Two summers ago I was online and was messaged by a guy named John who asked if I was going to Cornerstone Music Festival in a few weeks. After establishing that we both were going and that we would be at a lot of the same shows, he asked me if I had heard of a band called Ester Drang. I hadn't, so he told me about them and added that his brother played bass and sang for them. Because of that conversation, I made sure to be front and center for their show in the New Band Showcase and I wasn't disappointed. I caught them again at Cornerstone '00 and was able to kick back in a muddy folding chair with my eyes closed, just enjoying the music around me. This is an interview I did with them via email. Make sure to check them out this Cornerstone '01 at the (I believe) Cornerstone Magazine Stage.
Clara: Basic questions that always get asked: Who makes up Ester Drang and what do they contribute
to the band? Where are you from?
Kyle: David Motter: keyboards, minidisc, samples, backing vocals and anything else we find out he's
good at. David does not control, but interprets the design outcome. James Mcalister: rhodes, bells,
keyboards, and occasional percussion. James is very much the one who sees to it that the musical
outcome is exceptional, he is also the business manager as far as setting up shows, etc. Sterling
Williams: Sterling loves to play the drums. Sterling many times will finish what someone is having trouble
finishing or at least make suggestions. He also keeps the rest of us light (we tend to be quite serious).
Bryce Chambers: guitars, vocals, and occasional rhodes. Musical genius of the band. Most songs are
ideas or songs that Bryce recorded on his four track. Kyle Winner: bass machine and backing vocals.
Merchandise champ and treasurer. Oversees money handling and merchandise handling.
Clara: How long have you been a band and how did it all start?
James: Kyle, Bryce, and James began playing together sometime around 1995. Sterling joined the band
later, and then David joined about two years ago. No earthly reason is apparent as to why we started this
band and why it has lasted. Divine appointment, without a doubt...
Clara: Can you describe your sound to people who haven't heard of you?
Sterling: As simple as possible with few words...our sound is each of our influences...based off of a
proposed idea. An idea is given (usually by Bryce) and we each touch on it, giving us our sound...wide and
Clara: You do a great job of it too. So if someone wanted to hear you, how can they go about
buying merch from you?
David: You can send orders to us at 6710 E. 32nd Place, Tulsa, OK 74145. Soon you will be able to do
credit card purchases on our website through http://www.burnttoastvinyl.com.
Clara: Okay, I have your first cd, "That is When He Turns Us Golden", and I love it. Very soothing
and beautiful. What was (and is) the response to this cd? What was the motivation behind the
music on it?
James: Thank you. We sold a few of them. Some people liked it, some felt it necessary to critique the
sonic fidelity...overall it served its purpose. We didn't really have much of a defined focus then. I think we
just wanted to make a debut compact disc that had a good sense of composition to it, you know. As far as
lyrical motivation, Bryce doesn't really tell us too much about what he writes...but everything I can
understand points to Jesus...
Clara: You just recorded (or are finishing recording) your second CD for Burnt Toast Vinyl. What
did you do with this one to make it stand apart from "That is When He Turns Us Golden"?
Different approach or sound? Similar aspects, maybe?
James: "Goldenwest" is actually our first record with BTV. One thing we did differently is write better
songs. We've really developed a focus since we last recorded. We developed a sonically dense live sound
and we wanted that to translate onto tape. Another big difference was being able to work with Chris
Colbert at the Green Room. He really knows his stuff. Frank Lenz also contributed a great deal to the
songs he worked on. All in all, we just want to make timeless records. "Goldenwest" is a strong step in that
direction for us.
Clara: I can't wait to buy a copy of it... Who do you think has influenced you the most,
musically? As a band and individually.
Sterling: Each of us have many different likings which do not always constitute influence. I can think of a
few that might come across in sound. Phillip Glass, My Bloody Valentine, and Spiritualized. That is my
opinion in belief that others would answer differently. It can also be more a style of a particular individual,
not always of the group they are with.
Clara: Do you have a mission statement? What do you want to accomplish with your band
and/or music as a whole?
Kyle: I think our mission has kind of changed as we matured as a band and individuals. We probably
started out how most bands do and just wanted to make music that we enjoyed. That kind of turned into a
challenge to seek out music that creatively and spiritually meant something.
