Highway to Hell

The San Diego show kicked so much ass we did an extra encore, which was my fault. I just didn’t want it to end. Louis whapped me with a rolled up newspaper afterward.

“The first show where we have to get on the road overnight and you decide to go overtime?” he admonished.

“But it was worth it, wasn’t it?” I said.

He didn’t answer, just handed the newspaper to Petey, who whapped me with it again.

Digger caught up to me while I was waiting around for the rest of the stuff to be loaded into the bus. I was sitting in the little lounge area just inside the bus, at the miniature Formica table. He took the other seat at the table. “It’s all set for New Orleans,” he said.

“The recording day, you mean?”

“Yeah. You’re okay with it? If you’re not, it’s not too late for me to kill it.”

“I’m totally fine with it,” I said. “Why wouldn’t I want the band to do a track? I’d much rather that than Ziggy do it on his own.”

“Well, that’s good, because BNC wasn’t too keen on him doing it solo either.”

“They weren’t?”

“Yeah, not really sure why. They’re against anything they don’t control, though.” He shrugged. “Good thing it’s all in the same conglomerate, though. Wouldn’t want them to decide doing a movie track was breach of contract.”

“Shit. I hadn’t event thought of that.” I shook my head. “Seriously? Would they try to enforce something like that?”

Digger drummed his fingers on the tabletop. “Not for this one they wouldn’t, because the film is being distributed by their own parent company and the record by a sister company. But if it had been Arista or RCA? Probably unless we could convince them it was worth whatever kickback they get.”

“So is this film going to be good?” I asked. “I don’t know anything about it.”

“It is what it is,” he said. Which I took to mean he thought either it sucked and wouldn’t say so, or that he didn’t know what to think of it and didn’t want to seem wrong when it either succeeded or failed. “You don’t need me there in NOLA, do you?”

“Why would we?”

“Just checking. I’ve got some stuff to take care of here this week. And you’re in good hands with Cary. I’ll catch up with you in New York, probably.” He stood to go.

I could have just let him go, you know. I could’ve just waved and not dealt with him for another month.

But I forced myself to say, “We still have to talk contract extension.”

He froze where he was. His voice was even, though. “Are you saying you’re not happy with the status quo? I think things are working pretty good.”

“I’m saying it’s nuts to try to talk about it during a tour. Status quo is a good word. Let’s keep the status quo until we get off the road, and then we need to at least go through the formality of getting the band’s opinions.” Did I sound like a diplomat, or what?

“Okay, that makes sense,” he said. We shook hands. “See you in New York.”

“See you in New York.”

He left the bus and I sat back down. That had been easier than I thought. Of course, all I’d done was put off the conversation until later. But still.

Bart was walking by outside and I cracked open the window and shouted, “Come on, let’s get this show on the road!”

Which made him laugh. He climbed in and stowed his book bag in a bunk, then came and sat with me. “You almost never hear that used literally.”

“Hear what?”

“‘Get this show on the road.'” He chuckled to himself. “So Digger’s not coming along?”

“No. Thank god.”

“You seem like you’re getting along okay.”

“That’s because we’re both too busy doing our jobs to be in each other’s face.” I let out a sigh. “I told him we’ll talk contract after we get off the road. There’s no way we’re dealing with it in the middle like this.”

Bart said the same thing Digger did. “Makes sense. Does Carynne know?”

“No. I only just now made the decision and told him, when he was about to duck out.” Hey, did that mean for once I wasn’t the one who did the ducking? Except that then I did. I leaned my head on my hands. “Does it actually make sense? Or did I make it make sense by waiting so long?”

“Daron, don’t overthink it. You want Carynne to take over? She can’t do that in the middle of a tour either.”

“True.”

“One thing at a time.”

“Okay. Although speaking of multitasking, that recording day is going to happen after all.”

“In New Orleans?”

“Yeah. In fact, we should have a band meeting.”

“Dar’, we now live in a tour bus. Every minute of the day is a band meeting.”

“Point. Well then, where the hell is everyone?”

That was when Chris climbed in, and the three of us moved to the larger lounge area in the back, and I ended up telling him about both Digger and NOLA, and then Carynne came along, and I told her, and Ziggy was last–after the driver had started the engine–and so I had to tell him, too. A meeting would have been smarter, or at least more efficient.

