Drew Fitzkee remembers eating lunch by himself for a week his freshman year in high school.
His regular group of friends had turned on him as they grew older and interests changed. He felt alone and bullied and full of other feelings.
Instead of stewing on those feelings, he wrote them down. Those notes grew into lyrics for songs with titles such as “Have a Good Life” and “Twig Man.”
“It just seemed so necessary,” said Fitzkee, 15, of Lewes. “Make myself feel a bit of relief.”
Those songs are part of the regular set list for his band. The band, named Hope for Success was founded by Drew and his brother Alex Fitzkee, 13, who sings and plays drums.
They met their guitar player, Jasper Isaacs, 13, when they arrived for a gig at a farmer’s market and the guitarist they thought was going to play didn’t show.
Alex asked their vocalist, Elaina Marsch, 13, if she’d like to be in a band after they all attended “Mr. Hetfield’s Rock and Roll Summer Camp” in Rehoboth. They’ve played together for about two years now.
While Hope for Success mostly play covers of rock and alternative music, they are adding more of their own work to every gig.
“Have a Good Life,” Drew describes as a snarky song telling his tormentors, one in particular he calls the Twig Man, to “have a good life, or don’t.” He doesn’t know if the bullies have heard it. He hopes so, but between the songs, the concerts and his new friends he says he doesn’t have time to think about them.
Hope for Success is a busy group. They practice at least three times a week and are working on songs all the time. Alex said he walks around the house singing into his phone to get all his ideas down.
“Normally, I come over for writing and Drew and Alex have it mapped out and then I play it my way,” said Isaacs, who lives in Milford, but spends a lot of his days in the Fitzkee’s Lewes home.
“The most important thing when working with a band is flexibility,” said Alex. The band members agreed that their songs are better and stronger when everyone has a voice in the creation of them. They collaborate on the lyrics and music that covers memories and issues they experience.
The song, “Paper Planes,” was written about life during the pandemic and how difficult it was for Marsch. She describes herself as a very social person and being cut off from school and friends was very difficult for her as shown in the verse, “Where I was, I couldn’t live my life, living that way, filled with sorrow and strife.”
The song chorus is about her dream to fly away.
The final product came through collaboration, with Alex turning Marsch’s poem into verses and chorus and Drew and Isaacs working on the music.
“There are plenty of songs written to feel better,” said Alex, His song, “We’re Too Young,” is about a music contest the band won. The prize was to play a concert at a casino, but the band members were too young to be allowed in.
The song starts, “Won a show in a casino. Didn’t even let us go.” Still, it’s a fun song about youth.
Audience members danced and clapped along at a recent concert the band played as part of their summer concert series. They are playing outside in local neighborhoods. The concerts are free as part of the band’s effort to allow people to social distance and still get out of their houses for some fun.
“I have seen them multiple times and I am always entertained,” said Alison White of Lewes. “These kids are proof that the next generation is not only interested in video games.”
Walter Hetfield, who runs the rock camp that helped form the band, said he’s pretty impressed with the band members and their dedication. It’s unusual for kids this age to stick together as a band, he said, let alone take on the grind of playing an actual concert series.
The musicians are serious about their work. While they haven’t written any songs about the upcoming school year, they are looking at ways to make it work for them.
The Fitzkee boys are planning to start the year online and then they are looking into options to home school so they have more time to write and practice their music. Isaacs is already home schooled. Marsch is also looking into options.
In the meantime, they continue their concert series and are picking up outdoor shows at local restaurants. They enjoy all the music they play, but say playing their own songs is always better.
They know the emotions and stories that go into every one. In fact, so much emotion that they aren’t ready to release some of the songs they’ve written. They are just still too personal.
Hope for Success hopes others get something from their messages as well.
“Everybody’s going through stuff,” said Drew. “Everybody has a twig man. This lets them know it’s OK.”
For more about the band and their concert schedule, go to www.HopeForSuccess.com