We never saw it coming. When Saint Anne’s Place took the stage at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club as part of The Santa Barbara Independent’s annual battle of the bands semifinals, they quickly became this year’s surprise contenders. Hailing from Lompoc, and wielding a strong and mighty following of hometown fans, the trio plugged in and turned things up to 11, churning out a blistering yet rustic mix of blues, psychedelia, and folk rock with the chops of players twice their senior.
When they progressed to the finals, it seemed meant to be. And when they delivered an equally earth-shaking (and competition-winning) set a week later, we knew the deal was sealed. Like all truly great shredders, Saint Anne’s crank out the kind of epic rock that simply sounds better onstage. (In truth, the trio only has an outdated four-song demo to its name.) And it’s no wonder why. Brothers and bandmates Jacob (vocals/guitar) and Sam Cole (drums) and cousin Joel Martin (bass) have been playing in front of audiences since childhood: first in their family’s blues band, then in projects in and around Lompoc.
Though the current Saint Anne’s lineup is less than a year old, the bond between these three is as tight as it gets. Over coffee last week, they cracked jokes and heckled each other like, well, family. And in conversation about the music, their vision is equally cohesive. Currently, they split their time between short sets at places like Paradise Store and Cold Spring Tavern and longer, covers-filled jams at bars and restaurants across the Central Coast.
“There’s this whole assumption that playing bars and getting paid to play covers is like selling out,” said Jacob. “But when you learn a lot of other people’s material, you end up taking on those styles and then you spit it out your own way. It’s helped us, at least, because we have chops that we can use when we want to.”
And as anyone who’s caught them live can attest, the formula’s working. Their sound is a rich and nostalgia-inducing mix of classic rock and blues that highlights Jacob’s gravelly vocal leaps, a self-described mix of Dead Meadow and The Black Keys, “with a little bit of Radiohead thrown in.”
And they don’t shy away from the big, showy guitar moments either. “I was talking to a guy last week at SOhO, and he was saying how excited he was to see a band with guitar-solo music,” laughed Martin. “Nobody does solos anymore. Everyone’s afraid to because there’s this stigma attached. We think it just needs to be done right.”
As for the Lompoc rock-and-roll scene, they’ve got the same gripes as the rest of us: awesome community, not enough venues. And they laud Millions mastermind Randall Sena for helping invigorate the masses. “I just can’t wait for our generation to kind of take over,” said Jacob. “It’s like Lompoc is shedding its old skin now and there’s this new thing happening. We’re just hoping it sticks.”