This month sees Augustines announce that they will soon be coming to an end and will have one final tour for the fans.
It is truly sad news to see such a great band come to an end, but at least they’re giving the fans one last time to celebrate everything Augustines this October with a full packed tour for their latest album ‘This is Your Life’.
We actually caught up with Augustines earlier this summer during their festival schedule. We’re not sure if the end of Augustines was on their mind at the time, but they certainly oozed passion about what they have accomplished as a band and what the fans mean to them.
You’ve just got back from T in the Park and the Trees festival. How do you find festivals? Do you enjoy playing them?
Rob: I do, I love them. I love the atmosphere. Love it. The playing aspect is challenging at times but you just get up and go for it and just have fun with it.
Billy: A weird thing about festivals that I didn’t know before we started doing them is that if you play in the day (we usually play in the night now) it’s bright until like 10 in Europe, but you can’t see your pedal lights. Like if they’re on or off. It’s really weird and you wouldn’t think of it but it’s really hard to tell which ones are on so it can be a bit weird sometimes when you’re playing part of a song.
Do you get scared or nervous about these shows?
Billy: Yeh you do but we all have quirks. For some reason I always need to tie my boots again before I go out for shows. I don’t know why, it’s just a tick.
Rob: Whatever it takes to make yourself feel comfortable. My ticks are more, ‘how do I say this politely?’, about how my body functions. So three mins before a show I’ll need a pee but as soon as I sit down it goes. It’s a nervous reaction. As for playing in front of thousands, it doesn’t faze me really. If anything goes wrong, there’s enough experience between the three of us to fix it. It’s good that you get nervous though. The moment you stop getting those feelings is the moment you stop.
Eric: We learnt a long time ago that the only mistake you can really make is looking like you made a mistake. Shit’s gonna happen no matter what. Your monitors might be bad, your instruments might break, you might just blatantly mess up, but you’ve just got to laugh it off because it doesn’t really matter.
Billy: I think if you can embrace the unavoidable bad shit and go with it, it actually can be fun. Kurt Cobain always said that ‘if your guitar goes out of tune then just sing out of tune’.
Last night we played a gig and I really wanted a cigarette man so I thought ‘I’m gonna have a cigarette’ and these dudes just totally jammed and played the whole time and I got everybody drinks and it was pretty cool.
Yeh and I guess you can get away with it as the audience almost thinks it’s planned?
Billy: That’s what’s so nice about live music and what we’re always trying to shoot for is to have every gig have its own special moments and its own dynamic and have them all be separate from each other.
I think some people aren’t built for live music. I mean we’ve seen people that give the crowd 1hr 15mins. That’s what they pay for and that’s what they get. Or they’ll do the same fucking set every night. Or others might get over meticulous about their stage.
So I guess you guys like to mix up your set?
Eric: Yeh it drives our crew crazy. We’ll print out a set list and then just completely change it. So our guitar tech will be ready to hand us a certain guitar and we’re like ‘no we’re not doing that one’ and he’s like ‘fuck’ and then he’ll run and change it round.
Billy: It depends what you’re going for. I think rock shows should be tittering on almost going off the rails and then coming back. It’s dangerous I guess, I’ve never said anything ridiculous but I have been noticing a trend of saying some shit off the top of my head and just sitting with it and trying to make it human. That idea is the principle behind our live approach, that we do consider the audience like a fourth member and the rapport with them, either singing or talking, the interactive aspect is a big deal to us.
So as you guys are hitting some festivals at the moment, is this a bit like a mini tour before your big tour in October?
Billy: Yes, a lot of it is in memory guards to the crew. A lot of them are away from their homes and families and to ask them to sit around for five days at a time is not great.
To be completely honest I was worried, as we have a pretty sophisticated back of the house thing going technologically. I was thinking we’d feel really silly in the smaller clubs with this big stage thing but it hasn’t bothered me at all. It’s been really fun. I did a story telling tour in January and it really helped me hone in on the humourous side of doing it and basically get in get out and not over do it and know when to push it and be a bit weird. These shows are abit like that for all of us.
