San Cisco

San Cisco




Australian four-piece San Cisco's self-titled debut album is a teenage riot of love, pain and
short attention spans. They've got everything covered, from surfing to mixtapes, friendship to
videogames, and it's all there in short, sweet bursts of jangly pop joy. Whether they're singing
about having too many thoughts running through their brain (on the fuzzy disco of Wild
Things) or realising you might not be good enough for your girlfriend (the lively nostalgia of
Fred Astaire), it's impossible to resist their infectious buzz.

It was inevitable that these four school friends would become a band. Music was always in
their blood. Jordi Davison (18, guitar/synths/vocals), Josh Biondillo (20, guitar/synths/vocals)
and Nick Gardner (20, bass) were at the same high school in Fremantle as Scarlett Stevens
(19, drums/ vocals) was being schooled just down the road in Fremantle, Western Australia.
They eventually came together in their first incarnation, King George, in 2009. But the story of
San Cisco goes back even further than that. Jordi and Scarlett have known each other since
birth. “We all grew up with our parents passing down their musical tastes,” explains Scarlett,
whose dad owned a venue. “And my dad would take me to Scarlett's dad's bar to see bands,”
adds Jordi.

The two started making their own music at a very early age, but it took a while for them to get
together. By 12, Jordi was performing as a folky solo artist (“I did a Jack Johnson cover,” he
admits), while Scarlett was in her own band, The Flairz, much to Jordi's delight. “They were
like the Rolling Stones. They went to America!” While she was off doing her own thing, Jordi
got together with Josh, and eventually borrowed Scarlett to record their first ever demo, the
song that would become Rocket Ship. Their chemistry worked and the gig offers started to
pour in – Nick came on board to play bass, and King George was born.

But King George quickly outgrew their sound. “We completely changed everything. We were
learning what a hook was, figuring out how to turn shuffles into drum beats,” explains Nick. “A
lot of the gear we had changed, and we were listening to new music and learning more about
songwriting,” adds Josh. The band wrote two songs, which saw everything coming together,
and in that moment, they knew they were ready for a new identity. “Josh wrote Girls Do Cry,”
says Jordi, “and I wrote Golden Revolver, and we thought, this is cool. They were the first
songs that were properly San Cisco.” This was at the end of 2010.

The name doesn't mean anything, and deliberately so. It's a collection of sounds that operates
as a blank canvas for the band to project anything they want onto. They had a near miss
with a couple of options – Flippin' Burgers and Aztec Holiday were in the mix – but a survey
of friends and fans on Facebook settled on San Cisco. “We like it because there's nothing
attached to it,” says Jordi. “It's nothing to do with the city. We haven't even been there yet!”

San Cisco worked on finessing their sound throughout 2011, recording a video for Golden
Revolver, releasing an EP and playing crowd-wowing sets at Big Day Out and Groovin' The
Moo festivals. They say their home town, and its proximity to Perth, has been a fantastic
place to grow up loving music. “There's lots going on,” says Nick. “The young scene is really
good and it feels a lot like community.” Though, as is always the way, San Cisco are already
attracting enough buzz to get them called sell-outs – almost a rite of passage in itself. “If you
get a bit of commercial success people say you've sold out,” shrugs Scarlett. “But if you were
so worried about being cool, you'd never do anything.”

This enthusiasm is all part of their charm. They're too young to be jaded and too excited for
any seen-it-all-before weariness. They recorded their debut album in Melbourne in two stints,
in January and July 2012, and they're thrilled with the results. Only two of its 12 songs clock in
at more than three minutes. “They're pop songs!” they all shout, in unison. Scarlett elaborates.
“One presenter in Perth told us that our EP was “very pop”. Like we didn't know! That was the
plan! They're pop songs because they're catchy, but they take on other elements too. Some
are punky, some are surfy. We even tried screamo,” she jokes, “but I can't scream and drum
at the same time.”

The foursome are a tight unit, which is handy, since they're spending so much time together
on the road. “We take turns being mum and dad,” laughs Nick. When they do get a bit of
time at home – and now they're signed to Fat Possum in the US, and Columbia Records in the
UK, that's less and less frequent – they spend it hanging out with each other, surfing (Jordi),
riding motorbikes (Nick), building a studio (Josh) and attempting to study at uni (Scarlett,
though that's currently on hold). They tease each other relentlessly, with the easy affection of
a family. “Scarlett spends a lot of time on shopping websites and doing pilates,” jokes Nick. “I
do not! It's yoga, not pilates,” she shoots back.

With a killer debut under their belt, the future looks bright for San Cisco – so bright, in fact,
that they can't quite grasp what they could become. “It moves so quickly,” says Nick. “We'd
like to be able to live off it.” “That'd be cool,” adds Jordi. They say they want to make a name
for themselves overseas – the UK and the US especially, though perhaps San Francisco is
off the schedule for the moment. And after ten years of putting out the albums they want to
make, and playing the festivals they want to play, and never breaching that four-minute mark,
then Scarlett thinks they'll have it made. “We want to make the music we think is cool,” she
says, simply and concisely, which is exactly what San Cisco are great at.