By John Benson
Estocar drummer Sean Kearney really loves Salt-N-Pepa (more on that later), as well as playing in Youngstown and specifically at Cedars Lounge.
However, early on during a phone conversation to promote the Seattle trio’s return to Northeast Ohio, the percussionist keeps referring to Cedars Lounge as Trees Lounge, which is the title of an underrated 1996 indie film detailing the downward spiral of alcoholic Steve Buscemi.
“This will be our third time in Youngstown,” said Kearney, calling from a van somewhere in the Northwest. “‘Trees Lounge, we’ve always done our shows there. I mean Cedars Lounge. ‘Trees Lounge’ is the movie. We’re excited to go back to Trees Lounge …Cedars Lounge. We’ve always had an interesting time there. There have always been nice turnouts. And people are friendly.”
It’s pointed out “Trees Lounge” is a symbolic end-of-the-road location, a black hole where ambition is traded for apathy and addiction. So with that in mind, is Trees Lounge figuratively where Kearney views Estocar — a DIY band living from album to album and gig to gig — currently exists?
“Here’s how I look at our career,” Kearney said. “The band has been together for 10 years. And it’s not like anyone is clamoring to see Estocar, but we’ve always done the legwork to tour, promote and get our name out there. And it seems to work for us. We’ve always gone after it and made our own lot in life with this band.”
What’s next for Estocar is the group’s seventh CD, which is a follow up to 2012’s “Faux Fiction.” The project, tentatively titled “New Neutral,” will be out this fall. So far Kearney said the band has recorded and mixed the tunes, with the only thing remaining being album artwork.
Something different this time out for the group is its touring schedule. Normally the cycle includes the release of an album and a tour followed by downtime to write another project. This time, Estocar will be touring in the summer, followed by another run in the fall.
Fans attending the group’s Saturday show at Trees Lounge, er, Cedars Lounge, can expect to hear new songs such as the space rock “Indoor Plants” and the heavy rocker “Amescist Horizon.”
It turns out “New Neutral” finds Estocar spreading its creative wings.
“The last album, ‘Faux Fiction,’ we got a little bit more self-indulgent,” Kearney said. “We took a year and a half to record it with a lot of layers and textures and stacking of instruments against each other. This one, we just kind of said, ‘OK, this is the band at this point and we didn’t do a lot of adding of layers.
“I hate the word prog rock, but I might throw a little indie prog in there because it’s got a different counterpoint to our other albums, which I would classify as indie rock. We added salt and pepper to it. It’s more of a sparse album but sparseness in the sense of not a lot of multitracking. But it’s got a kick to it.”
Just to be clear, Estocar added salt and pepper not Salt-N-Pepa?
“No,” Kearney laughed, “we’re not talking about Salt-N-Pepa. We’re not shaking it real good. I have nothing against them, they’re three beautiful ladies.”