“Wicked,” my bandmate Sven says with a nod. “A new combo?”
“Yeah, I thought it had a Killers kind of vibe. What did you think?”
“It was solid,” Nikki, our bass player, says.
“Stuart gonna let us get a few extra practices in?” Sven asks, changing the subject. He’s scribbling something in his notebook, probably something about the new combo, though who knows. He’s our guitarist and singer so scribbling lyrics and changes is standard operating procedure for him.
Love Scrum is our name. I kind of hate it but whatever. Sven came up with it, and there’s some existential, pretentious explanation for it that I don’t bother with at all. He’s a serious artist and all.
“I don’t see why not,” I answer, referring to the use of this warehouse space my best friend Stuart lets us use twice a week for practice.
I look around at all of the Las Vegas detritus around us. Big boxes of costume headdresses and glittery bra thingies. There’s a whole section of clear bins filled with top hats. It’s a crazy place, the kind of crazy place you’d only find in Vegas. And Stuart’s job is to manage this beast, assuring each costume item is in its proper home for when the show runners come knocking. Most evenings it’s not busy so we can make all the noise we want.
Love Scrum has a big show coming up in a couple of months, opening for a popular alternative rock band at a three-day festival. We’re pretty stoked because it’s the biggest show we’ve done yet. Normally we play local clubs, no big deal, but we got this invitation, and now Sven is out of his mind trying to prep for it.
And out of his mind about the implications of it.
Cue his nearly daily questioning.
“So, Billie, when are you planning on telling your family about this little experiment?”
I hit myself in the head with my drumstick.
“I’m surprised he made it this long,” Nikki says, tuning her bass.
“Sven, you made it two whole hours before asking me the question. I’m impressed.”
“What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” I attempt shrugging him off as usual.
“Yeah, but what they don’t know might be hurting the band. Your family is super fucking connected. They could probably get us an agent, a deal, a whatever—”
“I left LA to get away from all that bullshit. You know this.”
“But we’re ready”—his eyes blaze over at me with all the intensity of a laser pointer—“all they’d have to do is snap their fingers and we’d have a record deal.”
“And I want us to do this on our own merit. Not because they waved their magic wand and made it happen for us.”
“Well, we have worked pretty hard,” Nikki chimes in.
“Not you too.” I groan. “Guys, we got this gig on our own. We don’t need my parents pulling strings. Letting them into the mix is like getting into bed with the devil.”
“Don’t be dramatic,” Sven says. “Poor little Billie, who has parents who would give her the world on a silver platter if only she wasn’t so damned stubborn.”
“Sven”—my voice comes with a tone of warning—“you didn’t spend your whole childhood getting toted around like a commodity. I am not allowing them any level of control over my life now or later, and I’m sorry if that makes you upset.”
“I’m just saying—”
“That’s enough,” Nikki says, scolding him. “She’s asking you to stop.”
Sven scowls but doesn’t say anything else.
“If this thing is meant to happen, it’ll happen. And speaking of which, I did get us a couple of hours of studio time so we can record a few more tracks. You just have to let me know when you can make time, like on a Sunday or something.” There, I’ve offered an olive branch.