In their earliest incarnation, the Saints were one of the one of the most blazing bands on the Australian punk scene of the '70s, and their 1976 single "(I'm) Stranded" became an international success. The group would go through many creative shifts in the years that followed, in particular after co-founder Ed Kuepper left the line-up and Chris Bailey became their uncontested leader. But Kuepper would seek to re-create some of the taut energy of his salad days in the Saints in a band he called the Aints, which took a similarly stripped-down approach while adding new and noisy twists to the formula. The Aints were a no-frills outfit with Kuepper's guitar work hitting a midpoint between punk rock fury and a thicker, semi-psychedelic approach on their first two albums, both released in 1991 -- the studio set Ascension, and the live disc S.L.S.Q. While the Aints' recording career was over nearly as quickly as it started, Kuepper revived the concept in the 2010s to cut an album of unreleased songs penned before and during his tenure with the Saints, 2018's The Church of Simultaneous Existence, which added a touch of unpretentious refinement to their sound.

Kuepper founded the Saints in Brisbane, Australia with Chris Bailey and Ivor Hay in 1973, originally using the name Kid Galahad and the Eternals. Initially playing '50s rock covers at a blazing speed and intensity, the trio evolved into the Saints and self-released their debut single, "(I'm) Stranded," in 1976. The single initially fell on deaf ears, but when a small label issued it in England, a rave review in Sounds Magazine brought it to the attention of punk rock fans in Australia and the U.K., and it became a modest hit. EMI quickly stepped in to sign the band to a record deal, and between February 1977 and October 1978, the Saints released three albums -- (I'm) Stranded, Eternally Yours, and Prehistoric Sounds. However, financial problems and creative differences stymied the group, and in 1979, Kuepper left the Saints. That same year, he debuted a new group, the Laughing Clowns, releasing their self-titled debut EP in 1980. Taking a more ambitious and jazz-influenced direction than the Saints, Kuepper would release four studio albums with the Laughing Clowns before embarking on a solo career with the 1986 album Electrical Storm.

While Kuepper clearly had diverse tastes, he hadn't lost his passion for simple, guitar-based rock & roll, and with this in mind, he formed the first edition of the Aints in 1991. Supposedly taking the name from an old Saints bass drum head that had lost its S, the Aints made their live debut in Sydney in April 1991, with Kuepper (on guitar and vocals) joined by bassist Kent Steedman and drummer Tim Reeves, and the set list dominated by old Saints tunes, though Kuepper's guitar work was significantly heavier than it was in his early days. A cassette recording of the debut show became the group's first album when it was issued as the live disc S.L.S.Q. (the title was said to mean "Strictly Limited Sound Quality"). In November 1991, the Aints released their first studio album, Ascension, which featured new material as well as a revised lineup, bassist Artie Sledge, sax player Tim Hopkins, and drummer Mark Dawson. Autocannibalism followed in 1992, and a five-song EP, Cheap Erotica, was released in 1993. However, by the time the EP arrived, Kuepper had returned to his prolific solo career, and a third Aints studio album, Afterlife, was shelved and he retired the project.

In 2017, Kuepper returned to the Aints' concept when he formed a new version of the band for a tour in which he primarily performed songs he wrote for the Saints. The new version of the band, which he billed as the Aints!, included Peter Oxley of the Sunnyboys on bass, jazz artist Alister Spence on piano, Eamon Dilworth on trumpet (he also wrote horn arrangements for the band), and Paul Larsen Loughhead of the Celibate Rifles and the New Christs on drums. Touring lasted into 2018, and then Kuepper took the group into the recording studio. The Aints!'s 2018 album The Church of Simultaneous Existence found them performing a collection of songs that Kuepper had written between 1973 and 1978, but had never recorded, believing they might not be a good fit for the Saints. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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