Brooklyn band Augustines tell it like it is.
Leah Hamer || July 15th
Dick pics, David Beckham, holograms, pissing in plant pots.
‘Can you tell we haven’t talked to anyone for a while?’
I walked up the steps of The Sugarmill clutching a page of well-thought out questions and research, preparing to get a thorough insight into the world of Augustines. Yet, it turns out this isn’t the way interviews go for William McCarthy, Eric Sanderson, and Rob Allen.
Although it begins with the usual, sensible, small talk regarding the band’s recent performance at T In The Park and their knowledge of Stoke (which William kindly googled this morning in preparation for their visit), in mid-conversation, William turns to the open toilet door in Room 2 that is strewn with various graffiti left by bands over the years, ‘Why are there always dicks? In every rock venue, men feel the need to draw penises.’ This is when a lightbulb pings over Rob’s head, ‘I’ve got an idea. We should take pictures of the dicks in venues and put them in a book. Dicks of the world.’
Steering the conversation away from phallic imagery doesn’t quite work as talk merely turns to the boyish behaviour of their crew. ‘Our tour manager belches like every hour. But he’s such a gentlehearted person, I’m concerned- is it an acid reflux issue or is it because we’ve been away from women for so long?’ However, it is Rob that I feel the crew should be the most worried about, he is a notorious sleepwalker. ‘One time when I was a kid, I sleepwalked downstairs as my parents were having a party and I pissed in a plant pot in front of everyone. It’s my favourite story.’
Touring for Brooklyn-based Augustines is no simple task, clearly, yet as their career has grown, they have felt the benefits more and more. After recently touring with Noel Gallagher, they experienced the luxury of his set-up and devoted crew, all of which William and Rob praise constantly. ‘He’s a great guy and he funds all of High Flying Birds himself…The really famous people we have met have all been great. It tends to be the middle-calibre artists that we’ve had trouble with.’
Touring in the early days with an unsupportive and unnamed band disheartened the band initially, until they realised the reality of touring themselves. ‘There’s no need for bad attitudes but when you’re playing a toilet tour, you’ve been driving for five hours, play a crappy show and you have to sleep outside the airport in a Travelodge with some crew member you barely know in a bed right next to you, talking to his girlfriend underneath the sheets… then you can understand.’
This negative attitude can often be unwillingly transposed onto fans as well, as William begins to comment on the growing aggravation of social media. ‘When you’re tired and someone is shoving a camera in your face trying to get a selfie without even asking…Once we did David Letterman with Nelly Furtado and outside she got out of a blacked-out SUV with sunglasses on and cameras were going off blinding everyone, it was like out of a movie…it’s like you’re something in a museum.’
All members of Augustines maintain extensive views on social media, William had to be unwillingly instructed on how to correctly use hashtags and Rob’s friends when dining out place their phones in the middle of the table- the first to reach for it pays the bill. Living through a blue screen is a phase of humanity that they all hope we soon fall out of. Although I agree with the principle of living in the moment, that they all favour instead of whacking a phone out to capture it, I had to remind myself not to ask my usual request for a selfie at the end of the interview.
The dominance of technology is a subject that continues as they tell me the story of Tupac, Snoop Dogg and Dr.Dre’s Coachella hologram performance that they witnessed. ‘One day all performances could be done like that…bands might not even physically tour. People will ask Oh how did the tour go? And we will reply Good, I just sat at home for it.’ In Japan there are already bands that do not exist in physical form, yet survive alone through holograms and social media accounts. This is just one side of 2016 that Augustines hope will disappear, along with the ‘lumbersexual’ hair style (Shaven at the sides, quiff on top and a beard), and tribal sleeves that they trace back to early noughties David Beckham. Yet these are all just element of modernity and with every era there are new trends and styles. ‘With the twenties they had flappers and jazz, this is what we have instead…I just hope it doesn’t last.’
A few hours later, I see Augustines again, but this time it is upon The Sugarmill stage, however, I feel like it was unnecessary for me to have even conducted the interview- they talk just as much on stage as they do off. They win the award for the most talkative band that I have ever encountered.
They exuberate a joy for life and living. Their album This Is Your Life which is focused on enjoying every second that life offers you, makes so much more sense after a minute of their performance. Standing on the speakers, shouting about the difference between America and the UK (primarily Costa Coffee), improvised songs about Stoke’s legends and bourbon- after the bar staff failed to give William scotch, ‘You gave me bourbon and not scotch, I’ve been profiled.’
The set was filled with punchy rock and roll, emotional power anthems and heart-warming, unplugged acoustics that the adoring crowd savoured. I have never seen an act interact so deeply with an audience, there was no boundary between them as their fans shouted back British banter to them.
As their set comes to a close, Eric laughs from behind the keyboard, ‘For those of you who haven’t seen us before, yes, it is always like this.’
The third album from the Augustines This Is Your Life is out now and you can find details of their remaining tour dates at http://www.weareaugustines.com/