We caught up with Augustines vocalist and guitarist Billy McCarthy, ahead of the February 3rd release of 'Augustines' which follows on from their popular 2011 debut release 'Rise Ye Sunkern Ships'. Billy offered us some interesting insight on the band's recording techniques, attitude towards music videos, Welsh rugby fans and full English breakfasts! The Brooklyn based band have recently added British musician Al Hardiman to their lineup - joining bassist Eric Sanderson and drummer Rob Allen - for their forthcoming tour of the US and Canada, starting in Vancouver early February and concluding with a trip to Salt Lake City in mid March. 2014 offers to be a huge year for this American indie group!
Contactmusic: Hi Billy, how are you?
Billy McCarthey: I'm really good thanks man!
CM: Your new self-titled album 'Augustines' is set for release on the 3rd February, what can you tell us about the new album?
BM: It's really a continuation of our past work, which we're all really excited about. We were pleased with the reception the first album got and we tried to replicate that with this album.
CM: How did it feel going back into the studio to begin recording the self-titled 'Augustines?'
BM: It was really exhilarating, man! I went back to my former grade school actually and met with the music teacher I had. They gave me the keys to my old music room and let me have it for the day, so I sat in there with my grade school teacher and started writing some lyrics and came up with a few riffs too. It was really weird being back there but I really enjoyed it. We took ourselves away to a remote part of Canada to write a lot of the tracks, and really isolated ourselves. We had like really bad snow storms while we were out there but we got a lot of it done!
CM: Your debut album 'Rise Ye Sunkern Ships' received really high critical acclaim, did you feel any pressure for the new album to live up to this?
BM: We always feel pressure. I mean, I don't consider ourselves musicians as much as I consider us artists you know? And as artists we're always trying to better our previous attempts, we were a bit overwhelmed with the feedback we got from the first album but if anything it just made us feel excited about getting this new material out there!
CM: You released the video for 'Nothing To Lose But Your Head', videos seem quite an integral part of Augustines, they always are to a high quality, do you think that other forms of media are just as important as the music itself?
BM: Absolutely, things are changing in the music industry, the good old days are sort of like a look in the rear view mirror, it's so much more difficult to get going. I mean, I did a bit of busking, and there are a lot of buskers on the streets in the UK but I don't think buskers really get listened to anymore as everyone seems to walk around with ear phones! People are always on the go nowadays too so they don't really have the time to read blurbs or reviews about a band they don't know, so we're always thinking of new ways to get ourselves out there and the videos are certainly a way of doing this. I mean, I consider myself a really visual person, I don't know if that comes across at all, but it's great to put all this hard work into our videos and see it pay off!
CM: Your fans put a lot of interest into all aspects of the band, how encouraging is this?
BM: I mean it when I say this but without our fans we certainly wouldn't be where we are today, the support we get is overwhelming at times, it hasn't always an easy ride being in the band but it's worth it when we play at shows and hearing the fans singing along with us. It's really heart-warming! I really mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say this but I just want to thank the fans for all the support and we really appreciate it!
CM: Are there any aspects of being in a band that daunt you?
BM: Absolutely, being in New York is a really tough place to be - it's really competitive and being in the music industry is a bit uncertain at times. But musicians are like cockroaches you know! We'll keep on surviving and always find a way to get our music out there!
CM: You embark on a tour of the US/Canada, starting in Vancouver on the 5th Feb, how much do you enjoy performing your work live?
BM: Absolutely we do, playing live is perhaps the best part about being in a band! As I said, I'm a really visual person so I really enjoy being on the stage, working with all the extra effects like the lights and stuff, as I said, I'm a really visual person so I like to express that on the stage!
CM: You have a big following in the UK, is there anything you like/dislike about playing in the UK?
BM: We love performing live in the UK. Even more so now our band is part British (in reference to Al Hardiman who has joined the band for the forthcoming tour) We don't really have football (soccer) in the US and the crowds we get at shows really remind me of the crowds soccer attracts, the Brits are really enthusiastic and vocal whereas the Americans are at times a bit subdued, but yeah we love the atmosphere and always seem to meet interesting people wherever we go. What don't I like about the UK? Coffee! I'm not a huge tea person, and I always seem to put on a few pounds from your full English breakfasts!
CM: I believe you met an interesting set of Welsh rugby fans whilst in the UK?
BM: Yeah! I was in a hotel trying to get some sleep and I heard all this noise outside my hotel room, so I opened the door and I was only in my boxers, and tried to go all Brooklyn shouting "hey what the hell's going on out here?" and these big Welsh lads all tried to lunge at me, it was a little impressive actually!
CM: Is there anything else we should be looking out for throughout the rest of the year?
BM: A lot of touring I think! We're going to have a really busy year and we're all looking forward to it! I don't think we'll get off the road until 2019 now!
CM: Thanks for your time!