Chapter 04

Colin spent most of Saturday with Mark’s story. Even reading it took him five hours, but that was partly due to the fact that he had never learned to read quickly, plus he tried to give the work extra concentration. On Saturday evening he started making notes in the script. At night his dreams reflected some of the scenes. On Sunday morning, he switched off his brain.

He went downstairs, put a CD in the player he had in the living room, stretched on the sofa and lay there listening to the music, staring at the ceiling until the CD stopped. Then he exchanged it for another, and then for another, until hunger forced him to get up and make himself something to eat.

After lunch he closed himself in his bedroom and returned to the story. A minute later, however, he dropped the folder back on the bed, grabbed a notebook and a ballpoint pen and wrote down a single word: Faith. He stared at it for a good five minutes, but then recovered his inspiration and started writing down lyrics as well. He managed to finish three of them before his inspiration left him for good that day, but imagined he might be able to match them with the music he had already got as well if he could lay his hands on a good recording device.

This, of course, meant going to the studio. He took a bus to the Royal Infirmary and knocked on the door of the pub. Rebecca came to answer it, as usual.

“Hi. What brings you to these parts today?” she asked.

“Just wanted to sneak up to the studio and try something out,” Colin confessed.

“Oh, well. I’m afraid that might be a problem.”

“Why?”

“Mark’s already there. But you can try it out with him,” she shrugged.

“Yeah, actually, I could do that,” Colin thought. “Thanks, Becca.”

And he ran upstairs. He knocked on the studio door, but Mark was busy making noise, so Colin got no answer and risked coming in without explicit permission.

“Oh, hi,” Mark smiled when he saw him.

“Hi. I’ve got something for you,” Colin told him and handed him the few pages he’d written a few hours earlier.

“What’s that?” asked Mark, a bit puzzled.

“The lyrics.”

To Colin’s surprise, Mark’s expression went from cheerful and friendly to the very opposite direction than the one Colin had hoped for.

“You can work really fast, you know,” the drummer said quietly after a long pause.

“Hey, I’ve only got three of them finished. Read them, criticise them, and then we can work on the rest of them together if you like. It’s not as if I’m about to take credit for what you came up with. We can work together,” Colin repeated.

Mark smiled shyly. “You know, Colin… I don’t have any urge to become famous or anything. I just like to be in control of what’s happening to my work, that’s all…”

“I understand that. And, as I said, we can work on the lyrics together. We’ve got some music, so we can match it with words… I can write the lyrics and you will just read them and tell me if I get something wrong, or we can create them together. That story is great, and I don’t want to spoil it. Will you help me?”

“Of course,” Mark nodded. His smile was now as broad as ever.

“But first, I’d like to tell you something,” Colin remembered. Once they were there, he did not want to wait till the Monday meeting to tell him about his and Harry’s decision, it would feel like having betrayed him.

“What is it?”

“I had a little discussion with Harry on Friday night, and we came to the conclusion that it would actually be nice to play for the outer world too, not just ours. We were going to tell all of you on Monday, but since we’re here now, I thought I might as well tell you and get to know what you think of it.”

“Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. You’re telling me you’ve actually persuaded Harry that going public is a good idea?”

“And you’re telling me you’ve tried that before?” Colin could hardly believe his ears.

“No, I’m not. I wouldn’t dare tell him something like that. I was too scared to even mention it. How did you do that?”

“Well, I had to take some drastic measures… Like going out to the street and yell out that I’m a werewolf…” Colin smiled.

“You didn’t!” laughed Mark. “And what happened?”

“Everybody thought it was a good joke, Harry wanted to kill me, but he did listen to my arguments in the end. I told him they would find out about the blood anyway, and that it would be far better for him to be famous when they do.”

“Hey, if I knew it would be so easy, I’d have done that myself a long time ago! Mind you, we wouldn’t have got anywhere close to famous without you, so it’s maybe good I didn’t.”

“You have unhealthy faith in me,” remarked Colin.

