We had our next business meeting in the kitchen at six o’clock on a Tuesday night. I’d have done it in the living room, but the thing in the forefront of my mind was Christian signing his contract, and it seemed right to have an actual table for that. Our kitchen was not a room where we generally spent a lot of time, me or my housemates.
The others sat around the table while I sat on the counter and swung my legs against cabinet doors that had been repainted dozens of times. Christian signed and we celebrated with a case of beer Bart provided. Then I brought the rest of them up to date on our tour plans, or, as the case was, our lack of them.
“BNC don’t want us to tour.”
Bart frowned, Michelle looked puzzled, Chris looked non-plussed. Ziggy asked “Why?”
I forced myself to keep my eyes on them and not on the beer in my hand. “Mills wants us to get to work on a follow up album right away, and to save ourselves until that one’s done to hit the road again. He doesn’t want us playing small venues because it will decrease our perceived image or some bullshit like that.” Think big, he’d told me, no more of this piddly shit, or we’d drag ourselves down to that level. We want to do everything possible to break you up to the next level, don’t work against us like this… I was tired.
Chris shrugged. “And if our agent could get us bigger places?”
This was putting aside the fact that we didn’t yet have a booking agent. “They won’t give us the tour support we need for a larger scale–not unless they pick up the next album, which as you know they have the option on, but won’t decide on until we deliver the product.” Now they all knew what I’d known for several days. I hopped down to the floor, turned a vinyl-covered chair around backwards and leaned my head on my forearms. The simple fact of it was we’d been off the road only a month, and I wanted to be back out there, already.
Colin, on his way up to his room, stuck his head in. “Can I have one of those?”
Bart gave him a beer and a little twitch of the face that told him to make himself scarce. When he was gone, Bart said “Maybe Mills is right.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know. I just can’t see how playing out could hurt us. What if this re-release doesn’t do so well? Can we really depend on them? Jonathan said Spin will be on the stands soon. By February, what if the buzz is over? Who do you think BNC is going to blame if the album doesn’t sell as well as they project? Us. I think we have to do something. And playing out is all I can think of to do.”
Chris was nodding but he said “Well, we do need to record the new stuff.”
“I don’t deny that. But you know it won’t take us long to do it.” I ran down quickly for them how long I thought it would take–which was maybe two months at the most. “Mills says, IF they like what we send them, IF they take the option, the soonest they’d put us on the road would be the end of next summer.” In reality the timetable could be even slower, and I imagined iron balls chained to my ankles. “So what do we do the next six months to a year? Sit on our butts? Go back to day jobs? What if they don’t take the album?” I could not picture not performing for six months. “And,” I added, “I’ll go fucking nuts.”
Everyone sat or stood back just a fraction, like they always did when I said something I really fucking meant.
Christian shrugged. “Do they care if we play around here?”
“I don’t know.” Now my eyes fixated on the worn spot in the middle of the Formica top table.
Ziggy cracked open another beer. “Well, they don’t want us to. But does that mean we can’t?”
“Then why don’t we do it, and they’ll see when the record comes out how hot it will be.”
But that’s the problem, I was thinking. I’m not fucking sure about anything anymore. I didn’t know where I stood with Ziggy now, I didn’t know what was going to happen with BNC. I was doubting the deal more every time I spoke to Mills… I lay my head on the table.
Christian put a hand on my shoulder. “I say we don’t fucking worry about it for now. Let’s get started on new stuff and forget BNC and touring for a week or two.”
Michelle asked what I was thinking. “Why?”
Chris stood up. “I never met a suit who didn’t run hot and cold. If you back off, by next week maybe he’ll be begging us to hit the road. No use stressing about it. Let’s do our part of the job first.”
I heard Bart’s chair scrape the floor as he stood up, too.
“Meeting adjourned,” I said into my arms but I don’t think anyone heard me.
Mills doesn’t sound like he’s particularly savvy on the PR front.
I dunno, man. He’d tell you how many artists he made go multi-platinum. They have their way of doing things, I guess.