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  • wjbingley

Down another way...

Foxhole is about the intoxicating rush of young adulthood. I wrote it when I was 20, and I think the best way to give it context is to link the feeling it evokes to some memories I have from around that time. Pardon the self-indulgence, but it’s that kind of song!

One big change in my life around this time was that I was at university after taking a gap year. Specifically, I was studying arts - majoring in ancient history but trying my hand at electives like studies of religion, psychology, and English literature. Psychology was the one that eventually stuck, but at this point I wasn’t thinking about careers - I was too busy being swept up in the joy of learning. And partying, sure, but that’s less transcendent. There’s something about being allowed to learn for the sake of learning that never feels sweeter than when you’ve made it through the drag of high school. Nowadays when I see undergraduate students (particularly first-years) on campus it reminds me of how fun that time in your life can be.

It helped that I was playing in my first regularly gigging rock bands like The Crashlights and Papperbok. The Crashlights were obnoxiously loud and (hopefully) infectiously enthusiastic. We had a great friendship group, and every show would be an excuse to start a night out in the valley. In fact we’re all still close - I see Joe every time I go to Brisbane, I’ve had so many great times with Luke, and I still pester Rupert with music recommendations. I think that band had some great songs too, it’s a shame we never got around to recording them properly. Papperbok was playing gigs and recording its first EP around this time too. Nick, Annie and I used to carpool to Michael’s parents’ place in Kelvin Grove every Thursday evening, fighting through the Coronation Drive traffic so that we could spend a few hours tackling increasingly ridiculous compositions. Every day was a new genre or a new challenge (the hardest one: don’t laugh at Lachlan doing insane shit while you play). I’m forever grateful to Michael’s parents Glenda and Pete for letting us make noise in their library. As a side note, we just played our first gig in five years in Melbourne and it felt amazing, in no small part because we’ve got such a long history of playing music together.

I was learning more about recording music at this point too. I had started off making weird albums mainly for my own amusement (which I do want to revisit one day) but by this point I was starting to get more ambitious. I did some recording and mixing for Crashlights demos, and was learning more about the process of being in a proper studio from recording the first Papperbok EP l, which we did with Brendan Cox at Alchemix. I wrote and recorded ‘Foxhole’ for on an album I made around this time under my previous solo music pseudonym ‘de Git’. I desperately wanted to make a good album of my own before I turned 21 (hah!), which I half-achieved. The songs and ideas were cool, but I didn’t have enough experience or gear to make it sound professional. At the time I felt like it was the best thing I’d done, and it probably was. But I’m hoping that going back and re-recording ‘Foxhole’ has done it more justice. It’s hard to look past amateurish recording quality to imagine what it could be - hopefully that’s not necessary with this version!

I think being in bands was one of the best things that happened to me, because it gave me confidence and a social group at the same time. I was basically a completely different person to just a year or two previously, infinitely happier and more outgoing. Every other week I went to a new place, did a new thing, or met a new person. I was also exploring various mind-altering substances at the time, which helped me to see the world in a different way to a couple of years previously. Lastly, and it might seem like a small thing, but I was also working in my first job at the time (casual events management, like ticketing at concerts) and that sense of participating in the adult world and having disposable income was also invigorating, even if the job itself was mundane.

And in between all these exciting new experiences, I had the immense good fortune of living at home in a very easy living situation with my family. Afternoons spent lying around reading or playing piano in the living room in the lush green of St Lucia was the bedrock of being able to go out and explore the world without feeling unsafe. Not everyone gets to remember their entry into the world of adulthood like I do, and that’s something else I’m grateful for.

I hope all of this gives you a sense of the meaning behind the feeling of ‘Foxhole’. I’m not sure the imagery in the lyrics is clearly metaphorical – it’s more of a stream of consciousness that captures a time and place in my life. I’m not even sure why it’s called Foxhole! I think it might be because I had spent the year after high school hiding from the world, and I wrote this song after I re-emerged, blinking, into the light.

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