Like an unexpected storm in the night, New York-based band Augustines made immense waves with its 2011 debut album, Rise Ye Sunken Ships. Comprised of Billy McCarthy, Rob Allen and Eric Sanderson, the Brooklyn-based band formed in the wake of a multitude of personal struggles and familial tragedies. From the crafting of their first album to riding the waves of its chart-topping success, these three have become the definition of finding both solace and strength in creating art.
Thanks to the release of their sophomore album, Augustines, set for Tuesday, February 4th, the world will soon get to experience more of their dignified, glory-filled, sock-you-in-the-feels rock. From the sounds of its first two singles -- the African-inspired sunburst of "Cruel City", and the ultra-gratifying "Nothing To Lose But Your Head" -- their triumphant messages will soar through a more upbeat sound overall.
If you haven't done so yet, pick up your tickets now to see the guys go nuts at their upcoming concert at Neumos this Friday, February 7th. Drummer Rob Allen graciously let me drill him for some exciting info regarding this current tour, the group's new goals, and his favorite Seattle spots. As evidenced by his enthusiasm, their show promises to be an energetic engagement with indie rock that resonates.
Interview with Augustines:
The success of your debut album, Rise Ye Sunken Ships, seems symbolic of your emergence from the immense emotional issues that inspired it. What are the influences behind your upcoming sophomore album, Augustines?
The subject matter for Rise was obviously very serious and real and that’s what was going on at the time of writing that particular record. We are loving, fun people and believe me when I say that these kind of events are not any that anyone would want to have to go through.
But they did. We then had to tour the record and sing and play these songs on a nightly basis and talk about the subjects on a daily basis. If i’m honest, that was tough for us all, especially for Bill and Eric. The amazing thing about it all, was that people were able to connect with Rise on a real deep level, and that was communicated to us via countless emails and conversations. That evolved into audiences singing these lyrics back to us night after night. What started off as a project telling a story of real-life heartbreak and tragedy, grew into something very positive.
There was no way that we could ever write another Rise, though what we could do and did, was turn the positive energy we had received and channel it into the new material. This new record touches on real life issues, but more so in the way of hope and survival and where we can go from here.
While the first single off Augustines, “Cruel City”, seems to pertain to a struggle, its tone is more upbeat than much of your previous work. Does this vibe flow through the rest of the album as well, or how would you describe the record’s overall feel?
Absolutely. We worked very hard on this record. sonically, compositionally and lyrically. We wanted to move on from Rise though keeping true to our fundamental beliefs. We took what was learnt from Rise and our experiences as a whole and tried to take this new record to the next level. I believe we did that. In my opinion this record is hopeful and uplifting throughout, both musically and lyrically.
When people get to enjoy the new album on its February 4th release, what would you recommend as the ideal setting in which to experience it straight through for the first time?
If it was me, I would find a quiet and peaceful setting, wherever that is for you, and listen to it on headphones. If you give it an honest run, I think you’ll agree that this is a great piece of art. I’m not trying to sound cocky or arrogant in anyway, I’m just proud of what we achieved.
You’ve been known to hit the ground running when it comes to touring for extensive periods of time. What are some of your tricks and tips -- activities, musical listening choices, etc. -- for staying healthy, happy and sane during your rigorous schedule?
Touring life is interesting. It’s certainly unpredictable. Every day is different but luckily for me, I’m playing with guys I consider family who are extremely talented and beautiful people. Top of the list is honesty, and being able to communicate fully with your bandmates and crew. If you don’t have that, it’s already an uphill battle. Everyone is different, and so are their needs and comforts, so we try to make sure everyone gets what they need.
As for the van/bus, we DJ, tell stories…. sometimes we read…. and there is always work to be done. The hardest thing for me, is eating healthy and keeping a high level of fitness while touring. I haven’t fully figured that one out yet but life is to learn, so I’ll get there eventually.
You have received a solid amount of support in Seattle, including from John Richards of KEXP. While you were stationed in Seattle last summer, there was word going around that you may be relocating from the Big Apple to the Emerald City permanently. Did that rumor have any merit?
Just to be clear, we never relocated, we simply moved out there for the summer. We needed a place to rehearse the record, and our label was out there so it seemed like a no brainer. Seattle is a great city but we are still based in NYC. Having the kind of support we have from John and KEXP is just remarkable. We have a lot to thank them for.
Do you have a favorite venue to play in Seattle? How about a favorite coffee shop or dive bar to visit?
I like the Crocodile and the Showbox Market. Those are two great venues. As for a cool hangout, my favorite place is Cafe Pettirosso in Capitol Hill. Great food, great coffee, great people and a wonderful vibe.
Have any shifts taken place in your creative goals from your first album through this new chapter?
Yes. We are ambitious people, so in anything we do, we always put in 110%. We always try to better ourselves and push ourselves to improve. We love culture and learning as a whole, so naturally we will evolve as people, and that will no doubt influence what we do creatively.
Despite the dark topics found on Rise, your live shows consistently exude positive energy and passion. What can fans expect on your tour this time around?
Much of the same to be honest. The best way to find out is to come to a show. We’ll see you down the front!
Words by AJ Dent
Photo by BB Gun Press