I looked around as the bus started to move. “Is this everyone?” Ziggy and Colin were in their bunks.

Carynne took a seat against the lounge window as the bus lurched, making a right out of the parking lot onto a service road. “Paco’s going with the drums. So it’s you four, Colin, and me.” She made a disgusted face. “And I better take a bottom bunk after all.”

“Why?”

She crossed her arms and Bart answered. “Because she lost her lunch on the way here. Driver says there’s less motion sickness in the bottom bunks.”

I patted her on the shoulder. “It’s okay, Car. Nothing bad is going to happen. No Cliff Burton here.”

She frowned. “Remind me who Cliff Burton is?”

Bart spoke up. “Bassist for Metallica. Got killed in a tour bus crash a few years back. He was fucking amazing.”

“Oh, right. I just forgot his name,” Carynne said, looking sheepish. “Metallica was one of the bands my mother wouldn’t let me play in the house.”

“No kidding? My stepmother had a thing against them, too,” Bart said. “Then again the fact that I blew out the speakers on the home stereo system might have had something to do with that.”

“You can buy her a new system now,” I said.

Bart laughed. “Yeah. Didn’t you cover some Metallica?” Bart asked Chris.

“Yeah” Chris said. “And some Megadeth and Anthrax, in the early days of Highway Death.”

“Wait, I just…” I looked at him. “Was the band name a Cliff Burton reference?”

“Kinda, yeah,” Chris said. “Since we started in ’86 right after it happened.”

“Can we pleeeeeease stop talking about tour bus accidents?” Carynne put her hands over her ears.

“Here, I got something for you,” Chris said. He dug into the bag on the seat next to him and pulled out a Walkman and head phones. He handed them to her. “Here.”

She snatched it up. “Is that ‘Kill Em All’?”

“Yup. And ‘Ride the Lightning’ on the back of the cassette.” Chris grinned as she stuck the headphones on her head and hit play.

“Oh my god, I haven’t listened to this in like five years…” she said, mostly to herself since now she couldn’t hear any of us.

I wanted to ask her why she hadn’t listened to it in five years, but then I thought there were a ton of things I listened to a million times when I was in high school that I hadn’t really listened to since. Likewise stuff from Providence. I had a ton of stuff I picked up at Tower when I worked there, some of it I only heard once or twice before it went to the bottom of the stack, while other things I would have worn out if I hadn’t gotten them on CD.

“What’s your biggest guilty pleasure album?” I asked Bart.

“What do you mean?”

“Like, the thing you played until it wore out, but you’re embarrassed to admit.”

“Man, let me think.” He scratched his face. “Sheila E. Glamorous Life.”

“Wait, what’s wrong with Sheila E? She’s an awesome drummer, and like… her uncle was in Santana, and Tito Puente’s her godfather,” Ziggy burst out.

“Oh. Yeah. I dunno. I just thought she was hot, and after the whole Purple Rain explosion I just, well, yeah.” Bart’s cheeks were pink.

“Yeah, you could’ve said Morris Day instead,” I joked. “Jeez, you’d think you said Debbie Gibson or Tiffany.”

“Okay, what’s yours?” Bart asked.

“Shout at the Devil, by Motley Crue, no doubt,” I said.

“Aw, that’s a great fucking album!” Chris said. “Nothing wrong with that.”

“Well, maybe. At the time I felt it was kind of cheesy but I wanted to play it over and over, you know? I had it on a cassette tape–I’d taped it from some burnout at school. To try to prove to myself I wasn’t taking it too seriously, you know what I taped on the flip side?” I paused while they wondered. “The soundtrack from ‘Spinal Tap.'”

That got a laugh, but I was serious. That’s what I did.

“Fuck, man, play something off that next sound check,” Chris said. “I’ll be right there with ya.”

Ziggy chuckled. “You’ll have to play it on the bus stereo so I can hear that one.”

“Aw, c’mon, you had to have heard Motley Crue,” Chris said.

“Not so much. I think the only song I really know is that one from ‘Theater of Pain’ Daron made me learn way back when we met.”

“Wait, I made you learn a Motley Crue song?” I was racking my brain, trying to think of what. “Wait, for your audition?”

