We eventually got to actually rehearsing. To placate Louis we ran through the opening three songs, first one at a time with some chit-chat between, and then all three in a row. When the doors were shut and the house lights were off, it was as dark as a cave in the hangar, which was the point. Louis made us stop after that and they spent an hour moving lights around because of how we’d changed where we’d be standing from the original plan..
They also drew a straight line in masking tape across the front of the stage, delineating where the edge was going to be once they got rid of the curved front. I felt a little guilty making the whole crew go through all that because of my suggestion, but no one seemed to mind exactly. No one grumbled where I could hear it, anyway.
If they had grumbled I would have said, hey, if you don’t like it, don’t put me in charge of things I didn’t have any input into in the first place.
While the changeover of the lights was going on, Remo introduced me to the actual head of the road crew, George Denver. I was expecting someone older, I think, but George looked like he couldn’t be older than thirty. He was fit and muscular in a way that made him look more like a Navy Seal in his black T-shirt and jeans than a roadie. We shook hands.
We were standing in the empty space where the audience would’ve been, where he could keep an eye on what was going on without actually being in the way. “You bringing a tech with you?” he asked.
I looked at Remo. “I kinda expected Flip was handling us both.”
Remo shrugged. “If you wanted to bring someone along, you could.”
“I don’t need a…” Sherpa, I was about to say, and the idea that I could bring Colin along flitted through my mind, except that Colin was balls to the wall with tax prep work until April 15th, and I did not need a sherpa. I really didn’t. “…dedicated tech,” I finished. “Flip handled us both before while on crutches with one hand tied behind his back.”
“Well, he was only on the crutches for about a week,” Remo added.
“The tour was only two weeks long,” I pointed out. “Wasn’t it?” I couldn’t remember.
George looked back and forth between us, deadpan. “I won’t increase the headcount, then. You guys need me, just holler.”
Remo and I chuckled a little as he walked away. “You know it was nuts to bring Flip to Japan on crutches,” I said.
“He made himself useful, didn’t he?” He chuckled again. “Eventually.”
“Yeah. So what’s George’s story? Where’d you get him?”
“He’s been out with us a couple of times.”
“Does he always come off like an army ranger or is it just me?”
“It’s not just you. You can ask him yourself, but he came out of the military, started driving a truck, did a job trucking for a rock band at some point, got bit by the tour bug, you know how it goes.”
Ran away and joined the circus, in other words. Yeah, everyone had some kind of a story like that.
“How big is this crew, anyway?” I asked as I caught sight of the door to the parking lot opening. Light poured in as it opened. Lunch had arrived in the form of two caterers carrying crates of sandwiches.
“Mm, I think we’re at about sixty-five? Waldo can tell you.” Remo took a deep breath. “Lotta people. Full head count including band must be closer to seventy-five.”
“I’ll say.” It was a much bigger crew than I’d ever traveled with before.
There were a handful of banged up tables, partly covered in paint, in one corner, and we helped the caterers drag them out and unfolded some chairs. Once I sat down with some roast beef between bread, Remo sat down next to me and carried on. “It’s enough that I was going to try to hire your gal there to take Waldo’s job, and put him in charge of the road crew exclusively, but George became available and she isn’t.”
“Carynne, you mean?”
“Yeah. But she’s showcasing one of her other bands and has a lot going on.” He gave me an inquisitive look.
“I don’t know anything about it.”
“But should you?”
“Should I? Why shouldn’t she work for her other bands while I’m on the road?”
“Well, I’m asking you, Daron. Do you still need her? And does she still need you?”
“If you’re asking do I need management and representation, hell yes. You think I’m going to negotiate my own contracts and calculate my taxes?”
“So you hire a lawyer and an accountant as needed.”
“No. If it gets to the point where I can’t afford to pay her anymore, that’s one thing, but no. You may like self-managing but there’s a reason you’re in the minority.”
He sighed. “I know. And I had to hire someone to handle all the licensing and stuff anyway. Speaking of management or lack thereof, you heard from your old man lately?”
