When we caught up with Brooklyn band We Are Augustines at Coachella over the weekend, we talked to bassist Eric Sanderson and drummer Rob Allen about their video for their latest single "Juarez." Not only was all of the footage real, the people portrayed were everyday individuals that they encountered during their journey from El Paso to Juarez.
The process started with the song itself. It's a very specific theme and that hugely influenced the video. We worked with Madame Otto whom we've worked with previously on the video "Book of James." That experience went really well and we were very much looking forward to work with Matt Amato again. We chose the song and since it was called "Juarez", and it's about Juarez, it made sense to go down to Juarez to film it. Matt's a very artistic person and he's a very passionate individual. He's a very much an in the moment type of guy. While staying in El Paso, we tried to capture the feeling of what it's like to live there in Juarez and express the emotional side of that to the best of our ability.
In the video, the border patrol pulls you over. Was that all real?
Sanderson: That was real.
Did you have any problems with the authorities or people living there while filming?
ROB: Actually no, they were the sweetest folk. We got pulled over four times.
Sanderson: We were actually on a major strip that a lot of border crossing happened at and that was the border control. There were like four or five different guys that pulled us over all together.
Allen: By the end of it, they were like, "Oh you again." They were really polite and really nice and friendly.
Sanderson: They were just making sure that we were okay.
The characters in the video, were those extras or real people?
Sanderson: They were all real people there at the time.
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So how did you explain to them what you were doing?
Sanderson: The same way you would do to any person, you're sitting next to the person, start up a conversation, then they will ask what you're doing and you tell them about it. Usually when you approach people with humanity versus humility, they're usually okay with it. There are a lot of people that we met during that trip that ended up in the video and there is a lot of footage that didn't make it in the video but it's in a lot of b-roll.
Where were the bar scenes shot?
Sanderson: It was in a hookah bar in El Paso.
Allen: Those guys were really nice to us, they let us use the bar to film and then they were nice enough to take us to Juarez to experience it for a couple of hours. So we actually went over and got to experience it with some of the locals.
Sanderson: After the video the next day, we met up the guys that worked in the bar and their friends and we didn't bring a camera crew or any cameras because they had already left at that point, but the band went over. We were there from like 12pm to 9 at night. It's kind of funny, cause the people in the area said that we could totally go to Juarez and that it was fine, just don't come home after it's dark. It was like 8 o'clock at night, the sun was down and we were in a bar drinking Chucho, which is tequila that is infused with celery root.
Allen: It's really fantastic stuff. All homemade, real fantastic stuff.
Sanderson: This mariachi band came in and played some songs and we got to jam with them. They eventually left and the barkeeper said that we had to go and that we shouldn't be here and that we needed to cross the border. The bar had one of their security guards walk us to the border to ensure that we were safe.
Was it a scary experience?
Sanderson: It was intimidating, it wasn't scary. I think Rob has a good story about that.
Allen: We were walking through the beautiful square in the city and this old gentleman was just sitting there and he told me, "Welcome to Juarez, please enjoy it and thank you for coming." He was relaxed and really nice.
Sanderson: It's a really fascinating city because most people in the states only have heard of this place because of the negative press, the drug cartels and the killings that are going on. Many of the people that we were hanging out with that grew up Juarez said they went to school in El Paso. Elementary kids and High school kids are crossing the boarder everyday to go to school. It was an open city. Much like the Canadian border in Toronto, the kids from El Paso go down to Juarez to party because the beer is cheaper. In the last couple of years it's gotten better, but it's still got a long way to go. But there's a strength that we were able to see in the short amount of time that we were there, It was cultural pride and strength. The people from Juarez believe that the city will come back to being a beautiful city again, and like the Canadian border, will be crossed into freely and the city will be celebrated for it's culture and art. It's beautiful down there. For us, crossing the border and meeting people from there, not just going and taking pictures, was very important for the development of the video.
With all of these new experiences and extensive touring, have you been writing and will there be a new album coming out soon?
Sanderson: We actually recorded a song last night at the house we are staying at. It's hard.
Allen: It's hard, you know, we have demos from pre-tour that aren't done. We are constantly thinking of new ideas and making voice memos. If we have some extra time, we always try to work on something. Right now we are just focusing on the touring though.