“Wasn’t it? ‘Home Sweet Home’ or something like that?”

Bart looked surprised, too. “I’d forgotten all about that.”

“I think I was just trying to pick something with a wide vocal range,” I said. “And which was popular enough to be easy to find. So what’s your guilty pleasure?”

Ziggy stretched, showing his rib cage through the artfully torn holes in his shirt. “Ah, let me see. I went through a Madonna phase, I guess. You know the whole thing with all the girls dressing up as her, the Madonna Wanna-Bes? That was what started me on the road to eyeliner and fishnet and lots of rubber bracelets. At which point I fell directly into lilywhite goth.”

I didn’t know whether that was a subset of goth I didn’t know the term for, or if he was saying goth was itself full of white people. Which I supposed it was. “How about you, Chris? Guilty pleasure?”

Chris shook his head. “I don’t have one. I’m not a snob like you guys. I like it all. I embrace it all. It’s all fucking great.”

Ziggy snorted. “There’s got to be something,” he pressed. “Everyone’s got something they’re either ashamed of or the people around them didn’t approve of, but that you just couldn’t stop playing again and again.”

Chris dug the fingers of one hand into his hair. “Shit, man, I dunno. Wait, I got it. The Beastie Boys. ‘You Gotta Fight, For Your Right–‘”

“To paaaaaartay!” Bart and I shouted simultaneously.

I went on. “Are you fucking kidding me? The Beastie Boys are awesome.”

“It’s just some stupid white boys rapping,” Chris said.

“Oh, now the gloves come off,” Ziggy said, in what I can only describe as the New-York-iest accent I ever heard him use. “Now you’re messing with Brooklyn.”

“You’re from Brooklyn?” Chris asked, surprised.

“Did three years in the borough, and I went to Edward Murrow,” Ziggy said, then began to laugh at the rappish rhyme he made. “No seriously, that’s the school where at least one of ’em went. Marisa Tomei, too. They were a couple of years ahead of me.”

“Who’s Marisa Tomei?” I asked.

“An actress,” Ziggy answered. “She was on soaps and did a movie with Matt Dillon.” He shrugged like we should all know this. “The point is, there’s more to the Beastie Boys than just ‘white boys’ trying to rap.”

“Rolling Stone did call the album a ‘masterpiece,'” Bart put in.

“All right, all right fine, then I can enjoy the Beastie Boys without worry that they’re beneath me, jeez,” Chris said.

“Amen to that,” Bart said. “I’m going to try to get some sleep.”

Carynne’s head shot up as he stood. “Head toward the–”

“Back of the bus,” Bart and I said simultaneously. “We know.”

(Kickstarter news: As of this morning we had hit $2,330, which means only $420 to go with 10 days left! Don’t forget anyone who backs the Kickstarter will now automatically receive the bonus scene I’m writing of Daron’s night out. This coming Tuesday from 5p to 7p Eastern I’ll be hosting a Google Hangout video chat to talk about DGC, the Kickstarter, 80s music, read from the serial, etc… You don’t have to be signed up to G+ to see the video chat. I’ll take questions via IM. Please keep spreading the word: http://kck.st/IlE7Bi And huge thank yous to everyone who has backed us so far! It’s amazing and I love you!)

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Comments 2

  1. Kunama wrote:

    “Except that thenI did.”
    thenI -> then I

    “Dar’, were about to be living in a the same bus for a while.”
    were -> we’re

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Ooh, nice catch on the missing space.

    [Reply]

    Posted 29 Sep 2012 at 3:12 am
  2. s wrote:

    Oh. My. God.
    1. I’m pretty sure I would die if I went 5 years w/o Metallic!

    2. Motley Crue. My first cassette was ToP. Had/have a major thing for Nikki Sixx.

    3. Z lost points over Crue (though I would kill to hear him sing Home Sweet Home. Favorite ballad), but scored some back with Madonna.

    4. Fucking Beastie Boys!

    Thanks for the memories, guys!

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    I follow Nikki Sixx on Twitter. I don’t follow a lot of people but he’s one of them.

    It’s why I saw this yesterday. (I follow Adam Lambert, too.)

    Nikki Sixx & Adam Lambert tweet

    [Reply]

    Posted 30 Mar 2015 at 7:07 pm

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