What Once Was Lost – The Return of Saint Jude’s Infirmary

New MPT contributor Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr previews the return of Saint Jude’s Infirmary

Named for the patron saint of lost causes, Saint Jude’s Infirmary certainly seemed to have a knack for choosing a prophetic name. The band ended in a crashing pile just as their 2nd album, ‘This Has Been The Death of Us’, was released into the world. It should have been their breakthrough record. Instead, it seemed to cause their downfall. Founding member and bassist Grant Campbell suggests that perhaps that title was their undoing.

Seven years have passed since its release and the band are now preparing for a show at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh on 25 November. There is, Grant says, no real reason for the timing. “It was nothing other than we wanted to play and make music together again. It started on an offhand remark and reconvened on one.”

The line up features Grant and sister, Ashley, Emma Jane and Jamie on drums. There’s a worthy replacement for the now Melbourne-based Mark Francis. Grant says: “There is of course a great regret that Mark can’t be with us, but in Elvis Valentine we feel we have secured a colossus cut from the same imperious cloth!”

When asked what their hopes are for the show this weekend, Grant responds: “That we do justice to our youth.”  After all these years, there is some confidence that the cocktail of talent, charisma and chaos that created those special records remains.

“I’m quite glad that we haven’t developed as musicians in any progressive manner and I imagine that the naivety and happenstance of the early years will be quite authentically replicated.”

The band are excited to play together again, and for Grant, who’s since been involved in several other projects, including the icy electronica of Naked, it is a chance to get back to guitars.

“Making and playing more electronic music made me realise that as much as I love that strand of music, there is a process and an orthodoxy behind it to just the same extent as there is in ‘guitar’ music.”

He goes on, “I’m mindful that there is sometimes a danger to become embarrassed by the guitar, to view it as outmoded or some pale repository of 20th century teenage schlock, but if you look at it rationally it is the most humane and responsive user interface ever – the way you clip your nails, the boniness of your hips, the choice of beverage that you spill on the strings, all at a minute, atomic level shape that sound. It’s the artist not the medium that’s important.”

Saint Jude’s unrealised potential has been a bit burdensome too, Grant explains:

“I’m still pained that we were never able to just kick on and make the third record. Although thematically it was as cold and black as a headstone, musically it drew out the threads of our less obvious influences and I believe that it would’ve surprised people that had us down as just an ‘indie’ band, whatever that meant.  To have the shoes whipped out from under you before you make that great leap that you’ve been building towards was my biggest regret in the band.”

Now, there is a chance at redemption. The band are ‘throwing caution to the four winds’ and start recording the fourth record in Glasgow in January. Let’s hope they christen it with care.

Saint Jude’s Infirmary play at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh on Friday 25 November. Tickets for the show are available here.

Here’s a reminder of what the band are capable of: