San Cisco talk pancakes, bacon, and Romney
Despite their charmingly awkward video for their aptly named single "Awkward," San Cisco comes across as a band entirely sure of themselves and, further, with a bright sound that signals more self-confidence than self-consciousness. The Australian quartet is charismatic in that distinctly Aussie way, with songs powered by indie sunshine. Their videos would have you take them for average hipsters--"Rocket Ship" has them all dressing up in cute animal costumes--and somehow, that works for them entirely.
Gimme Noise caught up with San Cisco's drummer and female vocalist, Scarlett Stevens, ahead of the band's Midwestern debut at the Turf Club this Sunday evening. Stevens shared her thoughts on typical American breakfasts, the presidential debates, and what the band has in store for new music. Please imagine the following answers with a delightful Australian accent.
Gimme Noise: You're kind of new to the States. Why don't you introduce yourselves, in your own words?
Scarlett Stevens: We're a four-piece from Freemantle, Australia. Our sound is always changing, but we get indie-pop a lot, so we kind of just roll with that. We're good friends, and that's how we started together, and evolved from that.
GN: I read that you guys all started playing together in high school. How did things come together?
SS: Jordi [Davieson, guitar and vocals] and I have known each other since we were little kids, and we were playing separate bands [in high school], and when we quit those bands, Jordi decided he wanted some recording time and basically just asked all his friends to come in with him... and that's just kind of where things started.
GN: What are your observations from the road? Have you guys had any horror stories? Have you encountered any weird food stuff?
SS: Not really. I love the States, I can't really complain. I had pancakes with bacon for breakfast, and Australia's really just caught on to that... It's so much more cultural here, and everyone is truly an individual. I watched the presidential debates last night...
GN: Oh? What did you think?
SS: I think that Obama did pretty well. I thought he sounded more credible than Romney, just from what I heard on the debates.
GN: Yeah, I don't think you're alone in that school of thought...
SS: It's funny, we have a similar guy in Australia--Tony Abbott, he's quite similar to Romney when it comes to women in the workplace and women's health, very backwards.
GN: Wow. I'm totally Googling Australian politics when we're done here.
Tell me a little about the music scene in Australia.
SS: Well, where we come from in West Australia, there's a pretty amazing scene. You know Tame Impala? They started playing in the venues we started playing in, so that's really cool. There's lots of really cool sort of psychedelic bands, and then there's also some really cool pop stuff. The East Coast has lots of cool stuff, too. I think it's an exciting time for Australian music.
GN: Are there any Australian bands that you love that you wish were getting more play in the States?
Yeah, definitely! The Preatures, Snakadaktal, Ball Park Music, The Jungle Giants, those are all really good bands. And, also, though they're not Australian, the band that's playing with us, Chaos Chaos. They're from New York, but they're originally from Seattle, and I met them at SXSW a few years ago when I was with a different band, and they're really cool. They reached out to our booking agent and asked if they could play a show with us [on this tour], not knowing that we'd already met, so that was bizarre and great.
GN: Cool. So this is kind of a shorter tour for you, right? You're in New York, then Minneapolis, then L.A. Why did you choose Minneapolis as the stopover?
SS: It was more that our music is really getting played on a lot of college radio, and Minneapolis specifically. It just made sense to go there. I think we have a good following.
GN: Yeah, I'd say so. And you're well-known enough at this point to have garnered a Wikipedia entry about yourselves, which means you're legit. How are you feeling about the fame or recognition?
SS: [Laughs] Yeah, no, it's good. We want to take it to the next level. I think we're prepared, and just try and make it happen while we're still young.
GN: Tell me a little about how you guys go about writing your songs. "Awkward" is super catchy--can you tell me about how it came to be?
SS: Well, it's kind of the only song we've ever written in a recording studio. We had one last song to do [on our album], and were with our producer and he was like, "No, no, this is shit," and we had to come up with something new. We came up with the idea that we would do male-female vocals and a storyline, and we all threw out our ideas, and it came out a decent song. The lyrics came together really quickly, and it all happened in the space of about two hours. It was just sort of a weird experience.
GN: Tell me about what your next steps are as a band. Do you have some new music waiting in the wings?
SS: We've got a whole new album with all new songs, but I don't know when that will be released in America. It comes out in Australia, in November.
GN: What does it sound like?
SS: It's definitely a mixture of sounds. It's definitely more mature... It's a huge step up, and I think it's just a creative piece of work and a stand-alone piece of work. It's all quite pop, but there are some dancier songs with a few synthesizers and electronic stuff, and some punky-pop guitar songs, so it's definitely a good mixture.
GN: Okay, cool. We're looking forward to having you here on Sunday... Have you heard much about Minneapolis?
SS: I heard you've got the biggest shopping mall in the Northern Hemisphere.
GN: Oh God, yes, but don't go there.
San Cisco is playing October 21 at the Turf Club with openers Chaos Chaos. Tickets are $14. 7:30 doors. 21+