Two years ago, today, we learnt that Stephen Fitzpatrick, Audun Laading and their tour manager Trevor Engelbrektson were killed en route to Phoenix, Arizona on their North American tour in a crash. The driver of the other car involved in the crash also passed away.
To show an appropriate amount of grief for two men, when the majority of their fanbase had never met them, is difficult. However, their ages alone (Fitzpatrick being 24 and Laading being 25) are enough for anyone to mourn – death at such a young age and under such tragic circumstances are hard for anyone to process. With their passions and peeves being the drive behind lyrics, and everything accompanying those words, reaching out through music and establishing emotional connections so strongly, profoundly and in so many different ways is incredibly special.
Although I never personally met Her’s, I was lucky enough to see them once at Truck Festival in 2018. I was stood at the barrier at Saturday midday, sober and wondering why there was a cardboard cut-out of Danny DeVito on stage with them. After they had finished, I shouted up to Audun Laading for the setlist, he then shook his head at me whilst mouthing “we don’t have one”. Although this brief ‘encounter’ was probably the least significant thing in meaning and outcome, it still stays in my mind.
My acknowledgment and love for Her’s may be distantly personal, yet having such a progressive band with a well-developed sonic and visual, as well as personalities and friendship, performing and talking, is heart-breaking without doubt. I cannot say I knew or loved them personally, but everything about ‘Her’s’, I loved. I loved how they came across in interviews, how playful they are when performing, the dynamics in moods they communicate and their visuals; everything they made in such a short time, they did to perfection. Sometimes I watch videos of their live sets at gigs and performances on radio stations and just the unequivocally pure happiness of their music (even when stripped back) is so prevalent and strong; their personalities when performing are so genuine and funny – yet now, every time I watch one of these videos, there is some mellowness attached to their happiness.
The day before the crash, their last Instagram post reads: ‘Rumour has it that in the morning hours in Austin; two dudes can be seen floating around the Ladybird Lake on barge’
The video for the performance they did whilst on Ladybird Lake is linked below:
Although an acoustic performance, the setting of them playing whilst floating around Ladybird Lake, and the video being released the day before makes everything so peaceful. Although that sense of peace is in many ways, in light of such a tragic accident, comforting and sincere – it does bring a slight retrospective sourness and upset to these videos.
The last gig Her’s did was at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix. Luckily for everyone, a large majority of the gig was recorded:
Everything I have previously said about how Her’s came across is summed up by these two videos. They can be incredibly delicate, but also bouncy and fun – particularly Audun and how he jumps about whilst playing. But the happiness of this video has the same effect as the Ladybird Lake performance, such beauty and energy in a performance is bittersweet, when what looms is so sour to think about.
Not personally knowing Stephen and Audun doesn’t allow me share the extent of their worth, but those who did, share words surrounding their happiness:
‘These boys deserved the world, they deserved much more recognition than they received in their time on earth’ – Sarah King
‘They were just so incredibly lovely and genuine and fun’ – Nathalie Candel
Although these types of comments usually come out after a person’s death, their age, their music, their presence on stage, in interviews, everywhere we as fans saw them, we believe that these words are beyond truth.
Her’s had established one of the strongest sonic, visual and personal presences of any UK band had on their level when touring and making music; it’s sad to speculate what they could’ve been, it’s sad to remember what they were; but what they have done in their short time gives more justice to their lives than most.
Rest gently and peacefully Stephen and Auden, I hope you’re still floating.