Q&A: Former SouthFM Frontman Paco Estrada

Paco Estrada chatting it up with DC-9. (Angela Berg)
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Immortalized in Dallas rock history by its charming single “Dear Claudia,” its torrid and ultimately disappointing affair with MCA Records and its massive amounts of devout fans, SouthFM scorched the scene with lightening velocity. And, then, vanished into the sad, crowded graveyard of great bands that were and then weren’t. Paco Estrada, SouthFM’s soulful former frontman, is determined to move forward and let his former rock band rest in peace.

More than a year after the final disintegration of SouthFM, Estrada has revitalized his heart and momentum by teaming up with esteemed Dallas producer David Castell (Blue October, Deep Blue Something, Edie Brickell) to lay down four new tracks. The bare-boned songs cultivate Estrada’s tenderness, yet, somehow, maintain that underbellied tattetered-and-torn affliction that allowed Estrada to connect with so many listeners in the first place. The four-song demo will serve as pitch to get him back into brutal music industry game.

Despite all of the transition and uncertainty, there is a focus that dominates Paco Estrada’s being when he speaks. His language sort of nimbly moves around with patience, gratitude and joy. His energy is oddly and salaciously delightful, and he has transformed that chi into a new musical direction.

We caught up with Paco to get the digs on his February 8 show at Curtain Club and to verify that he is not a musical apparition, but an actual man working toward his dream.

Explain how your experience in SouthFM has affected the music that you are writing and performing today.

SouthFM taught me that I have the power to change the world. And, yes, it may come on a one by one basis, but the response of fans to SouthFM's music was always overwhelming -- constant e-mails of how songs saved lives, brought people together, and healed broken hearts. Humbled by my experience to be a part of something so great, I continue to practice the same traditions. Writing from my heart with honesty and integrity, singing from my soul and always allowing the universe to take over in the now moment of performing songs or writing them.

Still today, the one thing that keeps me writing, performing and setting goals to move forward on is the feedback of e-mails and texts and faces in the live setting of people being transformed, people healing, people loving and forgiving. If I wasn't reminded by fans and friends the impact my songs can have on people I’d have given up when SouthFM died.

Are you working on any projects other than your solo performances?

I gots to play to pay the bills, you know. But since SouthFM’s last show -- October 28, 2006 -- my goal was to get into the studio with David Castell. Well, the cat is pretty busy so I waited until fall of 2007 to get his attention. In his spare time between other projects, he and I have tackled four songs, two of which are complete and can be heard on MySpace, the other two will be finished soon. The direction is something we are calling "alternative R&B." We will be shopping the four songs to get the rest of the album paid for and done and find me a new home (label) and new management. ... I am always doing the occasional co-writing with other Dallas artists, and every now and then I get asked to front a heavy rock project.

Right on. Your voice has been in integral element of the Dallas music scene for quite some time. Are you still inspired by this city and its music? Do you ever think about getting the hell out of Dodge?

I will always stand by Dallas as my home. I will always be loyal to Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge in Deep Ellum because they were the parents that raised me in this musical environment. I believe people with money -- which equals power -- which equals influence and pull -- have stopped at nothing to destroy the integrity of what Deep Ellum once was in order to turn it into what it will become in the next four or five years. I've walked the streets of Austin ... the music all sounds the same to me. Just another town, just another scene.

Besides this is life, in order to appreciate the sunshine we gotta feel the rain. You can't just run when things get tough. I'd play in packed basements in the Grove if I had to -- to get the music heard. From the Magic Time Machine in Addison to Breadwinners, the Quarter and Primo’s in Uptown, from the Cock and Bull in Lakewood, to bottomless mimosas at Vickery Parkand from Firewater to Gezellig this town is beautiful.

What local bands are you listening to? (Or, better yet, what local bands should we be listening to?)

Auto Escape has been on hiatus for a while now, a bit over a year, but are still writing music. I can only hope they start playing again soon. The Feds are a great act to watch. (Frontman) Matt Slider has always influenced me to bring my A game on stage. Looking forward to what Eric Shutt will do with his song writing after Doosu and Mermaid Purse. Huge Fair to Midland fan -- SouthFM grew up playing shows with those kids. A huge Kirk Baxley fan. I really dig Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, the Dead Twins. The Paper Chase, James Hall/Pleasure Club, Rhythm, Spoonfed Tribe and… Moving Atlas blew me away last weekend.

What can we expect from this weekend's show at the Curtain Club?

My acoustic guitar and myself, accompanied by a violinist and a percussionist who plays what is called a Cajon. An experience of love and healing and great music. -- Krissi Reeves

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