We Are Augustines

We Are Augustines

 New York City, New York, USA
BandAlternativeRock

Rise Ye Sunken Ships, the debut album from We Are Augustines, has bowed in the Top 10 of SoundScan’s New Artists chart on the strength of its first week of digital sales. The physical album will be released on August 23rd on the band’s own Oxcart Records via WEA.

Biography

March 2011 – a ship on the River Thames in London. Though the weather is unusually clement for this time of year, the waters beneath us continue to ripple at a seasonal gallop, rocking the ship’s hull back and forth in a rhythmic canter. Billy McCarthy and Eric Sanderson, the engine room behind Brooklyn, New York’s We Are Augustines, are themselves no strangers to turbulent waters. McCarthy in particular, whose volatile upbringing is candidly documented in both his band’s biographical notes and the lyrics of his songs, has felt himself frequently capsized by the vagaries of life. Having spent much of his formative years in foster care – a castaway from a schizophrenic mother and a non-existent father – a sense of self-reliance is perhaps more finely attuned in him than most. Sitting here now on this floating pub, prior to his band’s first major UK gig in front of 1,000 people, McCarthy’s enthusiasm for his current situation is addictive (“Hey! – we’re on a fucking boat in London!” he realises with frequent relish), yet his affable characteristics also betray a certain gravitas. Like a child who’s been told one too many lies, there’s a sense of restraint – like the very fabric in front of him could vanish in a puff of smoke at any time. He says the word ‘present’ a lot – though not the gift-wrapped kind – like a man holding on to the NOW with white-knuckle determination. He is also given to shaking his head, with an almost cartoonishly grim disbelief, especially when hitting upon something fortuitous. Through all the upheaval and broken promises that have come, Billy McCarthy is a man who takes nothing for granted.

“It’s quite gratifying to be where we are now,” he says, reflecting on the past two years, which has seen We Are Augustines rise from the ashes of his former band Pela, which had achieved significant success with debut (and only) album Anytown Graffiti before collapsing from personal tensions brought about by the industry at large.

“With Pela, we made great songs and did great shows,” continues Sanderson, the other survivor from the Pela wreckage. “We stayed away from labels for so long, but the minute we opened ourselves up to the industry, it got us!”

Since parting ways in 2008 with Great Society, the indie label that released much of the Pela material, the partnership – which has since been fortified by the arrival of English drummer Rob Allen – have remained unsigned, taking a more cautious stance into the Augustines project. But there’s more to this hypersensitive tiptoeing than simple contractual concerns – something far more personal lurks beneath.

Much of the material on forthcoming album Rise Ye Sunken Ships – most of which was written and recorded when Pela still existed – documents perhaps the most traumatic period of Billy McCarthy’s life. Having undergone the pain of a mentally ill, drug-addicted mother taking her own life when he was just nineteen, in 2009, McCarthy was to undergo a virtual déjà vu experience as his younger brother James, also a diagnosed schizophrenic, hung himself while still in the apparent care the hospital that was supposed to be treating him. Having been songwriting for only a couple of years following the death of his mother, initial forays into compositional catharsis fell short (“I lacked the vocabulary and subtlety”), but by the time of James’s death, a virtually obsessive McCarthy had assimilated his understanding of the world with the nuances of his craft.

“There were years of my life that just blend into each other, because all I cared about was writing,” he recalls, shaking his head. “It was just pure dedication…” His trails off, wrestling with a notion. “When you believe in your art – whether you’re a writer or musician or whatever – you’re essentially believing in yourself. I never put that together until recently.”

“Billy is incredibly passionate,” Sanderson continues. “For him, writing is not just sitting down with a pen and paper – it’s a lifestyle you live and breathe every day…” – to which McCarthy, whose conversational lunges are frequently housed in story-telling, recalls an anecdote from his days working at a restaurant. “There was a painter, a writer and a photographer,” he begins, almost joke-like. I ask if it is one; it assuredly isn’t. “There was this big debate when I said I wasn’t working the next weekend, and they were giving me a really hard time about it. I just slammed my fists on the table and said: ‘I don’t know whether you know this or not, but there’s no such thing as a part-time artist!’ They all just looked at their shoes. I felt really bad about it, but I also felt it had to be said…” – a pensive pause – “As much for my benefit as theirs, in hindsight.”

Sitting between Sanderson and McCarthy is like watching a game of conversational table tennis – a to-ing and fro-ing made all the more dizzying by the fact it’s happening on a boat. Like an old married couple, the pair seem to be completely aligned to eac

Lyrics

Chapel Song

Written By: William McCarthy

Well there goes my girl

Into the chapel

Now she’s walking down the aisle

And it feels just like a mile

And I shake shake shake like a leaf

And I’m lyin’ lyin’ lyin’ through my teeth

I got a pocket full of handshakes

And it don’t mean nothin’

There goes my girl

Into the chapel

Now she’s walking down the aisle

And her man begins to smile

And I shake shake shake like a leaf

And I’m lyin’ lyin’ lyin’ through my teeth

I’m a bowl of bruised fruit

Inside a chapel of shiny apples

Tear up the photograph!

