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We Are Augustines: Old Wounds Inspire Recovery Songs

We Are Augustines' debut album is <em>Rise Ye Sunken Ships</em>. Left to right: Eric Sanderson, Rob Allen, Billy McCarthy.
We Are Augustines' debut album is <em>Rise Ye Sunken Ships</em>. Left to right: Eric Sanderson, Rob Allen, Billy McCarthy.

Billy McCarthy lost his mother to suicide when he was a teenager. He cared for his schizophrenic brother as best he could after that, but his brother landed in solitary confinement in prison, where he eventually took his own life, too. Somehow, McCarthy found a way to rise above his anguish — as a songwriter. He began playing music while living in foster care in California.

"I think I was always a sensitive kid. There was a sense that it wasn't my fault, and I think I knew that," McCarthy says. "When I got to one of the foster homes, there was a piano. I remember it clear as day ... hitting notes and letting them ring out. And it just brought something out in me. At such a young age, [it was] such a complex feeling, and I don't think I ever stopped chasing it."

NPR's Laura Sullivan talks to McCarthy about his band, We Are Augustines, and its debut album, Rise Ye Sunken Ships.

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