- Ah, right before we released our first record under the new band Augustines, we had to change the name to "We are Augustines" for legal reasons. - A lot of trouble. - Someone came by and smacked our hand. - Stepped on toes. - We change it to We Are because it was the least amount of modification we could come up with. We went out for that whole album under that name. When we're in studio working on the new album, we were fortunate enough to be able to go back to our original name. It does feel good, I mean, that's our initial intention, the name meant something that was meaningful to us, it wasn't just some random name that we picked up off on the street. - I got to a place where I was so saturated, I think, with the road. You're so stimulated, over stimulated. Standing in lines at airports, being in different countries, festivals, strange foods, strange air-conditioning, anything you can imagine strange, I got shocked, I got knocked out in Paris. Ah, I went up to a microphone that had avery high voltage and someone had switched something in the wrong way, it knocked me unconscious. So, when I got back to New York City, I was thinking you know, I need to go somewhere to write, like, somewhere that's meaningful to me and I started thinking about it. When I was a little boy, in elementary school we had a music room and I remember playing piano in there and different instruments and singing, mostly choir. And I got in contact with them and I asked them if they would mind if I came and wrote at the school? And they gave me the keys to my music room. I was like this tall. That was the first place I started playing music. So, they let me actually have the keys and I could go and come and go as I wanted to. So, I went and did that and I think the band, we worked tirelessly, I think we took a day off in 5 weeks of writing and that not even with recording. - It was funny when we got into the studio to record the new record, that really, I felt like we really became a proper unit at that point. I mean, we've been bonding for the last 2 years on the road and then we've gone through a lot together up to that point but really just going in the studio and working together and creating this piece of work really really did it for us. So, I think we really got close after that and - Rob's drumming in on the record and that was that was fantastic because he was such a such solid guy to come and support, what was at the time, Americanized project that we've been working on for a couple of years and he came in and supported it live all year and just, shooting for the chance to put his own voice into this and so, I think we really took steps forward, I mean very large steps forward. - Anytime you change a member and someone else comes in and it's gonna be different anyway, regardless. So, I've tried to put my spin on it, style perhaps, I don't know. We had a lot of fun writing this record We approached it a little differently. We did some pre-writing beforehand, we've kinda locked ourselves away and so, when we did turn up to the studio, we did have a good amount of songs to record and they got whittled down and We're actually very proud of it. We're looking forward to its release. - We knew that when we made the follow up record, we knew that no matter what we did people would not feel it to be as emotional. So, our decision was after spending two and a half years on the road touring, playing all around the world in many, many different countries, experiencing the songs that came from a bedroom and then sharing them with an audience. We realize that energy that we got from the audience was what we needed to harness. - Ok. So, personally for me, going out and for us all, we would go out on stage. And you see people, you know, really singing back, jumping, dancing and all the rest of it. For that, as a musician. That's part of what you've searched for your whole life. To get that kind of interaction with the audience, with people that really dig and really feel what you're doing. And it got to the point where that was becoming more common, more common as we went and the feelings that we were getting was getting stronger and stronger. There was one particular point I was doing a song in the other day and that was the first time in my life that I actually started tearing up on stage. I was in Reading, England. It was very special, I don't know many people that can say that have done that. You know, just by the reaction from the crowd and just what you'll get, getting the feeling of getting back and we were totally blown away by that. We wanted to figure out how we could use that inspiration for the new record. We wanna know how we could get that feeling and put that on the record. How we can use that power and put it into the new record and if anything, I would say that the, from, you know, it's no secret that, the first record had some very deep subject matter. We would say that this new record is, if anything, a celebration. - To me. Yeah, maybe Rise was like an affirmation that you can, you can make it, like it can happen for you and then perhaps this is a celebration of that. Yeah. - Sure, there are some topics in there but really it's a positive outlook on life and we try to be very positive about things and we're actually really three nice jovial, fun dudes you know, and when we had those people singing back like that you know, we wanted to put that on the record. So, as people listen