Two years ago this month, we played our first ever O2 Academy show in our home city of Birmingham. It was a Saturday; the 26th of May 2012. I was in college (with Jamie, who would later become our drummer) when we got the a-okay to play an O2 Academy showcase of unsigned talent. I was blown away. This doesn't happen to every small band.
When you're a young band, you aspire to play venues like that. Purpose-built, internationally acclaimed venues. The ones that your idols play at. We were used to playing pub gigs and local venues (some of which were undeniably awful) but this was a cut above. This was to be our biggest ever show. And so it was. We were last on the bill for the night - some would call it headlining, I would not; starting your set at 10:30pm for an 11:00pm curfew is not a good slot. Whatever. We blew it out of the park.
We were asked to play again. August 4th (my birthday, and the day before Jack's). O2 Academy Bristol. Main stage. 1,600 capacity venue filled, maybe a quarter full. Obviously some of the bands on the bill had lied about how many tickets they'd sold. We played our set, with the best lighting and the best sound techs we'd ever played for. We were taken outside by the event manager who told us he was sending us to London. We couldn't contain ourselves. We felt like Dick Whittington. We got drunk celebrating and crashed out in our hotel rooms.
They sent us to London that year, but not before a return to Birmingham for a support slot. Each show got bigger and better. By the following April we'd played at the O2 Academy Islington's second and main stages, and got lost outside The Ritz on the way to a rooftop after-party. We wandered aimlessly up The Strand until we found our hotel, the ME. This hotel was posh, man. Like, £16-for-two-beers-plus-service-charge posh. The view over London was incredible. We played; we partied; we crashed; we came home.
We played at our home O2 Academy a further three times before the year was out.
Everything has changed in two years. Everything. We've left behind so many people and so many opportunities that it hurts, every day. The people who come to our shows today are not the same people that came to our shows two years ago. We'd play in front of treasured then-girlfriends and former friends, fans who gave up on us and fans who stuck with us, and all those in between. Our lives were populated by a different set of people. Good people. That first home Academy show was so long ago now that it isn't even recorded on our website. Yet it feels like yesterday. It still feels like yesterday that we wrote Bad Decisions, thinking it was the best song we'd ever written (hint: it isn't).
It's hard sometimes. We know how far we've come and how much we've sacrificed. We know. To all those we've hurt along the way, I am sorry. We are sorry. It was never our intention to leave anyone behind. One day we'll come back. One day this dream will end and we'll catch up, if you'll have us.
To all those we've helped, I am sorry that you are hurting. The reason I think anyone is in a band is to connect with people. Like-minded people. People who are in the same station in life. People who have the same life problems. To write a song is to write an open letter to the world, inviting them into your life and telling them that it's okay, that we are out here and we have felt how you feel.
Your progress doesn't have to change the world every day. Sometimes it's enough to take things one step at a time, like we have. You will leave people behind, you will hurt. And that's okay.
Today is tough for me. There are lots of reasons why (and please do not ask me, if you're reading this. Please, just don't). But for some people, every day is tough. Forgive them.
We'll be in touch real soon with actual band news. Today was not the day.