Random acts

Of note

A-Tone Recording artists Jr. James & The Late Guitar have a new, full-length release in the works. The album, currently titled Soundproof Room, is due in June. For more information, visit www.atonemusic.com.

Former UNCA Battle of the Bands winners The Think Canoe have recently finished recording their debut EP, Urban Gas. No release date for the effort has been announced. For more information on the group, visit their Web site at www.webpages.charter.net/thethinkcanoe.

Taking advantage of the group’s current hiatus, MiniVoid drummer Brandon Lowrey has joined forces with former Hypertension vocalist Tommy Kelly and guitarist Evan Bloom (currently of Redshift) to form Follow. No word yet on the group’s debut, but interested heavy-music fans can check out the group’s Web site at www.follow11.tripod.com.

Front-row reviews

Who: The Magills

Where: Jack of the Wood

When: Sunday, March 17

“You are witnessing the seamy underbelly of folk music called the sound check,” quipped veteran Celtic guitarist Jim Magill as his family set up on the tiny Jack of the Wood stage. As one might expect on Saint Patrick’s Day, the pub was packed wall-to-wall with green-attired patrons, each nursing his or her own glass of a dark barley brew.

In fact, this crowd was so festive they even cheered the sound check.

After settling in with a few reels and jigs, the trio played some traditional ballads, including “Marrying a Soldier.” One thing that renders The Magills’ interpretations so enjoyable is that the group doesn’t need to stoop to kitschy contrivances to make the songs work — no fake Irish accents or leprechaun costumes diminished the heart of their sound. It was simply well-played traditional Celtic music that didn’t need a semi-Gaelic gimmick to seem “Irish enough.”

Local vocals

Asheville-based heavy-metal band Estedy has recently found itself in an unusual position. Now that their longtime rivals MiniVoid are out of action (the band’s singer left in December), Estedy has become the area’s most popular heavy-metal act. They’re also one of Asheville’s most bad-mouthed bands, often drawing criticism for their similarity to other acts of the same genre. Love ’em or hate ’em, as long as Estedy draws the crowds, they’ll be a prominent feature of the local-music scene. The group (Danny Rich [vocals], Brien Worsham [bass], Derek Anderson [guitar], Daren Searcy [guitar], Stephen Armstrong [drums], and Brad McMinn [samples]) talked with Random Acts before their recent show at the Asheville Music Zone. For more information, visit www.estedy.com.

Mountain Xpress: When and why did Estedy form?

Stephen Armstrong: Me and Daren started playing in, was it ’96? Started messing around in ’96 [or] ’97. [We] just wanted to play music. So, we formed a band with one bassist. We played a couple shows, [but] it didn’t work out too well. We got Derek, [and he] made it a little better, some guitar action. Then, we got this guy right here [Danny Rich]. It, like, summed it all up for us.

Danny Rich: They started out as a instrumental group. I had known these guys for a while. I’d listen to them play instrumental, and I really liked it a lot. I finally got to sit down at Stephen’s house one day, and listen to him play drums, and it blew me away. It totally changed my life. It was just like, yeah, this is the right thing to do.

MX: What was it about his music that made you feel that way?

DR: He’s just the most talented drummer I’ve ever heard in my life. [There is] something about his style that is more original than any other drummer I’ve heard. It blew me away. It was like, dude, this is something I have to be involved with.

MX: Has adding Brad McMinn’s samples changed the music greatly?

Derek Anderson: It’s added another layer, for sure. There’s definitely more there now.

Brien Worsham: It’s got another layer of atmosphere now, for sure.

MX: Why did you settle on the name Estedy?

Daren Searcy: Oh man! I gotta go with the Bobby Preston story. Our friend Bobby, one day … we were going with the initials of Stephen, Todd [Estedy’s former bassist], and Daren. They were going with the initials STD, but it sounded like “Sexually Transmitted Disease,” so it freaked everybody out. So, we were like, that’s not gonna work. Then, one day before we were gonna play, we were just joking around, and our friend Bobby was like “We’re gonna go see Estedy play tonight,” and he kind of blended the S the T and the D together, and it sounded like one word. And, for some reason, we just wrote it out as a word, and it’s just always stuck with us. It’s been a name we could stand behind.

MX: So it …

DS: So, it has no meanings of, like sexually transmitted diseases. It has nothing to do with ecstasy or anything like that either. It’s just a word that we came up with.

MX: How do you describe your music?

BW: It’s melodic metal-core. More hitting on the melodic side lately. A lot of the stuff we’ve been writing has more catchy parts and all that good stuff. A friendlier side, you know, but it still has the heaviness.

MX: Do you feel like you are turning into more of a pop-oriented band?

ALL: No.

BW: No, not at all. [Laughs]

DR: I think the intensity of the music has stepped up quite a bit, because the emotions are starting to come to the forefront. We’re starting to step into our own, as far as what we sound like. It sounds different than any other band right now. For the first time in, like, five years of being together with these guys, right now it’s starting to sound real original, and real good. We’re starting to get really tight.

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