Friday, June 22, 2007

A Brief History of Saint Etienne: Part One

I didn't realize it at the time, but Saint Etienne would become a watershed group for me. When I first came across them, via the ever trusty WXAC in Reading, PA, most of the music that filled all of the mixtapes I made was indie rock, punk or hardcore. It was 1995 and I was into bands like Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Jawbox, Blur and the Manics, but Saint Etienne, more than anyone else, opened me up to dance music. While St Et have always been as much as dance as they are indie rock, they were a band that was open to new ideas and experimentation -- what else would you expect from ex-music journalists?

While "He's On The Phone" didn't fit in next to all of the guitar-heavy songs I was into, it was the song's uniqueness that set it apart, and the more I heard from the trio, the more I was intrigued. There has always been a very international/cosmopolitan feel about them and growing up mired in the boredom of suburbs, I was transfixed by their transformative power. When Good Humor dropped in '98, I was hooked and there was no looking back.

If you want a standard history of the band, there's plenty of options for you, like Allmusic, Wikipedia, etc, but what I hope to do here is accurately communicate what this group has meant to me over the past 12 years. I have plenty of stories to share as well as rare b-sides and live tracks that I rarely get to share with anyone. I was even lucky enough to work the band last year, but more on that later.

This is simply an introduction, and there will be many more installments like this over the next several weeks. There's a lot I have to say about these guys, plus every now and then I'd like to take a break from talking about new music.

Saint Etienne
[mp3] "Hand In Glove" [Smiths cover, live in San Francisco]


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