Strings For Ammo – Music for your heart

I’ve always felt writing about anything that matters to me is a way of putting it out in the universe that there is this ‘something’ that has made a difference in my life. Which is why I write on this blog too. There are so many of you who tell me that you feel exactly the same as I do about many things, which – of course – is what any writer loves to hear. But that aside, I just wish to express the emotion I feel with things.

Music is something that everyone connects to in different ways. For me, it helps me put life into perspective sometimes, or sometimes just sets the stage right for the emotions I’m feeling. Today, through this post, I want to tell you about this wonderful local band that I have had the privilege and pleasure of getting to know. I didn’t need to write this post. But I wanted to. Why? Because there are few things in life that you can be sure of, and the joy that Strings For Ammo has brought to me is one of those things. Steven Fothergill and Joe Murray are the two delightful souls that make this folk/rock Brisbane-based duo. They are not just in sync with each other, but are completely in tune with the people they are playing for.

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Music for your heart

I moved to Brisbane back in February 2012. It took me a few months to adjust to this place, and one of the ways I did that was to wander about the city, earphones plugged in, disappearing into my own bubble as I took in the sights all around me. On days that got me down when I was missing the familiarity of home, I’d wander over to the shops to take my mind off of it.

On one such wander with the aim of getting groceries, I was at a set of lights waiting to cross the road. Out of habit, I take out my earphones at that corner because it always has a busker. It is my belief that the least I can do is respect the musician on the corner if I don’t have spare change to drop into their case. Anyway, back to my story. It was a cold day (mid-year, perhaps) and I was a bit melancholy for days because I missed home more than usual. Now, before I even took the earphones out, I was hit by a gust of happy. And I realised that it was the buskers on the corner that brought it along. I broke into the happiest of smiles I’d had in a while, and moved aside to let the world continue around me. There was magic to be witnessed, and I wasn’t budging till they took a break! When they did, I dropped all the spare change I had in the case, noted their name to find them on Facebook and tell them digitally of their brilliance. Strings For Ammo – that’s different! Excellent, I had a way to follow them on their adventures!

Cut to a year later, they happened to have a Pozible campaign posted on their page to help fund their new album. For those of you who don’t know, Pozible is very similar to Kickstarter, in that it is a way of getting crowd-funded, but it focuses on creative projects and ideas. So, I had a bit of money I could spare and decided that this would be a worthy cause. And then, life took over. I got busy with other things, and I just assumed that if I heard any developments about this, it’d be from Facebook, and that was that. I’d helped how I could, and I was happy J Little did I know that I was wrong!

2014-01-06 14.21.07There was a place I frequented with friends often, called the Beach House (which strangely, was just across the street where I first laid ears upon Strings For Ammo). We’d go there for the company, and stay for the ambience and sometimes, the music.

From late-August/early September, every Thursday, there was a pretty great duo playing there, and I made it a bit of a routine with my close friend to go there each week (it’s not stalking if you happen to be in the area!). As luck would have it, my birthday fell on a Thursday, so we were there on the day too. When my roommate told the band it was my birthday, Steven came up to wish me and gave me a demo of their CD as a gift. I looked at it and was spellbound – this was the same band! Strings For Ammo, I know them! Such a girly tizzy was had, after which I went up and told them I knew who they were and how great I thought they were and stuff (which, let me tell you, is a big deal for me. I can admire bands and talented people from afar, and write to them on an online platform, but talking to anyone face to face really intimidates me). In the break that followed, they both came and had a chat with me, which just cemented the great day I was having. And in that moment, I fell in love with the people they were.

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The way they both talked about playing music for music’s sake, their joy was so evident, and contagious too. I could see how they lit up as I listened to them. They told me about their Northern English (Steve) and Irish (Joe) roots, and how they played gigs all around Brisbane, and about how well their new album was coming along. They had to go back on stage and play, they said, but told us to come see them play more often. Few days later, we decided to go to one of my favourite Brissy Irish haunts (O’Malley’s Irish Pub), and who should be the live act there but these guys. Again, on their break, they decided to come have a chat. They’d do this every time we were in, and I was overjoyed that they did. It’s when I started to know them.

