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.
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!
There 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.
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.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this letter when I saw the title, or even if I should be writing this in the first place. But, I figured I should. If I can’t, it’s only going to hold me back, and that is something I definitely do not want. I chose to put you guys in one letter because it just seemed apt and, also because, it isn’t fair to be only writing to one of you =)
K, you were the first boy I called my ‘boyfriend’. The first one I kissed, the first that took my breath away with said kisses. You taught me what it was to see past the things people hid behind, to discover the real gem of someone’s soul. We had our ups and downs, and though I admit some of it could have been handled with a little bit more dignity, we made it through it all. We didn’t realise the stress we were dealing with all around, and thought it was what came with the territory of being teenagers. Whatever we faced, we faced it strong. And I think our relationship started shaping the person I was to be.
When I look back on what we had, I still smile. Because we had a lot of memories back then. At the end of it all though, we were young, we were naive, and we were, quite possibly, in love. I say ‘quite possibly’ because I feel the idea of love entranced us a lot more back then, and I say this in the nicest way possible. I gave it my all, but my heart was still learning to deal with all the emotions thrown its way.
What makes me happy though, is to see how far you’ve come. How far we’ve both come, in fact. You’ve been there through some milestones in my life. And vice versa. And as I said to you before this year began, I’m thankful we’ve gotten back in touch with each other over the years. Feels good to know we’ve matured enough to be nice to each other. Thank you for being all you have.
E. Oh, what do I say to you? You started out as one of my amazing friends, and then became so much more. What I loved about our relationship was that, the most. The fact that, as friends, we could talk about anything under the sun. And then, as lovers, some more. You encouraged my strengths, which helped you develop yours too. We went through the changes of being 18+ years and in love. And having our hearts broken because of the way things ‘were supposed to be’. And rebuilt, and broken again.
I won’t rehash the past, because so many good things came from our relationship. Amazing friends, great memories, and inexplicable bonds. And in a strange way, if not for you, I don’t think I would have realised I was meant to fall in love with the city I live in. So I’m grateful for that.
What I regret is this past year taking a toll on our once-solid friendship. You said ‘things change, people change’. I tried so hard for that not to be true for us. But somewhere, I think we both sort of took a step back, and another, and another…until we were safely far enough to not be affected. And somewhere, I stopped trying. Not because I didn’t care, but because I was tired of being the one who had to try.
In saying that, I hope things start to look up, for you and maybe, for our friendship. I also hope that whatever it is that life throws your way, you handle well and come out stronger. You’re capable of it, of reaching out to your dreams. You just need to see it. I loved you, and I still hope for the friend I had before all this. I can only hope that friend is still there somewhere, not for my sake, but for the lives you will touch.
You’ve both been there at different points in my life, to teach me different lessons. To help me experience life through your eyes. To let me have people to call mine. Thank you for helping me grow. Thank you both, thank you for the memories.