RISE: The Story of Augustines is a movie that needs to be made.

Help Kickstart A Film that is truly worthy of our attention, “Rise: The Story of Augustines”

RISE Cover

Portland based partners Joshua Kincaid and former Boxer Rebellion guitarist Todd Howe have formed Big Vulture, a production group that is attempting to make a documentary based around Billy McCarthy, Eric Sanderson, and Rob Allen who are known as the band Augustines.  Todd and Joshua have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project and they need our help.  I truly believe in this project and ask that you would take a minute or two to watch this trailer:

Now, I know that theBlanketFort.net is dedicated to Seattle based cinema, but for the last two years, some of the members of the band Augustines have called Seattle home, so they get extra love.  Here is my story of how this band has touched my life.

I listen to Seattle based radio station KEXP religiously.  In fact, when the radio dial veers away from 90.3, I get a little anxious and grumpy. Ask my wife and kids, they’ve been a part of these episodes on more than one occasion.

Pela frontman Billy McCarthy just before falling from his amp at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheatre in 2008. Photo courtesy of the band's website

Pela frontman Billy McCarthy just before falling from his amp at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheatre in 2008. Photo courtesy of the band’s website

Back in 2007 while I was working as a finish carpenter here in Seattle, a song came on the radio that made me stop what I was doing and listen at full attention.  The band was a New York group called Pela and the song was “Tenement Teeth”.  It had felt like an eternity since I’d heard a band with the kind of intensity that Pela brought to their music, and from that moment on I was completely hooked.  I followed Pela, waiting for the Seattle date to be set, but when the time came to see them at Neumo’s with U.S.E. (United States of Electronica), there wasn’t a dime in my pocket to be spared.  When the band played the infamous Mural Amphitheatre show which saw frontman Billy McCarthy taking a fall on stage which broke his foot, I missed it.  After that, I didn’t hear much from the Pela camp until that next September when the band posted a farewell message on their website – Pela was no more.

Billy on the ground with a broken foot after falling off his amp in 2008. (photo courtesty of the band's website)

Billy on the ground with a broken foot after falling off his amp in 2008. (photo courtesy of the band’s website)

Fast forward two years to September 2011.  As I was listening to KEXP one morning, John Richards played a track called “Book of James” and the voice was all too familiar – it was Billy McCarthy and he was in a new band with former  Pela member Eric Sanderson.  They were now called We Are Augustines.

I totally freaked the fuck out.

Now, usually when I get into a new band, I go to their website and of course have missed them playing in town by like, a day or two.  HOWEVER, after the song was over, John announced the the band would be headlining at the Neptune theatre that next day.  I was there.  As I was driving to the box office to get my tickets the next day, I recognized a guy walking down the sidewalk near the Neptune’s stage entrance and I new immediately that it was Billy McCarthy, Augustines’ singer and guitarist.  Without thinking, I yanked the car over and hopped out calling Billy’s name.  He turned around, looking pretty surprised, and I was able to introduce myself and thank him for all the music.  Billy McCarthy is probably one of the most gracious musicians that I have ever met and he made what I would later consider a pretty intrusive act, feel welcomed.

Augustines NeptuneBilly chatted with me for a couple of minutes and offered me some help if I couldn’t get tickets.  After the show, I emailed the band thanking them for their show and I shared with them how Pela’s music had touched me and how I was looking forward to their new endeavor.  The next day, Eric Sanderson, the band’s bassist and keyboard player, wrote me back – this has never happened to me before.  Eric was so kind in his email and it really felt like the band cared, which brought We Are Augustines even closer to my heart.  My wife and I have seen Augustines two more times since that first show and they just keep getting better each time we see them.

Just like anything, when I get into something, I get into it.  I do the research.  We Are Augustines story is one of tragedy, struggle, but above all else perseverance.  Augustines’ story has inspired me in so many ways.  Their tenacity toward their craft kept my guitar in my hand when all I wanted to do was sell it and get emergency room drunk off of the proceeds.  We all have our own demons, but Augustines put their’s up on a billboard for all to see while at the same time saying “Yeah, things get screwed up, life messes with you, but you just have to keep going!  That’s what we’re doing!”