“I assure you it’s perfectly sane. Hearing you once was enough. Now, about the lyrics…”

Mark and Colin met again the next day two hours before the official all-band meeting. They had a special plan to surprise the rest of SMPDM, plus they had enjoyed their mixing and recording process the previous night so much they wanted to do more while they had enough material for it, and only when they ran short they were going to ask the others to contribute some more. It was not fair, but they could not help themselves.

When the entire SMPDM assembled in their studio, Colin stood in front of them and started his speech:

“Gentlemen, we’re here today, because Harry and I worked out a little plan for this band on Friday, and Mark and I have joined forces to support the idea last night. My task at the moment is to convince the rest of you that we’re about to do the right thing. Jim, Alan, what do you think of going public with our music?”

“Are you crazy?” Jim’s face turned pale.

“I’d leave the band if it ever did something so utterly stupid,” said Alan.

“That’s what I thought,” nodded Colin. “However, I suggest you listen to me first.”

Colin was not just a great singer, but a great orator too. It took him mere minutes to convince them to switch sides, though at first this conversion was somewhat reluctant. They did see how he made them do anything he asked them to, but never found arguments he could not dismiss with a wave of his hand.

“And, dear friends, we even have a demo. Mark and I recorded this thing last night when we accidentally met up here, and we actually think it’s quite good. I think perhaps we should listen to it first and see if we can all agree on sending it somewhere, and then we’ll show you the rest of the work we did, ok?” Colin went on, and even as he spoke, he went to the computer, found the song in the playlist and before letting it play, he announced: “Dear friends, this is the title track for our new album. We called it Faith.”

The song started with a short piano solo Colin had written and recorded for it the previous night and then soft vocals entered:

“Darling, you’re so alone here, sleeping

So cold in the land of eternal darkness and snow

I’ve come to answer your calls, to lead you

To the land of sunshine, to give you new life…”

Then came a guitar solo they stole from an older recording, which Mark and Colin joined to a jamming session, and when this stream of music got beyond the zenith of its power, Colin added some more vocals, delivering short statements:

“Come

Wake up, take my hand

Warm yourself up by my fire

I will lead you

Lead you

Away”

With this last word the whole song ended and the rest of the band were left to speak their minds.

“Nice,” said Jim.

“But definitely not a single.”

“We said a demo, not a single,” Colin reminded them. “This is meant to make recording companies interested in us. Will it?”

“It might… But you said you had more of the stuff?”

“Well, we have this song called ‘Calling’ (no word repeating, of course), it’s a bit more rocky…” Colin suggested.

“Let’s hear it then,” said the others.

“Calling” was a typical hard rock song, a testament of a lonely vampire dying in a cold wasteland. It was supposed to be the second song on the album, just before “Faith”. At this moment the vampire’s situation looked awfully desperate, but he was still calling for help.

“I know

Shedding tears will only kill me faster

I know

But can’t help it, as sad as I’ve become

I know

Guilt has flown in my veins since my birth

But still

I want to live on, I want to survive…”

They barely used instruments for this first part, and only made use of Colin’s powerful voice, but before the chorus the music finally exploded and the vocals changed from bright and clear to the hard rock hoarse ones.

“I have heard them talk about you saviour

And though they’re gone, I beg you

To come and rescue me

Even though I am what I am

I had never been given the chance to choose”

 

“Faith

Lead me from this awful birthplace

Faith

Fairy of my dreams, I call you

Faith

Surely you’ve got mercy for a vampire

Faith

Please help me live, and let others live too”

“I’ve heard others talk about you, saviour

And though you didn’t help them, please

Faith, come to my rescue

Even though I am what I am

I had never been given the chance to choose”

“Lead me

To a place where light shines brightly

Show me

Somewhere where the sky is blue

Cure me

And I’ll become your slave forever

Touch me

Let your warmth bleed to my hands”

“Faith, they swore you were real, saviour

And though their blind creed never helped

I beg you now to save me

Even though I am what I am

I have never been given any choice”

“Wow,” said Jim when the song ended. The others responded likewise. “Only I don’t like the last line in the second verse in connection with the first line of the second chorus. You’ve got two different ‘others’ there, and even if we ignore that it’s repeating words… I mean repeating the word would be ok, but only if he was referring to one group of people, which he isn’t.”