‘cause it’s a bright blue sky

Tear up the photograph!

‘cause it’s a bright blue sky

Tear up the photograph!

‘cause it’s a bright blue sky

Tear up the photograph!

‘cause it’s a bright blue sky

Headlong Into The Abyss

Written By: William McCarthy

We were headlong into the abyss

In a four door sedan

And a kid that always stuttered

We stole it, for the feeling, of stealing

And drove it, like our days had been stolen

Follow me down

Follow me down

Follow me down

We’ll raise our glass

To borrowed cash

To borrowed cash

Our wheels touched the highway

We traveled on down

From the valley that raised us up to shrink down

And gave us the drive

To keep driving from dreary and dread

To make bets we could not afford to

Follow me down

Follow me down

We’ll raise our glass

To borrowed cash

To borrowed cash

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon to borrowed cash

Well call the police, go ahead call your shrink

Call whoever you want but I won’t stop the car

Well call the police, go ahead call your priest

Call whoever you want, call in the National Guard!

Well call the police, go ahead call your shrink

Call whoever you want, call in the National Guard!

Well call the police, go ahead call your priest

Call whoever you want

Well call the police, go ahead call your shrink

Call whoever you want but I won’t stop the car

Well call the police, go ahead call your priest

Call whoever you want, call in the National Guard!

Well call the police, go ahead call your shrink

Call whoever you want, call in the National Guard!

Well call the police, go ahead call your priest

Call whoever you want

I ain't gonna wait around, ain't gonna

wait around, for some pills to kick in,

Ain't gonna wait around, ain't gonna

wait around for some pills to kick in

I'm gonna wait around

Gonna wait around

For a pill to kick in.

Augustine

Written By: William McCarthy

Fell asleep with a cigarette

To the flicker of a TV set

No one saw you wave your white flag

No one saw your family photo album

Never saw your family photo album

Fought some battles and we lost the war

And there’s ashtrays all on the floor

“The city ain’t beat me yet” he said

To the flicker of a TV set

To the blue light of a TV set

I’m takin’ ya home

Hang up the phone

We’ll listen to radio

Keep your head up kid

I know you can swim

But ya gotta move your legs

I’m takin’ ya home

Hang up the phone

We’ll listen to radio

Keep your head up kid

I know you can swim

But ya gotta move your legs

The leaves are fallin’ off the trees

There’s children playin’ in the street

Have you lost your will to see straight?

Well to hell with New York City then,

New York City can go to hell

I’m takin’ ya home

Hang up the phone

We’ll listen to radio

Keep your head up kid

I know you can swim

But ya gotta move your legs

I’m takin’ ya home

Hang up the phone

We’ll listen to radio

Keep your head up kid

I know you can swim

But ya gotta move your legs

Fell asleep with a cigarette

To the flicker of a TV set

No one saw you wave your white flag

No one saw your family photo album

Never saw your family photo album

I’m takin’ ya home

Turn off the phone

We’ll listen to radio

Keep your head up kid

I know you can swim

But ya gotta move your legs

I’m takin’ ya home

Turn off the phone

We’ll listen to radio

Keep your head up kid

I know you can swim

But ya gotta move your legs

Book of James

Written By: William McCarthy

On a park bench sat a crimson beating heart

and behind him the girls played double dutch in the park

The sun began to burn his snow white skin

I guess your either headin' somewhere or endin up somewhere..

Storm clouds began to form in his head

and crisscrossed his mind like a restless angry ocean

And the howling of hardship and heartache

kneeled and grinned in his face

He stood there in his shoes unable to move

Kid I drove all night here to tell you that i love you

And here lies my green eyes

rolled back in my head, but they're alive

and all these words can all get spoken

just know we tried

and your forgiven

He made his way down the boulevard

near the 99 cent stores and garbage in the yards

And he closed his eyes and began to sing

about the crickets and the backroads where we used to play

I guess your either headin' somewhere or endin’ up somewhere..

cause I tried the bible, tried the bottle, tried the needle, tried to love people

And in the end There ain't nothin' to say

And in the end there's not much to say anyway

And i stand here in my shoes, unable to move

hat in my hands, at the bottom of the ocean.

But here lies my green eyes

rolled back in my head but they're alive

and all the words can all get spoken

just know we tried

and your forgiven

you’re forgiven

Discography

Rise Ye Sunken Ships - LP

“Chapel Song” was recently #4 Most Added (tied with Amos Lee’s “Flower”) in its first week at Triple A radio, making We Are Augustines the highest added independent band. Numerous Non-Com stations are already spinning tracks from the record. Starbucks has tapped “Chapel Song” for its “10 Song Summer Mix” digital sampler, available as a free download on iTunes to customers who purchase a Frappuccino® at Starbucks or to any customer on the Starbucks Digital Network in store. The offer, good while supplies last, is available in the U.S. and Canada. Last week “Headlong Into The Abyss,” another track from Rise Ye Sunken Ships, was iTunes’ “Single of the Week.”