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Arts & Culture

A 'Civil War Of The Soul' Drives San Antonio's Fishermen

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Talking to members of the San Antonio six-piece band fishermen, it’s clear the guys aren’t fooling around. Of all the groups that came to our studios this summer for our “Back 40” live music project, they’re the only ones that brought their manager along. That they even have a manager is also telling.

“When did we not need a manager?” jokes bass player Roy Scavone.

“We take [the music] pretty seriously,” adds lead singer and songwriter Edwin Stephens. “If you’re going to get organized, there’s got to be some kind of organizational structure. And if we’re going to be artists, we need the head space to be artists first, and to focus on making really good music. We need somebody else to wear the hat of making sure stuff gets done.” Good point.

That cleared head space and organization has led to an official double-EP release party on Sunday, September 6 at Sam’s Burger Joint. The CD will feature their soulful original songs, including “All My Love” and “Fire Me Up.”

That latter tune is representative of the group’s spiritual, socially and politically driven music. Musically, Stephens points to local artists like Buttercup and the Cartographers as inspiration; for the words, Stephens says he’s inspired by social justice, and figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., whose spirit is very much alive for Stephens. He even refers to King in present tense:

“In the face of oppression, in the face of injustice, he sees hate as the root of that injustice. He is so opposed to hate that he won’t contaminate his own mission with any sort of hate. He won’t use hate to defeat hate. Even though … his instinct is to fight back. But he’s seen this thing that is more beautiful, which is unconditional love.”

“I like to talk about civil rights and civil war—we have an EP called Civil War—I love peace and I love unity, so I like to pay attention to where you find that disrupted. [There’s] a battle that’s going on here,” Stephens says while pointing to his heart. “You have these two things in conflict. Ultimately one’s going to be the victor. It’s such layered imagery, but that’s exactly what ‘Fire Me Up’ is about.”

Other songs by fishermen are more spiritually driven, and indeed the group takes its name from the New Testament, and the story of Simon Peter and Andrew, fishermen who became “fishers of men” after following Jesus.

I remarked that there was a parallel there between the history behind their name and the message in their songs, and the group agreed.

You can hear the gospel of the fishermen online at their website and Bandcamp page, and in person at Sam’s Burger Joint on Sunday, September 6.