Paola Bread 'n Water: You've said about Silver Snakes that you “wanted to have a speaking voice in my older years.” How is your focus different in Silver Snakes than in other bands?
Alex Estrada: Haha! Well I actually said that in regards to my old band (Cathedrals) calling it quits. This band is much different than that one in the sense that I have a big hand in the creation of the music. My last band was moreso the brain child of my very talented friend Eddie (who currently plays in Polygraph). Silver Snakes is something that I am %100 involved with in every area. Also, Cathedrals was a heavy band that I was screaming/yelling in, thus the whole speaking voice comment.
PB'nW: Run With the Hunted provide guest vocals on 'Lungs and Lanterns'. How important is helping out other bands in the scene for a band like Silver Snakes?
AE: When we wrote that last part of 'Lungs and Lanterns' I knew that I wanted heavy vocals over it. Drew is a good friend of mine and we are all huge fans of the band so it only seemed natural to have him do it. I don't really feel like we are at an elevated position to really be able help any other bands right now but we love to work with our friends’ bands and do our best to include them in everything that we do.
PB’nW: You guys recorded the drums for this album at Lake Arrowhead Studio in the mountains. There are actually sound bits of the birds chirping on the album that you guys intentionally put in. Did nature inspire any other aspect of the album? There's a quote on your Twitter that says "That (guitar) part made me think of Veganism". Do you have any vegan themes in any of your songs?
AE: I wouldn't say that Nature inspired anything on the record aside from our performances in that studio. The surroundings were beautiful and it really helped us focus on the task at hand. The Twitter quote actually came from the album’s engineer Roger Camero. We made him go to vegan restaurants every day that we were in the studio and I think that all the tempeh took over his brain and helped spawn some really funny quotes about the record. We love Roger and I’m really happy that he loves eating at Native Foods as much as us. As far as vegan themes, we aren't a ‘vegan band’ so I wouldn't say that any songs are directly about it. On the other hand Veganism is very important to me and it definitely plays a huge role in how I see things and why am I the way I am. I would be lying if I said that certain lyrics weren't inspired by it.
PB'nW: Was recording with this band as a vocalist a new experience you were prepared for?
AE: Yes and no. I've been in studios my whole life but as far as singing, I've always had the luxury of recording myself alone. Having a room full of people critiquing everything that I sing was definitely a new experience.
PB'nW: Does 'singer' feel like more of a suiting title or comfortable now than when the band was formed?
AE: It's still something I'm getting used to but I definitely feel a lot more comfortable on stage now than I did when the band first started.
PB'nW: The songs on ‘Pictures Of A Floating World’ are about 10 different situations. Are the songs ‘ACT I : SEVILLA THE SOOTHSAYER’ and ‘ACT II : AN EVOLUTION IN MOVEMENT’ related to each other? If so, how? What was the story/stories behind those songs?
AE: ‘ACT I’ is the most personal song on the record and it's my favourite. The song is a conversation with myself. All my past disappointments, excuses, selfish acts etc. are embodied in this version of myself along with some other awful traits and habits that I see in other people. The song is a timeline. Asking myself for advice, becoming frustrated with who I was and eventually "killing" off that character in the end. ‘ACT II’ is pretty simple in the sense that it's a ‘We've had enough’ sort of anthem. It's the end of the record and in contrast to the first song (‘New Light’) which is about that moment when you realize that you need to make some changes, ‘ACT II’ is the final straw. No more excuses, we need to take action.
PB'nW: In the song 'I Am The Flood' you sing ‘Yeah, I’d take all of my own advice. You see we’re all destined to make excuses’. What's the best advice you've ever received?
AE: It's not really advice but the lessons that I learned through the independent music scene, Punk, DIY etc. are all things that I try to implement in my day to day life. Seeing other people that are ‘out of step’ with their surroundings has always been inspiring to me. That is worth so much more to me than any pep talk I could have gotten from anyone.
PB'nW: Why did your band axe the 11th song on 'Pictures of a Floating World'?
AE: It simply didn't fit in. It was one of the oldest songs that I had and we recorded it just because we had the time. We knew a few days into the process that it probably wasn't going to make the cut.
PB'nW: You are very enthusiastic about touring more this year. Do you have an ideal bill that you would like to get together and see happen?
AE: I would personally love to tour with friends. I would be stoked to do a run of shows with Touche Amore and Sainthood Reps. Hopefully we can do some stuff together at some point! As far as a ‘dream tour’ goes; At the Drive In, Mewithoutyou, Lack and Us and I would lose my mind every night.
