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ESTUARY: Emancipated!

They already released two albums and a mini album, their latest output is called “ The Craft of Contradiction”. In their home country this US band is considered as an rising thrashing death metal band with a female fronter. The latter, named Zdenka Prado, tells STALKER details about her musical past, and band colleague Ash Thomas (Lead guitar & backing vox) reveals the band´s plans for the future.

Here quite a lot of ear pairs are turned in your direction, what do you think of the European/German interest in your band?
Ash Thomas: This is killer to hear. Of course, it´s great to gain the interest of a country like Germany that has such a strong Metal history & identity. It´s our wish for people worldwide to absorb our material & hopefully appreciate what we´re doing musically. Thanks to all who have checked out Estuary.

Let`s get back to your roots. The distance between Cincinnati, Ohio, your hometown, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where your label Ibex Moon is located, is about the same as driving through the whole of Germany, how come you signed with this label?
AT: The distance is really irrelevant. The Underground is about making contacts far & wide, & I have personally been in contact with John McEntee (Incantation/Ibex Moon Records) for years. What sparked his interest in us was one of our live performances. Estuary had opened for Incantation in early 2003…about the same time John was starting up Ibex Moon Records. He called me a couple of weeks later about signing with his label & we accepted.

2006 you were on tour for the first time in Europe, in April 2007 your latest album “The Craft of Contradiction” had its US- release, now in October 2008 it hit the German market. Does it feel a little strange to again talk about “The Craft of Contradiction” again?
AT: Not completely. It would be strange if we had a brand new record out & we were still talking about “Craft…”. But since it´s still our most recent/current record I totally understand, and being that “Craft of Contradiction” is still reaching new ears, it makes complete sense. Better late than never, we are thrilled the album made it into the German market & I´m glad to be able to talk about it now.

Why has the album been released with such a great delay in Europe, what do you think are the benefits and handicaps of this?
AT: This is a simple distribution dilemma. When “Craft of Contradiction” was released, Ibex Moon had only North American distribution, & in Europe it was only available as an import. Just at the end of last year, proper European distribution came about. This is great because it is much easier now for Metal fans to find & hear ESTUARY & other Ibex Moon artists. The only real handicap for us is that it unfortunately happened after we toured over there…but I´m not complaining. At least we have the distribution now.

Throughout the last years you did various gigs in Europe, what experience did you gain? Maybe a little anecdote to tell?
Zdenka Prado: It was an awesome experience over all. We had a great time when we toured with our label mates BLOODY SIGN in 2006 through France, Portugal & Spain. Some memorable gigs were in Colmar-FR, Steel Warriors Rebellion (SWR) a killer festival in Barroselas, Portugal, & a festival in Mollins de Rei, Spain. All were great people who organized these events & the support was totally killer. On our last European trek through the Balkans it was killer to visit so many different countries at one time…11 in all. We also met some people we had been in contact with prior to the tour & that´s always great. Macedonia was by far the best gig for us. The metalheads knew our material & were chanting our name & going crazy throughout our set, definitely an unforgettable experience. Budapest was pretty cool as well. Greece was cool because we had time to visit the Acropolis & take in such an ancient city on a rainy day. Overall it was a completely positive experience.

Are there differences between the German/European and the US fans, what did you notice positively or negatively?
AT: We´ve never played Germany, so we don´t exactly know how the German fans are. Of course we´ve heard & seen footage of the chaos but we haven´t experienced it personally. As for the European countries we have played, the fans are great. They seem very hungry for real Metal. In the states the fans are great too but some of them shift their tastes very quickly. I´ll never understand this but it happens.

Your US audience is described as very mixed in the sense of age and taste on your website. Does this statement match with your European audience as well?
AT: Yes, I guess it is similar. There are the older fans that like our old school edge but at the same time there are younger kids who also appreciate what we are doing. It´s the same everywhere in that regard & this is a real positive thing.

After guitarist Brad Howard and bassist Steve Eberl left the band in 2005 you had to go on as a threesome with Drummer Jesse Wilson. Now the new bassist Charlie Williams joined the band, are you still searching for a new second guitar to rebuild the original line-up or is the band complete now?
AT: It has proven to be too difficult & unstable in our area to find a dedicated 5th member. Charlie is actually a guitar player first but we asked him to move to bass because that is essentially what we needed. We´ve been playing this way for a couple of years now & have adapted well to it. It hasn´t compromised our writing at all because if a second guitar part is needed for a riff we will do it for the song. Then we work it out between the bass & single guitar for the live performance. It´s worked quite well this way thus far.

