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we have a date with the underground, chapter 21
by Turtle Jones
Read the disclaimer before diving into this one.
The end of an era. Kind of a feeling in your stomach. You know it's over. The band knows it's over. Alliances had been formed. New bands were being formed behind the others' backs. Everyone knew about what was happening but no one talked about it. I knew some people were moving to different states to join other bands. I knew I was joining a bigger band. We all knew that we hated each other.
You will also see another band ending story later in this series that was more like a soap opera then this one. But that's later.
This is a different one.
By the time I woke up, I knew I was late. I had to be at someone's apartment 15 minutes ago to get shit in the van. Why does this always happen to me? I can't make a ten minute drive to be on time?
I slammed back a beer and put some speed in me. Ok. Shower time. That kind of shower where you don't want to get your face wet cause the water might make the dope run down the side of your face and onto your chest. So you hold your head high while the drugs kick in. Just clean enough to know this was still your home but still dirty enough that you know you have to play a show. Weird feeling. Hopefully this will be the last one with this group. I was too chickenshit to break it off then with the band because it was a three day festival and we had a good slot. I figured we play the show then end it all. We all move on to our different bands.
All I had to do was be on time.
I got to the bands' therapist's place 20 minutes later than the 15 I was already running. And if you ask me what I mean by group therapist, I'll tell you. He is the one in the van who was "the cooler". He was the one who smoothed things out. He was the one who could restring your bass, guitar, set up the drums, take anyone’s place in the band if they were too drunk and most of all he was my best friend.
Every band has a therapist. I'm not talking about a roadie. I'm talking about someone who could sit people down and slowly make them realize that the drummer wasn't that big of an asshole and you still have three more weeks on this tour so it might not be a very good idea to punch the singer out. The therapist. Also the one who was going to another part of the state at the end of this festival.
So our glue was leaving us. This was then going to be the last show with this group. All of us were playing in different bands by then anyways. It's what happens. Starting a band out kills you, so everyone starts to hate each other. The band gets bigger and more people notice you. You start to hate each other more. Then other bands pull out the parts of your band they like. Then people move on. It's just a matter of time before the part time gigs with the other bands turns into full time gigs. So being on time tonight was not really a big fucking priority. I was already set with another gig.
When I did finally reach the apartment, it was almost empty. His girlfriend's stuff was gone. She had left for New York and I had missed saying good-bye. His stuff was shipped to where he was moving. The only thing left in the house was a sofa and some equipment that was for sale. Just my best friend, a sofa, a bottle of whiskey and a somber look on his face.
"You know our guitarist got hired away to become a full time producer don't you?"
"Yes, I know."
"You know our singer got snagged by another band, don't you?"
"Yes, I know."
"You know legal papers have been served to retain the legal band name, don't you?"
"Yes, I know."
"Then why are we playing this show?"
"Because we said we would."
The dying words of a once great band. Something you hate saying because you know it is the end of something that was great. I sat on the sofa with him and took a big slug of whiskey. The burning feeling went down my throat as I put my head back.
"You know we are never going to see these guys again."
"Yes, I know."
"Then let's go out with style."
Polished off the bottle while talking about the bands we were going into. I thought, really, I would never see him again after this weekend. Any of the guys. But one thing about this business. Never say never about anything. Cause I've played and seen all these guys at least once in different bands, in studios and backstages many years after we stopped playing together.
Never say never.
Someone can always help you or hurt you in the future depending on how you treat them now. Things can always end nice or hard. It's all how you want to do it. And those other people in those first bands you were in can help you. A lot.
But, since we were on a mission to destroy, we knocked on his friend's door. Some rich Australian guy saying something you to my friend. What did he say? Fuck, I had enough booze in me to kill a small African country but I remember looking at him saying, "The fuck is a snapper and why do I want one?"
Ok. This is when it gets tricky. The table was filled with about a grand (?) or so of cocaine. Just a huge bag right in the middle of the table. Unopened. About 20 lines cut out on the glass blue table in front of it. Penthouse view and beers on tap. "Snappers" meant cocaine lines to him. They were some kinda fish to me.
Fuck if I know.
So damn well knowing we were going to be late, I did the responsible thing. I poured a beer and did about six lines of coke. "Crikey! You do alot of snappers!" Oh hell yeah. We didn't have to be anywhere for three more hours. We will put a hurtin' on that bag of dope. Needless to say, we were late. Very late. Like no sound check late. That late. The show was already going when I got backstage. From the rest of there, it was a haze.
We didn't talk.