“Since Ziggy fired him, not a peep.”
Remo gave me a confused look then. “Ziggy fired him?”
“Yeah. He’s with Barrett Thomas now. Plotting the takeover of the entire entertainment industry.” I meant it as a joke but it came out sounding a lot more serious.
Remo just nodded, took our empty sandwich papers, balled them up and went to throw them away.
I may as well mention this now instead of later: seventy-five people is a small army. That’s a lot of mouths to feed day after day. I was always glad I was not the one who had to figure out all the logistics of housing and transporting everyone and everything, but I was especially glad now.
When we got back on the stage Remo said, “Let’s work on that thing we’re adding to the set.”
“‘Taking My Time’?” I asked. “Why don’t you and me work it out at home tonight so everyone else doesn’t have to stand around while I figure it out.”
“You don’t remember it?”
“Do you realize how many years it’s been since I played it?” For a second, actually, I wasn’t even sure how many years it had been. We didn’t do it in Japan, so the time before that…? “I wasn’t even old enough to drink the last time we played it.”
That got a laugh out of the guys and we moved on.
But later when we were having another break, I sat down by myself and fucked around with it, trying to remember how I used to do it. I mean, because it was an instrumental intro I rarely did it exactly the same way twice, and one of the kind of fun things about it was that the whole band had to listen to me and pay attention to figure out when to come in. The first time we’d done it had been when I was about thirteen, and it was one of the first real blues-type solos I worked on. See, the trick of it is that on the album it’s just the song with no intro. And if you’re not listening carefully, you won’t even realize that what I’m playing is about to turn into this thing you recognize. But then when the actual opening riff hits you suddenly realize that you really did know it all along.
So, you know, I couldn’t just play a bunch of random shit leading up to it. It had to work. musically, melodically. I wanted time to think about it, and I wanted to play through the song a couple of times.
I sat there with my eyes focused on nothing, feeling my way around it, but I couldn’t quite remember enough of the song. And the lack of sleep from the night before started to catch up with me. The coffee I’d had in the morning was long gone, and unlike at the regular office rehearsal space there wasn’t a coffee maker plugged in here.
Remo poked me on the shoulder, then poked fun at me. “You sound like a music box winding down.”
“I feel like one, too,” I said, stifling a yawn.
“Maybe if you didn’t come home in the middle of the night you wouldn’t.”
Let me say right now I don’t think he meant that in a particularly harsh way. I’m not really sure he was even thinking about what he said. I mean, it wasn’t like he snapped at me, you know?
But I took it kind of harshly. He hadn’t snapped, but I kind of did: “You going to put a curfew on me?”
Instant backpedal… out of the frying pan into the fire. “Aw, I don’t mean it like that. But you know. You did wake the baby.”
“I’ll have you know the fucking baby was already awake and how the fuck would you know anyway, Sleeping Beauty? It’s a good thing I came in when I did because Mel couldn’t take a piss without handing him to me first!”
And then there was one of those moments where we stared at each other… and then we were both more upset about getting angry with each other than anything else.
“I’m sorry,” we both said at the same time.
“Look. I know the baby is a big deal, all right? You don’t have to remind me,” I said. “Can we work on this song when we get home, though? Seriously, Reem.”
He looked like there was something more he wanted to say. He chewed on it for a while. Then I guess he decided it wasn’t worth saying after all. If it was going to be another comment that made him sound like a suburban parent, then he made the right choice. “Yeah. Yeah, good idea.”
In my estimation, we couldn’t hit the road soon enough.
(Speaking of being on the road, ctan here, and I’m looking down the barrel of not only a summer busy with travel, but I managed to somehow schedule two novels to be due to two different publishers, one in August, one in September. I would like to say I can do it all and keep up 2-3 Daron posts a week through it, but if I can’t, here’s a poll question I’d like you all to answer. Would you prefer that I cut back to once a week for 4 months, or that I go on total hiatus for two months?) EDIT: POLL NOW CLOSED! THANKS!