Steve told me about his plans for what he wanted the band to be. And what I loved was the soul this man had. He wanted to make a difference, however big or small, to the world and those around him. He wanted to do it because he believes in the talent they possessed. And that is a rare thing nowadays. You more often than not see talented people giving in to the allure of the powerful, rather than deciding to work off their own merits and shortcomings. He dreams of giving a good life to his people back home. And he imagines the wonders of the band’s music touching more people than they ever imagined. Steve tells me about his plans and I ask him, “Can I write about you guys?” He says, “As long as you don’t curse us, go right ahead!”

Joe’s the quieter one, mostly because he tends to wander off during these conversations. But you can see the mischievous glint of happiness and a zest for life in his eyes when you do get a chance to chat to him. On one of our random sit-downs, I turned to him and said to him, “Joe, I always chat away to Steve, and know so much about him. Tell me something about you.” His first response? “I love to play, music makes me happy.” And when I asked him what his dreams were for the band, he only said this – to connect with the audience and give them something that makes them happy, if they didn’t feel that already.

In 2013, they made it to number 1 in the triple J Roots charts, and number 14 in the overall charts. It’s funny, I remember walking through an ABC shop with a friend last month, pointing to the triple J section and saying to him, “next month, Strings For Ammo’s ‘Leave your Judgement at the Door’ will be here, just you wait.” Every single the I went to see them play, I’d have a new friend with me who hadn’t witnessed who this band was that I keep talking about, and not one of them has been disappointed. Whether it’s been the covers of songs we lot, or their originals, they have a distinct tone that reaches you, no matter what! With the official launch of their album scheduled for the 23rd of this month (all you local people reading this should absolutely come support them!), their dreams are slowly and steadily on their way to becoming a reality. And I cannot think of any two musicians that deserve it more. I cannot wait for the day their names will be in lights and I can turn to people next to me and say, “I know those guys, they are amazing!”

I’m going to end my swooning over these amazing men and their musical talent here with this. John Lennon once said, “Listen, writing about music is like talking about f***ing. Who wants to talk about it? But you know, maybe some people do want to talk about it.” I don’t always write about music, as you can tell. I wrote about something that touched me, and made my heart happy. Something that I had a connection with. I wrote about them simply because I wanted more people to know Strings For Ammo.

And someday, I hope the world knows them.

<3

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2013, you’ve been…interesting?

So, last year, I summed up my 2012 with a similar note to this. And I said I was going to let 2013 top 2012. The real question here, of course, is did it top the year I had prior? Well, in some ways it did, and in others it didn’t.

The double Masters of Business that I moved to Australia for was completed successfully. Dealing with the change from a single to a double major was a big deal in itself. And being one of the first few of the family to have a proper graduation was pretty awesome, for them and a whole bunch of my friends too!

Speaking of graduation, my grand mom was super proud that I had made it, and even more so that she could see it in person. Yes, she undertook the long journey to come here from India with mum,and that meant a lot. Not having my whole family here was a bit heart-breaking,but oh well, you win some, you lose some, hey? Something that happens way more than I’d like, the whole family being in different places, but…I’m glad the two women who’ve stood by me through a lot of my life’s education drama could be there to share this with me!

I crossed off a couple of things from my ‘30 before 30 list’. I bought myself my first self-funded Apple product, and finished the double Masters in a foreign country – Australia.

I saw two of my favourite bands live in concert, with people that mattered. First, The Script and then, OneRepublic. I genuinely loved the music they put out as bands, and the people that made these bands amazed me as well. But to see both of them live, oh what an experience that was!

I lived with a roommate for the first time, and love it! Yes, last year, I lived by myself for the first time. I decided to take it a step up from there and live with a childhood friend of mine as a roommate. Best decision we made really! It teaches you to be a bit more social, bit more accepting, and also, how you genuinely feel about having someonearound more often than not, and how you deal with social situations I guess. And in the process, I have a woman around that I can always count on, for good advice, good company and good conversations.

I re-learnt the hard way this year that people who were close to me can, and possibly will, leave…or sometimes, just step away. And the sad thing that I learnt this time around is, you can try as much as you want, if they don’t see their place in your life as prime as you do,there really is no way to get them to stay there.

I learnt that life has a way of throwing things your way that you least expect. Sometimes good, sometimes bad and sometimes things that just make you go, “Like seriously, what is wrong with you, life?” And all you can do is go at it – chin up, head high and expect the best, while preparing for the worst. A part of me wishes this wasn’t so, but the other part of me realises that if it wasn’t for the not so great, I wouldn’t appreciate the awesome, amazing and beautiful things that happen.

