Artist Spotlight: SAINT PHNX talk new music, first US tour and world domination
Hanging out with the lads of SAINT PHNX is akin to catching up with old friends. Brothers Alan and Stevie Jukes are warm and genuine, their Scottish lilt making fans’ heads turn as they pumped up the crowd onstage. Make no mistake- this duo is about to be your latest musical obsession, with an arena-friendly sound that’s filled rooms across the UK. Now, they’re bringing that rafter-reaching music to the US for the first time, on tour with British sensation Yungblud. Atlas sat down with Alan and Stevie before their sold out Phoenix date to talk touring the States, brand new music and Wu-Tang Clan.
Atlas: How did you both get started in music?
Stevie: Good question- all the way back. Just being self-taught, just liking bands. Our dad liked Springsteen and David Bowie and those kind of bands [and] played Paul Simon and things like that around the house. I think it was organic, it was never forced on us music-wise. There was an old piano in the house and we used to jam on that. And then I was a drummer, I started off playing drums- taught him everything he knows (pointing to Alan and laughing).
We played in separate bands and then we started playing together with all our best friends. We started this band and just built up and built up and played around the UK and did really well.
And then it was time for a change. The band we were in was kind of indie and we wanted to do something big like Imagine Dragons and all that kind of stuff. We just tried something on the side and we released a song and it just took off. The other band just sort of stopped and that’s where we are today.
Atlas: What’s the story behind your name?
Stevie: The story behind the name is coming from the old band, like a phoenix rising from the flames, so that was the idea of phoenix. And then saint meant we were in a higher place, broadening our horizons.
Atlas: What musicians do you draw inspiration from when you’re creating music?
Stevie: I think it’s really diverse. Going back to the roots- Springsteen, Bowie, Bob Dylan- and then growing up listening to The Killers, Rage Against the Machine…
Alan: Wu-Tang Clan.
Stevie: Yes, you can see Alan’s haircut. [Both laughing] So it’s kind of diverse, rap, like Eminem, that kind of thing. We saw twenty one pilots in Quebec- unbelievable. Imagine Dragons, those kind of bands [as well]. So yeah, it’s really diverse from old style music all the way through to modern bands.
Atlas: This is your first tour in the US. What’s it been like to go from your audience in the UK to a new group of fans across the country every night?
Alan: It’s been unbelievable. Dom’s fans have been very receptive to the music and us as people. There’s a lot of fans that also do their research before they come which is very appreciated by me and Stevie. They come up, they know your names, they know your songs, they’re very interactive during our set. We couldn’t have asked for a better crowd each night. It’s been unbelievable for us as a band.
Stevie: We feel like it’s almost like a headliner show sometimes when we play with the crowd reaction that we get, which, being a couple of guys from Scotland- unknown- and getting that reception is pretty cool. We love America.
Atlas: What’s your songwriting process as a band?
Stevie: In terms of like melodies and songs, I guess when we’re writing songs, we’ll come up with ideas in our heads and just jam them out. We start off an idea production-wise putting chords together and that kind of thing. And then we take it to the studio and we’ve got a guy back in Scotland who does all our production and helps with stuff like that- he’s unbelievable.
In terms of lyrics and imagery, we want to create this thing about everyday life. Everybody goes through the same things- whether it’s happy or sad. Everybody goes through the good times and everybody goes through the bad times. It’s basically drawing on different parts of your life and explaining it in a way that people can relate to. The whole thing with the imagery is a concept for the album where we have a light side and a dark side. The light side revolves around personal relationships- whether that be brothers, love, family, friends. And then the dark side is more narcissistic, about being selfish, about being yourself in that darker side. The whole concept is, in the middle of this light and darkness, we call it the mountains. So you search and the decisions you make, whether light or dark, determines where you end up. If you make good decisions, you’ll be at the top and if you make bad decisions, you’ll just sink.
It’s just the general thing of life- making good decisions, bad decisions determines your outcome.
Atlas: How did you meet Yungblud and end up on this tour?
Stevie: So Alan was Googling online, trying to find out where he was. So we drove and kidnapped him and put him in the back of the van and we said if you don’t let us play, we’ll shoot your head off. [Both nodding and laughing]
No, he just heard the music. I think when you get to that level, you kind of know bands going about and doing quite well. We also knew Adam (Warrington). The weird thing is, he saw a show of ours a year ago in LA and he was there and we were talking- fast forward a year and we’re on tour with him. It’s just from word of mouth and obviously he liked our sound. He emailed us and was like ‘I want you guys to come over’. We were actually in Glasgow watching twenty one pilots in the arena- we missed ¾ of the show because we had to come out and arrange everything to make sure that we could do the tour.
He just emailed us and we wanted to be there. It takes a lot of guts for a guy from England to come all the way over here and get another support band from Scotland and bring them over so that says a lot about who Dom is and what he’s all about. To be here is an absolute privilege.
Atlas: What’s coming up next for SAINT PHNX- new music, more touring, possibly coming back to the States?
Alan: All three.
Stevie: Everything. We’ve basically finished our album but we had this crazy creative box of new material happen so we’re going to record that in August. We don’t know if we’re going to put that on the album or do something else. We’ve got lots of things happening. The album’s going to come out this year and we’re going to tour all the way up till Christmas- hopefully more support tours- and then next year we’ll be doing headline shows.
Right now we’re just focused on doing this, doing new music, probably more support tours.
Atlas: What are you hoping to accomplish with this project- what’s your ultimate goal?
Stevie: World domination. That’s the cliche.
Last night we were in Albuquerque with Dom and his team and we were having a nice meal out on this lovely balcony in the desert and the sun was coming down and it was stunning. Dom turned to us and said, “You’re in the middle of the desert in Albuquerque having a beautiful steak dinner and you’re here because of music. You should all be very appreciative of that.” And that’s basically it, that sums it up. To be doing music for a living is very privileged and very grateful. We just want to continue to grow as a band and grow as people, explore different avenues and see how far we can take it creatively and also the live element, and just keep doing it for a living. I think that’s the main goal, to see how far we can take it, how far we can get.
I think the world domination thing is very cliche and very throwaway, but deep down you want to take it as far as it can go and you’re always curious [to see] how big can this go. When we were back three years ago, this was just an idea in our heads. To look back and see the footsteps and sort of see the journey- it’s been amazing. We hoped it would get like this but didn’t know really, so we just keep going.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel