Augustines (formerly We Are Augustines) is an American indie rock band based in Brooklyn, New York consisting of guitarist Billy McCarthy, multi-instrumentalist Eric Sanderson and drummer Rob Allen. Augustines are known for intense shows and heavy interaction with the audience. Numerous shows have seen the band leaving the stage to perform on the floor with the fans. Following the break-up of their former band Pela, McCarthy and Sanderson decided to continue producing the songs that were originally supposed to comprise Pela’s second studio album. The album, titled Rise Ye Sunken Ships, was released digitally on June 6, 2011.
The band derived its name from the month of August. Both McCarthy and Sanderson were born in August, as was McCarthy’s brother, James. James’ story is one of the major influences behind their first album. Pela also dissolved very quickly (“In the span of two weeks”) in August 2009. Originally, the new band was named Augustines. Due to other bands with the same name, they changed the name to We Are Augustines. In August 2013, the band announced via YouTube that they would return to using the name Augustines.
Material for Augustines’ debut album originated when, with Pela, McCarthy wrote dozens of songs and Sanderson contributed many demos of his own. The band had close to 40 songs to pick from. Even though the album was nearly complete, they were unhappy with the results and wanted to re-record the material. “We had to do it twice because it just wasn’t strong,” Sanderson said. Throughout the recording (and re-recording) process, the band fought with its record label, its manager and amongst themselves. Soon after, McCarthy learned his brother James had committed suicide. With all the issues surrounding the band, “Pela was unable to survive the storm,” Sanderson said.
After deciding to part ways with the other two members of Pela, McCarthy and Sanderson eventually decided to finish the album. Having been through a terrible experience with the music labels and industry, “We knew that we wanted to proceed independently, but actually taking that on was a whole other challenge.” With support from the indie music community, specifically John Richards of KEXP, they were able to finish the record. The album was produced by David Newfeld, who is best known for his work with Broken Social Scene. Their first performance of the new material, still under the original name Augustines, was for Richards and KEXP at the Cutting Room Studios on October 18, 2010. They released Rise Ye Sunken Ships independently on June 6, 2011 as a digital-only copy on iTunes.
The album covers a lot of very difficult subjects, the most prominent of these subjects are the untimely deaths of McCarthy’s mother and brother. Rob Allen, the band’s drummer, states that while there is a heavy focus on the painful subjects throughout the album the band also has a deep sense of positivity and hope. “The songs are about topics that happened over a period of time. They have a lot of meaning to us, especially Bill and that won’t change, but, if anything, we are living proof that things can get better, opportunities can come your way and that is worth celebrating! We are jovial, energetic people who want to enjoy life and I think that’s what you see when we perform.” The band traveled extensively in the British Isles and Europe in support of the album, performing at festivals such as Pukkelpop, Reading & Leeds and large venues such as Shepherd’s Bush. In 2014, the band toured the U.S. supporting Frightened Rabbit.
In late 2013, the band spent several weeks in the studio of producer Peter Katis (Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Jónsi Birgisson) working on their self-titled second album, Augustines. Upon completion of the album (released in early 2014) the band embarked on their first headlining U.S. tour, selling out most shows well in advance. Augustines returned to the UK in early April, and spent a great deal of the summer doing European festivals. After further US dates in the autumn, they returned to Europe. The band finished the year with a triumphant gig in front of 3000 at the London Roundhouse. This was filmed for use in a documentary about the band called Rise.