IT’S unusual for a new band to move straight to putting out an album.

It’s far more common for up and coming artists to build up their fanbase through a series of EPs first, before making the leap to a longer album.

But two young musicians from Hexham have joined together with their fellow bandmates to buck that particular trend.

Singer and guitarist Michael Watts and drummer Louis Charlton, both from Hexham, make up one half of indie-rock outfit St Austin.

They are joined by Newcastle-based pair Jacob Payling, also on guitar, and Joe Stonor on bass.

Michael, who studied at Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School before going on to the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle to do his A-Levels, explained his own musical background, and how the band came together.

He said: “I’ve been playing piano since I was really young, and then I started guitar when I was 11.

“Classical guitar got boring and I discovered I could sing when I was about 13. I’m 17 now, so the last three or four years I’ve been writing songs and they’ve been getting better and better.

“It was about February last year, Jacob and I met at school. I was writing and he was working out the melodies, and we had some really good ideas.

“We got together with Louis and Joe and we started meeting up every week to practice.”

Originally known as Dahlia, the quartet went on to play gigs all around the North-East, including the Globe in Newcastle and the Vault in Hexham.

In December, St Austin played a gig at the Globe that saw them sell around 100 tickets, and even had another band supporting them.

In addition, the band took on some smaller festivals over the summer, and changed their name to St Austin – a reference to a series of fictional short stories that were influential in Jacob’s early childhood.

Taking inspiration from a wide range of artists such as The Strokes, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Paolo Nutini, St Austin were described as “Indie-More-Pop-Than-Rock” in Crack magazine, although Michael said he preferred to class them as catchy indie rock.

Eventually, they pulled together enough money to record their first album – a nine-track work called Ever Since Friday, which was recorded at a music studio in Newcastle with the help of fellow musician Liam Gaughan.

The band mix lyrical guitar driven melodies with uptempo drums. However, they’ve also experimented with traditional instruments, including the violins, organs and pianos.

The album was recorded in autumn last year before being released in December, and has had good feedback since then.

Michael continued: “It’s been fantastic really. I write all the songs at the minute, but for the next one the others are going to try as well.

“I wrote loads of songs, and we just decided on the nine best ones.

“We had a really good guy called Liam who helped us.

“Next year, we’re going to contact places like Corbridge Festival for next summer. We’re going to Heaton Festival again and we’re thinking about trying the big festivals to play as one of the smaller acts, like Kendal Calling.

“We’ve also contacted places like the Cluny, and this type of music is really popular around Hexham so we can play a lot of gigs.

“We just send our music all around.”

Playing with the band at the moment is proving tricky, however, with all four members currently studying for their A-levels.

Following that, all but Michael plan to head to university, while he has plans for a gap year.

Michael said he may head to university in the future, but has no plans to do a music related degree.

“I don’t think I would do music at uni,” Michael added. “The way I write songs, I have to do it independently.

“I don’t think I would get anything out of a degree like that.”

Despite that, Michael is hopeful of making a career out of St Austin – even though money making isn’t currently at the forefront of his thinking.

He added: “So many people love that type of music.

“You get people coming up to you and singing your lyrics, and someone got out their car and said to me ‘guess what I’ve been listening to? St Austin’.

“I never thought it would get anywhere near like this, but I’m starting to think that we could make something of this.

“I don’t do it for the money at the minute. I think about getting the album out there, and making more songs and getting more people into our music.

“I’m 17. I don’t need a lot of money right now.”

St Austin’s album, Ever Since Friday, is available to stream on both Apple Music and Spotify.

Additionally, further information on the band’s activities can be found on their self-titled Facebook page.