Clara: You're playing Cornerstone Music Festival for the third time, is that correct? What are your
expectations and plans for your concert this year? What bands are you excited about seeing at
Kyle: Yup, we're all very excited about this year in particular. This will be our first time playing (a.) at night, and (b.) on a stage other than the New Band Stage. Playing with Unwed Sailor and Blenderhead is an
indescribable privilege. They were already two of the bands I was most excited about seeing besides
Pedro the Lion, 238, Zao, and Focused (don't know if they are playing for sure). I'm also looking forward to
seeing something new, something different and meeting new people.
Clara: Same here. I think that's the best thing about Cornerstone...just experiencing the new music and finding more bands to enjoy. Now, the last two Cornerstones I've seen you at, you have gathered some impressive crowd sizes. What kind of responses do you get from folks at your concerts?
Kyle: Pretty positive for the most part. We've been fortunate that the local press has been kind to us. This
kind of music still has a lot of exploring to be done, so naturally there are some people who aren't really into what we're doing. We're looking forward to getting out of town more and letting new people experience it.
Clara: What do you want those audiences to remember/think about after attending one of your concerts?
Bryce: If they like the music, I just hope they get the point of it and I hope that it relates to their lives in some helpful way. In other words, I would just like them to remember what we're getting at when we're up there playing.
Clara: I'm going to stray from the topic of you guys for a second and ask you about Christian music. Some say it's a valid scene and others see it as a cheap imitation. Do any of you have particular feelings on this? What do you think of the dividing line between "Christian" and "secular" music?
Bryce: I like to think that most of today's modern music or contemporary music was a result of what was going on in the early churches. Most people would say that jazz was derived out of the early church and the way that black spirituals were sung and rock and roll was the result of jazz and so on and so on. So if "Christian" bands are copying the "secular" they're just copying something that was derived from the church in the first place.
But on the other hand I believe that God created music so Christians should have the upper hand on creating new things in the world of music. I've always thought that style isn't really the point of it all but that you have to stay innovative. I remember a friend of mine saying that as long as you sing and play music with your heart behind it there's always someone that will love it and relate to it. As far as the fine line between "secular" and "non-secular" I believe that is up to the hearts of musicians and not styles or anything else. In other words, which side of the line are their hearts on and that, I believe, is the only fine line between the two.
Clara: How do you reflect your own individual beliefs/morals in your music?
Bryce: I don't really know how to answer this so I will just give you an example. There was a time in my life where I was getting kind of eat'n alive by all the terrible things that happen . Like when you turn on the news and hear that someone has been murdered, or you go to work and the majority of people just treat you like trash, or you overhear conversations that make you wonder where all the good people in this world went to, or you do something wrong yourself.
There was this girl that was date raped and she was a friend of ours. This really got to me and it was kind of the icing on the cake. Anyway all this sparked a song, the song is about God being the only way to being fulfilled and about his overwhelming purity or goodness which greatly outweighs all the terrible things that happen or you hear about in this life. It was kind of a reminder to myself that I shouldn't let all these terrible things get me down because there is something so great and powerful on the other side of it all that makes all these terrible events seem to dwindle or fade away in the big picture.
Clara: Are you able to tour much? Any upcoming concerts you want to advertise?
James: We'll be doing a short tour to promote the release of "Goldenwest". Lewis (an amazing quartet from Dallas) will be touring with us and we'll have a few run-ins with Scientific and Unwed Sailor, both from Chicago. Here's the schedule:
Friday, Feb. 23rd: OKC, OK Music Dimensions
Saturday, Feb. 24th: Fayetteville, AK. Clunk Music Hall
Monday, Feb 26th: Kansas City. El Torreon Ballroom
Tuesday, Feb. 27th: Peoria, IL. Vineyard Cafe w/Scientific
Thursday, March 1st: Chicago, IL. JPUSA w/Unwed Sailor
Saturday, March 3rd: Tulsa, OK. Living Arts Space w/Unwed Sailor, The Darlings Sunday, March 4th:
Dallas, TX. Gypsy Tea Room w/CIAO!
Clara: Thank you guys for answering my questions. Good luck on your tour.