Interview by Holly Aker.
Sainthood Reps is a four-piece rock group based in Long Island, New York. The group recently signed to Tooth & Nail Records earlier this year and began recording their debut full-length album with Mike Sapone (Brand New, Taking Back Sunday). The currently un-titled album is due out in August.
While Sainthood Reps was in Austin recently, we sat down with guitarists/singers Fancesco Montesanto and Derrick Sherman to find out story behind the name Sainthood Reps, what they call the band’s genre and why they went with Tooth & Nail.
Where did the name Sainthood Reps come from?
Francesco Montesanto: Well, it’s not very interesting. We went through a bunch of alternate titles for a band name and what we realized was that we don’t like all the extra stuff like naming the band, naming the songs and whatever. It’s so tedious sometimes. So one day I was on the internet looking for something, I forgot what I was looking for, and an internet captcha came up and it asked me to type in “sainthood reps,” and I typed it in and was like, “I’m going to name a song that.” Then Derrick’s like, “Why don’t we name the band that?” We just wanted a name that nobody’s going really think twice about.
Derrick Sherman: Yeah it’s kind of faceless, yeah know? There’s no thing you can think of when you think of Sainthood Reps. I really dislike a lot of band names today that they’re really long, they’re terrible names, like “Piano Becomes the Teeth,” “Forever the Sickest Tuesday,” “Raining Sad Songs Monday.” We just wanted something that you’re like, “I don’t know what that is,” just kind of bland. And we like the ring of it, the way it sounded.
How did Sainthood Reps come together?
Montesanto: Just having grown up on Long Island, something that’s very cultural about Long Island is that there’s so many bands that have come from Long Island, and that’s something a lot of teenagers do is sleepover shows. They grow up going to the same shows, seeing the same bands. Derrick and I are from the same town, so he’s a little bit older than me, but we basically grew up going to see a lot of the same bands. Brad [Cordaro] and Jani [Zubkovs], who aren’t here but they’re our bassist and drummer, they also grew up going to the same shows. It’s just that culture. We grew up doing that. We’re like, “Oh, that’s what we do,” what kids on Long Island do: they go to shows, and they start bands and stuff. Through mutual friends we just were like, “Yeah, let’s make a band.”
Sherman: It’s a lot of inter-twining. If I’m in a band, I’ve probably been in a band with 20 other people, and they’ve all been in bands with each other.
Montesanto: Pretty much every big Long Island band that you can think of, every member of that band was in another band years ago, and we all liked those bands too. It’s very incestuous.
What would you call Sainthood Reps’ genre?
Montesant: I don’t know…loud.
Sherman: Yeah, everyone’s starting to tell us it’s very ‘90s. Like, “We love your ‘90s sound.” I don’t know what that is yet, but…
Montesant: Early ‘90s alternative I guess is the best way to describe it.
A lot of people compare you to Brand New. How do you react to that?
Montesant: There’s so many avenues that we travel down that Brand New’s been before, so it’s inevitable. His [Sherman’s] role with Brand New, working with Mike Sapone, pretty almost everything they’ve done as a band. It’s definitely cool because they’re a really good band, and it’s always good to be compared to really good bands versus bands that aren’t good.
Who are some of the bands that inspired Sainthood Reps?
Montesant: Sunny Day Real Estate, Explosions in the Sky and as far as current bands, who I really like is a band Yuck. They have a ‘90s sound. And they’re the quintessential ‘90s band now. Good for them.
Sherman: Rolling Stone said that the ‘90s are back, and it starts with Yuck. I guess we’re going to just ride their coattails.
You guys very recently signed to Tooth & Nail Records. Why did you decide to go with them rather than another label?
Sherman: Yeah it was an interesting fit for sure. When we started the band, I definitely didn’t think we’d be sign with Tooth & Nail, but they got in contact with us. We as music listeners growing up had a lot of Tooth & Nail albums, so we always had a lot of respect for the label. They contacted us. They were really nice people and they understood what we were trying to achieve, and I don’t know, it seemed like a nice fit. Wasn’t an obvious fit.
Montestant: Definitely not an obvious fit, but the point is that they made it clear that they were really behind what we were doing, which is always what’s most important when you’re picking a label. And they definitely had that for us.
So what was the writing process like for the album?
Montestant: It’s definitely interesting because since it’s our first record there’s a lot of songs we’ve had for years and we’ve refined and retooled and whatever, and then there’s some other songs that we wrote within the last two or three months. It’s always interesting because a lot of records, it’s sort of a time capsule of where they are at that particular point whereas with our first record, it’s so many different points in time. There’s a song from 2006 that I had.
Sherman: To describe it more, he’ll come up with some songs on his own or at his house that he maybe fully recorded. He used to be a drummer first, so he’s able to record a full song entirely on his own and just bring it to me and then maybe I have a suggestion. Then we edit the song a little bit. Then a lot of my songs that I bring need a lot more work because they don’t have vocals, or sometimes they are, so he puts his input in a lot. Then we have a couple songs where we’ve played with our live member, Brad, and he’s helped us move the songs in a new direction. But usually it’s just three of us in a room. But mostly I starts with us as individuals at home and then we send songs back and forth and play them for each other in when we get into a rehearsal room.
Who is the primary lyric writer?
Montestant: I do most of the lyric writing. Derrick definitely writes a lot of lyrics too. That’s what’s interesting about writing a song. It’s not one set way, one set pattern. Sometimes I write a song because I have a line in my head and I want to make a song to fit that line. Sometimes it’s the complete other way around. I have a song and I’m like, “Man, I just need that one line.” That’s usually how it is. It’s usually I have a song and then I need the lyric.
Why did you guys decide to record the album with Mike Sapone?
Montesant: We share a lot of common interests like musical interests…
Sherman: Yeah, I’ve been working with him for years, you know through my other band, and we both really like the way his records sound, and he’s close to home so logistically, it works out, and he’s one of my close friends, and he’s become a really good friend of Francesco’s. So it just made sense. He’s practically right down the corner from our house. It’s rare that you have someone that talented and prolific that lives right next to you.
When can fans expect to see anything from the new album – a name, album artwork, a single, a music video?
Sherman: Yeah we’re definitely going to start releasing things over the summer. There’s no set time for it yet. We’re still trying to sort that out. We’re trying to finish recording still. We’ll start thinking about record titles and all that stuff once we hear back the songs, but right now we’re still sort of lost in the process of making it. We really don’t know what we have yet.
Montesant: It’s mostly just little bells and whistles here and there.
After you finish the recording process, what your plans for the rest of 2011?
Montesant: I mean, we want to get the ball rolling as quickly as we can so we can actually get back on the road and start really supporting this record. Right now I feel like the stage of our band is that we’re still in the very first stage of the band. We’ve obviously progressed from where we first started just a year and a half ago, but we feel like we still haven’t made that next step. Once the record is out, I feel we’re going to be making that next step.
Sherman: Once the record is out, we’ll be able to tour a lot more. Right now I think our focus is for summer, hanging at home, and just be people at home that enjoy our friends and family, then prepare for this record cycle that’s coming up, and hopefully once the record comes out, we’ll be on the road a lot and hopefully all the way through fall and for the rest of 2011.