“… and of course to Adrian, who brought us all together!” Cray toasted the group with a plastic cup filled almost to the brim with champagne. Every one cheered, crushing together their plastic cup spilling copious amounts of their celebratory drink on the sand below. They did not see that as waste but as a tribute to the beach which had welcomed them all, turning into their new home.
“To the Rock’n’Run tour!” exclaimed D.C. who was his alcohol fuelled self at the moment. More cheers followed by more drinking. Sam picked the large bottle resting beside her in the send in a crater filled with ice pouring out another sloppy round. The all stood in a circle around a letter that they had staked with a little tree branch to the ground.
“I am very sorry,” intoned Adrian in a voice mocking one of the managers that had declined to give them a venue to play in. “you band sounds great! I love it. Really I do. But right now, in this rather tense climate I have to stick to the tried and true. I admit that we are here to push the music scene forward. But you. How to put it. You are shoving it right through a wall. A lot of walls really. I really hate to say this” Adrian’s voice was getting more high pitched and whiny as he went on “but these are hard economic times. We can take a few risks. But you’d be one risk to far.”
The group booed and hissed.
“And what do we say to mister manager?” Adrian asked.
“FUCK YOUUUUU!” the others exclaimed.
“And what did we tell him when he and his self-important friends said when they came crawling back?”
“FUCK! YOU!” the others answered. “Oh and by the way!” said Cray “If you really want us to reconsider. Write a letter of apology.” the others laughed Kim added “And make it neat. Make us feel how sorry you are.” Sam continued “And while you are at it, do add some champagne to sweeten it up a bit.” Darius now continued the story “Once we get that, we will read it, check the bubblies quality and then if you did well and are very, very luck you’ll be the one who may open his doors when we feel like playing a concert indoors.” The others jeered, drank the last of their drinks crumpling their glasses in their hands throwing it at the letter in the middle.
By now they had a ‘Wall of Shame’ inside Jörmungandr, where they collected all the letters of appology they had received so far. The one they were celebrating now was the one that would close the last gap in the wall. The next one had either to expand the Wall of Shame’s limits or had to be pinned on top of the older ones.
“I think it’s time to chose one.” said Sam who had become comfortable enough with the others to voice her opinions every once in a while. To her great surprise this was always received well. This was in part because everyone was pleasantly surprised when ever she made a suggestion but also because her ideas were always good. Had anyone else told the band that it was time to get into one of the ‘show cages’ there would have been some instant resistance. Now though everyone went silent for a while taking a moment to think it through.
“I guess it’s about time.” said Kim.
“It would also be nice to make some money for a change.” said Darius. “Not that I don’t love throwing Adrian’s seemingly endless cash out of the window. Getting paid for ones work can be mighty satisfying though, especially when with work you mean doing the thing you love most.”
“I’ve been making some calculations Adrian.” said Cray “And you’ve been incredibly generous so far. Why if you are such a rich bastard haven’t you bought your own island yet?”
“It’s not my money. We have a fan and a backer.” said Adrian.
“I forgot.” said Adrian in a joke only he got. “He insisted on remaining anonymous. It’s all about the art for him. I do agree with Darius though,” he said hoping that he could move the conversation into a more comfortable direction. “it would be nice to get paid. Especially” he pointed at the letter in the middle of them “from those fucks. It’s time for them to pay.” This lead to a wave of agreement washing away any questions about their source of money. At least for now.
They spent the next hour around the campfire working on a plan on how to fleece the people that had rejected them for the maximum amount of money. They set up a tour plan, starting in the smallest venues they could find. They had enough fans by now to make sure that they’d be sold out every time in those places. That would help with worth of mouth. Then one or two medium sized shows, before going back to hit some clubs and larger bars aiming for the halls for the end of the tour.
“And then?” asked D.C. he was lying back looking up into the star strewn sky.
“Then its time for the album.” said Kim.
“A studio album?” Sam asked. She cast a dubious look at Kim.