to it and see how far we have come forward. We've really went for it on this record, we've put everything into it. I think, some of the best songs Bill has ever written is on that record. I think, some of the best things we've ever done musically personally the way we've played. It's the best that we've done. I'm very proud of it, very proud of them I think we hope that people get that from the record because we certainly feel that we did a good piece of work. - So rather than taking a break like many bands do. We went directly into the studio to start writing and recording and the time that we did have off. We would travel a lot, Bill, in particular traveled a tremendous amount to get fodder for his lyrics and what not. - I've been, actually sort of at odds with New York City's rental market. I feel like if you're gone all year or for 2 years or more, why would you wanna pay rent? Right. So, I did this experiment where I decided, I wasn't going to pay rent, I was just gonna live out of my suit case but with the same money that I spent on rent. I would apply it to travelling and it took me from Africa to Asia. I completed this 6000-mile motorcycle trip from Mexico to Alaska and back. And we just completed the last of our mainland states together. - All 50 states. - Yeah. - Well, except for Hawaii that's the last. We did Puerto Rico We go all over the place. I strongly suggest anyone who lives in New York City is feeling suffocated and angry about escalating rent or life, that one should actually try this. It's a pretty interesting experiment, it's still interesting. "Nothing to Lose But Your Head"] - We played "Nothing to Lose But Your Head" it was one of the first songs that we demoed out and ironically it was the last song that we finished on actual recording. - I wrote that song in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is a really cheap flight. It's the cheapest hot place you can go on the winter in New York. And I stayed on this flop-house joint. I was really struggling with it all week week and I was kinda getting, I started like itching, I'm like "Oh man, this is really bad. " And I guess these insects can go underneath or through screens. So, they were just feasting on me all week and got kind of at my wits end about everything. So, you've got nothing to lose but your head I guess. - We've been playing music for a really, really long time and for 90% of that time we were like everyone whose trying to do something with their lives, like whether its opening a business like a shop or whatever. You know, you're constantly dealing with struggle and your motivation in life is to push towards breaking through. We were very, very fortunate because it happened for us. on the last record and we were able to tour all over the world, see fan bases that we never could had thought were possible. We were faced with this very unique situation, it's like, when your identity, when the part of your identity is struggle and trying to trying to attain something. What do you do when you get it? And it's really, it's difficult. It's because, I think that's potentially why a lot of band's second record suck. It's because they what to do. When your so goal driven for so long and also in that goal is replaced. You have to replace it with new goals quickly or you just floating in space and to me that song is very much about that, you know. When you have nothing to lose but your head, what are you gonna do? - We don't have, we don't have, we're cleared on that. - Our name is Augustines, we are the purveyors of the finest rock and roll music. You are watching Baeble, Baeble, Baeble, Baeble, Baeble, Baeble. - This is getting bad. - This is getting downhill.
With its open-armed energy and elegiac grace, "AUGUSTINES" marks a colossal leap forward for Votiv/Oxcart recording group Augustines no mean feat considering the extraordinary power of their breakthrough 2011 debut, "RISE YE SUNKEN SHIPS." Songs like "Now You Are Free" and the plaintive "Walkabout" are both immediate and engaging, joining joyously unrestrained arrangements with singer/guitarist Billy McCarthy's signature affective lyricism. "AUGUSTINES" marks a milestone on Augustines' amazing journey, the work of a gifted band ascending to new heights while simultaneously grappling with their place in the universe.
"You have to do some soul-searching when given the opportunity to manifest your dream," McCarthy says. "You're free to walk the walk you always said you could walk."
"If you struggle for a period of time to get something, there's obviously a feeling of pride that comes when you achieve it," says co-founder/bassist Eric Sanderson. "It's very freeing, but like with any kind of freedom, it comes with a sense of wonder and confusion."
Augustines was born upon the ashes of the Brooklyn indie rock band, Pela. That combo called an end to its collective trip in 2009, but founders McCarthy and Sanderson reunited to record a series of deeply personal songs chronicling despair, depression, and the untimely death of a close family member. They dubbed their intimate new endeavor, "Augustines," which trademark issues required be appended to "We Are Augustines."
"The name 'Augustines' resonates for us in many regards," Sanderson says. "The minute we gave the project a name is really when it birthed itself. To have that name taken away from us, or even modified in a minor way, was always difficult. Now we've come full circle."
