Today was results day from the OU. I got a grade 2 on my module, scoring well on the EMA. So here it is. There are no more chapters to this, although I know where it’s all going….

The end

Night still smothers the sea, although somewhere behind the landward hills the sky is beginning to lighten.  The coast road, winding along the edges of steep sea cliffs, is normally deserted at this early hour. Right now though, a wayward limousine is barrelling along it between the land and the Ocean, windows down, music blaring.  There is a woman driving it, her dyed black hair tangling with the air streaming in through the open windows.

She raises her voice above the music.  ‘Shut up, you bastard, just shut up!’ She yells into the unlit belly of the limousine. She’s clutching the wheel in one be-ringed fist, while cradling an open whiskey bottle in her lap.

Satisfied by the lack of response from the back,  she turns once more to the road. Drumming her fingers on the wheel in time to the music,  she takes a long swig from the bottle.  Presently, the song on the stereo changes.  She leaps for the buttons, making the limo to swerve wildly towards the landward edge of the road.  With a crash and a tinkle, a mirror is lost to a roadside tree. She doesn’t hear it.

She finds something she likes then settles behind the wheel again. When the vocals kicks in, she starts to sing along at the top of her voice.  She’s drunk, she’s loud, but she’s a real singer, with a powerful voice.  She sings joyously, throwing the huge car through the corners, losing herself in the music.

Then,  without warning, she stops abruptly.  She cuts the music off with ​her fist, leaving the lyric hanging mid-sentence, and slams her feet on the brakes. There is a heavy thud somewhere in the the darkness behind her. She turns in her seat, face distorted with rage. ‘No, you asshole! You don’t own my voice! You don’t own me! I’m not gonna let you pull that shit anymore!’

There’s no response from the darkness.

‘Fuck you! Don’t give me the silent treatment!’ she spits, but still the response is silence. ‘Fuck you!’ She sinks her foot to the floor. The limo leaps forward then dies with a violent shudder. It’s momentum sends it sprawling across both sides of the road. Showering the car in vitriol, she restarts it, struggling with her own co-ordination as she does. She slams the accelerator down again, and the limo shoots towards the cliff-side verge. She tries to grapple the steering wheel, but the verge is narrow, built on gravel and clinging sea grass. It gives the car no purchase. The front tyres are suddenly spinning on fresh air, the belly grinding against the febrile cliff edge.  The weight of the limo conspires against it, and the edge crumbles.

As the huge car tips toward the waiting ocean, the sky is beginning to flush with morning. Pinned to her seat by her belt, she watches the swirling colours of dawn spin by and melt into the inky ocean. A man’s long body tumbles out of the darkness and into the windscreen. He bounces, leaving behind cracks and streaks of blood, then his limbs tangle with hers. She starts to shriek. With a crunch, the sky stops sailing past and silence falls.

Chapter One

America, 2017

March 17th

Dearest darlin’ diary,

New tour, new diary! 13 already? Don’t time just fly by?

Bet you didn’t think I had a diary, did you? Y’all have seen the headlines and the Paparazzi snapshots.  Y’all think it’s all sex n’ drugs n’ rock n’ roll so there ain’t no room for shit as mundane as keeping a diary. Well, that just proves to me, dearest reader, that you know nothing about being a musician.  That’s right, y’all, a musician not  a “celebrity”.  That’s what I am, kid.  

Y’ know, David Bowie kept a diary.  In an interview I saw when I was a teen,  he cut a page up,  then rearranged the pieces into lyrics. I tried it with mine, but all I got was dreadful teen poetry.    I’m pretty sure if he hadn’t kept a diary, Space Oddity would never have made it into song.  

And somewhere under a pile on top of my piano at home, I have a copy of Kurt Cobain’s journals.  He wrote down every thought that went through his fucked-up head and you can totally see the beginnings of his songs in those pages. In some ways I’m kinda like him, what I call an Inside Out musician. Inside Out musicians use all the life experience and hurt they’ve collected inside to produce music. It ain’t always the most technical, but it’s raw, it’s heartfelt and people dig it easily. Outside In musicians, like my guitarist, Syrus, they take on all they can about how music works; key, tempo, phrasing, all that technical shit and internalise it.  They know what to use and when, so they can make music do whatever they want it to. It takes years though, so you gotta be keen.

So, Inside Out types like us need our diaries, just like Outside In types need their music theory.  I keep my little black book on me all the time and it keeps me looking for stuff to fill it up with. Y’know, turns of phrase, expressions, experiences, all that kind of thing. Anything that could be worth remembering. What did y’all think all the crazy, out of control, Rock Star shit I do is for?

March 18th

Last night was the first show of the tour.  We kicked off in Miami, and we’re gonna  zig-zag our way back out west to Cali over the next 3 months. I think this is our third tour round the States since the last album, but I could be losing track.  I should be in the studio already, but the management company want this tour while I’m still on their time.  Craig’s management company.  God damn, that son of a bitch is driving me crazy already.  

I am sure he was drunk at the Press conference yesterday. Normally that cold bastard does a good job of holding it together, but he just wasn’t really on it. He gave this big speech about how we were all looking forward to the tour and putting the past behind us and shit, but nobody was buying it. I blanked it out, listened to tunes on my phone, and let him bullshit away.

It didn’t feel to me like it was a first gig of a tour, but last night’s gig was still awesome.  I was dog tired right up till we stepped on that stage, but the way the fans roared  just zapped me full of energy.  I could hear them chanting even before we got out of the limo, and that had my stomach churning with nerves like it always does. I don’t strictly recall when I stopped being nervous.

Syrus was on fire, playing that guitar of his like a man possessed.  The boys were rocking and the crowd were jumping.  When they cheered after the first song, it made me feel so damn high I thought I was a goddess.  When you’re pumping full of adrenaline and adulation, it’s hard not to go a bit crazy. It pushed me to be superhuman on that stage, so I  pushed my voice right to the edge, just so as I could give those good people their money’s worth.