“Of course a Studio album. What were you thinking of, a factory album?”
“We could make a life album first. We have been recording all our gigs so far.”
“Sure thing sister, we can do that too. While the other one is being produced and distributed we can put the life thing together. Turn it into a tight one to combo.”
Sam looked uncomfortable.
“What’s the matter?” Kim asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t know if we should do a studio album. At all.”
“What? Why not?”
“Our music is alive. It moves on its own. It flows as we play. How are you going to reduce that into a static thing?”
“Did you have a hippie for breakfast, sister? How the fuck will it destroy out music?”
“It won’t be alive anymore.”
“In contrast to a life album?”
“That’s different. When it is a life recording it’s like a memory of a living moment. Like a photograph of an everyday scene. But a studio album is a construct. It’s so artificial.”
“I hope you disposed of the remains of that hippie somewhere where no one will ever find him…”
“Sam,” said Darius “I know what you mean. You are not the first great musician who thinks that way. I once was touring with that one dude. You know the one, with the twelve string guitar, who thinks prog-rock is conservative pop-pap for the lazy of mind? No? Anyone? Figures. He’s that kind of guy. Whatever. So we are on tour with him. One smoke filled basement bar after the other. He was totally radical about this. Even life albums where really hard to make. He insisted on hiring what he called his ‘record ninjas’. These guys were to set up the recording hardware and shit like that on the sly. If the dude ever noticed anything that was it. No record. He said that even knowing or suspecting that he was being recorded changed the way he played. So it had to be super secret and suer high quality. Got to give it to his ninjas people he never ever met in person, because, you know, he may start spotting them in the audience, they managed to deliver enough material for an album once a year.”
Sam blinked a couple of time.
“Dude you might have forgotten to add a point to that story.” said Kim with one eyebrow rising over her brow like a pompous sun.
“Oh? Yes. The point. Sam. Listen. You are right life music is like nothing else especially if you have such talented people around you who are so totally on your own wavelength. But you are standing before a truth that is right there in front of you which you can’t see because you are so busy describing it, that you just see the empty spaces around it.”
Sam eyes wide, brows high shook her head slowly.
“Studio albums are completely different to anything you’ve been doing so far. Right?”
“Their qualities are different. They are build different. They are layered in another way. Then there is all the mixing at the end.”
“I still don’t see your point…”
“It is a totally different beast. If you decide to go life only, fair enough. But there is an entire world of music that you are ignoring. Think of the possibilities!”
“mmm…” she grunted “I’m really not sure about this…”
“And that! Is the reason why you should do it. You are not sure if this is the right thing. So don’t run away from it. Walk straight ahead into the unknown. Explore the shit out if it. Until you grasp it, held firmly in your hands. Then you can decide whether you want to keep it or cast it aside.”
“Listen to the man, sister!”
While Sam was still thinking it over Turner said: “Darius makes a really good point. I’d like to do a studio album with you guys too. We’ll be able to do some totally new things. Talking from experience once you’ve sat in the studio playing around with your sounds you’ll come up with a ton of new ideas. And the best part of it? That way we can simulate having two drummers like you. A miracle!”
“I guess giving it a try won’t do any harm.”
D.C. and Cray who had been watching this in tense silence cheered thanking Sam profusely.
The conversation spread over the entire group discussing the upcoming tour, which songs to take for the life album and what crazy things they might do for the studio one. D.C. and Cray were the most enthusiastic about working in a studio with an infectious enthusiasm. Darius convinced them that they could just go ahead and experiment with the small studio integrated in Jörmungandr to see what they could come up with. Darius would work on production. It would come out rough but it would be good enough as a proof of concept. It might be decent enough that they could even try to make a demo tape with their own equipment.
Turner was mostly exchanging vengeful booking plans with Kim. Sam mostly meditated on the life stuff. Whenever she had a thought, the others listened. When Sam voiced an opinion it was always wise to consider her words with care.
