Who are the members of Esteban?
Stephen Wright (vocals)
Liam Ryan (guitar)
Ricky Houghton (bass)
Samuel Cox (drums)
How & when did Esteban form?
Officially 2004 in Derby, though three of us started many moons ago in 1995 when we were school kids in Staffordshire. We met Stephen when Liam was studying Music Technology at Derby University, UK. We quickly got to work writing our first songs together and self-producing our debut album Still in Time and its follow-up Finding Will under the name Onion. Something was ignited back then, which ever since has driven us to continue creating new music.
Where was the first place Esteban performed?
After our name change in June 2007 the first gig, according to a rare poster I’ve just unearthed; was Sunday July 22nd Eve Festival and the Blue Dog in Derby. What followed was another 10 dates between the Midlands and London including a slot in Earls Court and the famous Dublin Castle, Camden.
What inspired each of you to start music?
There is probably one artist, whom for all of us, we saw as someone who stood head and shoulders above anyone else who had ever lived… Michael Jackson. It is easy on reflection to see who influenced Michael as a child too, Stevie Wonder, Little Richard, Smokey Robinson and so on but, for us, he held all the keys to these doors we now know and love to peer through.
What’s the story behind the new album?
Jackpot Motel is the rebirth of an unstoppable journey. Back in 2010, we were one of the busiest emerging bands in the country and in the midst of a monstrous nationwide tour. We could easily regard this period as the pinnacle of the Esteban odyssey; however, it was also what ultimately caused our demise. Long hours on the road, sleepless nights in vans and caravans and too many after parties to count inevitably took its toll on even the strongest of childhood bonds. The party stopped, and we called time-out.
Now we are a decade on, and whether you know Esteban’s story or not, anyone listening to the Jackpot Motel will be taken on the same voyage the four of us have been on during this decade hiatus. For anyone who missed the party back then, our Dirty Wrecked album is there as proof!
What inspired you to put together a new album & what it is all about?
An opportunity arose that none of us could have predicted. We met up in 2018 with our label The Animal Farm, England had just beaten Sweden in the World Cup and, on the banks of the River Thames, it was decided - Esteban’s reunion was confirmed.
What began as a jam, quickly formed the bedrock of a brand new and exciting second album! In spite of the years of separation, we were all amazed at how quickly muscle memory kicked in. The recording was agreed and over 8 winter days, a 16-track album was laid down with every ounce of determination that we all had clearly stored up for a long time.
Will you be touring to support the new album? If so, when?
Good question. When it is safe to do so.
What is your song writing process?
When Liam comes up with new music, he generally brings 3 or four parts to the table which flow and interconnect in a sonically nice way. The lyrical concepts are usually written up prior to matching with the music. It’s quite usual for us to bring a number of ideas to the table quite quickly and make a rough demo which we then communicate via WhatsApp.
What’s your first thoughts when you get up on stage?
Where was the first venue you played?
Long ago in 1995, we jammed in the garden whilst my brother had a party, we called it Samstock, that was perhaps the first Onion gig. After that, we were really lucky to have a theatre called The Red Rose in Rugeley, Staffordshire where we often packed it out with our school mates. On one occasion, whilst supporting Credit to The Nation in 1996 we were playing to 300 people, it was an amazing experience.
What is your most memorable moment from any live performances?
Between 2008 and 2010 we regularly played to a packed house at a very popular beachfront bar in Newquay called Belushi’s. It wasn’t uncommon if, mid-song, we ‘had’ to drink the shots being poured down our throats by the friendly staff. We even wrote about it in Dirty Wrecked, with the opening lines… ‘On the Atlantic Highway,, heading for sin city, ain’t no surprise we were busted on arrival; shots and bombs through the night, tequila at sunrise’.
Describe the atmosphere when you’re performing?
We love the live thing, it's our bread and butter and we lived for it back along. We start the party hard, we take it to them, and we end on a high making sure nobody leaves talking about anything else. It's a cliché to say that the best shows we ever played were sharing the stage with the likes of Dizzy Rascal, the Zutons and Gomez when actually some of the best shows were intimate, when you can literally feel the heat from the crowd, they're that close.
What band would you like to perform with the most?
The Funk Brothers. There is no question in my mind that these men defined what not only Detroit stood for, but represented the daily challenges and atrocities black Americans were subjected to during what could now be considered, a continuous opposition to the integration of black Americans.
Will you be touring in the United Kingdom any time soon?
If by soon you mean when it is safe then yes. Let’s hope everyone in the world acts responsibly in the short term.