It was such a complete buzz kill to come bouncing off the stage and back into Fort Craig.  For this tour, he’s hired like three times the number of security people as he’s ever done before, and it already feels like being in prison.  I’m not sure where all that is coming from,  but the memo from the company told me there would be extra security because of “a heightened threat from terrorism in recent years”.  I’m calling bullshit on that, I think Craig’s just getting paranoid.

He was stone drunk when we got back stage, surrounded by his private army like some supervillain in a hollywood movie. Except he could barely fucking sit up right. The rider was piled up with mountains of junk food and gallons of hard liquor, way more than Craig had ever put on before.  It felt like a bribe to me, so we left early for a different party.  I ain’t playing Craig’s game on this tour, I’m done with that.

So now we’re back on the bus, heading on to the next show and I am back to writing my tour diary. Back on the old cycle again, going round in the same circles again.   I thought last tour would be the last I had to do with Craig, but apparently that was just wishful thinking. There’s six months left on my contract, and the management company are gonna squeeze every last drop of cash out of that bitch they can. I’m just gonna have to grin and bear it.

March 19th

The so-called gentlemen of the press are always pecking away at the same two questions.  ‘Where do your ideas come from?’ and ‘Who are your influences?’  The problem with these questions is they always want your opinion in bite size chunks.  I live my life, I write it down. Somewhere between the process of reading back over it, and just living my life some more, my songs start to take shape.    That’s how I get my ‘ideas’, but it never seems to satisfy them.  It’s like they think there’s some kind of magic I do to make it all happen.  Maybe I cut my wrists, bleed myself a contract with the devil and he teaches me songs. I don’t really know what they think, but they just don’t want it to be the same kind of process that other folks use to make music.  Maybe that’s my reputation, maybe it’s the shit I sing about, maybe it’s even all the black I wear, who fucking knows?

When Journalists ask you about your influences, what they really want is a list of like ‘your top five bands’.   I’ve tried to go in depth about it before, but they are lazy and don’t want to have to write all that stuff down. These days, I just give them what they want, but when I reel off the Doors, the Stones, the Beatles, Janis and Dylan as my favourite five acts, I know that doesn’t really reflect properly on the music I make. I started off trying to be The Runaways when I formed my first band, but I know there’s all kinds of metal, blues and even classical in the stuff I write.  No Rock Journalist wants to hear about how psyched you get listening to Bach.

I grew up on Granma and Granpa’s music and it was all blues, rock, folk and protest.  They fed me hippy food and taught me hippy principles, which made me a freak at my Internet Age High School. I am a throwback kid, born in the 90’s, but raised in the ‘60’s. It’s kind of a weird place to be, caught between two such different times. Music these days  is corporatised, commoditised, fetishised and micro-managed.  There ain’t no space for protest in it,   cos it might hurt those almighty profit margins, so we’ve become a generation without a protest music of our own.  The songs we hear, the songs we get to record, they are all team written, over-produced products of mega-corporations, just like it was in the 50’s and early 60’s.  Before the ‘Revolution’. We’ve gone back to square one, y’all, to the place where writing your own songs is practically rebel act.  

That shit always drove me crazy, so I started writing angry little punk songs about how all that shit drove me crazy.  When they started to take off, I actually thought I was beating The Man.  Turns out, that’s not how this whole ‘celebrity’ culture shit works.  If you try to stand up to The Man and people start buying it,  He don’t try to crush you anymore in this globalised world,  He just buys you.  

March 20th

It’s evening and I am watching the sun set out of the tour bus window.  We’re crossing miles of empty, flat countryside, somewhere in Georgia.  We ain’t got a show till tomorrow night, so we’re driving all night.  It’s hypnotic watching the big corn fields roll by.  It’s so changeless you get trapped in a loop of deja vu, just cornfields and fences, cornfields and fences.  We drove alongside a railway track for the longest time, past slow crawling freight trains that stretched out for miles.  It seemed to break up the monotony at first, but then after the hundredth freight car, it was really just the same.  

Now the colours are fading with the setting sun and only the sky is worth looking at.  It’s as wide as the land here is flat, and scattered with long banks of thick white cloud.  They are trapping the colours of the sunset, the details of their folds and bumps picked out by the golden light.  It makes them look ultra real, superimposed even, like a bad green screen in an old 80’s movie.  The contrasts of dark and light, superreal and faded make the view outside the bus seem disjointed.  It fits my mood.

Inside the bus is quiet.  Syrus is sitting in his bunk practising scales on his unplugged Gibson.  Steve and Jeff are playing cards.  Tonya and Letisha are curled up with their phones, talking occasionally.  Niall is in his bunk above Syrus, sleeping off last night’s party.  Craig, thank fuck, is not here.  Tours are crazy.  Tight schedules, interviews, record signings, sound checks, gigs, it’s all a carousel of people, noise and bright lights.  You soon learn to value quiet moments like this.

The sunset soon draws everyone, except Niall, to come look out the windows with me.  The first pale golds are deepening into orange and scarlet.  The clouds look ominous, with dark tops like stacks of reeking smoke and bellies on fire.  The land is nothing more than a thin silhouette, overshadowed by the burning sky.  Tonya says it’s an ‘apocalypse sky’, and we go off on a rambling discussion about the good folk of Georgia getting excited about the Rapture coming.  Jeff tells us all exactly what the bible says about the Rapture, Letisha thinks it’s very sad that people actually want the apocalypse to happen, I put in my two cents about believing the Christian Right are trying to cause it, Syrus tells us we’re all crazy for believing any of it and Steve wonders if there will be zombies.  

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