517. Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Like This Pressure On)

There’s a moment in one of Shakespeare’s plays–maybe more than one, they blend together in my head–where a guy gets stabbed and then he has to comment on the fact that he’s just taken a knife to the gut and what it feels like. I don’t actually remember what he says, but it was one of those things that always struck me as ridiculous. The absolute last thing you can do when you’ve been stabbed in the gut is talk.

Or at least, when I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the gut, I can never say a word.

I had a large plastic cup in my hand (empty) and to express myself I flung it as hard as I could across the room. It hit the front door with a surprisingly satisfyingly loud sound.

“I take it you’re not thrilled with that idea.”

I tried to ungrind my teeth enough to speak. I failed. Bart spoke up. “I think what Daron’s trying to say is ‘over my dead body.'”

I managed a nod and a croaked “yeah.”

Carynne took a deep breath. “Okay. Trial balloon went down like a lead zeppelin. But seriously, Daron, could you live with becoming, essentially, Ziggy’s backing band?”

“Hang on, hang on.” Bart held up his hands. “Are we talking about just for, like, marketing purposes? Is it all image? Or would this change the actual financial relationship?”

“We haven’t talked about it in detail yet. But I think they’re trying to keep all the contracts intact. You know, their suggestion of re-launching the band with a new image is the way BNC can get on board with supporting you again, which suggests to me that the whole point is they don’t want to renegotiate on the back end.”

I finally found my voice. “And you know what happens after that. Ziggy goes on to a solo career and the rest of us go home.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Somebody want to tell me where the guys in Foreigner who weren’t named Lou Gramm are now? When was the last time you heard from Stewart Copeland or Andy Summers since Sting went solo? Where are The Smiths now? The GoGos? Journey? 10,000 Maniacs–?”

I could have gone on but Carynne cut me off with a gesture she learned from me: the conductor move that ends in a closed fist. “Worry about what happens down the road later. We need to concentrate on right now. Once the contract is up, if your four want to stay together, there won’t be anything stopping you from signing with another company.”

“Except there’s no going back to just the band’s name.” Or original image. What category did they want to put us in, I wondered? “And do you really think Ziggy would let us take his name off the bill?”

She opened her mouth to argue but closed it again as she thought about it.

“There’s no going back if we go this route.”

“We don’t have to make a decision now,” she said.

“You just said we need to concentrate on right now!”

“Don’t you fucking bite my head off, Daron Marks, just because you’re upset things went to shit while you were gone!”

I blinked, as stunned as if she’d reached across the coffee table and slapped some sense into me. “Holy shit, I’m sorry. That wasn’t what I meant. I mean, yeah, I’m upset, but I don’t mean to take it out on you.”

She looked equally stunned. “When did you get so good at apologies?”

“Trying to keep up bullshit is a lot harder, I’ve decided.” Also, I had Jonathan to thank. He was a good role model when it came to honest apologies, quickly served. “Let’s set the image question aside for a second. Can you bring me up to speed again on our financial situation?”

“If you’re worry about Courtney, don’t, that’s all figured out.”

“I’m more worried about Chris.”

Chris jerked in his chair like I’d goosed him. “Who, me?”

“Yeah, you. Were you on a contracting job today just because you felt like getting out of the house?”

His face reddened. “I’ve got some debts.”

“Drug debts?”

“Not directly, no, but you know. Car’ says the mortgage is taken care of, but I don’t have anything saved…” He rubbed his face. “Do we have to talk about this now?”

“No, of course not, but you know, if you need money–”

“I don’t want charity–”

“It’s not charity if it’s band earnings. The whole point of a fucking band is that the money we made is for us to live on.”

“Yeah, but I’ve run through everything we earned on the road.”

I glanced at Carynne.

“Most of what’s in your bank account, Dar, is from songwriting. It’s your publishing stuff and the session stuff, too,” she said calmly. “And what Remo paid you.”

“Wait. What did Remo pay me?”

“Duh, remember the tour of Japan and Australia? You were on the road for almost a month.”

“Yeah, but…”

“Did you think he wasn’t going to pay you for that?”

“Honestly, we never discussed it.”

She made an exasperated noise. “Union scale is $180 a day on performance days, $90 on non-performance days, plus $30 per diem, which you almost never took. And he threw in some for promotional appearances.”

“Oh.” I had forgotten about the union, frankly. Remo had signed me up for one the first time I’d gone on the road with him but I hadn’t given it much thought since then. Carynne had been paying my dues, I guess. “So how much was it?”

“Five thousand, give or take.”

“And you took 15 percent, right?”

“Actually I was waiting for you–”

“Carynne, you don’t have to ask. 15 percent of everything I make is yours. Everything.”

“Yeah, well, but I’m not as cavalier as you about it. Anyway. You’re in good shape right now is what I’m trying to say. Chris…” She looked at him. “Is it mostly just the I.R.S.?”

He shrugged. “Yeah. But you know, I would’ve had the cash to pay them off if I hadn’t put so much of it up my damn nose.”

“Oh, so is this a kind of guilt-redemption thing?” I asked.

“Yeah, kinda.” He cleared his throat. “By which I mean yeah, definitely.”

“All right. All right. But don’t lose a finger on a saw or something, for fuck’s sake.” I held up my fist and he bumped it. “I’m the last person to say you shouldn’t take honest work.”

Carynne was holding back a sly smile. “Weren’t you working construction in Spain?”

“I helped build a flamenco school and a performance space, which I then gigged in two nights a week, if that’s what you mean,” I said. I realized from the way they were all looking at me that they were hoping I’d say more. “It’s not that big a deal. I met this guy at Guitar Craft from Seville, he started teaching me flamenco, then he introduced me to his aunt who was teaching classes in her living room, and we built her courtyard into a sixty-seat venue.”

I shrugged and they all sat back like they knew that meant I wasn’t going to say anything more.

Carynne stretched. “Well, we should meet with Feinbaum. How about everybody sleep on the idea and we can talk about it again tomorrow.”

“Anyone know where Ziggy is right now?” I asked.

Carynne stood. “Movie premiere is next week.”

“In New York?”



“Why, were you thinking of crashing the party?”

“Quit reading my mind.” I went and picked up the cup I had thrown earlier and tipped it into the trash. “All of you. Now, who wants to rehearse?”

Reminder: Kickstarter chat is this Thursday from 8-10pm eastern US time, live video on my uStream channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/cecilia-tan. As for how the Kickstarter is going, it’s going well, but we haven’t reached minimum goal yet! Over the weekend things kind of stalled again, and we’ve been stuck at 88-89% for four days… If you haven’t chipped in yet, now would be a great time to do so. Link: http://kck.st/R31kCx. -ctan


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