Augustines’ frontman Billy McCarthy on his Bay Area childhood


Augustines‘ frontman Billy McCarthy spent the first half of his childhood in Santa Cruz, and the second in the hills of Gold Country, past Sacramento on the way to Lake Tahoe. He doesn’t really have any one home these days, but he can see himself moving back to the Bay Area once he has a family.

This was one of the many topics we touched on when we spoke in December. We spoke about so many different aspects of his and his band’s life that I couldn’t squeeze all into my story, which previews Augustines’ show at the Independent on Feb. 10. Read the full story here. Until then, check out some other answers I found interesting.

You were “Augustines,” but there were some legal issues that led to the former “We Are” preceding modifier. What changed that allowed the switch back? (Both McCarthy bassist-keyboardist Eric Sanderson were born in August, as was McCarthy’s late brother, James).
We just committed ourselves to getting (the original name) back. We (originally) weren’t left with a lot of time; maybe 30 days, to figure something out. One of the suggestions that the lawyers came up with was “Bill and Eric’s August.” It was legal and awkward. But we didn’t want to let it go. It was too meaningful to us… some people have always called us (Augustines), anyway.

You born in Santa Cruz and raised near Auburn in Placer County, right?
Yeah, I lived in Santa Cruz for half my childhood, and then I went to Placer County for half my childhood. My childhood is like the one half and then the other. The second half I started playing music… and I used to be in choir. That was a really special (class)room. I really enjoyed learning in it.

Do you have any special memories of the Bay Area?
When I was a kid, we used to do field trips to San Francisco. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Napa Valley area and Sonoma, Santa Rosa, and stuff like that. I’ve been riding my motorcycle around there when I’m off tour.

I was going to ask you about the band’s move from New York to Seattle, as has been widely written about. But that’s not the case at all, is it? It was overstated and wrong.
Yeah, it was overstated. I don’t live anywhere. Eric lives in New York, and (drummer) Rob (Allen) lives in Seattle. I guess wherever I land, that makes that the majority.

Right now (December 2013) you’re about to embark on a road trip from Texas into the deeper South. What do you hope to see and do on this trip?
Right now I’m working on this (Instagram project) called ‘A Life Cinematic,’ and it’s just for people online; writing little stories. Like this morning, I was hanging out with a homeless guy. He was asking me for a cigarette. And I said, ‘I’ll give you a cigarette if you tell me a story.’ So he started telling me what happened to him and how he ended up where he was, and had this incredible story of having leukemia and getting hooked on opiates. And I was like, ‘How do you get money for your dope?’ He was like, ‘I hustle and … I’ve got to go, my dad’s going to buy me breakfast.’ So I hope to meet people at gas stations, and going to New Orleans and talking to some old-timers. I like that stuff.

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