Augustines (L to R) Rob Allen, Billy McCarthy, and Eric Sanderson

Augustines (L to R) Rob Allen, Billy McCarthy, and Eric Sanderson

Billy’s story alone is worthy of a feature film. Raised by an addict mother who was plagued by mental illness and never knowing the identity of his father, he transitioned to foster care where he was raised through most of adolescence along with his younger brother Jim.  As the boys grew up, Billy struck out to follow his musical passion but Jim’s demons began to surface as he struggled with his inherited mental illness and addiction.  After forming Pela and working with the group, Billy received a call from a homeless shelter telling him that his mother had passed away and they asked him to come claim the body and gather her belongings.  When he arrived, there was little to gather aside from a couple of packs of cigarettes and a pipe.  Billy returned to Brooklyn to continue performing with Pela.  Sometime later, Billy’s correspondence with his brother Jim began to become disquieting.  His letters to Billy had become erratic and Billy grew immediately concerned.  What happened next breaks my heart to even write about, so I choose not to, I can only encourage you to fund RISE: The Story of Augustines so that you can experience their inspirational story.

Big Vulture has set up the Kickstarter campaign HERE.  As of this writing, they need $45k more to complete the project which is budgeted at 55K and they only have 29 more days to do it.  So I appeal to you, Seattle music and movie fans, consider pledging to this project now to get, what I know will be a stellar film, off the ground and onto screens.  This story needs to be heard, and this is our chance to make that happen.  Thanks for reading, and if you have your own Pela/Augustines stories, drop me a line or post to the comments below, I’d love to hear them.





on “RISE: The Story of Augustines is a movie that needs to be made.
3 Comments on “RISE: The Story of Augustines is a movie that needs to be made.
  1. Dan, I first heard ‘Book of James’ on BBC 6music around the same time as yourself & subsequently ordered ‘Rise ye…’ from the US a full 6 months before its UK release date, I was hooked and have been ever since. A month after first hearing their music I saw them live at the Cockpit in Leeds & was completely blown away by their presence & passion. On my return home I e-mailed Eric to send him my regards for such a great night & within minutes he responded with a ‘thank you’ message. 18 months later, back in April this year, & after several occasions of being in contact with the band, Augustines returned to the Cockpit for the opening night of the UK leg of the ‘Walkabout’ tour & when the guys climbed off the stage to do their acoustic set I introduced myself to Eric who promptly gave me a massive hug & then got in touch later to say it was quite the best way for us to have met! They kept us entertained for nearly 2 & half hours in a never to be forgotten night, so much so I then followed them to Newcastle and Edinburgh to see them twice more. Thankfully the best live band anywhere in the world right now will return to our shores in November & I have already booked tickets to see them in Glasgow & Manchester (where they are playing in a cathedral!). This film must happen & I will be contributing at some point. Onwards & upwards boys

    • That is such an awesome story! See, even halfway across the world the guys are making lasting connections with fans all while making some phenomenal music! Thank you so much for sharing your story about the band and thank you so much for taking the time to read about my experiences with the band!

  2. Dan, back in April at the Cockpit I was talking to a kid who had never heard of the band & had only gone to the gig as his friend had a spare ticket. His jaw was literally on the floor (thankfully not quite as we were in the toilets at the time!) at what he had just witnessed, I will never forget the look on his face! At the Newcastle gig, which was very intimate, 2 days later two young ladies were stood behind me & I heard them talking about moving to the front of the stage. I told them they would be better off staying right where they were in the middle of the floor area & explained about the ‘Walkabout’. During the acoustic set Billy found out that it was one of the girls birthday & duly sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her with the help of the crowd, yet another jaw-dropping moment! I hope to share many more stories with you over the coming years as this band continues to grow. Onwards & upwards!

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