1am, Blender Bar @ the Ritz
No less than Sir Bob Geldof once noted, "Rock music in the Seventies was changed by three bands: the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and the Saints."
High praise from someone who saved the world (twice). The vociferous thrash of the Saints' "(I'm) Stranded," the single that launched the Australians toward closet-legend status, proved that on opposite sides of the globe, the Saints and Ramones were formulating punk's antithesis to big dumb rock and mindless disco.
"We thought we were an R&B band!" exclaims frontman Chris Bailey. "Before we started writing, we'd do Otis Redding covers. We'd do Sam and Dave. For fuck's sake, I think we even did Elvis on the first record with 'Kissin' Cousins.'"
It didn't help that "Stranded" hit the streets in England two months before the Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K.," or that Eternally Yours, follow-up to debut LP (I'm) Stranded, begins with a horn section and includes a 7-inch with covers of "River Deep, Mountain High" and Connie Francis' "Lipstick on Your Collar."
"Last year we stupidly played on a festival that had some kind of nostalgic punk rock aspect to it," recounts Bailey. "And we went down like a lead balloon. I thought to myself: 'Jesus, 25 years ago we would have bombed at this same gig, and it's really refreshing to know that all these years later we still bomb.'"
Thirty years and some dozen albums later, including 2006's noisy Imperious Delirium, the Saints Holland-based Bailey, Caspar Wijn-berg, and Peter Wilkinson today sound much more like the band they thought they were then.
"What can you say?" sighs Bailey. "You get pigeonholed in show business whether you like it or not. The art of survival is developing a thick skin and doing whatever it is you believe to be true."