The rebellious spirit, unyielding work ethic, and all-around good time is alive and well for the Orange County, CA-based punk-inspired rock outfit. Hitting the ground running with their new singer and guitarist Adrian Estrella, their EP III out now!
I jumped at the chance to interview Adrian, being a huge fan. It was a very personal chat as well as an interview, so I cut out a bit, but here are the interesting parts for Zebrahead fans and potential future fans!
I honestly thought that that text from Matty was the end of Zebrahead Thank you so much for being keen to keep ZH alive!
Thanks, it is a cool opportunity for me.
I am in the Zebrahead Facebook group. I must say when you joined ZH the effort you made to connect with the fans was much appreciated. How did it make you feel when you were accepted so readily by the fans?
It was awesome! And I’ve always been like in all the bands that’ve I’ve I know, like up changed my, so if I, in just the smallest, you know, way of just, you know, following back or replying yes. To anything, I think that’s like very important it’s and it’s been just really cool, you know, cause it’s like in a, in a weird way too, it’s also kinda like me doing research about what the fans really wanna hear and what they expect and what they, they don’t expect. It’s really cool to get that point of view, which is, which is awesome. So, yeah.
The lead up to the announcement that was teased, the image of your skinny legs caused much speculation. I saw names thrown around including yours, like how did people know?
Have no idea! (Laughing) like so many of my friends, like they thought it was me when we did that first announcement. So many people were like, dude, that’s Adrian. And then they’d probably be like, yo man, is that you? I’m like, dude, between Assuming We Survive and Mest,there is no time. Like there’s no way I could, it’s not me, man. A lot, people guessed it. A lot of my friends guessed it, because of my shoes. So, I ride a motorcycle and the kind motorcycle that I have, it has like an open clutch to open parts that rotate to double tie my shoelaces. So, they don’t get caught into it. So, I I’m pretty much the only person I know that ties their shoes like that, in bands at least. So, I think a lot of people knew it was me from that. Hilarious.
Having a tee made of your legs was pretty funny. I missed out on getting one. Shame as I have nearly all the tees. (both laughed)
Where there any thoughts from your other fans, as you say, you know, Assuming We Survive and, and Mest, were there any negative things like, oh no way, are you gonna take on too much? And, or was it all just positive?
There there’s a few people that were asking they’re like, AWS, is done. And I told them, no, you know, my, my priorities may have shifted in a sense, but was a very easy to work with because that is my band. So, I can work around my schedule and, and Hmm. But no, everybody, like, I would say almost seeing one of my friends were so excited. They were like, holy crap, what a cool opportunity. And a lot of my peers are bigger bands, they were so excited for me. They like, dude it a better workaholic. And that was the thing too. Like I don’t think there was any negativity where people were like, you’re on too much. Cause I pretty much a workaholic when it the busier I can be the better I, as far as like up here. Yeah. You know, so it’s great. Yeah. And my like our fans, my friends think it is amazing.
So new EP, is there a particular song that stands out for you?
It’s, I mean, it’s so hard. Cause all the songs are really personal. I mean at the time, you know, Ali’s grandma wasn’t doing too well. I had lost like over 20 of my closest friends through, motorcycle accidents, accidental overdoses, suicides. It was a really rough year. I’d lost 20 people. Ali’s grandma was just about to pass at that time. Ben and, and Dan were all dealing with, you know, the uncertainty and Ali included and myself and the uncertainty of like what’s to come, you know, when are we going to be able to, to perform live again? You know? So, there was so much put into that song because of what we were going through. And that was really the first song that we wrote together.
And then Long Way Down was just one of those songs where it kinda came naturally and talk about, relationships and, and what choices do you make? You know, do you do the right choices? Do you, deal with your pain with substances and, and I just want to put this out there. I’ve never done drugs. like actual drugs. I’ve never done it. I’ve smoked weed and that’s whatever, but, it’s not my thing, but I always know it is not only my perspective of what I do, what we the band was going through, but what I see around me, what my friends are going through, I write a lot about that. The band at that time, prior to me joining it’s like, man, are we out of time?
You know? And where is our mental health right now. Cause you know, this is so depressing. You can’t do what we love. There’s a band, you know, you want to move forward. For me it was like, you know, am I gonna be able to play a show again? You know, Zebrahead, you know, in a big way saved me. And, I’m glad that I got to save Zebrahead in that sense too. Homesick for Hope. It’s just one of those songs for me. It’s like, you know, it’s one of those, you wonder if, if you’ve done enough, good to get to, you know, if good things outweigh the bad or if the bad things are just too bad to outweigh the good and it’s those thoughts, it’s like, did I Iive my life, you know, the way I wanted to know and was I good enough in this life for. Love that one it is just badass!
How was the band feeling about the release? The stats etc?
