San Sebastian, a five piece indie rock band out of Hamilton, Ontario has a unique set up in that it is comprised of two sets of brothers, and rounded out by a good friend of the band. San Sebastian, formerly known as “Pumps”, came onto the music scene in 2008 and has recently released a 3-song EP, “Young Youth”, produced by Greig Nori (Sum 41, Iggy Pop). The title track has been featured on the Much Music countdown and the band recently played in Canadian Music Week, a showcase presented by Much Music. The band was dubbed “Best New Band” at the Hamilton Music Awards.
In 2010, in conjunction with Much Music, San Sebastian went to various villages in Africa, to help the Bicycle Factory donate bicycles to communities in need. San Sebastian added joy, with their music, to the celebration and told us, “You'll play a million shows in your life, and you'll remember the really good ones and the really bad ones - playing in Africa falls in its own category. It was a very unique experience that we'll never forget.”
All interview questions have been answered by Greg Veerman with the exception of #1, answered by Ted.
Your bio reads that San Sebastian is made up of “two sets of brothers and Ted.” Have any brotherly fights broken out while on tour? Ted, how do you manage any family tension that occurs?
Being in a band with a set of brothers can be awkward at times, you can't take sides, you're always left out and you are the most replaceable person in the band, so I'm just like a fly on the wall at most times.
How has your childhood in Hamilton influenced your writing and music style? How would you describe the current music scene in Hamilton?
There are a lot of great bands in Hamilton who make you get better. When you're coming up with all of these bands, you're always playing shows together. When you see them write a really great song or play a really great show it makes you want to get better and hope to be on par with them. When you're in a city with a great music scene, it inspires you to be better. Hamilton rules.
Who’s your favourite Canadian band / musician to tour with? What musician(s) living or dead would you most want to tour with?
We toured with Michou in the summer of 2010 and we became really great friends. We definitely learned a lot from them, and they're all just the best guys. We would love to get on the road with them again anytime. We've played a lot of good shows with our Hamilton brethren, Arkells, and those are always fun. I think if we could tour with anyone in any time period it would be touring with The Stones in the "Exile on Main St" days - that would be something right up our alley.
It was originally announced that your debut album would be released in summer 2010. Can you comment on the delay? How did you first react when you realized you’d have to push the release date?
We kind of rushed to get an album done to be released in summer '10, and it just kind of came out feeling that way. When we realized there really is no rush, we wanted to go back, massage it a bit, and record some more songs that were more fresh. It's turning out nicely now, and we're excited for everyone to hear it.
Greig Nori was your mentor on MuchMusic’s disband, and is now your album producer. What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from him?
Greig is a really great guy and has really been one of the people who gets what we're trying to do. He's been beyond valuable to the record. One thing I think we can all agree that we learned from him is "Not until the job is done". It's a quote that gets thrown around a lot in the studio. We'll be in the middle of tracking an instrument, then we'll all start talking about something and 20 minutes goes by and he'll just stop us and say "not until the job is done". Then when we finish for the day and punch out we'll pick up where we left off and hang out way after we've finished.
You recently went to Africa to donate bicycles with Cadbury’s Bicycle Factory project. What did you do while in Africa, and how did your involvement change you? What did you learn?
It was an amazing experience. We got to play acoustically for these tiny communities in the outskirts of Kumasi, Ghana. You'll play a million shows in your life, and you'll remember the really good ones and the really bad ones - playing in Africa falls in its own category. It was a very unique experience that we'll never forget. We would go to these communities and help hand out bicycles and really be a part of something that will change some lives. A bicycle for those kids means they can get to school, and help them go wherever they want - literally and metaphorically. It was something we were proud to be involved with.
How do you think your music affected the youth in Africa? Do you think this is different from how your music affects Canadian youth?
I think they were excited that these guys from Canada showed up and played in their community, and they definitely seemed to like it. When we performed, a bunch of kids surrounded us and danced along and sang call backs with us. It was just a fun celebration for everyone.
How do you deal with any negative feedback that you receive on your shows/EP, or directly from music industry Executives?
We don't mind any negative reviews or anything. We wouldn't be putting ourselves out there on stage and on TV if we were worried about people not liking us. As far as the executives go, they know how to tell you they don't like something while simultaneously complimenting you. They've been coddling bands long before us and they'll be doing it long after.
What’s your favourite part about coming back to Hamilton to play a show?
Those shows are fun because we've played Hamilton in this or other bands since we were kids, so people are excited when you come play when you've had a little bit of success. They were there watching you with 10 other people in the room only a few years ago.
What personal goals have you set for yourself for the next year? What are some goals that San Sebastian has set?
Just to get this album out and tour it like crazy. Become a better live band and to make anyone who has been waiting for us to release this album since the summer feel justified in hanging on and waiting.
In your opinion what makes San Sebastian distinct from other indie-rock bands out there today?
I don't really know, that's for reviewers and Music Execs to decide.
Where would Pumps be right now, had you not participated in disBand?
Roadies for Arkells.