Six hours before San Cisco's second headlining gig at Philadelphia's Johnny Brenda's bar, drummer Scarlett Stevens stands outside by the backstage door, waiting for her three bandmates to arrive at the venue. She's poised yet childlike, wearing long denim overalls and a sunflower pin, clutching onto her iPhone in its oversized teddy bear case.

"I went shopping earlier," she says, looking through a brown paper bag from a boutique in Philadelphia's Old City district. She pulls out a bright, multi-colored scarf from the bag. "It's so good to be able to go out and explore. I like getting out and walking around."

This tour for San Cisco's second LP Gracetown is about the fifth time the Australian indie pop quartet has been to the United States, so they've already developed a sizeable American fan base. San Cisco have headlined their past two American tours, but in the past, they toured in support of The Vaccines. While Stevens waits for the rest of the band to return from their hotel, an older man with grey hair and wire-rimmed glasses approaches her to autograph his copy of San Cisco, the band's 2012 self-titled debut. Stevens excitedly signs the album.




Finally, the rest of the band trickles over, looking like something from an Australian surfing magazine.

"Usually we just have a phone and wallet," frontman Jordi Davieson says, pointing out his grey backpack. "But if you have a backpack, you're set." Bassist Nick Gardener carries an Amoeba Music tote, presumably from the free show San Cisco played earlier this year at California's Amoeba Music.

As San Cisco prepares for a portrait session, Davieson jokes that they should keep their backpacks on. "We're on the road, you know?" he says. Through out the session, the members of San Cisco - all in their early twenties - continue to crack jokes to each other, even taking their own photos of photographer HoJun Yu as he lies across the concrete sidewalk to get the perfect angle. "This is going on our Facebook or something," says guitarist Josh Biondillo, showing the picture on his phone to the band. They all laugh.

"I knew all the boys since I was in high school," Davieson explains, pushing back his curly brown hair. He met Stevens as a toddler, too. "When we play together, there's something special." Even though the band spends all their time cramped into a tour bus together, they still have managed to maintain meaningful friendships.

"I've jammed with other people, and it's just not the same," Davieson says.

"It's like a one night stand," Stevens adds. "We just mesh really well together, and we've played a lot together. There's just a certain groove."

Although Stevens and Davieson had been playing music together since they were preteens, they never planned for the band to take off. "When Awkward happened, I was like, maybe we should do this properly," Davieson says.




San Cisco's first EP Awkward attracted massive amounts of attention, with its title song featuring a conversational mix of vocals from Stevens and Davieson, sung over a high-pitched guitar riff.

Most of the songs on Awkward and San Cisco were written over a long span of time, materializing as a culmination of the songs that the band had written while growing up in Australia. Their earlier music is like the soundtrack to a beach day, mixing poppy synth melodies with equally harmonious, yet shrill guitar work. The new release Gracetown is similar in style, upbeat and energetic, yet there's a noticeable shift from the first to second LP.

"We definitely came at this album with a fresher perspective," Stevens says. "This album was written in a shorter period of time, so it's just more concise, and it's got more of a theme stylistically."

The recording process for the most recent album was challenging at times, though. "You get cabin fever," Stevens says - at one point, Davieson left the studio and recorded a demo for 'Skool' while sitting on a toilet in the studio's bathroom.

"We don't have a set way of recording or writing the songs, so all sorts of weird stuff happens," says Davieson. "We didn't really follow any rules except if we spent too long recording and something happened, we'd stop."

Gracetown's title derives from a small town in Western Australia. The band has all spent time there, especially for its surfing culture.

"I think the reason it's called Gracetown is because Scarlett and I found the artist who did all the artwork for the album, and he does real Australiana style buildings, so we were like, 'What's a cool building we can do?'" Davieson remembers. "And I love this picture of our family friend's house, so we were like, 'Why don't we just call the album Gracetown?'"




"There's photos of Jordi and I in our nappies in that house on the [album cover] from when we were really young," Stevens adds.

As San Cisco powers through their North American headlining tour, they want to work on honing the quality of their live performance as much as possible - for example Stevens discusses how on the studio recording of 'Mistakes' from Gracetown, she plays a simple, repetitive drum beat, but in live performances, she tries to play more complex drum fills.

"We go from city to city really quickly, but the all ages crowds [in America] are so good," Stevens says. "We played in Washington last night, and they were so sweet and nice."

When San Cisco takes the stage in Philadelphia, they're met with the same enthusiasm as the crowd from the previous night, further establishing themselves as a rapidly growing indie pop group in the States.


San Cisco's new album, Gracetown, is out now.