Everybody needs a helping hand and for We Are Augustines, there were a lot of hands that helped shaped them into the band they are today. When the Brooklyn three-piece began working on their debut album “Rise Ye Sunken Ships,” they couldn’t afford studio time or even promote themselves properly.
But when the trio reached out to a close-knit community of supporters and invited them to participate in the band’s development, they were overwhelmed with the response.
“A lot of people gave their time through writing [our backstory], doing videos for us out of compassion and the desire to be a part of something. People decided to invest in the band so we could finish the record and pay for the mixing and mastering, and [we] decided to focus our energy into a website,” bassist Eric Sanderson explains.
“There was a feeling -- a community incentive -- and we thought it was nice because the band is called We Are Augustines. It’s kinda an inclusive thing, and taking the rock ‘n roll star off the pedestal and putting it on the ground. It couldn’t exist without everyone, so it’s an attempt to acknowledge everyone.”
Rise Ye Sunken Ships
Because of that community incentive, We Are Augustines finished “Rise Ye Sunken Ships.” The well-crafted indie rock collection promotes hope in the darkest of times and that’s something everyone in the band identifies with -- especially vocalist/guitarist Billy McCarthy.
In fact, much of the 12-track offering deals with his disheartening past where he lost both his schizophrenic mother and his younger brother, Jim, to suicide. That pain beams on records like “Book Of James” and “Patton State Hospital.” Other standouts include the Springsteen-flavored “Philadelphia (The City Of Brotherly Love),” the easy-listening “Augustine” and the somber anthem of broken love, “Chapel Song.”
Also, the Brooklyn three-piece’s single “Headlong Into The Abyss” was iTunes “Single Of The Week” this past June in six countries -- Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and, of course, the United States.
Despite meeting with an assortment of record companies, both major and independent, We Are Augustines felt they were better off launching their own label. Together, with the help of their management team, they formed Oxcart Records.
“We decided to go with this particular deal because it seemed to have the best resources for us. [It had] the most opportunity and we were still able to hold onto a sense of independence,” Sanderson says. “I think it instills a little bit more confidence because the music industry is changing so rapidly and it doesn’t seem like anyone has control over this happening.”
Before these recent developments, however, their confidence was absolutely crushed.
Struggle to Survive
In 2004, McCarthy and Sanderson were part of Pela -- an indie rock quartet that had all the potential in the world. The group spent their first couple of years releasing EPs and, in 2007, they dropped their full-length album “Anytown Graffiti.” They also shared stages with the likes of Sonic Youth and The Flaming Lips, and their songs even appeared on hit shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” Scrubs” and “Veronica Mars.”
Amidst the recognition and progressing on their follow-up album, the original blueprint of “Rise Ye Sunken Ships,” Pela struggled financially. They made some poor business decisions, were entangled in cutthroat contracts to their former label and had an excessive amount of debt. Although the group was waiting for their big break, it was their friendship that eventually broke and Pela disbanded in 2009. Their second studio offering was unfinished and left under the rubble.
“The struggle got to us. We started cracking and then, we just couldn’t survive the storm. It got to a point where it was harder to be in the band than not be in the band,” Sanderson recalls. “When you’re under a lot of pressure, much like a married couple or anything, you start doing things you thought you’d never do and saying things you probably regret later. You start attacking one another instead of attacking the real cause of the problem.”
Fortunately, McCarthy and Sanderson attacked the problems they were facing and, with the overwhelming support of their friends, families and peers, decided to continue on as a new entity -- an entity that would be known as We Are Augustines. The two spent much of 2010 meeting at coffee shops, sifting through ideas and learning from their mistakes in Pela.
Once they were in a comfortable state, the Brooklyn indie rockers worked on the new and improved “Rise Ye Sunken Ships,” booked some shows with The Boxer Rebellion and rounded out the lineup with drummer Rob Allen. The trio has been on the rise ever since.
People who like our music are often touched by a sense of nostalgia and a sense of passion
McCarthy and Sanderson struggled for years to make their dreams of music stardom become a reality. Now, well on their way, We Are Augustines hopes music gives folks the confidence and strength to achieve their lifelong goals.
“People who like our music are often touched by a sense of nostalgia and a sense of passion,” Sanderson explains. “For people who want to do something in their lives, maybe they’re not able to do it on their own or maybe they feel they don’t have the strength to do it. When they listen to [“Rise Ye Sunken Ships], hopefully it gives them a little bit more drive, a little bit more passion or a little bit more desire to push themselves a little bit more so they can get to the places where they wanna be.”
After all, We Are Augustines aren’t just a band. They are a community.
- Billy McCarthy – Vocals/Guitar
- Eric Sanderson – Bass/Keyboards
- Rob Allen – Drums
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