“Yeah,” Colin admitted. “That’s a problem we’ve noticed before. Only I don’t know how to replace it.”

“Well, you could switch the first two choruses for one,” Harry suggested.

“I’d have to see that,” said Colin and seized a piece of paper and a ballpoint. He scribbled the two verses and choruses in the proposed order, read them carefully, and then concluded: “No, sir. We couldn’t do that. ‘Cause we’d have Faith in the first chorus, and the audience has no way of knowing who on earth that said Faith is.”

“Can we switch just the first lines of the choruses, then?” asked Mark.

Colin marked the changes again and stared at what he had done for a while. The rest of SMPDM were trying to guess what he was thinking, but could only suspect he did not like this option either. Then Colin crossed out the last changes, rewrote the first chorus to the original version and said:

“This is what we do. We remove the ‘others’ from the chorus, and replace them with ‘the elders’. Then I get to sing the first line exactly the way I sing the first line of the first chorus, and everything will be perfect. What do you think?”

“Well, it took you long, but it should be fine,” said Alan and Colin smiled at him.

“So… which one do we send, and where exactly do we send it?” asked Mark.

“Well, one thing’s for sure. We can’t try InsideOut,” thought Jim.

“Definitely not. They’re for the famous-already guys,” Harry shook his head.

“We can search the net later,” said Colin. “But Mark’s right about the first question. Which one do you think would be more interesting?”

“I’d send both,” Alan suggested.  “They’re quite short, it can’t harm anyone to listen to them. I mean, just imagine the bands that write songs three times as long as the two of them combined.”

“You mean Transatlantic?” Mark guessed. “I assume they had it a bit easier.”

“Whatever,” Alan waved his hand.

“I think we can send both,” Colin agreed.

“Yeah, we just have to record them again properly,” said Jim. “You did what you could with the mixing, but we should aim at some quality with this, and you have to change the vocals in Calling, anyway.”

“True,” Colin admitted. “Pity we can’t have female vocals on Faith, though.”

“I didn’t know we were making a hard rock musical,” Alan remarked.

“No,” Colin shook his head. “Of course we’re not.”

“And remember Snow? You know, that awfully long recording by Spock’s Beard, how Neal Morse was singing a prostitute – that was somewhat amusing,” Mark reminded him.

Colin did know the album and occasionally, about twice a year, even listened to it.

“That’s right,” he said. “Anyway, if you guys have time, I think we should maybe get started…?”

“Yeah, you can do the vocals now,” said Alan. “And if Mark helps you and does his bit, that’s ok. But I suppose the rest of us should probably get a copy of the songs and learn our parts first.”

Colin made a giving-up gesture. “Ok,” he nodded.

“I’ll stay here and listen if you don’t mind,” said Harry.

“I’ll stay, too,” said Jim.

Everyone looked at Alan.

“I can’t stay,” he said quietly. “I’m needed at home.”

“That’s all right,” Colin smiled. “Just give me a minute and I’ll burn you the songs, ok?”

“Fine,” Alan nodded, and after a while left the studio with a CD in his hand.

The others watched in awe as Colin sang. They did Faith first, mainly because it was shorter and they thought they might like to have it over with as soon as possible. Colin’s voice was amazing as it was, and all the feelings he put into his singing made it even better.

“Now, that sounds convincing enough,” said Jim when he finished. “I’d love to be rescued like that.”

“Thanks,” Colin smiled. His self-confidence had risen quite significantly during the previous days, but he tried to keep it at a friendly level, at least on the outside. So far it seemed no one had noticed anything, which was enough to satisfy him.

Recording both songs took another week. It could have taken a considerably shorter time, but Ernie had thrown them out of the studio as soon as he had found out about their intention to become a famous band. Colin managed to persuade him to change his opinion in the end, and also had the idea of holding a referendum for all not-totally-human creatures to see what they thought about it. He and Harry wrote a very convincing text in their favour, full of arguments to support their views, and then sent it round the pub together with an empty sheet for the others to sign their name and write down what they thought. It felt like an awful propaganda, but Colin was determined to win their hearts.