How did you manage to play your material live with three people before?
AT: We only had to do this twice & it was an accident. There was a personal situation that came up at the last minute with Charlie that caused this to happen right before we were heading to the shows. It really sucked for us, but luckily the audience still seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps even more because we didn´t cancel the gigs & we still gave it our all under the circumstances. Normally we always have at least 4 people playing. Before Charlie joined, we had session help. Now we have a solid line-up.

For your tour last autumn you borrowed Deicide lead-guitarist and ex- Cannibal Corpse man Jack Owen. How was working with him and will he be on stage with you again?
ZP: It was killer working with Jack. He & I have been long-time friends. At the time he had some time off with Deicide & his other project Adrift, and we needed a bass to fill in. I asked him if he would be interested in joining us to some of the countries he had not visited yet. The tour schedule was appealing to him...so it worked out great. It was definitely awesome to have him around for the Balkans Assassination Tour. After the Balkans tour, he did a short Eastern Canadian tour with us as well. He helped us immensely on bass and he did an awesome job. We were honored to have him on stage with Estuary of course & totally appreciate the help. As far as him being on stage with us in the future, it just depends on the timing of things/events. It´s definitely not out of question. Right now we are working with our bassist & things are going good. Jack is very busy with his projects as well ...so we will see.

As you recorded “The Craft of Contradiction” you have officially still been a threesome. How did you solve this problem?
AT: Recording as a 3-piece is never a problem. I just have to overdub the other guitars & bass. No big deal. Live this doesn´t work, so our big problem has always been finding permanent members. We´ve tried out various people but Charlie is the only one who worked out & could handle it. This is how it we will continue.

You can`t find a bio of your singer Zdenka Prado on your website, although it should interest every music journalist how a woman gets to sing in a metal band. As an emancipated female fronter you probably can´t hear these gender-fixated questions anymore, but maybe Zdenka still wants to say some words about it. You are invited to complain about it as well!
ZP: Yeah, sorry for not having more info about myself on our web but for me personally it feels too unnatural to write about myself. I don´t really know what to say about me other than I love extreme music, I am a fan of extreme Death Metal & I feel very fortunate to be a guttural death metal vocalist. I know I need to get a bio typed for people to read & speculate, haha! But, I just don´t think the bio is necessary on individual levels at this point in time. I like to be part of a BAND bio as a whole because we are a solid unit together. I am a private person & I do prefer to meet people face to face & correspond on this level where there are no spaces, punctuations, or assumptions. I´m not very good with interviews. They take me forever to respond & finish because I don´t like leaving any details out. But for you Katrin, and some readers who will see this I´ll make it short & brutal…hope to thrash & meet you all one day in Germany!

I´ve always been drawn to extreme music, thanks to my parents. Death Metal was & still is an extremely awesome form of experience for me. I need it on a daily basis…although it is more difficult to find good/original bands today, there are still a few surprises from time to time. I do, however, wish there was better shit out there to enjoy nowadays, but until better stuff comes out, I listen to the classics and thankfully there are many. I´ve been a Death Metal vocalist since the early mid 90´s & have been in a couple of bands prior to Estuary which were FORTY DAYS LONGING & GARDEN OF SHADOWS. Both bands are no longer active. As far as singing, I just started trying to do the vocals on my own by singing along to old albums & thankfully I have been able to develop them over the years into what I do now. It was actually by accident I joined my first band. Thanks to my friends in GOS who referred me to Forty Days Longing who at the time needed a vocalist. I am extremely grateful to be a founding member of ESTUARY, I enjoy our music very much & have a killer time exhausting myself when we play live. For me personally, this kind of feeling & energy I get from our friends & supporters is found nowhere else but in the pits of our death metal.

There is another metal band with a female fronter signed to your label Ibex Moon called Dreaming Dead from Los Angeles. Do you have contact because of your similar fate?
ZP: Yes, I briefly met Liz from Dreaming Dead a few years ago when she was playing just guitar in a band called Winterthrall. I wish her & DD all the best. Also, don´t forget Jill McEntee from Funerus who are also our label mates. She now handles the vocal duties along with the bass & is sounding more brutal than ever.

Closing with the last question about a tour or festivals in Europe. Where can we find you through the new year and what are your plans for the festival summer?
AT: First and foremost, we want to get the new album recorded. After that it is fair game. As for Europe, we´ve had no offers for 2009 yet. We´ll see what happens. Unfortunately nowadays a label has to spend obscene amounts of money to get their bands in people´s faces and our label is still trying to establish itself. We definitely want to go back & visit some of the countries we haven´t experienced yet & re-visit those we played before.

Thank you for the interview and greetings,
AT: Thank you from myself & the rest of Estuary for the interview. Metal Hails & all the best in DEATH!

Author: Katrin Dietl, photos: Estuary
Date: 2009-03-12

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