Sometimes you hear the kind of sound that just clicks, the kind of tune that just won’t get out of your head. San Antonio has developed and evolved over the past few years – but it’s not necessarily the kind of slow, physical change that requires a bird’s-eye, time-lapse view. It’s the kind of shift that you can feel while walking down the street, while talking with newly engaged residents, or in this case when you put the headphones in and realize that this is happening here. This is happening right now.
I first heard Fishermen in February last year at 502 Bar in the Northside when they were part of a three-band show for the Colleens album release party with a solo performance by San Antonio’s Erik Sanden (of Buttercup and Demitasse). Fishermen was the last band on the bill and I had no idea what to expect. I just knew people were definitely not leaving, and in fact the crowd might have been growing. Camera in hand, I waited for the band to take the stage.
I was impressed by their energy on stage, floored by the sound they produced, and most of all taken aback by their unique chemistry. Nobody had a role deemed less important, and the melodies brought to the table were essential for Fishermen’s hypnotizing sound.
After watching their set, I’ve had many great conversations centered around the expression of performance and the unwillingness to separate ones self from the lyrics of lead vocalist Edwin Stephens, formerly of Blowing Trees. When listening to Stephens’ voice it feels warm and familiar but paradoxically unlike anything you’ve heard before.
If you haven’t had the chance to listen, Fishermen will release their first official double EP “Future Wives” and “Smart Kids” at Sam’s Burger Joint on Sept. 6. The show will likely be an excellent introduction to a group of talented individuals whom I listen to on the regular. Doors open at 6 p.m. and The Last Nighters and Octahedron will open the show at 7 p.m.
Fishermen is the kind of band that is O.K. with taking a step back and taking a methodical approach to a series of songs that range from fast-paced bohemian sounds to a melodic keyboard driven ensemble that just makes your heart melt in a bowl. It’s hard to describe the genre that bellows out of Fishermen. It’s raw, yet clean with crisp vocals that allow the listener to lose themselves in a series of methodically curated and painstakingly assembled songs.
Here are two of my favorite tracks from their discography so far:
Most of Fishermen’s songs are written in San Antonio by Stephens. One of my favorite tracks “Circles and Squares” is about a painful break up. A portion of the song is about the insanity of unconditional love – when you love someone even when they’re hurting you, he said.
But the band has a philosophy and presence that goes beyond mortal relationships.
The name “Fishermen” was born out of the New Testament.
“Some of the disciples were fishermen,” Stephens said, adding that his band mates gravitated towards “the idea that they were tradesmen (common people).
“We’re tradesmen and followers at the same time,” he said.
That aforementioned chemistry between the band mates is no accident. They fight for it, he said.
“No matter what, we’re family. Ride or die. When you take on that kind of perspective it’s not always that romantic. At the end of the day we are brothers and we’re working in a family business together. We hash out our conflict and it comes up and we talk about it,” he said. “It’s really important for us to have that unity. If it’s not there we won’t just let it ride and keep it going, we address things as a group. Wether it’s a musical decision or creative decision or a relational decision we have to come together and fight for us and fight for it. All of our edges become sanded off and we become a smooth, cohesive unit.”
San Antonio is a city that is ours to keep. We get to witness the growth, experience the change, and focus on the future. San Antonio may not be as lucky as Fishermen who have the potential to surpass the growth and transform overnight. I just hope we can keep them for as long as we can. Today the band consists of six musicians who carry jobs ranging from window washing, delivery driving, and pouring coffee. Tomorrow they might become who they deserve to be: full-time fishermen.
*Featured/Top Image: Fishermen pose for multiple photos shot on 35mm film. Photo collage by Josh Huskin.