OCTOBER is a time when the dark evenings draw in and all things creepy and spooky come out to play — making it pretty much the perfect time for Saint Agnes to be heading out on tour. ‘If you love the spirit of punk and music with a darker edge, then we’re your band. It’s Halloween every day for us,’ laughs guitarist Jon James Tufnell.
Saint Agnes’ imagery, combined with squalling guitars and their ferocious onstage presence, has marked them as ones to watch, and their debut album, Welcome To Silvertown, racked up four million plays on Spotify within its first three months.
‘It was totally unexpected,’ says singer Kitty A Austen. ‘It was mental, we had no expectations. Spotify took a punt on us and put us on these playlists — it was so exciting. We’re only a little band but it’s great.’
This ‘little band’ from London have certainly been turning heads with their live shows.
‘It’s such an emotional experience for us, doing a show. We are quite shy people, really, so it is an opportunity to come out of our shell,’ explains Kitty. ‘I never know how I’ll feel at a show. Sometimes, I have a huge amount of anger that comes up for whatever reason. It’s a catharsis. We never want to be boring.’
Jon adds: ‘To be predictable takes the art out of it. The live show is us making ourselves uncomfortable. Our main enemy is ourselves; we don’t want to play it safe. We need to challenge ourselves, re-igniting that uncertainty that means we don’t know what will happen. It’s fun to be provocative.’
The band spent the summer honing their craft onstage at festivals across Europe and it led to the creation of their latest single, Brother. ‘We played this Swiss festival in the mountains with these pagan symbols everywhere, fires on the hills. It was unbelievable but exciting,’ recalls Jon.
‘When we were playing the festivals, the kids were going crazy,’ adds Kitty. ‘We didn’t have a song that met that level of intensity, something was missing. We had a riff we had thought of for ages, we played it acoustically backstage and that was it.’
That’s a bold move, playing a brand new song at a festival… ‘There was a spontaneous wall of death immediately,’ Jon laughs. ‘That’s when we knew it should be the next single, 30 seconds in. Anyone who’s seen us play live knows we’re intense. It was the realisation that a lot of our existing music required a little more patience. We wanted to tap into that childlike enjoyment of being able to react to something immediately and just join in without having to dig too deep musically. There’s layers there with the lyrics for you to get into later.’
The song was written about Kitty’s older brother, so what did he have to say about it? ‘I sent the song to him, as I didn’t think about the lyrics. He loved it and then I had to spell out that it was about him,’ she laughs. ‘It’s something I’ve always wanted to write about, that sibling relationship. They’re one of the main people in your life. They’re a constant companion, rival, enemy. You’re more yourself with your siblings than anyone else.’
Family is a big theme for the band and they want everyone to feel welcome. ‘We’ve talked a lot together about how music was a real sanctuary for us growing up — either physically, by attending a show or mentally, by listening to it,’ Jon says. ‘For us now, our band is a small family. We spend so much time together, we rely on each other, we want to open the door to welcome people into that.
‘Hopefully what we do resonates. If you feel outside the rest of the world, we want you to find a home at our shows.’
■ Saint Agnes play Dingwalls, London, on October 24, and touring, wearesaintagnes.com