And to round this off, reflecting on the final life-lesson of 2012 of believing I was amazing myself, I’ve come to realise that that was definitely a good belief to start ingraining in myself. At the end of 2013, I’ve had numerous people tell me how wonderful they perceived me to be, that I’m slowly but surely coming to believe in it myself. I have a way to go, but I’m glad I’ve started this journey.

Has 2013 been the amazing year I thought it would be? Not particularly. But has it been worse than 2012? No. What it has been is an average year. And I guess I could count myself as lucky for not having to deal with a horrible year instead of an uninspiring one? 2014, let’s see what you’ve got. Maybe big things are to happen with you? I look forward to finding out!

<3

Day 17 — Dear awesome new friends

Dear awesome new friends,

I was just going to say, you are out-of-this-world-amazing, and that is all. But decided not to be so off-handed about it, especially since you all know me as the one who can never stop at a few words :P

I’ve met almost all of you after making the move to a country that I knew nothing about. If you are still a part of my life, it is because you have enriched my experience of it in many ways. I need you to know that your presence is appreciated, and everyday, I learn so many new things thanks to you. About you, about myself, and about the world. I hope I add some value to your life too :)

I If we don’t talk enough, or seem to have fallen out, that sucks. But it’s the down side to changing personalities and, quite often, changing interests. I wish we weren’t drifting apart, and I wish things were different. Here’s hoping things will change!

Till we all make new memories again,

Me

<3

Day 13 — Dear future me

Note: I’m writing this to my 40 year old self, presuming that it’s a good time in the future to write to.

Dear future me,

I did mention you in my previous letter. But I shall, once again reiterate what I have to say. Just so we’re clear, you know?

I hope that as you read this, you have finished your ’30 before 30′ list, and have moved on to your ‘Things to do before I’m 40’ list. I hope that you have everything your heart has hoped for, because with every little hurdle you face along the way, you realise that you deserve it all. Because you have damn well earned it.

Let’s hope that all the things you believed in when you were young were worth believing in when you read this. That true friends will stick by you through it all. That love is hard, but it’s worth it. That family is important, but they don’t always know what’s good for you. That you are your own person, in charge of your own happiness, and that no one can take that from you.

I hope you have reached that point in life where you are happy with the person you are, inside and out. Where you are finally the best version of you that you believe you can possibly be. You have a beautiful soul (something too many people have already told you), and you should have let that beauty shine upon the world. They deserve it.

Lastly, I don’t know what direction your life has taken you professionally. But all I hope is that you still write. Either as a hobby or as part of your career, I hope you put your soul to paper as often as you can. Because I know this now, I knew it a while ago, and you will know it too – nothing helps you grow and soar to heights unknown with the joy that writing gives you.

I look forward to YOU.

Love,

Me

P.S. Never forget, nothing beats a good hug, or a bowl of ice cream with good music and a book =)

<3

Day 2 — Dear closest friends (after my besties)

Note: I have a few friends that are incredibly close to my heart. With a couple of of them, we may not call each other best friends, but that’s what we are. And with a few others, we are just kindred spirits that found each other. And presumably, hopefully, will never let each other go. I cannot imagine what it’d be like, without them. These are people who, if and when they read this, will know who they are!
P.S. Sorry for the length, this was a lengthy one to write :P

Dear closest friends,

You lot are a wonderful lot. After all my years of putting up walls, I’ve realised you all are the ones that will constantly break through them. And even on days I’m not feeling up to letting you in, I know you will be waiting patiently on the other side. Just because you care.

Firstly, ladies. When I sat to write this, I realised that there were only three women that I could consider as my closest after A. And I am okay with that. I’d go to the moon and back if I could just have you in my life! Each of you has been a part of different parts of my life, and continue to be in it. And make it a happier place.
To start with, the lovely R. You’ve been there through my growing years in high school. You taught me about many things – life, relationships and friendships too. If it wasn’t for you, break would have been rather lame in school :) The fact that we can have grown up conversations today is testament to our friendship!
Next, my PYT – yep, my very own Pretty Young Thing. You, my little ball of energy, have been showering my life with all things happy, ever since undergrad. Or, even more so, since we met the ‘Cold Man’ :) You’ve taught me what it meant to laugh through my tears. To live life my own way. To say whatever is on my mind, and maybe in my heart. And to forgive or forget, whichever comes first. For everything, I thank you. Know I will always be there for you, no matter where I am in this world. You are an inseparable part of my soul. And I hope you know the important place you hold in my life. Always and Forever.
Coming about to my gorgeous S. Oh, you have no idea what it means to me to have a strong friendship going between us. Who knew, we’d come this far, after growing up together in diapers? It’s not something either of us had foreseen, but our time together in Australia has made me realise that if there was a friendship I would regret not holding on to, or working on, it would have been this one. I’m so glad we didn’t let each other go. You have helped me grow into the person I am today, and you’ve seen me change through the past year. You’ve told me how proud you are of the woman I have become, and that is a symbol of why I cherish you so much. You voice your opinions, and you’ve stood up to be true to yourself. I truly admire you, and I’m going to hope against all hopes to keep you close (geographically and otherwise).

