PEOPLE OF WATERBEAR: JODIE AMOS – “I WAS IN A WHEELCHAIR FOR A YEAR, THAT’S WHAT GAVE ME MY DRIVE”
People of Water bear are characterised by great team spirit and perhaps we are drawn to work together by shared convictions, and a certain spirit of adventure. No one embodies those characteristics more than 23-year-old drummer, singer and trailblazer Jodie Amos. This is her amazing story:
“I missed 8 months of my course – and I was in a wheel chair for a year. It gave me time to really think about what I wanted to do and what I was able to do. I think this is what gave me my drive.”
I was brought up with my Mum and Dad on the Isle of Wight, listening to Rock Music which is where, aged 10, I got the idea about drumming. I was also obsessed with the Disney Tarzan soundtrack when I was little, which was all Phil Collins, who I love. I liked the idea of singing and drumming. When I was young, I used to hang around with boys a lot, and they all wanted to play drums when we had the option of learning an instrument of our choice. There were 30 of us drummers who started, and that first Christmas when I was 11; I was given a drum kit. It was hidden in my Nan’s loft and I thought it was just amazing.
I also picked up piano and saxophone to the eventual detriment of my GCSEs however, I went on to Platform One (music college on the Isle of Wight and great friends of WaterBear) to study a two-year BTEC. I had no other interest in anything.
The opportunity came for me to demonstrate my multi skillset when the lead singer in my band ‘BaDow’ left just as we got selected to audition for a main stage slot at Bestival. I was used to singing backing vocals so I gave it a shot singing lead and we got the gig! I was on the main stage at Bestival at 17 years old and I’d never gigged as a singing drummer before. It was amazing.
All things have their ups and downs and during this time, I started feeling pain in my hips which affected my drumming. I had put all my eggs in one basket with my drums/music, I didn’t have any other qualifications, and this was really worrying. I couldn’t carry my kit because I couldn’t lift it, and people commented that I was ‘a groupie’ or said I was ‘getting the lads to do the hard work’ for me. I didn’t have an answer to those comments, as I didn’t know why my hips used to dislocate or hurt so much. Eventually, I saw a specialist in London and I found out that I had Hip Dysplasia. I had seven procedures before they acknowledged that this was a worst-case scenario situation, and as I was too young to have a hip replacement, I had to have major operations. This was during my second and third year of the degree and I had both hips broken, repositioned and pinned in the correct place. I missed 8 months of my course – and I was in a wheel chair for a year. It was devastating, however it gave me time to really think about what I wanted to do and what I was able to do. I think this is what gave me my drive.
I chose to have my hip operations annually in January so I could recover and still gig during festival season. I remember being lifted from my wheel chair onto my kit for an audition for the Isle of Wight festival. I could only use the bass drum leg as my left hip had been operated on that year, so I locked off the hi-hat and played through the pain. I put myself through it. I spent a year of my life in a wheel chair. I got stares and I lost my independence and my dignity. I graduated having had the screws taken out in time, which was great but throughout that period I hadn’t been able to push my band as much as I’d have liked.
I hated to admit it, because it was all I’d known, but in order to pursue a career, I knew I had to leave the island. When you are brought up there you are so sheltered but you don’t even realise it. It was a huge leap of faith to move to Brighton at 23 to work at WaterBear. I was amazed that shops stay open after 5pm and I thought if I walked anywhere on my own I’d get mugged or worse. But I’ve changed, I feel stronger, I’ve done that transition and I’m happy with what I’ve achieved. At 23 after major operations and graduating from my BA and MA, working in an industry I love for a company I love – that’s very rare.
My future? I love event management, festivals, playing and organising and I want to experiment more with the kit, bringing in keyboards, as well as singing. I would say to others on the Island (and beyond) not to be afraid to ask for what you want. When I was chasing this job I was always worried that I was nagging. (Bruce comments ‘it was borderline’ then laughs). I also scored a tour manager job with YouTuber George Holliday by going the extra mile.
I’ve always been told that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. You just have to go for it, what’s the worst that can happen?