News Reading & Leeds 2012: We Are Augustines: ‘We Just Do Our Own Thing’

Brooklyn trio We Are Augustines burst onto the British music scene earlier this year with their debut album ‘Rise Ye Sunken Ships.’ After a brilliant reception from European audiences, drummer Rob Allen talks about tour essentials, dream line-ups and keeping an eye on the follow-up album.

I read that We Are Augustines were formed after the break up of Pela. Do you think it was a blessing in disguise? Or just another chapter in your musical careers?
Pela had some success in the US but after seven years of touring and hard work, Pela had run its course. We Are Augustines is a reincarnation of Pela in some ways, so I’d have to say a bit of both. At the beginning, it was a simple case of finishing and releasing the record and making sure all the heartache, graft and effort that was put into the making of ‘Rise’ was justified. Bill and Eric were still musicians and had a duty to finish what they had started, so in that sense it was a chapter in their career because they had no idea of where this record would go. The success that we have received from it has been a welcomed surprise, and extremely gratifying which definitely counts as a blessing!

Your single ‘Chapel Song’ from your album ‘Rise Ye Sunken Ships’ got huge airplay on BBC6 Music and a lot of love from Lauren Laverne. Do you think radio is still important and relevant for music today?
Of course! The radio is a tool that showcases and promotes music to the masses! Therefore, it allows bands to connect with new territories and make new fans! This then gives the opportunity for artists to tour.

Did Brooklyn have an impact on your sound?
Brooklyn is a big place, with a population of 2.5 million or so. So there are many different neighbourhoods where musicians and artists reside. We live here so yes, obviously it has an impact but I wouldn’t say we are part of any kind of scene. We just do our thing.

For me, your album has hints of old school, blue collar American rock that was solidified by the likes of Springsteen. Would you agree? And if so, was it intentional?
We have been compared to all sorts of artists, and to hear Bruce Springsteen’s name in the mix is an honour, for sure. Bill is has a folk, singer / song writer back ground, whereas Eric is a multi-instrumentalist with a production background and what you’re hearing is a blend of the two.

You’ve been on a mammoth tour since the album came out and with plenty more dates to come. You received a great response from British audiences; do British shows differ from others?
We’ve had a wonderful reaction from Europe in general! We have been on British radio and ‘Rise’ has been released in the UK for a bit now, and we are starting to see the fruits from that. Hearing people interact with us and sing back our songs is an incredible feeling. We absolutely love the UK!

What are your tour essentials? Who’s on your tour playlist?
As long as I have my wash kit, I’m a happy chappy! If we are playing festivals, then a poncho and some wellies are a good idea too. As for our playlist, we’ve been having fun with Spotify so the possibilities are endless. We have massive respect for Charles Bradley, and you’ll often hear that in the van.

You’re playing Reading and Leeds festival this month. What are you most looking forward to? And is there anyone you’re particularly excited about seeing?
I’m a big fan of festivals - they’re so much fun. The atmosphere is always great and it’s always a pleasure to play to people who may have never heard of us before! We are playing on the Friday, so The Cure will be a must, plus will be great to catch up with our buddies, The Maccabees. A great band and great guys!

Who would be on your dream festival line-up?
That’s a tough question! There are so many wonderful bands and artists over the years so Iv’e had some fun with this and included some who are not around anymore…We Are Augustines, Nirvana, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Johnny Cash with a Cameo from Roy Orbison & Townes Van Zandt, The Clash, The Who (original Line up).

What’s been your favourite moment of the past year?
There has been so many! For me, our T In The Park performance was one of my favourites to date! The crowd was magnificent! The interaction we received was overwhelming. We had some fun messing about in the mud too.

What are you working on at the moment? Does the thought of a follow-up album scare you at all?
We have been touring constantly so there hasn’t been much time to write consistently but we definitely have one eye on the new record. At this point, all I can say is that we are extremely excited about recording the new record. We’ve had many conversations about where we can go with it and we are looking for to spreading our wings. We have set aside some time later in the year to start writing and prepping for the record. We also want to deliver the best live show possible, so that’s something we are always working on too.

We Are Augustines will perform at Reading & Leeds Festival from 24th - 26th August. Their debut album ‘Rise Ye Sunken Ships’ is out now.

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