"RISE YE SUNKEN SHIPS" recorded and mixed by Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Super Furry Animals) instantly set Augustines among modern music's most compelling new bands. Songs like "Juarez" and "Book of James" touched a collective nerve, their dark subject matter refracted and then elevated by Augustines' affirmative approach. Hailed by iTunes as 2011's "Best Alternative Album," "RISE YE SUNKEN SHIPS" was a critical and popular sensation, earning abundant praise and a fervent fan following. McCarthy and Sanderson enlisted the talents of British-born, conservatory-trained drummer Rob Allen and with that, Augustines became a fully-fledged band. The trio traveled the planet, performing innumerable headline shows, support sets, and show-stealing festival dates.
"We went touring together for two and a half years," Allen says, " Over two hundred shows...You can imagine the kind of bond you get from going on the road like that. You become a family."
By the end, Augustines felt akin to Archibald MacNeal Willard's "The Spirit of '76," bloodied but unbowed as they marched home from their long campaign. They paused to heal their dents and dings, with McCarthy embarking on an extended expedition that saw him visit such far-flung locales as Kenya, Turkey, Mexico, and Alaska. He eventually drifted back to the Applegate, California elementary school where he first learned an instrument. There he worked, observed by students and faculty as he put fingers on strings and pen to paper.
"I wanted to go back to the most stripped down form," he says, "to when and where music first touched me. It was very soothing, having been at this for 12 years, to limp back to this small town grade school."
Meanwhile, Sanderson and Allen worked on demos of their own, each still abuzz with ideas and experiences garnered on the infinite tour. In late November 2012, Augustines reconvened for a month of woodshedding at Temperamental Recordings, a converted 19th century country church in Geneseo, New York.
"It was like a music factory," Allen says. "You could just feel the creativity oozing. We'd been playing basically the same set for two years so it was just like an overflow of ideas, like lava from a volcano."
Fully armed, Augustines next headed to Bridgeport, Connecticut to record with co-producer Peter Katis at his residential Tarquin Studios. Katis (The National, Frightened Rabbit, Interpol, and most importantly to Augustines Jnsi) proved the ideal collaborator, helping focus the band's driven pace and ample vision.
"We needed to work with somebody that was mature and confident," Sanderson says. "Peter is very regimented and organized. He's level-headed and that helped us to be level-headed as well."
From the start, the sessions evinced a decidedly more optimistic point of view that the one which fired their heartrending debut, with songs like "Nothing To Lose But Your Head" and the buoyant "Kid, You're On Your Own" lit by positive vibrations and striking confidence.
"This was us moving on together," Allen says. "It was wonderful to come through the other end and record a new record. It was a huge accomplishment and looks towards a brighter future for us all."
"The depth and the place the first record came from is not something that is repeatable," says Sanderson. "It's not something one would want to repeat. We did everything we could as artists, as men to learn from that experience, to become better people and move on."
Where their first record was created in relative isolation, "AUGUSTINES" was made "with the awareness that we weren't going to be alone anymore," says McCarthy. "This is us handing it over to those people that sang our songs back to us all over the world.
"The first record was obviously very personal," he says. "It was really for us in many ways. There was almost an exchange we turned from the interior and started considering some of the breathtaking moments that happened to us on the road, in different countries."
Indeed, tracks like the thundering "Cruel City" and the album-closing "Hold Onto Anything" demonstrate a distinctly outward shift in sonic scope, interpolating the holistic experience of West African music into Augustines' sweeping, multi-faceted sound.
"It's not musicians up on a pedestal," Sanderson who studied music in Ghana says. "The audience is singing, the audience is dancing, they're all making music together.." That's what we've been trying to do our whole lives as musicians, but only recently have we been able to embrace that."
"It's all about being inclusive," McCarthy says. "Interaction is the lifeblood of what we think music is."
Now based in Seattle, Augustines are eager to bring their brilliant new album to a worldwide audience keen for their return. If "RISE YE SUNKEN SHIPS" provided much needed catharsis, "AUGUSTINES" now takes this very special band to an altogether new plane, transcendent and triumphant.