INTERVIEW: Augustines | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Since the release of their 2011 debut Rise Ye Sunken Ships, Augustines have been winning over crowds and stealing hearts with their raw and rousing sound. This weekend sees the New Yorker’s take on the Riverside and with the band having something of a soft spot for UK crowds and their enthusiasm; the intimate venue is bound to lend itself most eloquently to their stadium sized sound. Their first album was undoubtedly a real heart wrencher; dealing with the very personal subject of frontman Billy McCarthy’s brother’s suicide. There was a real tentative honesty to it that left you with goosebumps. The self-titled sophomore LP released earlier this year, though, brings with it a real sense of empowerment and ambition with a more optimistic and uplifting sound. Co-producer Peter Katis, whose credits include The National and Interpol, helped the trio create a record of hope, signalling a new chapter. Expect lashings of heartbreak and joy in equal measure but most of all acute honesty – a lesson in how to deal with tragedy and come out the other side.

Ahead of their gig on Saturday we caught up with head honcho Billy for a quick chat about life on the road and onerous second albums.

It seems Augustines are one of the most hard-working bands in the business; your touring schedule is relentless! Is being on the road where you feel happiest?

It’s definitely where things feel the most familiar. It gets addictive going to different countries and learning about different cultures. I’d say I’m feeling very comfortable traveling.

Does being away from home all the time start to take its toll after a while? How do you cope?

That’s unavoidable. I think trying to maintain normalcy when you’re in the state of flux is just going to be impossible no matter how you approach it.

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Great Britain is incredible… people’s humour, traditions, and love for music is pretty hard to beat

You recently relocated from New York to Seattle. How are you finding your new surroundings? I imagine life in New York can get a bit crazy at times, did it feel like time for a change?

That’s been a typo in the press this entire year! We don’t live in Seattle; we lived there for three months and rehearsed for the show there because it was affordable but we are back in New York now.

Is it fair to say that you’ve got a soft spot for UK audiences? 

Great Britain is incredible…people’s humour, traditions, and love for music is pretty hard to beat. We feel very comfortable in the UK.

Whilst you’re over here do you get much time to explore the various towns and cities? Do you have any favourites?

There are so many spots: York, Bath, Brighton, Leicester… We love the smaller places; they’re really relaxing for us.

You released your sophomore album earlier this year and second albums are notoriously difficult; did you find it daunting at all? 

No, we definitely planned for it to be difficult and worked really hard on it. We feel like a disappointing sophomore album is really damaging to people’s careers so we dedicated our whole entire lives to making sure that didn’t happen.

Did you find extra pressure given that the first was such a heartrending personal affair that resonated with so many? Was it difficult to know where to go with the next record? 

Yeah it wasn’t easy but that’s what the walkabout was sort of about – going away and not coming back until we figured out what the theme or the message should be. We always wanted to make a record on our terms and we finally got the opportunity

How did you find working with Peter Katis? 

Peter is a lovely, talented guy. We co- produced with him, which was very selfless of him to do.

In terms of future records, does being on the road give you time to think about the next one and work through ideas?

It’s a little difficult to sit down and write complete compositions but we’ve all been writing and doing what we would call “sketches” and they’re adding up. It’s going to be really nice to get off the road to focus completely on them.

And finally, what will you be doing to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas? Well earned time off?

Thanksgiving will be in Ireland! Christmas… maybe an island far away in the Pacific?

Augustines play the Riverside, Newcastle on Saturday 29th November.

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