It was over. All that was left was to see the other bands in the festival. We went back to the building and went back upstairs. "Snappers!" We got high again. And drunk again. I had a half cellophane bag of cocaine left from the show, so we went all out. Apparently, this guy was some kinda computer guy who did something, but really, I didn't fucking know and I didn't fucking care. All I knew was that was the last, so I thought, I would ever see of the band so now I can go home and throw out my silk screens, sell everything that is left tomorrow and be done with these guys. Remember thou...never say never. But, that's another story for another day.
Honestly, the second day was more of a haze. I didn't sleep. I didn't do shit except a lot of cocaine and beer. Cocaine fucks with you in that way. Meth makes you out of it after four or five days, but a cocaine binge is like one night and you are seeing things. So, I wasn’t doing so hot. The shirts. That's money! They had been sold and the money stolen by someone in the band further licking the seal on this being over. I sat and drank with my friend backstage just doing more lines of cocaine. We caught a taxi back to his house and went back upstairs for more "Snappers!"
Second day in a row my car hadn't moved from its spot. By going up to this door, it was almost assured that it would still be there for a third day. As we knocked we noticed something different. Voices. Someone was talking. He had friends? All this time I thought he was some weirdo recluse in a penthouse apartment with a raging cocaine addiction and he had friends?
A bunch of people greeted us as my mind was thinking about Twinkies and sex in space. How would an anti-gravitational orgasm feel? Or was the name of the new band I was in? As you can see, my cylinders were not firing. More lines of coke. Beautiful Australian chicks all around.
Meh. Blur. That's all I can remember from that night.
The last night of the show I was still coked up and drunk. By this time my best friend had busted into his moving money and we were trading a bottle of whiskey back and forth just to keep coherent. But, we had to go. Last night. We had to be there. Took the bus to the show. Walking up the stairs, I saw him sit down. He needed a rest. I kept walking. The show went on and I looked for him, but could never find him. He had to be somewhere.
As the show ended, I stumbled out of the doors. Out of cocaine. Totally broke. Seeing ex-band members. Waiting for my best friend. Nothing.
The show had cleared out as I surveyed my options. Either he was at the airport and I was totally fucked cause my keys were at his house, I could walk three miles to my building and try to break in, walk to his house or sleep in the street. For all I knew, this was it. Never seeing anyone again. And I couldn't even walk straight.
I hailed down a taxi asking them if they could give me a ride to my friend’s house. If my friend didn't have cash, "Crocodile Dundee" would. After about six "Fuck yous" from drivers, I finally found one who agreed to do it. He would take me for a huge tip. When I got to my friend's building. It was all dark. No one answered the door. I ran up to "Crocodile Dundee's" door and banged. The sounds were dead.
The place was black. The horn was blaring from the taxi. I wandered back to my friend’s house and banged on the screen. A light turned on. He opened the door looking like death. I explained the situation and he used more of his moving money to take care of the cab. Everything was ok now.
Inside the apartment was nothing. This was a dead zone. The sofa had been sold and the equipment was gone. A blanket, a passed out Irishman, my car keys and some change on the floor. This was really over. He was sleeping in the middle of the floor. I wrapped up in my jacket and hit the corner to pass out.
The next morning I woke up with a foot on my chest. I had to take him to the airport. I owed it to him. Ever been sober after a three day coke binge run? It hurts. I pulled out the change from my car and got us both a 40 of King Cobra as we went there. Slamming them back and not really talking. Him explaining to a me that he passed out where he fell the night before and was taken outside and someone took him home. Me, thinking that was a hell of a weekend.
It didn't matter. The airport was coming up. One last swig of the beer and we walked up to the gates. I lit a cigarette and we both stared at the ground feeling more dead than alive. Just thinking thoughts out loud, I guess. Just saying words or sentences as we thought about how it all had ended. We did something big. We came from nowhere and did this all. We had a hell of a run there.
"We took something from nothing and made it big."
"You know, when you look back on it all, it wasn't always shitty."
"I wonder if there is going to be a lawsuit over the name rights?"
"I stopped caring about that band since my new gig."
"I did too"
"So you gonna be ok?"
"I'll be fine. I'm already in two more bands."
I turned my back and walked away thinking that there goes my best friend as thoughts of the first tour I ever went on flashed in my head. The empty halls. The bitching with everyone. The fights. The late nights. Promoting for what seemed like nothing.
I flicked my last cigarette thinking that no matter what, that was a hell of an ending.
It was just too bad I would never see any one of these guys again.
But, like I said, in the music business......
Never say never….
Cause you never know......