But there is a new album! Can you tell us a bit about what it’s about?
Billy: I can speak on the lyrical side. I think the lyrics are addressing isolation and a bit of a disconnectedness. It was really like a battle cry. There’s something I use to say on stage a lot and it was like, ‘this is your life and we’re here together and never forget it. Be bold and be brave’. What’s that saying? ‘Be bold and the Universe will come to your aid?’ But basically be bold and be brave.
It’s sort of like an empowerment. As we’ve gone through this terrible year, not to bring up dark stuff but we’ve got Donald Trump, we’ve got Brexit, we’ve got Bataclan, we had San Bernardino, we’ve got Turkey and all these shootings in America. I feel like, and not to stand on a soap box here, but it seems there’s a very blurry line between media and entertainment. I feel that we’re being manipulated in a lot of different ways with very juicy headlines that make us want to read. If you get a culture of that, it’s a bit tabloidy and exploits us a bit. We make the choices to accept all of this and that this is our life.
So there’s that side of it and the other side is also that I haven’t had a stable flat/home proper in like six years and felt a bit disconnected in my own right and that I’m trying to find my way. I guess it came with feeling disconnected culturally as well. I’ve lived in the East coast for 15 years, in New York, but I was born in the very mellow, very liberal West coast. But I’m definitely not from West coast anymore and I’m definitely not from New York so there’s a lot of themes in the music of not having it all figured out just yet.
You mentioned you did a lot of travelling before this album. Has it rubbed off on any of the tracks?
Billy: Yeh I think when you’re writing you need to put yourself in different environments to get different things happening. I try to learn about every place I go and write and I try and get as much out of it as I can. I try to read about every place we play, so locations a really important to me. We’ve come this far in being brave to call it our occupation so I push it a bit further and try and learn a bit of culture out of it.
With some pretty strong emotions present in your lyrics, how do you get the sound to replicate it?
Billy: I have such a great relationship with the guys and co wrote quite a lot with Eric on this one and we have a great relationship on every level. The band has a great functional relationship musically. How it would work would be basically, Eric would generate as much as he can and he gets to a place where he’s ready to hand it off. That’s kind of the marriage and we get a lot of great stuff that way. Then Rob comes in and adds the sonic power to it and off we go.
I learnt this from our last record, when we go in the studio we really know what we want. The demos sound really similar to the record. There’s a tremendous amount of thought that goes into it.
There seems to be a bit more samples and new sounds on this album?
Eric: This is so interesting. You nailed it on the head. It’s more noticeable but actually there is considerably less on this record than before. On some of the last records there might have been 80-90 tracks. On this album, I know that there is one song that just has 30. That’s 50 less sounds going on or happening. We wanted to capture the essence of what you see on stage. It’s very minimal. There’s bass, there’s drums, there’s guitars and you add samples to fill up the sound but it’s still very limited. On this record we wanted each instrument to stand out as it’s own individual thing.
You guys always seem to create big sounds on your records. For a three piece it must be pretty daunting trying to replicate that live. How do you manage it?
Eric: Well that little box you see on the stage, that little black box, that’s our secret weapon. The keyboard can do a lot, but that little black box is sort of like a brain. It can have all sorts of triggers coming out of it. Some controlled by feet, some by hands, so when you get to a certain point in a song you can just trigger it and add some support.
Billy: My approach with pedals is that I basically don’t know how to use them and I don’t like reading manuals, but I find a place for them and really love it. Hard to control sometimes but really love it.
The trio have got a big tour about to start and can imagine it will be a big one emotionally. The passion that these boys already put into their performances is going to go up tenfold so for those with tickets, you are in for a real treat.
It’ll be sad to see them play they’re last shows as Augustines, but they will be some shows worth seeing!
Check out our live review of Augustines earlier in the summer HERE!
Interview: Harry Owen