Eventually, SMPDM succeeded in their campaign and got their studio back. They finished the songs, sent them to a few minor recording companies, and started working on the rest of the album while they waited for a response.

They got signed earlier than they thought. Faith was out in January and meant an almost frighteningly instant success. SMPDM, of course, suspected the only person they should give credit for that was their singer. Without him, they would be an ordinary rock band, maybe somewhat interesting by their choice of concept ideas. With him, they were something special. Colin did not like to hear that. He was glad if someone thought he was good, but even more than that he wanted to keep them the friends they had meanwhile become to him.

“We’re all giving something to this band,” he would tell them. “If any of us did what he does on his own, it wouldn’t work.”

They played a number of shows in clubs aroundEdinburgh, and in their home pub, but it was not long before public demand made them choose bigger venues. Then came the moment they feared – they were suggested to go on tour. Even Colin was nervous about that, but most of his concern was for the rest of the band. Could anyone ask them to put a distance between themselves and their source of blood? He was all right, but they needed extra doses of it when they were playing. Nevertheless, how were they to refuse to go on tour, when so many people inBritainlonged to see them? They had to go. Only he did not know how they would do it.

The rest of the band, instead of worrying, tried to develop a plan to survive on the tour. They visited Ernie in the pub and asked him to let them inspect the secret stock of blood he had there for emergency cases.

“We need a bag each for a day when there’s a show,” calculated Alan.

“Plus a bag for each week, probably,” added Jim.

“Yeah,” Alan nodded. “That should do.”

“But it’s terribly lot,” said Mark.

“It’s better than dying,” Alan shrugged.

Harry was meanwhile trying to figure out the exact number of bags they were going to need. They were going to leave for three weeks. That alone made twelve bags, which, incidentally, was also the number of shows they were going to play. Twelve times four was forty-eight. Plus twelve was sixty. He told the others.

“Could be worse,” they thought. “But Ernie won’t have that much now.”

“I’ll talk to him,” said Harry and left the back room.

They never told Colin how they arranged it in the end, but one thing was for sure – they did get blood whenever they required it. And as long as they were ok, Colin did not mind.

They opened the tour with a show inEdinburgh. The crowd was huge and a bit savage. It was mainly composed of male rock fans and girls who had seen Colin’s face somewhere and found themselves strangely attracted to it, although there were some girls who preferred other band members.

There was one girl, however, who just stood in the crowd, and while she was enjoying the music, she also seemed sincerely amused by how seriously the band and the audience took the event. She was chuckling quietly to herself most of the time, except when they were playing ballads that made even her lips give up the smile.

Her name was Ashley Seymour and she was probably the most talented interviewer of the Prog Society, a magazine based inEdinburghwhich had originally been meant to spread information on progressive bands, but everyone knew that name was no longer appropriate, since they were basically writing about any interesting music on the pop-rock-metal axis. Ashley’s recipe for good interviews was still unknown, but it won her respect very quickly. She was not technically speaking a journalist, and she would have hated to be called that. She was a distance student of literature at theUniversityofStirling, and occasionally translated books, or wrote stories she hoped would be published one day.

The bottom line was that she was not at the show on business. She did all her interviews by e-mail, because she found it easier, and her boss had not asked her for an interview with someone of SMPDM yet, anyway.

She had to leave the venue as soon as the concert finished. She caught the last bus home, which was atRedford Drive, Colinton. She had no idea, and probably would not even care too much, that if she went by the same bus in the opposite direction, she would come to the place where Colin Ferguson lived.

She unlocked the door and called:

“My furry sweetheart, I’m home! Where are you?”

The furry sweetheart soon came running. It was a young black cat, and Ash sometimes called him Meowza, even though he was not really hers at all. He had appeared in the garden of her house once, she had fed him, and he often came back now. Ash had meant to seal the cat flap in the back door when she had moved in this house, but now she found it useful. Meowza could come and go as he pleased. She picked him up and gave him a kiss on the head.