Secondly, the men. Oh, I am blessed to know some wonderful, delightful men in my life. But there are some who hold a preciously close place to my heart. This is for you.
To kick things off, R and S. From the times we started hanging out midway through undergrad, until now. You boys – or rather, men – have only brought a whole bunch of smiles into my life. R, your jokes have always taken the cake for me! And S, gossiping with you is so much more fun than with anyone else! And today, when I talk to you both about our futures, our dreams and our ambitions, I realise how we’ve grown through time. And how, no matter what, we will find a way to laugh at situations. Because, if you can’t laugh in life, is it really worth the trouble? :)
To R (the other one) and L, the two wonderful men I’ve come across in my short time in Australia. I cannot stress how thankful I am for having you all in my life. R, you have completely turned around the way I think. And in the best way possible. You’ve taught me to think different, and challenged me to push myself further. I’ve been striving for more, because I believe I can. That belief has been born because of our endless conversations. And the fact that we can still have those conversations, whenever we each have the time, is a huge thing I’m grateful for every day. Thank you for being you, and for being in my life! Turning to you, L, I simply CANNOT get over the fact that I’ve known you for just 5 months (as of yesterday), and it feels like I’ve known you all my life. I can talk about anything under the sun with you, from the real, hard to get through stuff of life, to the silly things (that possibly make you question your conversations with me sometimes, hey!). I can be a total child with you, and I know you won’t judge me. Because as you say, we are both awesome, and we are both weird. So, we shall be awesomely weird in life together! Thank you for accepting me through my strangest moods and ramblings. I cannot imagine what it’d have been like, not having you in my life :)

I’d generally have stopped there, but there are some men who I could not afford to lose, and hence deserve a special mention. We may not talk often, or about too much, but when we do, it brings a happiness into my life that I cannot ignore.
To my Squishy ^_^ Our Skype, text/Whatsapp, phone and Facebook conversations have been some of the best things about some of my days in Brissy :) The randomness, the irrelevant arguments, and how we are married on Facebook are all a source of such delight for me! Thank you ‘hubby’, for being so amazing :) No matter what, you will always be my Squishy!!!
To Monsieur SF. I almost called you what I always do, but realised it’d be a no-brainer for people to figure out who you are :) Thank you for delighting me with some intriguing conversations. Thank you for being some of the best company I’ve had, for roaming through the streets or sitting on a bench, eating sushi and talking coffee ;) And your knowledge about my country is an absolute joy! Always be in my life, okay? And also, always give awesome hugs!
To B. You have made me learn to love myself a little more You have opened my mind (and my heart, a bit too) about the possibilities of life and all it has to offer. You have helped me be more appreciative, and for this, I will forever be thankful. Thank you for being such an amazing friend, and someone I can talk to about random things :)
Lastly, to the man who calls me his muse. F, it has been you who has made me smile – nay, blush – often times, with your random text messages, scribbles and the way you look at me. I adore you, and you cannot believe it I’m sure, but you’re are one of the most amazing people I know. And with the wonderful words you always have for me, I worry at times I may disappoint you. You have me on a pedestal; but if I fall, I’m pretty sure you’ll catch me. I absolutely cherish you mister!

Well folks who read to the end, thank you for your patience. And you people I mentioned, know you are the best people in the world. And know that you are, and always will be, cherished parts of someone’s life – mine.

Love,

Me

<3

Day 1 – Dear best friends

Note: This was supposed to be a letter to my best friend, but since I have two…well, that explains my title :)

Dear best friends,

I’m guessing the reason this starts out with a letter to you guys is solely because they presumed it wouldn’t be difficult. But, what do you say to those people who are a part of everything you say and do? Luckily, I never shut up (everyone knows this, but you guys know this too well). So of course, I would have things to say!

