By Danielle Gibson
March 28, 2013
Whilst in London earlier this month I had the pleasure of meeting up with two of the four members of San Cisco - guitarist/lead vocalist Jordi Davieson and drummer/vocalist Scarlett Stevens, after the last gig of their recent UK tour. First interview anxieties on my part quickly vanished in the company of the incredibly friendly duo, and we got talking in more detail about the band and their recent experiences on the road.
San Cisco hail from Freemantle, Australia and have been together for four years. They formed after Jordi won some recording time for, he says modestly, “a bit of an award I got for a song.” He brought guitarist Josh Biondillo and Scarlett on board, and formed a band that was then called King James. In time, they replaced the session bass player with Nick Gardner, and in doing so, San Cisco was created. Where previously they’d been “playing quite folky music”, with the change to San Cisco they started “playing a bit more of what we are playing today.”
Sitting with Jordi and Scarlett the chemistry between the two is clear, and it’s this chemistry that extends to the rest of the band and is particularly noticeable when the four are performing. They mesh well together as musicians, perhaps because they are all very close friends. Scarlett is quick to mention this fact about being close friends affecting the sound of the band’s music. As all four know know each other so well, when they’re jamming the different members intuit what the others are going to do next. With the long hours of practising, writing, recording and touring, such a great connection between band members gives San Cisco a solid foundation, with Scarlett reflecting that “good chemistry helps all aspects of being in a band”. And the science bit seems to be paying off: after their initial success with the single ‘Awkward’ in February 2012, San Cisco released their self-entitled debut album in November of that year. A lot has happened in that time, and the success of both the album and single came as a surprise to the band, as Scarlett admits: “We had no grasp of what that song [Awkward] could do. When we recorded it, it was something that we just did for fun. But our producer thought it would help us.”
Scarlett comes from a musical background and is the daughter of Phil Stevens, who co-founded Jarrah Records with the John Butler Trio and The Waifs. Speaking of her early desire to get into music, she says: “I was about 10. My parents were involved in the music business, so when I was 9 or 10 I was like ‘I want to be in a band, I don’t care what band, I’m gonna be in one’. I remember thinking, that’s my goal.” Jordi was quick to pick up on Scarlett’s energy and determination, admitting that seeing Scarlett playing in a band made a strong impression on him: “I was like ‘I want to do that’”.
Having formed San Cisco in 2009, I can’t help but ask Scarlett and Jordi about the name of the band. What does it mean, and is there any significance to it? In truth it’s a random name the band came up with, as Jordi explains: “We wanted something really simple, it didn’t mean anything. No one would have any preconceptions of what we were going to be like.” This desire is borne out when you look at the band’s most recent touring buddies. San Cisco have recently taken to the stage as the support act for The Vaccines and Darwin Deez on their American and European tours respectively, and the band have been dazzling the crowds. Both tours have been a formative experience that’s left a positive impression on the band. When asked what struck him most about his touring buddies The Vaccines, Jordi explains that he respected “how professional they are and how grounded they are”, adding that they were ”really nice dudes to hang out with”. While touring with The Vaccines involved playing to larger crowds, San Cisco’s recent escapades in Europe have been a more intimate experience. Jordi says of Darwin Deez that he’s “really great guy” and that though the European shows were much smaller, they were a great experience for the band and “still really good fun”.
2013 so far has seen the band touring around America, Europe and the UK since January. One of the highlights of their American tour was playing at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco, yet despite having played at such a famous venue, Jordi admits that playing up-close and intimate gigs is a personal favourite: “In the UK, I think last night (at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen) was really cool. It was really intimate. Everyone came and everyone was into it and that’s what you want out of a show.” March 2013 saw San Cisco headlining their own UK tour, which included stops in London, Manchester, Brighton and Glasgow. Having visited London and Brighton before, the band were excited to have the opportunity to visit other cities on their travels. After the Glasgow gig, the band went to an open mic night where Jordi met a crazy bongo player, and seems to have had quite a wild time. He confesses to having got “really wasted” after making a pact with one of the band: “It was a deal cause our bass player had an 80% vodka shot and I said if he defeated [the drink] I’d have a go at the open mic night.
When asked about their musical influences, neither Scarlett or Jordi can name one person or act that inspires them. Classic acts like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and David Bowie are some of their favourites but recent artists like Sleepy Jackson, MGMT and Kings of Leon influence them equally as much. San Cisco aren’t about choosing a single style or particular influence: speaking of the musicians who inspire the band, Jordi admits that what he most wants to do is “take some of the things they do and put it all together.” As for how the band would describe themselves, Scarlett and Jordi reel off a long list: San Cisco are “summery, punk, folk, rock, hip hop and surf”. In the same way that we can’t expect the band to pin themselves to a single musical influence, so we shouldn’t expect one thing from them. Jordi’s statement that “we’re four friends just having a laugh” is the one that we’ll stick with. So get your friends on speed dial, and get San Cisco on the stereo.
San Cisco are currently back in America on the final dates of their own tour but return to the UK in April and May for more dates with Darwin Deez (check out this LINK for more details). They are set to release their self-titled debut album San Cisco in the UK on 29th July, preceded by the single ‘Fred Astaire’ on 6th May. You can check out their latest single ‘Wild Things’ here, while the newly-released video for Fred Astaire is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ultX5ZR-sQE.