Her’s and Ours
IN THIS PHOTO: Her’s/PHOTO CREDIT: Ryan Jafarzadeh
Remembering a Band Who Set a Shining Example
THIS week has not been a great one for music...
PHOTO CREDIT: Neelam Khan Vela
and we have seen too much loss! Not only did Scott Walker die earlier in the week but we lost a very promising and exciting band, Her’s. In fact, they are a duo but, semantics aside, many were shocked by their premature deaths. It is always shocking when we experience tragedy in music but this week has been especially tough. Audun Laading and Stephen Fitzpatrick were hit by a wrong-way driver in Arizona on Wednesday. The news was confirmed on Thursday and fans of the band were devastated. I am fairly new to Her’s but know what an impact they made in their short time. Here, in this article from The Guardian, the news was reported:
“There’s a sense of shock within the Liverpool music community today, as people come to terms with the tragic death of two of its rising stars. Audun Laading and Stephen Fitzpatrick, who made up the band Her’s, were travelling to a gig in California with their tour manager Trevor Engelbrektson on Wednesday night when all three were killed in a traffic accident. The news was confirmed by the band’s record label, Heist or Hit, on Thursday evening.
Liverpool may be fiercely proud of its own, but gladly embraces those who wish to lay down roots in the city and contribute to its cultural life. Fitzpatrick and Laading were prime examples of that. They became recognisable faces from the bars, venues and streets of Liverpool: they belonged. Jez Wing, a music teacher, keyboard player with Echo and the Bunnymen, and fan of Her’s has fond memories of chatting to the pair while walking down Bold Street, “talking about how brilliant I thought their music was and how brilliant I thought they were. They were really fired up for the tour. The loveliest lads you can imagine – it’s a huge loss to the Liverpool music scene. Horrible.”
Liam Brown is a labelmate of Her’s under his Pizzagirl moniker, and toured with the band last year. As with everyone else who came into contact with the pair, he speaks of Fitzpatrick and Laading with the highest regard. “What’s really sad is that we’re not going to hear any more music from them. They were such great people – really warm and funny – but also more than that. They’ll get so many new fans to their music now, but in the most tragic circumstances.”
These two young artists lived with great vigour and happiness. Tonight, their music is a salve for those still reeling from their deaths. It is ringing out in the bars and venues in Liverpool they frequented, and their impact will ring out for longer, and further”.
We have seen artists die suddenly before but there was something extremely unfair about Her’s’ demise. They were travelling to a gig in California and one feels the mood would have been excitable. They would have been in their vehicle and, although tired, pumped to go to a new location. The fact they were struck so suddenly and brutally has denied the music world of a band who were on the cusp of something great. It is sad to see young men die so young – but we do have their music in the world.
Many people have provided their impressions of Her’s and why they were so loved. Liverpool took them to heart and the respect between the band and city is clear. Liverpool will never forget them and let’s hope that people keep the music of Her’s alive. Not only is the music of Her’s bright and indelible but the chaps themselves burned themselves into the hearts of their fans. I urge people to listen to their album, Invitation to Her’s as it is filled with jangly music that lifts the spirit but, behind it all, there is a sophistication and depth that strikes you. I have heard few bands that create music as interesting and arresting as Her’s. Songs of Her’s (2017) showed they had immense promise but their sophomore album, released last year, took them up another level. Their music is tight and light but it has a real drive and intelligent that means it attracts everyone. Their live gigs were lauded because of how the music translated and how Laading and Fitzpatrick connected with the audience. They always had a smile and, whilst this feature might be a bit late paying tribute to them, I feel a lot of other artists should follow their lead. Just listen to their music and hear how it makes you feel! There is so much negativity and emotional drain in music and it can be hard finding cheer and energy. Her’s dealt with serious subjects but they always wanted to make the listener feel better and in a warmer place. They definitely did that and, because of this, we give them thanks.
PHOTO CREDIT: DIY
One can never know how far Her’s will go and what could have been. Their U.S. tour was cut tragically short and it is a huge loss to the fans that were waiting to see them and never got the chance. I suspect Her’s could have been Glastonbury headliners and a worldwide success. It is clear their music had a solid fanbase and I hope, following their death, many people share Her’s to the world and their wonderful messages. Perhaps more extraordinary than the music itself is the personalities of Laading and Fitzpatrick. I do feel there is a lack of standout personalities in the industry and it can be hard bonding with an artist. In the case of Her’s we had two lads who were full of smiles and laughter and made everyone feel better. At their gigs, they would banter and chat; they had bright smiles and made sure everyone was having a great time. They did this in their music too which makes it heartbreaking we have lost them. Her’s will live on but I do feel like the music industry can learn a lot from them. Whether it is the way the band made their audiences come alive or the sheer addictiveness of the songs, there is so much we can take away. I have been listening to Her’s’ albums since Thursday and, having experienced a few of their songs before, discovered new gems and diamonds.
Perhaps Low Beam (Invitation to Her’s) is my favourite songs of theirs but, in truth, everything they have put out is wonderful! If you are starting a band or lost for direction, have a look and listen to Her’s and you will find guidance. Look at their videos and interviews around and you will see these genuine guys who, alongside their tour manager, were cruelly taken from us. I think we could all take guidance from Her’s regarding their attitude and charm. There are great interviews out there but, from one they gave to DORK last year when promoting Initiation to Her’s (technically their debut album: Songs of Her’s is more of a collection of previous single), you can see how they approached their album and their shock when it comes to gigs and how the fans respond to them:
“I feel like people thought we were wussing out a bit with the collection thing. When we announced this one they were like, ‘Isn’t this the second album really?’ We got cold feet for the debut though so I guess we couldn’t put it off much longer, but I feel like we approached this one more confidently,” Stephen explains.
Some of the ideas behind the album had been fermenting a while, with fragments of songs laying around the cutting room floor for up to two years before being called up to the front line.
Stephen continues: “It seemed very clear what needed to be on 'Songs of Her’s'. It was basically what we were playing actively live at the time, which is why it felt not scattered, but we were dipping our feet in a lot of different sounds at that point.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Neelam Khan Vela
“It’s crazy; they know the lyrics and everything - probably better than I do,” Auden begins. “I thought the Waiting Room like the first London headline show we did - obviously it’s not the biggest, a 120 cap, but it was packed out and everybody was there to have the best time, and they all knew the lyrics. That was a proper intimate moment”.
Their infectious humour and closeness is what made them a dream to see live, listen to and interview. In another interview they gave last year, they spoke about their own game they developed:
“What do you do in your spare time between travelling and playing shows, do you have any games to battle the boredom?
Yeah, we’ve actually gotten to the point of developing our own game! Our high calibre, medium intensity, hat throwing game, Bobbin’! It revolves around spinning caps on each other’s head from a distance. It’s become our main way to pass time when there’s a little moment to kill on the road!”
There is so much to miss about Her’s but, rather than be sad, we can remember them for all they gave to the music world in their short careers. There is that body of stunning work, the live memories and, in years to come, one will hear other artists taking a lead from Her’s. They will be sorely missed but I feel like many artists should be more Her’s. Whether that is adding more fun and excitement to music or being more interactive at gigs...here was a band who ticked every box and were primed for big things. We mourn their passing but we also thank this incredible band who gave the world...
SO much love and brilliance.