order it here.
Upcoming tour dates
09 Sep: Manchester, UK – Academy*
11 Sep: Nottingham, UK – Rock City*
12 Sep: Newcastle, UK – Northumbria SU Institute*
19 Sep: Paris, FR – L’Olympic Café
20 Sep: Rotterdam, NL – V11
21 Sep: Tilburg, NL – Cul De Sac, Psycho in Mind
22 Sep: Hamburg, DE – Reeperbahn
23 Sep: Berlin, DE – Maze
01 Nov: Leeds, UK – Belgrave Music Hall
02 Nov: Glasgow, UK – King Tut’s
03 Nov: Newcastle, UK – Think Tank
07 Nov: Manchester, UK – Soup Kitchen
08 Nov: Bristol, UK – Louisiana
09 Nov: Nottingham, UK – Bodega
14 Nov: Exeter, UK – Cavern
15 Nov: Birmingham, UK – Castle & Falcon
16 Nov: Brighton, UK – Green Door Store
17 Nov: Caernarfon, UK – Galeri
23 Nov: Carmarthen, UK – The Parrot
1 Dec: Aberystwyth – Arts Centre
06 Dec: Cardiff, UK – Globe
* supporting Garbage