You don’t actually want to hear a lot about rehearsal, trust me. We settled on afternoon as a better time than evening, so we got there before rush hour and left after it. Most of it, well, there’s not a lot to tell. We played the songs. We played them many times. We worked on hitting our marks. I won the debate about having Candlelight in the main set. As promised, the Solar 250 indeed made it look like sunbeams came out of Ziggy’s butt.
Mr. Sunbeam didn’t push me. He was all business. That suited me and the rest of the band. He brought a girl to rehearsal once, but only once, and didn’t introduce her. I got the feeling he wasn’t seeing anyone. He hung around the house a lot, but never tried to corner me or anything, and, well, so did Bart and Michelle one or two nights a week. I guess he came and went about as often as Colin’s and Chris’s friends. Colin got him and Chris both hooked on some video game I didn’t pay much attention to. Lars was spending a lot of time at Tina’s or Tanya’s house, so we barely saw him.
All in all, things were pretty calm.
One night I was up in my room with my headphones on, working on a song with the little four-track recorder on the bed and a guitar in my lap. I looked up because the light changed in the room and realized someone had cracked open my door. I pulled the cans off and said, “Hello?”
“Hey, can I come in?” Ziggy stuck his head in.
“Sure. I was just about to take a break anyway.” Which was a lie… but maybe it wasn’t. I had a crick in my neck and probably should take a break.
“I got tired of getting killed,” he said with a yawn. “Hey, weren’t you getting new furniture?”
“I haven’t gotten around to it yet.” I yawned, too.
He came and sat on the edge of the bed. “I’m half-afraid to ask what you’re working on.”
“Eh, just some riffs. I’ve got a couple of songs you should hear, though,” I said seriously. “At some point. Maybe after we get off the road.”
He shrugged. “Any reason we shouldn’t work on them now? Or while we’re out there? If we’re really the hot property everyone says we are, why wait? You know it takes forever for them to get something out, anyway.”
My turn to shrug. “I dunno. I want to be focused on the tour, I guess.”
“But you know we’re going to be sitting around doing nothing way too much.”
“Probably.” Carynne made it sound like we were going to be hustling and bustling from place to place, but Ziggy was probably right. There were always down hours at the venue after sound check, and at hotels when we were multiple nights in the same place. She’d just told me the day before that a couple of the places we were due to play had added second nights to our engagements. Which would mean traveling overnight right after the second show, but that was fine with me.
Anyway, Ziggy was sitting there, like maybe he was steeling himself to hear another earful of whatever angst he’d inspired. Fine. “You want to hear this one?”
I rewound the tape, found the beginning, and handed him the headphones.
This one wasn’t quite the knife wound that “Infernal Medicine” was. It still didn’t have a title, but it was the one I was working on with the “moving parts” double meaning.
“As usual, it still needs a chorus,” I said. For whatever reason I’d gotten very focused lately on writing verses, and riffs, but choruses were sort of elusive.
“What?” He pulled one headphone back. His hair was glossy black except for that tuft he’d left white, so inky it didn’t look real. Well, it wasn’t, and I knew that, but for some reason I couldn’t stop staring at it.
“I said it still needs a chorus. I don’t know why, I just can’t ever seem to come up with one these days.”
He nodded, rewound the tape, and lay back on the bed, listening, his eyes closed.
Then he did something I’d never heard him do. He began singing the chorus from David Bowie’s “Changes.” I couldn’t really hear the music at that point, but I felt a surge of adrenaline, thinking, Holy shit, does that work?
“Does that work?” I demanded.
He sat up. “Yup.”
“Are you sure?”
“It fits counterpoint with the last line of the verse, and then can be it’s own thing. Here, plug it in.”
I plugged the four-track into the jack to my stereo and played it, and he sang. My hair stood on end. “Holy fuck.”
He was grinning ear to ear. “It’s good, isn’t it?”
“It’s really fucking good.” I stood up. “Chris has to hear this.”
“Bart’s down there, too, right now,” he said.
“If you weren’t being such a hermit, you’d know that,” he chided, half-joking.
“If I wasn’t such a hermit, we wouldn’t have this killer song,” I answered, as I went to the door and hollered down the stairs to the living room.
Bart came up the stairs two at a time. “What are you screaming about?”
“Wanted you to hear a track,” I said, while Ziggy rewound it.
“I’m going to play it without the chorus first,” he said, as Chris came into the room, looking curious.
The room wasn’t very large, so the four of us standing there was kind of crowded. I climbed back onto the mattress, and Ziggy sat down on a pile of laundry, the four-track in his hand,and hit play.
They listened. Bart nodded along. “Pretty good,” he said. “Nice hook.”
“You haven’t heard the real hook yet, though,” Ziggy said. He rewound the tape, but he said to me, “Can you just play it and sing the verse?”
“If you want.”
“Someone’ll have to sing it when we do it live. I can’t do it all with overdubbing, you know.”
“This is true…”
Bart made an impatient noise. “Could we just hear it, please?”
“Play the tape and I’ll play along,” I said, not wanting to get distracted or thrown off by the counter-melody. Zig hit play, and I went along and sang unison with myself.
I saw Bart’s eyes light up with Ziggy’s part came in. “That’s fucking brilliant,” he said when we got to the end.
“Yeah, but will Bowie’s record company sue the bejeezus out of us?” Christian asked.
“That’s a question for the suits,” Ziggy said. “No? Besides, they can’t stop me from ‘quoting’ other songs when we play live, can they? What if we just wanted to do a cover of the song? There’s nothing stopping us, is there?”
I hewed my lip trying to remember the rules. Chris was more on top of it, though. “Yeah, well, then it gets worked out with ASCAP and BMI, I think. You can do the cover and the original artist gets paid out of the song royalties pool… It’s just recording it that would be a problem, probably. Yeah, a question for the suits.”
“But you like it?” Ziggy pressed.
“I fucking love it,” Bart said. Christian nodded in agreement. “It’s genius.”
Colin was yelling from downstairs.
“Probably telling me it’s my turn,” Christian said. He went out of the room, but then came back a minute later. “Daron, it’s for you.”
“What’s for me?”
“Oh.” I’d turned the ringer off the one in my room while working on the song. “One sec.” I disentangled myself from the guitar and got up. As we all went out into the hall, Ziggy raised his hand, and I gave him a high five. Maybe in the morning I’d think it sounded stupid after all, but at that moment I was pretty sure we had a winner on our hands.
(p.s. you guys did it again, another $25 in donations came in this week! so I now owe you bonus posts through most of March, too…)