NAME: Albert Estiamba, Jr.
BORN: February 3, 1961 in Honolulu, HI
ROLE: Drums/Percussion/Background Vocals
OTHER INSTRUMENTS: Piano, Guitar, Bass
FAVORITE SONG TO PLAY LIVE: 'For Dear Life'
PREVIOUS BANDS: 7th Sense, Vick N The Boys, Gypsy Beggars, Stonebridge, Chain Reaction, Buzzard Kills 7, AB3, Mother Jones
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: The Beatles, Frank Zappa, Jaco Pastorius, Allan Holdsworth, Vinnie Colaiuta, Return To Forever, Miles Davis, Rush, Genesis, The Police
SECRET PASTIME: Writing
Albert Estiamba, Jr. followed his heart into drumming as naturally as the human eye follows leading lines in a photograph. In this case, the image that captivated him was that of Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr - not only the energy and physicality he put into playing the instrument, but the way he looked while doing it.
“As a kid, watching Ringo [on television],” he recalls, “I was fascinated by... the aesthetic appeal of a human being sitting amongst a mass of circular forms interspersed with perpendicular lines - the usual shapes of drums, cymbals, and cymbal stands... Even though the rest of The Beatles were releasing as much emotion, my eyes were glued to the man behind the drums, and the drums themselves.”
At the time, he was still pounding away at pots and pans or tables and chairs. It wasn't until he was 9 years old that Estiamba graduated his practice to a full drum set. In that time, he has become his own man behind the drums - a kind of leading line for the band’s sound. Vital as a heartbeat and every bit as graceful working from backstage center, Estiamba guides his band mates through each performance with his ease of movement and artful rhythms.
Before his years of formal schooling received at Los Angeles Harbor College and Berklee College of Music in Boston, Estiamba sought growth and guidance from the intricacies of jazz fusion drumming greats. He began with artists recommended by his 7th grade teacher, including ‘Tom Cat’ by Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, ‘You’ve Got it Bad Girl’ by Quincy Jones and ‘Headhunters’ by Herbie Hancock.
Inspired by these drummers’ talents for what he calls a blend of “the power and volume of rock drumming with the grace and fluidity of jazz drumming,” Estiamba’s own style of drumming changed almost overnight.
“They used their drum sets more as living interactive instruments, rather than just time-keeping devices,” he says. The untrained ear might pick this up as “less of a rock drumming stiffness and more of a free-wheeling extemporaneous feel between the drums and every other instrument in the band.”
This is exactly the kind of relationship Estiamba says he feels fortunate enough to have found in the Brian Buckley Band, especially during the group’s live performances. That’s where, he says, audiences really get to experience raw, new interpretations of the music.
“[We] take the audience through differences in time-signature and through different ‘feels’ - rocking, mellowed-out, swampy, [and so on],” he says, “whereas the typical rock band will only stick to one kind of sound or ‘feel’."
And he lives for the energy those live shows generate - the euphoric exchange between the creative heat building on stage and the immediate reaction to it by a live audience.
“During a live performance I get into a 'zone' where time is obliterated and all I can feel is my heart, and the hearts of my musical cohorts, in complete lock-step with the universe.”
It’s the same feeling he gets while running, says Estiamba, an activity he’s embraced his whole life. After running his first Los Angeles marathon in 1995 at a distance of 26.2 miles “just to see what it was like”, he had so much fun that he decided to run three more. The sport continues to be one of his weekly diversions.
Estiamba also enjoys regularly immersing himself in a wholly different beat - that of beat writers, specifically Jack Kerouac, of whom Estiamba speaks highly.
“He was able to put down in words what jazz musicians were improvising on vinyl and in the nightclubs of the 1940s [and] early 50s,” he says. “Kerouac modeled much of his work off the bebop jazz era and viewed his typewriter as a musical instrument.”
For Estiamba, the beat writers embody, and sometimes blur, the lines between the autobiographical, stream-of-consciousness and confessional styles of writing. He calls their work “spiritual, transcendental, poetic, brutally honest and extremely hip”.
It’s the same quintessential expression Estiamba seeks himself, in every performance. But where others might fail or lose focus, his vision holds a more sustainable structure - in the sound, geometrical design of his drum set.
Even in his on-going growth as a musician, those circular forms and leading lines continue to guide him. When asked what instrument he'd like to learn next, his answer is: “Banjo... Not only is the sound a Banjo makes very percussive; it’s the only stringed instrument - as far as I know - that kind of looks like a drum too.”
Biography by: Angela Doss - http://www.thegirlsgoneraw.com/