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Sore Saints: Making Music Ain’t Easy …

July 23, 2014

SoreSaintsOnline01Text by Brian Wilensky. Image by Jessica Flynn.

It’s a bright Sunday evening and Scott Signorino, bassist of bruising post-punk four-piece Sore Saints, is smoking a cigarette outside of Prohibition Taproom when a horse-drawn carriage rolls up and stops directly in front of him.

“Hey, is that a Danzig T-shirt?” the coachman asks from his seat while waiting to pull his carriage inside the building across the street.

“No this is a Doomriders T-shirt,” Signorino replies with a short laugh.

They proceed to agree on how the skull on the shirt can be mistaken to be a Danzig logo before Signorino heads into the bar when Sore Saints drummer Jon Murphy arrives. Singer Nick Guidotti finds his bandmates and they all begin telling the story of the rocky road they were forced to take in order to release their Generous Lover 10-inch on Dullest Records in March.

It started when these three and guitarist Justin LaFontaine worked with producer Jon Low at Miner Street Studios. At the time, Low was also engineering the latest album by The National but made time to come back and work with Sore Saints.

“He was telling us how lately it’d been nothing but indie rock for him,” Murphy says about Low’s workload at the time. “So we didn’t know what the record was going to sound like.”

Problems began when they got Generous Lover back from being mastered. North Carolina-based label Tiny Engines wanted to put out the first two Sore Saints tapes released in early 2012, aptly titled 1.1 and 1.2. This was a small dilemma for the band as they had changed their sound since releasing them. The biggest difference between the tapes and Generous Lover was Guidotti’s vocals.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do vocally when we first started the band,” Guidotti says. “Every other band I’ve been in has just been screaming and I’m definitely tired of that. It just makes a lot more sense for this band.”

Tiny Engines basically told them their early tapes were better. Signorino thinks the popularity of scream-leaning bands such as La Dispute were influencing Tiny Engines’ interest.

Another label approached the band to see if they were interested in releasing Generous Lover as a 7-inch. But they knew their songs were a little too long to sound good on a 7-inch record and they couldn’t fill-out a full length.

A few months went by. LaFontaine moved to Brooklyn and suddenly Sore Saints went from practicing a couple times per week to only sporadically, and hanging out together seldomly. Then one evening in July last year, Signorino decided to reach out via Facebook to his friend Danny Katz, one of the owners of Dullest Records. He asked if Dullest would want to put out their record.

“My phone started blowing up,” Signorino says. “I was thinking he was going to say the format doesn’t work for him but he actually messaged me saying he’d put it out. He really liked it.”

Everything suddenly seemed to be looking up for Sore Saints at the time.

About eight weeks later, the band learned that the machine that was pressing their records “blew up,” according to Signorino. Then the band went on a miserable tour through upstate New York and Canada.

“We were playing this show in Montreal where no one was there, not even the bands or promoter,” Murphy says.

Sore Saints returned to Philadelphia feeling a bit beaten down, prompting a brief break.

“I remember coming back and us all agreeing we couldn’t get back to our own apartments soon enough,” Signorino says.

During the fall of 2013, Signorino started playing in hardcore outfit Heathen Reign and Murphy took a spot in power pop four-piece Cassavetes.

Then Sore Saints was asked to fill the last spot on a hardcore and powerviolence lineup at Golden Tea House. Much to their surprise, the crowd got into it and the night turned into a banger.

The band finally received the 10-inch in March and they immediately started setting up a release show.

“We got an offer to do it in May but I couldn’t sit in my apartment and look at this box of records for two months,” Murphy recalls. “I didn’t care if there were going to be only five people, I wanted a proper record release show.”

They pinned down a night at The Pharmacy, South Philly’s coffee shop-by-day, DIY space-by-night and had another rager. The bandmates say the night was unreal because it got booked so quickly, yet the place was packed. It truly was a capstone moment for them in the effort of releasing their four-song EP.

“In terms of paying your dues,” Signorino says, “we felt that Sore Saints had paid all of its dues. But the funny thing was that it didn’t break our band.”

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