We hit the road for Southern California in the morning, getting settled into the bus that would be our home for the next couple of weeks. We did have a couple more nights in hotels, but once we left California it would be all-bus-all-the-time. It was fancier than the buses we’d been in with MNB. When you climbed up the stairs, behind the driver was a small lounge with a TV and a micro fridge. Behind that were the bunks, eight total, and then in the back was a bigger lounge and the usual really tiny bathroom.
Carynne had already harangued us not to sleep with our heads toward the front of the bus, and had said if she had her way, the four band members would be on the four lower bunks, with her, Colin, Digger, and Paco (Christian’s drum tech, did I mention him yet? I don’t think so…) on the top bunks. When I asked why, she said it was safer. I left it at that as I didn’t want to hear some gruesome story about someone getting flung from the top bunk and breaking their neck or something.
Louis was traveling with the gear. As I understood it, there would be some nights we’d travel separately from the truck and stuff for timing reasons. Our schedule and their schedule only coincided for the actual shows. They had to be setting up or breaking down at certain times, while we would have various promo appearances to do, some of which would be at the crack of dawn on radio stations. I can’t say I was much looking forward to trying to be coherent at the crack of dawn, but you do what you gotta do.
The show that night would be in Santa Barbara, but our bus went straight to Los Angeles, to the BNC offices.
I wasn’t terribly surprised to see Mills standing there to greet us as we trooped into the lobby of a very white building. He and Digger shook hands like old friends, and there was much introducing us to various people, none of whose names or faces left an impression on me. They took us on a sort of tour of their West Coast office, which was nowhere near as large as the New York ones, but had various stuff, especially film-related, and also a West Coast A&R department. I kind of wondered why they were showing us all this, when it wasn’t like I needed to be impressed by the company we were already signed with, but whatever. Maybe it was nice for the staff to actually meet the bands they were involved in promoting. We autographed a bunch of stuff, some for the staff, some for the PR department to give away.
Then they trooped us into a largish room and I thought, “press conference?” There were various reporter types and photographers loitering about, but not like a huge crowd of them.
They lined us up at the front of the room, and then some official-looking guy in a suit came out and gave a short speech, and then they brought in something on an easel that had a piece of cloth draped over it. Something square like a painting.
My heart started to beat faster. Last I’d heard, it was just a rumor, just a possibility. I didn’t know it had actually happened.
When they whipped the cloth away, though, and a big, round gold record was revealed, I actually went weak in the knees.
You know I’m not great with numbers. But that gorgeous, round platter staring at me like a big eye meant that 500,000 people had bought the “Candlelight” single. Half a million people. I tried for a moment to understand how many people that was. If everyone in the town I grew up in had bought a copy… they’d have had to buy twenty copies each? Or two-hundr–? No, twenty. Still.
They took a lot of photos of us with the gold record. Then a bunch of just me and Ziggy, one on either side. I wouldn’t see them until a lot later, but I have a kind of deer-in-the-headlights look in most of them. I mean, I look happy, but sort of dazed, I guess.
I was sort of dazed, I guess. Some radio station or something was there–no wait, it had to be TV, because there was a camera, too, so Entertainment Tonight or MTV News, I’m guessing–and filmed maybe five minutes of an interview after that, and Ziggy did all the talking while I just nodded next to him.
Then they whisked us off to the venue, which was not that physically far from LA, but with traffic and all… whatever. It took hours to get there, I think. I lay in my bunk through most of it.
When we got there, it turned out to be a gorgeous venue. Somehow I hadn’t tracked on the fact that it would be outdoors. Small, under five thousand seats, but what a great place. The seats were carved into the hillside, and I spent the whole soundcheck looking up into a blue sky.
Zig caught up to me after that with his liquid eyeliner bottle. We sat down in two folding chairs outside the tour bus where some catering was set up, and he did the usual.
“Hey,” he said, his voice really quiet since he was practically right in my ear. “You okay?”
“Just, you haven’t said a word to anyone in hours.”
Why that was the moment when I suddenly wanted to kiss him, I don’t know. I didn’t really want words, I guess. I wanted some other way to connect.
Fortunately, I had another option. “You want to work on a song?”
“Something you haven’t heard yet.”
I opened the Ovation’s case and the scent of rose wafted out.