PB'nW: What's your favourite show that you've played thus far?
AE: Our record release show was a lot of fun. We played our album start to finish and it was also the last day of our tour. It was a very memorable experience for all of us. Coming home to so many familiar faces and lots of new ones that were all singing along. I'll never forget it.
PB'nW: You are of seven generation of mariachi players on your father’s side. Do you think that people with a family history of musicians have an advantage that people that discovered music on their own do not, and in vice versa?
AE: I definitely believe that music can be in your blood but I have plenty of talented friends with no musical background in their family. I think every situation is unique. I'm lucky to come from such a musical family but I don't think it's for everyone. We're supposed to rebel against our parents not jump into the same field, ya know? Haha.
PB'nW: The Earth Capital is the name of your recording studio. Can you tell us about it?
AE: I opened my studio in 2005 and it's been my main job since. I've done tons of records for a lot of cool bands and try to stay as busy as possible whether it be doing inexpensive demos for local bands or doing full lengths for bigger labels.
PB'nW: A common theme throughout the lyrics for 'Pictures of a Floating World' is to think for yourself. You've mentioned that people tend to not question routine. What do you think was the biggest push for you to rethink non-human animals, and their 'place'? What was the conclusion you reached from where you started?
AE: I went vegetarian on 10/7/03 after seeing slaughterhouse footage for the first time. It complete turned my world upside down. I felt selfish and disgusted with myself. From that day on I started seeing everything in a different light. I went vegan on 4/1/08 and it's taught me so much more about equality on so many levels.
PB'nW: You follow a macrobiotic diet? Did you think about eating balanced before your switch to a vegan diet? Did being veg encourage you to eat healthfully?
AE: As a vegetarian I was living off of French fries and bean/cheese burritos. I didn't care about health at all. It was strictly for the animals. The switch to veganism is what opened me up to the benefits of a healthy diet. I do my best to stick to the whole macro thing. I love the challenge of it more than anything. I go raw vegan every few months as well.
PB'nW: In the song ‘Dear Midnight’ you sing ‘Disconnect, and take for granted - Good evening eyes - Go steady in no obvious direction - Lo and behold, now that you know - It’s lost all the appeal’. Do you remember any specific fact about meat that made it lose its appeal for you?
AE: The line after that is ‘the involuntary action becomes the main attraction’. You were spot on with connecting that lyric to this question! Yes, the moment that I saw the footage in Meet Your Meat. It took all of my ignorance and put it right in front of my eyes. It was all I could think about for days.
PB'nW: You’re Hispanic (as I am also). I hear a lot of other Hispanics speak of vegetarianism like it's a crime against our culture. Did your family give you a hard time when you decided to go veg?
AE: Not at all! I'm really lucky to have such an awesome mom. She was supportive of my decision and actually cut most of her meat and dairy consumption after seeing an Oprah special on Veganism a few months ago, haha. My dad’s side of the family probably thinks I'm weird at family reunions because I don't get anywhere near the food that they bring but they never give me a hard time. To say that it's a crime against our culture is just one of those cute little defensive tactics that people use when they fear that their own ways are being threatened. They eat vegetable based dishes in every country. Factory farming and the ‘western diet’ is so strange to me.
PB'nW: Why do you think the majority of people think that veganism is impossibly hard?
AE: There are always a few things that they could never imagine living without. Sometimes they fear what other people would think or they have misconceptions about it. Just to clear things up: 1) Being vegan is not expensive, 2) We get enough protein, 3) Soy milk wont turn you into a woman, 4) Fake cheese exists and it's awesome, 5) Dark leafy veggies have more calcium than milk and you can still eat Oreos if you want (Ed – UK Oreos aren’t vegan, only the US Oreos!).
PB'nW: What veg*n artists do you admire or appreciate?
AE: I was inspired to go vegan because of a band I worked with called Restrained. I'm also a huge fan of Fiona Apple and Run With The Hunted.
PB'nW: What's next for Silver Snakes?
AE: We are currently writing for a comp and some other releases. We are doing a handful of shows in December with Run With the Hunted. We are also in the early stages of planning a tour for March/April of next year.
PB'nW: If everyone in the entire world had to listen to you for 1 minute, what would you say?
AE: Consider what you live for. And check out the Beagle Freedom Project. http://www.beaglefreedomproject.org
Visit www.yearofthesnakes.com for more info.