Estradasphere is an avant-garde, experimental music group from Santa Cruz, California, formed the late 1990s. The band, which in its last incarnation was based in Seattle, consisted of six multi-instrumentalists from a variety of musical backgrounds trained in disciplines ranging from classical music and jazz to heavy metal
Estradasphere was founded in Santa Cruz, California, in 1998. Guitarist Jason Schimmel and bassist Tim Smolens met in 7th grade at Miraleste High School. In 1997, their band Don Salsa recorded its first album, “Koolaid Moustache In Jonestown.” In 1998, Jason and Tim moved to Santa Cruz, CA. Jason attended UC Santa Cruz, along with Timb Harris, John Whooley, and Dave Murray. At that time, John, Tim, Jason, Dave, and Jason Conception played downtown in the streets of Santa Cruz. Jason Conception left the band to pursue Netwerk:Electric, his other project. In December 1998, Timb Harris joined the band. The band continued to play the streets and at local coffee shops.
On January 7, 2000, Estradasphere held its first concert at Kuumbwa Jazz Center. This was a pivotal show for the band, and they began to play clubs exclusively. Later that year, they released their first album “It’s Understood” on Trey Spruance’s label, Mimicry Records. They went on their first North American tour, opening for Secret Chiefs 3.
In 2001, Estradasphere released their first EP, The Silent Elk Of Yesterday, which included a few new studio tracks, and some live performances. They also went on their second North American tour with the band Tub Ring.
The band released their second full length album, “Buck Fever” in Spring of 2002. Later that year, drummer Dave Murray decided to quit the band.
In 2003, they released their third full length album “Quadropus.” Because they did not have a full time drummer, several guest drummers appeared on this album, including Dave Murray. In Spring of 2004, they released a DVD of life footage called “Passion for Life.” It contained a full length DVD as well as a CD that included some live tracks and other material.
In early 2004, John Whooley left Estradasphere. Kevin Kmetz and Adam Stacey joined the band to replace him. They played their first show together as a new band with guest drummer Theo Mordey at 2004’s SXSW Festival. After a few months of recruitment for a new drummer, Lee Smith moved from Atlanta to join Estradasphere as their permanent drummer.
Estradasphere were influenced by many different artists from many different subgenres, such as jazz, funk, techno, classical music, pop, heavy metal, New Age, Latin, Balkan, Greek and gypsy. They were influenced by artists such as The Beach Boys and Secret Chiefs 3, and have been compared to Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa and John Zorn. Similarly to Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3, the band mixes several genres in its songs. The band was a self-proclaimed inventor of bizarre genres such as “Bulgarian Surf”, “Romanian Gypsy-Metal”, and “Spaghetti Eastern” and sounded like “Psychedelic-Sci-fi”, “Gypsy-Metal-Jazz” and “Epic-Cinema-Thon”, according to its MySpace.
In 1997, members of the group released an avant-garde metal album called Koolaid Moustache in Jonestown under the name Don Salsa.
Estradasphere logo art (in white): Son of Witz