The 'Aints! Are Reviving All The Hits That The Saints Never Recorded

Ed Kuepper is bringing all his written but unrecorded Saints material back to the spotlight with his new band The 'Aints! Listen to "Red Aces" now and read our interview with the Oz punk legend.
via Ed Kuepper/The Aints on Facebook

There are few periods in Australian punk as legendary, or as perfect, as The Saints’ late seventies output. In ’77 and ’78, the Brisbane three-piece, then comprising Chris Bailey, Ed Kuepper and Ivor Hay, released (I’m) Stranded, Eternally Yours and Prehistoric Sounds, three of the most important and influential Oz punk records ever released. The writing on those records was split pretty evenly between vocalist Chris Bailey and guitarist Ed Kuepper––but as it turns out, they weren’t the only songs Kuepper wrote for The Saints. During his brief, but influential, tenure in the band, Kuepper wrote a stack of punk tracks that never made the light of day.

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Now, Kuepper is releasing an album of his unearthed Saints material with his new band The ‘Aints!, titled The Church of Simultaneous Existence. The record shivers with the possibility of alternate timelines where Kuepper didn’t leave The Saints––could “Red Aces”, which we’re premiering today, have been another classic joining the ranks of "Stranded" and “Know Your Product”, for example?––and, although recorded over the past couple of years, could slot in easily next to classic Saints material. It feels like a blessing––after years decades craving material that stands up to The Saints in the late seventies, Church of Simultaneous Existence is finally doing it.

Along with the premiere of The ‘Aints!’ clip for “Red Aces”, we had a chat to Ed Kuepper about the experience of reviving his old Saints material, his legacy, and the artists he sees as following in the steps of his old band.

NOISEY: You’re revisiting Saints material 40, 45 years on––how has your relationship with the music grown and changed over the years?
Ed Kuepper: In spite of the various personal issues and problems that went on in the dying days of the band, I've always felt fairly comfortable with the material itself. I thought it was really strong at the time and some of it still seems to stand up pretty well decades later.

I've never looked at it quite so forensically before doing the 'The Aints! Play The Saints' tour though, so it's lucky I still think it's pretty good. I'm even learning, or at least being reminded of a couple of playing approaches by the younger me that I'd forgotten.

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Why the decision to release all this material now?
I'd been looking at doing something with that growing stack of my old unrecorded material for a few years now and initially had planned to do it differently, updating it and tailoring it a bit more to fit in with what I do solo.

When the idea to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first Saints album, it occurred to me that it might be nice to actually play the songs closer to the way they might have been played back at the time they were written, rather than trying to change them too much.

When the tour started we had four of these songs in the set and they went over really well. So over the course of the tour we started introducing more and more, always being guided by audience reaction. I had no interest in pushing anything that wasn't being as well received as the more well known Saints material we playing. By the end of the tour we had twelve of these ''new old'' songs in the set, pretty much half of the set. The band was playing very well, everyone was really keen on the material, so my feeling was, 'Well, why not, let's record them! And thus it is so.'

You’ve participated in the music industry for nearly fifty years––how have you seen it change? What would you want to teach a younger generation of punks?
Well there have been a lot of changes in technology that've enabled artists to do things a bit differently, certainly having a more direct line of communication with the people that support your art has been made a lot easier, and there are lots more people working independently and outside of the industry than when I started. But in a lot of ways a lot of things haven't changed that much. I still often just pick up a guitar and play a song and write it down on a piece paper, though these days I record to my phone instead of a cassette player.

As far as teaching anything to young punks––I always say it's nice to give up your seat to older folks on the train or bus… I always did.

What new elements do The Aints! bring to old Saints material?
The Aints bring a degree of genuine enthusiasm and liking for the songs that I haven't seen since the songs were played back in the day and maybe wasn't always evident at some of those Saints reunion shows a while back which I thought shortchanged the audience a bit. Musically, The Aints! are all strong and individual players and that shows through without changing the colour of the material too much.

Which new Australian bands do you see as following in the footsteps of The Saints?
Well, apart from The Aints! I'm not sure if anyone is. In fact, now you mention it I'm not even sure if I'm following in my own footsteps.

The Aints! are appearing at this year's Meredith Music Festival, and touring the country playing The Church of Simultaneous Existence. Find tour dates here.