“Are you hungry, darling? Let me get you something,” she said, took him to the kitchen and poured him some milk. She watched for a while as the cat drank, and then went to her bedroom. There she changed into a dressing gown and headed for the bathroom.

The following morning she went to the office of the Prog Society, which she usually did when there was nothing else to do (she had no contract with the magazine) and fished into her bag for her laptop. She only managed to check the world news, when the editor found her.

“Ash, would you have some time to spare?” he asked.

“Yes, I would,” she nodded.

“Do you know SMPDM?”

“Is the Prog Society interested in SMPDM?” she asked, a bit surprised. Ok, they were not really a prog mag anymore, but that did not automatically mean they would be interested in a band like this.

“Very much. Especially after their show last night. Seems the whole city’s gone crazy.”

“Meaning you want an interview with them, right?”

“Exactly. Will you do that for me, please?”

“I’ll send them an e-mail,” Ash nodded, and started typing even as she spoke.

The editor felt proud of himself for having found the girl. She was enjoying herself, and the magazine got some good articles thanks to her. Beside the interviews, she had an extremely rare gift of being able to tell exactly the future fate of a new band. Nobody knew how she did that either, but they knew she could be trusted on those judgements.

“Hey, I was wondering when that would come!” Mark called out from the computer. The band had come back from the tour and he was checking received e-mails. “Wow, that means we’re really famous.”

“What does?” Colin asked and joined him to have a look at whatever Mark was reading.

“We got a mail from Ashley Seymour from the Prog Society, asking us for an interview,” Mark informed him.

“And…?”

“She’s the best interviewer you can imagine,” Mark explained. “I’ve probably read every single one she’s ever done. Bloody brilliant. Thing is no one’s ever seen her. She always does the interviews by e-mail. No one even knows how old she is.”

“So maybe she’s old and ugly and that’s why…?” Colin guessed.

“Well, you can ask her yourself. You know we agreed that you’ll be doing the interviews, unless any of us is specifically asked. You dragged us into this, you deal with the PR,” Mark reminded him.

“And so I will,” agreed Colin and replaced Mark at the computer.

“Dear SMPDM,” he read quietly, “I would be much obliged if one of you would agree to do an interview with me for the Prog Society. Best wishes, Ash Seymour. No problem,” he smiled and typed a quick reply.

When Ash got it, her face turned even paler than was its normal state, which was saying something. The editor, who was just passing her desk, looked at her in concern.

“What’s the matter, Ash?” he asked.

“Edward, do we need that interview with SMPDM?”

“Of course we do. We can’t ignore them, can we?”

“Can’t someone else do it, then?”

“Why? What’s the matter?”

Ashley looked up at him, and the editor noticed her hands were slightly trembling.

“I’m sorry,” she said eventually. “I’ll do it. Of course I’ll do it. I’ll just need two weeks to get ready for it, if that’s ok.”

“Sure,” Edward nodded, though still a bit perplexed by her strange behaviour. When he left, Ash turned her face back to the monitor.

“Dear Ms. Seymour,” said the message on the screen. “I will be only happy to give you an interview, provided it’s a live one. Sincerely, Nicholas Ferguson.”

She could not possibly… She was in fact a very shy person and the prospect of having to endure those bewitching blue eyes looking at her while she was supposed to come up with a reasonable stream of questions… She could not improvise normally anyway, let alone with someone like Colin Ferguson staring at her.

“If you insist…” she replied.

“I do,” said the answer. Ash swallowed hard. This was not going to be easy.

“Where shall we meet, then?” she asked.

“A good café somewhere? I’ve only been here for a while, so I don’t know the city too well.”

“Neither do I. The only cafés I’ve been to are in St. James or the Gyle Centre,” she confessed reluctantly.

“St. James is excellent. At least a place I know.”

They arranged a date and Colin left Ash to her thoughts.

“She seems nice,” he confessed to Mark. “Talking to her was so… easy…”

“And…?”

“We’re meeting on Thursday 15th March at St. James.”

“No way! How did you do that?”

“I said she wouldn’t get the interview if she didn’t.”

“Oh, blackmailing.”

“Sure. But it worked, and that’s my sole concern,” Colin smiled.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: