My Capricorn horoscope: don’t make big decisions on an empty stomach. I feel like this should’ve been in a fortune cookie rather than an astrology site. Seriously, add in bed after it and it works. Clear sign I need Chinese food rather than prophecy.
I clicked off the TV and tossed the controller on the coffee table. They summarized my twelve-year career in less than ten minutes. There were a lot of pictures, some flattering and some not. I liked the live videos, especially the one of us playing the Royal Albert Hall in London but overall, the segment felt obligatory, another nod because we were currently hot.
While we were still in the midst of recording Tragedy, another network brought us in for an hour-long interview. They showed the whole thing and sprinkled in videos from our previous releases. Our manager swung some kind of deal by letting them premiere the video for Whiteout. Apparently, such exclusivity held real value.
We told a more complete story there than the This Week in Music crap. Some researcher built a little dossier and sent it to our manager. Doug approved it but warned us it was a real skim job, highlights better reserved for a single year of activity rather than over a decade. I couldn’t wait to see it, mostly because I’ve always been a masochist when it comes to Avalon Nights publicity.
I’d seen vastly more offensive material. I remember one magazine said I was an overbearing diva with delusions of talent and an obvious eating disorder resulting in excessive skinniness. I always wondered if I ran over his dog in a past life. Others accused Doug and Sammy of an incestuous affair, Wyatt of pushing drugs and labeled Jack as a two time felon waiting for the third strike.
Depending on which of us read them, the insulting ones were almost cool.
My phone buzzed with an incoming text message.
Sammy: Want to get ready?
An exclusive CD release party for Tragedy of Dreams was happening in a few hours. Sammy and I liked to arrive early to such things so we could casually apply some proper war paint. Sammy had great taste in buying clothes but putting together an outfit involved a comedy of errors. Our unspoken pact meant she brought a suitcase and I helped with her selections.
I’m packed and ready to go, I texted back. Pick me up?
Sammy: On my way.
I threw on a pair of tennis shoes under blue jeans. I dressed way down before a show, especially since we were such a theatrical act. Everyone dressed in something ridiculous for our performances, something over the top. We weren’t quite Kiss crazy but we definitely carried ourselves with a specific dark, over the top look.
During the Tea & Nightmares tour, our outfits were a point of contention several times. For whatever reason, club owners and booking agents could not match us with like bands. It’s nearly impossible to come out singing like a fairy princess after a dog barking metal band riled up their fans into a frothing frenzy. Then there were those guys dressed in spikes, saw blades and trash can lids making us look like misplaced fang tards crashing their Metalocalypse party.
Some of those mixes were recipes for violence and if we’d been anything but super nice, we wouldn’t have made it out alive.
Sammy knocked and I grabbed my suitcase, killing the lights on the way. She too was dressed down, her red hair tied back in a simple tail. Even without makeup, her face was stunning. Her features were classically Irish with green eyes and a smattering of freckles gracing her pale cheeks.
Just two inches shorter than me, she had a perky quality only her closest friends knew about. Everyone else considered her to be the brooding keyboard player for Avalon Nights. One more persona created for show business.
“I can’t believe you’re ready.” Sammy took the stairs in twos as we left. “I swear I wait for you every time we leave.”
“There has to be some benefit to not driving,” I replied. “I never have to wait.”
She stuck her tongue out at me.
“Hey, you didn’t watch the TV thing?” I asked. “You should’ve come over earlier to catch it.”
“Nah, I set up the DVR for it.” Sammy shrugged, opening the trunk to her car. I tossed in my suitcase. “And I’m sure they’ll throw us a copy, eventually. I’ll put it on my A N shelf.” She paused. “Wait...was it bad?”
“It was fine.” I opened the door and leaned on the roof. “It just... I don’t know... It was...”
“What…dry?” Sammy motioned for me to get in, while crawling into the driver’s seat. “We’re not exactly their type of band. Doug even said we should probably turn them down. He thought we were too new for their audience.”
“Wyatt told me I’d have to get endorsed by Aquanet if I wanted a favorable commentary from them.” I smirked. “I liked the French show better.”
“We’re huge in Europe?” Sammy teased.
“Yeah, yeah.” I waved my hand at her.
We drove for a few minutes in silence, me staring out the window. I weathered the crucible of publicity for years so I couldn’t say why the TV thing bothered me. I wasn’t bent out of shape when someone called me a wailing banshee who over sang immature lyrics. Why would a neutral segment get under my skin?
Sammy broke through my thoughts. “What do you think about tonight? It’ll be a small show.”
“Small,” I muttered. “Five hundred people are going to be there. I love how our perspective has changed. Remember Alabama? Thursday night at the Carpe Noctem club?”
“Oh, Abby, you can’t call it a club. More like a high school gym with Halloween decorations and dry ice.” Sammy shook her head. “All ten kids over sixteen showed up.”
“And it wasn’t even our worst show.”
“Doug was pissed,” Sammy said.
“I bet he misses tiny gigs, now.”
“Not likely.” Sammy shook her head. “He’s always been a ham.”
“This didn’t have to be small,” I pointed out. “We could’ve let everyone in.”
“CD release party wouldn’t have the same ring to it if we threw it in an Arena.” Sammy took a corner before continuing. “I liked the contest thing. Those five hundred fans are going to have a great time.”
“Meh, seemed a little shady. I can’t believe ten thousand people applied for the right to buy tickets.” I leaned my forehead against the glass. “What an impact. Wyatt was worried we wouldn’t get enough interest to fill the place!”
“He’s a pessimist. I knew we would. After we played Vancouver last time and there were people trying to break down the barrier to get in, I knew the party would be a wild success.”
“I thought you were the shy one.” I grinned. “You’ve always been demure and quiet in front of people, but here you are, casually talking about how wildly successful we are.”
“I hope it doesn’t sound like bragging.” Sammy’s cheeks flushed red, turning the color of her hair. “I definitely don’t mean to.”
“Nah, I’m just giving you a hard time.” I patted her arm. “I’m twitchy, Sammy. I have no idea what’s wrong with me.”
“VH1 is boring and so are their shows?” She offered, brows raised. “I mean, they have the occasional gem. Henry Rollins was a smart move, but for the most part, their target audience is hoping their favorite seventies act might make it to the local casino.”
“I’m just sayin’.”
“You’ve been hanging out with your brother too much,” I said. “You know, we could end up stool rock someday.”
“Then I’ll do what those old bands would do to me now,” Sammy replied. “Cuss out the young bitch and buy a nice cushion from the dollar store for our four-thirty set.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. Ten minutes of chatting with Sammy shook me out of my funk. The priceless part of being in Avalon Nights was they weren’t simply my coworkers, but my very best friends. I couldn’t have survived the roller coaster of fame without them.