Everyone’s so excited because you know, you never know changing, not only once, but twice, the singer, it’s a big deal, it’s the voice of band. I think every, like we were all kinda like, oh, I hope I, you know, I hope that this goes over well. And we hope everybody likes it, but you know, the amount of love that this EP has gotten and the streams that it’s gotten is kind of overwhelming and a beautiful, positive way. That’s great. And Ben, like every time I see band, we get together twice a week to write music and I ask how’s it doing? And Ben says it is killing right now. So, it it’s, it’s getting up there! We’re so excited about that. Yeah. That’s awesome. Really good. Which is awesome.
How about your peers?
You know, a lot of my peers that in big bands wrote me as soon as we dropped the EP and they listen to it, they’re like, wow, dude, like, yeah, this is rad.
How do you handle any negativity?
Actually, I haven’t seen a lot of negativities to be honest, you know, one or two comments here and there. Even when I see those negative comments, I always respond to those negative comments and in, in a positive way, know what I mean? Yeah. You know, everyone’s entitled to an opinion, who am I to say? You have to like this, like, no, that’s not how the world works, but I also let him know. I was like, you know, thank you so much for your opinion.
And hopefully, you know, you’re still a fan of the band and you come see us live, you know, and that a lot of times that really changes. They give the songs a second chance. The perfect example is there was this video on YouTube of this guy doing a reaction video to ‘A Long Way Down’. And he just, he just hated on the whole, he hated on the music video, hated on the whole and saw, wrote him on, on YouTube. And I was like, Hey man, I’m so sorry. You don’t like the song, but hopefully there’s, you know, some songs on the EP that you’ll like, and he was like, is this real? I was like, yeah, this is me. Message me on my Instagram to prove it. We had a chat and he said I’m just not feeling it and then it grew on me and then I’m like, this is the best record they have.
Good. I try and do that. But gosh, sometimes it’s hard. I saw people posting in the Facebook group about their number one Spotify song and mine was Lay Me to Rest, which was not surprising because when it came out, I was totally obsessed.
And I remember the first time I was listening to it was laying on my bed and I was really quiet just listening. And my husband opened up the door and he goes, you’re not screaming. You’re not saying it’s fantastic. It’s fantastic. I said, I can’t, it’s just so good. Few tears…. <Laugh> .That was a huge relief for me. Yeah, I guess I was apprehensive, excited. So, but now I’m pretty sure Long Way Down is my favorite now, but Anthem is my all time favorite.
Yeah, that’s my girlfriends too!
Cool, I’m really looking forward to having hearing you seeing that live. I don’t when that’s going to be in Australia. I mean, I know we shut our borders just so quickly and it’s very frustrating.
There are videos at Slam dunk of it. I haven’t done the other ones yet, but you know, I’m a Zebrahead fan, so getting to sing, you know, Anthem and, and, and all the songs that I love as a fan, is pretty rad!I know the boys were super excited to come back to Australia. I’ve never been and Japan, are like my two places I haven’t been that I really wanted to go. And plus Callum (friends with the band) he promised me some great white shark diving, so yep. That’s a massive bucket list for me.
Can we look forward to more music videos for the remaining two songs on the EP?
We’re not sure yet. Right now we are focused more on this next EP. So, it’s like if we can write 30 songs that we all love, then we’ll have plenty of more music for the future. And, and so I think right now that’s the focus, you know, we did release three music videos. The EP is out. I know a lot of people are asking for music videos for those songs for the last two songs, which, I mean, I know we’re totally down, but yeah there’s so much more to focus on, on writing this next or making sure that the EP is like perfect. Cause we definitely wanna release it sooner rather than later, you know, although this one just came out. So at least in the next couple of months, we can release the next or at least start releasing signals off the next music videos.
Sounds awesome! I can understand that you are looking forward now.
I read that Loud wire did a Veterans Day: 13 musicians who’ve served in the U.S. military, which included Elvis, Jimi Hendrix and you!
It was, it’s pretty crazy. I remember when I think it came out in that article, yeah, every year it is posted and it always blows my mind to be on such an iconic list of, you know, musicians that have served in the military. And there are so many more veterans that, you know, that are in bands that have that should be recognized. So, you know, to be part of that list is pretty cool and yeah.. Pretty awesome.
Did you always want to make music your career?
Like ever since I can remember as a kid. Yeah. I remember one of my first memories. I feel like I could see my crib growing up in Maryland and my dad had an acoustic guitar in the corner, and I could see the bars of my crib. That’s my first memory. I don’t even know when that was, maybe three but however old that was, since then that’s all I all I’ve ever wanted to do – music. Flying airplanes and helicopters and music has always been like, like my biggest passions. But yeah, I wanted to do this my whole life and, and you know, I grew up playing in marching band to the choir. Ever since I remembered I’ve always done music, so it’s pretty small venues only, but I, and I like is now, you know, I look back on all those memories and I’m like, wow. You know, I’m so fortunate. I’m so thankful. Like it’s a party. It’s pretty cool. It’s a really cool feeling. Yeah. You now with Zebrahead, you know, I get to do even more, like playing Australia, and playing Japan and playing Moscow, you know?