* * *
The studio had to wait as it turned out. Despite everyone agreeing that some discs should see the light of day pretty soon, they hardly had any time to even think about it. The official concert tour went better than expected. They had a gig every other night. Things got massively out of hand when they had confronted the police about their clandestine concerts publicly. It ended with the cops having to go away grumbling, swearing to the band that they would have enough hairy eyeballs on them to keep them warm through a long hard winter. Lack of evidence. Lack of evidence that The Band With No Name had ever committed any felony. There were a few reporters there when the confrontation happened, so the next day they were in the local papers.
After that it was only the bigger venues that they could play in. Everything else would cause a minor riot as people were crowding around little bars and clubs, trying to find a way in. They even played a few extra gigs, open air in the beginning to please the fans who’d not been able to see them life.
Darius worked on a system to have the speakers on Jörmungandr transmit the sound from the stage they were playing on so that the people outside could at least listen to the music.
While everyone in the Band would have loved to have CD out, with their on the cover and their music pressed into the disk, it turned out to be low priority for now. The internet was full of bootleg videos, MP3-playlists and boatloads of covers from all over the world. They were not in what ever undead remains there were of music television and having almost no presence on the airwaves their music was spreading like wildfire. That the only stations that played there songs were pirate stations playing their bootlegged music, somehow made everything much more exiting.
There were not enough hours in the day to play all the concerts they should be playing to please their fans.
* * *
“I swear to god that if we play one more fucking concert this week. No fuck that, this year, I swear I am going the keel over and explode. All over the place. And it won’t be pretty. Bone shrapnel shredding everything in a 30 yard radius.” Kim said. Face planted securely on the rough wooden bar table one hand feebly holding on to a beer pitcher which she had declared her personal mug.
“It’s December.” said D.C.
Well next year would be like in a few w…” D.C. trailed off noticing that Kim had moved her head far enough to fire warning shots with her eyes right through his soul.
“My point is. I need a fucking break.”
“Hear, hear.” said Cray his voice cracking.
“You young people.” Darius shook his head. “You have been hardly on tour for a few months and in the same city, no less! Wailing like a bunch of depressed banshees.”
Kim slowly turned her head around to cast another volley of death bringing hate stares in Darius’s direction. While she looked like shit her eyes still could convey a surprising amount of fury. “Gonna kill you. Then bring you back ‘n kill you again.” Kim mumbled.
“This” continued Darius doing his best to ignore the angry zombie bassist, “would be he perfect moment to look for a nice studio and do some recording session. No tours. No travels. Just you guys and your music. Also brainstorming. And lying on couches smoking reefers.”
All the eyes now crawled in their sockets to face Sam. She was sitting in her chair, leaning back over the back rest her gaze directed at the ceiling. No one knew if she was even still awake. With two jerking motions she sat her self uptight…ish. “I knew you’d all be looking at me.” she said.
“So?” asked Cray.
“So, what?” asked Sam back.
“So, do you want to go into the studio?”
“Sure. Why not. Sounds like fun. Just roll me over my drums when it’s my turn. OK?” she let her torso fall back again.
“Right, then!” Turner said with enough motivation in his voice to instantly turn him into the most hated person at the table. “We only have two concerts left to play. After that we are free. I have to admit that I was hoping that we might so some kind of music retreat from December into January at least, which would be great to make our first record.”
“How can you be so old and so energetic at the same time?” asked Cray.
“Back in my day everything was built to last. Including people.” Turner grinned. “Now we just have the tiny little problem of getting a studio.
“I might be able to help you with that.” the voice had come from outside the circle of light that encompassed them and their table. From the shadows a man appeared that they had never seen before. “I am a great fan of yours. I’ve been to most of your concerts and was just thinking about how great it would be to do a record with you guys. And here you are thinking about the same thing. Must be my lucky day.”
“Who the fuck are you?” asked Kim her eyes now slits oozing suspicion.
“My name is Ogden.”