Firstly, A. For 10 years (and counting), we’ve been building a friendship that’s withstood a whole load of obstacles, and seen some wonderfully good times, too. We’ve seen each other grow – from teenagers running through the hidden staircases in our building, to young twenty-something women finding our calling in this big world. All the while, knowing that if either of us were to stumble, the other was going to be there to catch us. For the past six years, I was there for you and vice versa. But the only thing missing was a physical presence. Now, finally, we shall be in the same country! I look forward to making the memories we’ve missed out on. And know, if you need me, give me a bit of a notice. I shall jump on a plane for you in the middle of the night, even, just because I love you so! You were, are, and always will be, the Rachel to my Monica.

No, J. In the middle of showering my pretty lady here with love, I haven’t forgotten you! I want you to know that, though we’ve known each other for about half the time that I have known A, you both hold an equally important place in my life. And my heart. If you weren’t there when I moved to another country, I don’t think half my amazing memories could have been made. We’ve been through some stuff in each other’s lives together, and I knew if I needed it, I’d always be able to count on you for a hug, and a reason to smile. I know that you know this, but I’m still going to say this to you. I’m mostly right when it comes to giving advice, so as much as possible, take it :P That being said, I am so proud of you and the person you’ve grown to be in the time I’ve known you. You will always be my Superstar. And I will be your Indiana Jones, whenever you need me to be ;)

Both of you should know that whatever your dreams, your aspirations, your convictions, your premonitions…I’m going to be there for you. No matter what, no matter where I am, no matter when.

Love,

Me

<3

2012, it’s been a pleasure (somewhat)!

I’ve always read things like this. And never realised how much you can learn when you put your thoughts to paper (or in this case, a virtual note). Until 2012. This past year, I got back to writing, with a renewed passion. It’s not like I had stopped before, I just wasn’t motivated enough to write as much. But I did, and I’m glad about that.
Have you wondered what it would be like, to have a whole year be something you never, ever expected it to be? I always did, until 2012 came along. Boy, what a year it has been!

It’s been a year of many firsts.
I left home for the first time. And that wasn’t easy, especially coming from a background that prefers to keep “their own” a little too close. But my parents knew it was important to me, to break away, and they let me go and find my way.
I lived by myself for the first time. Being a twenty-something, I’ve wanted to experience a home of my own – away from family. I wanted to be able to discover myself. And moving to a place where I knew no one helped me do that.
I made friends with people from at least 10 different countries, for the first time. And some wonderful ones, at that. Learning about different cultures, and different ways of life, has been a divine experience. It made me realise that my hope…no, my dream, is to travel. Not just around the world. But, through stories. Through cultures. Through experiences. Through life.
I created, and stuck to creating, a blog – for the first time. It’s what made me realise how much I’d been missing writing. And how much I wanted to keep writing. It was like reconnecting with a part of my soul I didn’t know I had lost touch with. It also made me realise, I had an outlet of sorts. To hopefully never, ever lose that part of my soul again.

It’s also been a year of many life lessons…
I learnt that no matter what, there are some people I can’t win over. And that’s okay. What matters is that I tried. Friends, acquaintances or family, no one should point a finger at you and say that you never made an effort to make good with them.
I learnt what dating could feel like, outside my comfort zone. I went on dates with people who I wasn’t in a relationship with, and it was refreshing. It also becomes a part of your soul-searching, because you understand how you feel about relationships in general.
I learnt that it was okay to let people in, especially those who make an effort to come in. It allows you to let some amazing souls in your life. You make an effort to make sure the walls stay up, but these people will break them down, because they care enough to.
I learnt that people who were close to me can, and possibly will, leave. And I can’t change that, no matter how much I try. It’s a way of life. People come, people go. The ones that really care, will do whatever it takes to stay. And the ones that leave, probably have no reason to stay anymore.

And the most important thing 2012 has taught me is:
I learnt that if I didn’t believe myself that I was amazing, no one else really had a reason to believe it either. Why would they? You need to believe you are a gift in everyone’s lives, and they’re lucky to have/know you. Because you don’t need yourself to bring you down, there will be people to try that anyway. It’s the way of the universe.

It’s what life is about – firsts, experiences, milestones and memories. So here’s to life. And here’s to letting 2013 try to top 2012! Bring it on!

<3