Well, yeah. Zebrahead certainly tour a lot!
In Germany next year we play a festival and I will get to see my mom for the first time and almost 15 months, so it’s gonna be pretty cool. Yeah. So, I get to see her, so that’d be great.
Oh, I couldn’t imagine that. I see my son all the time.
Well, we talk all the time. Actually, I just sent her a video this morning of me being just ridiculous <laugh> as I am. I don’t know if you follow me on Instagram, but I get pretty crazy. Yeah. I sent her a video this morning. So, I’m looking forward to seeing her.
So do you think, the pandemic has helped you get more of your emotions out, and write really good songs. I mean, we talked about losing all those friends. I mean that, I’m still shocked about that. But the pandemic as a whole, like, you know, we had that one year where it was just so bad, 2020 and it was gonna get better. And then we went into the cause I’m in Melbourne, we went into the biggest lockdown, the longest lockdown in the world. It just, felt like it never ended. And so yeah, what I’m trying to ask is, do you think the pandemic changed some of your writing or the, the kind of music that you were creating?
It did it did. I, I first started writing in, within the pandemic. I think it was just, everything was really dark. Like all my writing went from, you know, cause with Assuming You Survive, I write, you know, happy songs and pop punk songs and party songs and stuff like that. And, and, you know, with Mest, same thing, you know, we write pop punk and yes, there are some darker songs with Mest as well, but yeah, I feel like I was in just such in a dark place that everything I wrote was pretty depressing in a sense. And it wasn’t until Zebrahead where I got to, you know, I had this just like a breath of fresh air in a sense, and I could turn the dark songs into hopeful songs. So, like the EPS are pretty dark, but if you really listen to the lyrics, it’s, it’s about hope. You know what I mean? It’s, it’s about overcoming the, the darkness and finding the light in the sense of that kinda thing. But yeah, definitely at the beginning of the pandemic going through the pandemic and then so not being able to go out to this that my writing definitely changed. I was like, like I would look back on the songs like, man, I should be in a metal band. Cause this is pretty heavy. Yeah. Assuming We Survive kinda changed because of the pandemic, the record that we’re is a lot different than anything we’ve before.
Yeah. I think generally yeah, that is the thing. And I know now I’m interviewing a lot of bands because they’ve written Christmas songs all about hope and, and then there’s the other one of not being able to spend Christmas with your family. I’ve never interviewed so many bands about Christmas songs. I think the pandemic has actually changed my interview process entirely because I’m always asking questions about the pandemic.
So any other news that you wanted to share?
Well again, you know, we’re still writing, we get together twice a week and we’ve written so much, but we’re perfectionists. You know, the cool thing about the whole writing process too, is like, Ali and I send lyrics back and forth at like four in the morning. Which is so cool to have somebody else to write vocals with, you know, and, and we, we, we mesh so well vocally, we write together so well and we’re always on the same page about things, which is really cool, but you know, all the guys, the, a way we’ve been writing together, it’s not what any one person like it’s literally to the last recorded note, a group effort. And you know, it’s been such a cool process. And again, I just wanna thank the guys, the band, and I wanna thank all the fans, you know, everybody that’s checking out your interviews and you as well.
Been really cool and, you know, I’m so grateful to be a part of this awesome family and you know, we’re looking forward to release more music. I think we should be going back in probably January to record some more songs. Yeah. And with that some music videos and obviously year, you know, fingers cross getting back to, to, yes. We have two shows with MX PX out here, which should be really, really fun. Yeah. It’ll be the first two shows here in the states was one of them be a hometown show. So that’s gonna be pretty cool for like all my friends.
Mike was one of the first bands that I interviewed about 10 years ago. He came out for a festival here. And yeah, I remember I was so nervous meeting him because his music meant so much to me and yeah I was trying to get that across and I fan girl too much. Now I just talk normally to people.
Yeah. That is something we have in common, he interviewed us too in Bremer Washington for his POD cast. but yeah, I remember being so nervous the first time I met him.
You know, being a massive MXP fan too, you know? So it’s like, yeah, that’s, that’s cool too. You know, as I’ve gotten in my career music, I get idols. It’s kinda crazy. I get to play with two miles. You know, I grew up playing Goldfinger, MXPX and me religiously as a 16 year old, 15 year old kid. And you know, now I live with Tony, from Mest and yeah. You know, part of his family. And so you know, those and then Mike as well, has become such a great friends of mine and, you know, it’s crazy. Like my life is absolutely crazy right now when I think about those kinda situations and I get into, you know, getting to towards your peers and band up loving, you know, Antiflag and NFX. And this is a cool, pretty cool life. I just hope that we can get back to, to how it used to be in full time touring again.
I look forward to when you come down here to Australia.
Yes, we can chat over Vodka drinks.
That sounds great! Thanks for your time.