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UK First: Sainthood Reps

Despite being in the UK for just over 24 hours, Alter The Press! were fortunate enough to sit down with Derrick Sherman to talk about his new band, Sainthood Reps, before playing London's Wembley Arena with Brand New.

Derrick spoke to ATP about the origin of the band, plans for a double EP, differentiating time between Brand New and Sainthood Reps, the recent 7" split with O'Brother and more.

Alter The Press: How did Sainthood Reps originate?
Derrick Sherman (guitar/vocals): Me and Francesco Montesanto (guitars/vocals) have been playing together for years now and would always play together when home, show each other music. He was in another band, and me being in Brand New, we always made it a point to play when home together. So, he had some songs he was working on as a solo project and while I was on tour, he was sending me songs, and there was stuff that I really liked. He let me throw my two cents in and eventually got more involved. Last year, around this time, we started playing and writing together for this project and we didn't actually form a whole band together until September 09.

ATP: How did the name originate?
Derrick: It's pretty funny. Originally, one of the first songs we worked on was called 'Sainthood Reps,’ we had a few other names for the band but eventually said we like the name.

ATP: How did you hook up with the other members?
Derrick: I didn't meet the guys until two weeks until we did our first tour together. Jani (Zubkovs - bass) and Brad (Cordaro - drums) are Long Island bro's in other bands and Francesco asked around for a drummer and a bass player and managed to find these guys. They are cool dudes and great musicians.

ATP: Do you find it hard differentiating your time between Brand New and Sainthood Reps?
Derrick: It's hard when I'm on tour with Brand New because I'm pretty much focused on that but, because of my role in Brand New, I'm predominately a live guitar player. When I'm at home, I have a lot of free time, and that's when I get to focus on the band like write, practice, record; whatever I need to do.

ATP: You recently put out a 7" split with O'Brother. How was it working with them?
Derrick: It was cool. We never officially met until the idea was brought up to record a split with them. We already recorded our song, 'Condor', and the O'Brother guys, I think, originally had a song they wanted to put on but changed it to match the vibe but it worked great. I met them in Atlanta, on the Brand New tour, for the first time and they are really nice guys, we e-mailed back and forth about the artwork and I believe Michael (Martens - drums) hand drew it.

ATP: You are currently unsigned. Do you have any plans to sign to any particular label?
Derrick: No, right now we are concentrating on recording a double EP in March. We don't have long for it and haven't really spoken to anybody about it. I don't know. All of our friends, like the Manchester Orchestra guys, want to hear more because there are only three songs available of ours. There are a few people interested but I have no idea where it is going to end.

ATP: What would you say the difference is between doing Sainthood Reps and Brand New, musically?
Derrick: Brand New is an interesting band because they don't work like any other band I've ever seen and, since I don't write in Brand New, I'm so involved in the process of Sainthood. The main difference is, when I'm sitting down to write something, or give my input to the songs written by Francesco, you can feel the responsibility that comes along, making the song a good song, and shaping it. It's pressure, but good pressure, that makes you think harder and be more in tune to what's going on. It heightens all your senses because it makes your more aware. If you are able to focus on what you are looking to do, it seems like it takes a great deal of attention, to know what's going on around you and in you, to see what's going on. With Brand New, I don't have to work nearly as hard to do that.

ATP: You said that in March, you would be recording a double EP. What can you tell us about that?
Derrick: So far it's a concept; I'm still pushing on the band to release a double EP. Our concept for this band was that we wanted to have equal parts of post-rock instrumental music. My favorite band of all time is Mogwai, and that is a huge part in what we do, but I love instrumental music. I listen to tons of bands, but I think there are only a few bands that do it really well, after a few songs, you get quite bored of instrumental music; and I own just as much, or more, than instrumental enthusiasts. What I want to do is pretty much write songs we like; like we love instrumental music and also love loud indie-rock music like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, who are huge influences. The idea of this double EP was to make an EP surrounding one or two songs that were more traditionally vocally driven and a B-side where it was the instrumental songs. We are a pretty new band, and I don't think we've written songs yet that bridge the gap, where we can have the instrumentals and the songs that flow into each other. I figured it would be cool to kind of create it in a digital sense, or in a CD sense like an A-side and a B-side.

ATP: Why double EP and no full-length?
Derrick: We haven't written a record yet, but I feel like there's four or five songs instrumentally that worked really well, and four or five songs of vocally driven songs that work well and I'm not sure they would mix well as an LP. We already have songs that we want to centre a full-length around, and I don't think these songs fit, but each song has a brother/sister song for the EPs, I think.

ATP: Are there any pending titles at all?
Derrick: Not yet. A lot of the music is finished, but some of the lyrics are still yet to be written and some are yet to be revised. Once we really get into the recording process, they will be probably be revealed to us. There is nothing calling out to me yet.

ATP: The photo you are using to represent the band is a baby picture. What made you want to use this as your photo instead of the classic band-shot?
Derrick: I don't think it's important to see a face behind the music, especially when it's a new band. I want people to listen to the songs. I know you have to represent your band, and a simple picture of a band would do I guess, but it wasn't important to us. It's not something we spoke about but not opposed to.

ATP: Any touring plans?
Derrick: Not at the moment. We just did two tours, an East Coast and a Mid-West. We are going to concentrate on recording but we are now planning out Brand New's schedule. That's how Sainthood Reps works, once I find out Brand New's schedule, we go from there.

ATP: Is Sainthood Reps a side-project, would you say?
Derrick: I would say it's as full-time as any other band. If Brand New is touring for twenty weeks out of the year, I hope to have Sainthood Reps tour for twenty weeks out of the year. It's a heavy workload for me, but I really want to see Sainthood Reps make it as much as possible.

ATP: If the opportunity did occur, would you want to do this full time?
Derrick: Absolutely. Brand New is my number one choice and I think there is a way to balance each. I think I will be able to be equally involved in each and not have them interfere with each other.

ATP: Any plans to bring Sainthood Reps overseas?
Derrick: We are trying. I was hoping to open up on the Glassjaw UK tour, but it didn't work out. A few of our other guys are still in university and finishing up one last semester, which partly came into it. We want to go everywhere, I would love to be able to play my own music in other countries, and I love playing England. Every band I've played in here, it's always been such an experience.

ATP: What is planned straight after this one-off show?
Derrick: Brand New has some make up shows in the US but before we do that, I'm going to be recording with Sainthood for the week. We are going to start pre-production on the EPs and fine-tune those; just working on that and playing a lot of video games until then.

ATP: Anything else you would like to add?
Derrick: Looking forward to see what is in store for us as we are so new. The possibilities are truly endless right now, as we haven't done much. We only started playing as a full band in December 09; did a two week tour, and then a tour with Caspian, a great instrumental band from Massachusetts. It's fun to watch this band grow from every show and I can hear us improve. It's funny going from Brand New, where we have been playing together for years, even before I was in the band, I had been jamming and playing with those guys, and it's funny going from something, I guess you can say a 'well oiled machine', to go to a completely new band where our singer was originally a drummer, who only starting playing guitar a year ago, so he's never played guitar and sung live before, until now. He's learning a lot, cutting his teeth and it's fun to watch and contrast.

I don't know what people expect of me when finding out I'm in Brand New, if they compare us in anyway. It's completely different but funny because, we are such a new band. I think about it when I see a Brand New fan at one of the shows, what they are thinking and if they’re giving us a fair comparison or not.

- Jon Ableson

www.myspace.com/sainthoodreps

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