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Authors: Stephen J. Martin

Tags: #Fiction, #Humorous, #Rock Musicians, #General

Ride On

BOOK: Ride On
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MERCIER PRESS

3B Oak House, Bessboro Rd

Blackrock, Cork, Ireland.

www.mercierpress.ie

http://twitter.com/IrishPublisher

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© Stephen J. Martin, 2007

ISBN: 978 1 85635 529 2

Epub ISBN: 978 1 85635 983 2

Mobi ISBN: 978 1 85635 982 5

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Praise for Stephen J. Martin

‘If you put Bono and Brendan O'Carroll into a DNA blending device, then you would end up with Stephen J. Martin – a wordsmith with one ear for rock music and another for Dublin's vernacular ... the dialogue drips with authenticity.'

–
Irish Examiner

‘Martin brilliantly evokes the cruelty, the fun, the allure of the impossible dream. I laughed, thought back - and then laughed again!'

– Tom Dunne, Today FM

‘One hilarious incident after another ... irreverent and amusing ...'

– Irish Emigrant

‘... rollicks along in a jolly fashion ...'

–
Ireland on Sunday

‘Whether you're a musician yourself or simply a music lover, Superchick will rock your world!'

–
Stephen Lawson
, Total Guitar

‘Brilliant! A laugh a minute ... rich, humorous and incredibly vivid...'

– Irish Echo

For

Kieran and Margaret …

Chapter One

‘Problem solved,' said Aesop, bouncing into the studio and taking off his coat. ‘I have our song. Came to me in my sleep last night.'

‘Good stuff. I suppose it's subtle and evocative, is it?' said Dónal Steele, The Grove's manager, without looking up from the mixing desk where he was going over some notes with Sparky, the engineer.

‘Evocative … I betcha that means girly, doesn't it?' said Aesop.

Aesop went through phases. This week, his girly cut-off point was somewhere around the live version of ‘War Pigs'.

Dónal thought about it for a second.

‘Kind of.'

‘Thought so. No then. It's not girly. Not like you mean anyway.'

‘I see. And what's it about?'

‘Where's Jimmy? He'll want to hear this.'

‘He's out there,' said Dónal, pointing through the soundproofed window of the control room with his coffee cup.

Aesop pressed the intercom button.

‘Jimmy?'

Jimmy's head popped up. He'd been adjusting one of the settings on his stompbox.

‘Howya,' he said, standing to speak into his mike. ‘What's up?'

‘I have a song.'

‘Do you? Brilliant. So do I.'

‘Yeah? What's yours about?' said Aesop.

‘Actually, it's for Jen's wedding. I've been at it for a while. I never thought of putting it on the album, and then last night I just said, fuck it, why not? I came in early this morning to put some tracks down for it.'

Jimmy didn't give a shite about what was girly and what wasn't, once he was sure it was coming from the right place. In his drunker moments, he just felt like he was freeing it from his soul. But he'd only ever said that to Aesop once and then suffered an unmerciful slagging. These days, he kept his more poetic musings to himself until it was time to put them to music.

‘Oh Christ no,' said Aesop, rubbing his eyes with one hand. ‘Here we fuckin' go again.' He looked up. ‘A wedding song?'

‘Yeah. Well, kind of. Listen …'

Jimmy started a guitar intro and then began to sing. It was beautiful. Simple. A voice and a guitar and sibilant lyrics that whispered to the heart of promises and devotion as a summer breeze might tease an aspen to shimmer. Aesop looked around at Sparky and Dónal. They were both grinning and nodding and tapping their fingers in time to the song. It faded out in softly beating echoes and Jimmy looked back through to the control room, his eyebrows raised.

‘What do you think? It's called “More Than Me”.'

‘It's brilliant,' said Dónal. He'd heard it three times already this morning. ‘Jesus. I think that's the one.'

‘It's good stuff Jimmy,' said Sparky. ‘Lovely.'

‘It's the foulest fucking thing I've ever heard in my life,' said Aesop. ‘And it's way too early in the morning to be subjecting me to it too, you fucker.'

Jimmy stepped away from the mike and came in through the big heavy double doors.

‘But it's a wedding present, Aesop. For your bleedin' sister. It's s'posed to be romantic and sweet.'

‘And evocative?'

‘Yeah, exactly.'

‘Well, you fucking nailed it then,' said Aesop. ‘Cos my breakfast is on its way up. Where do you keep getting lyrics like that, for fuck sake? I swear, it's like you have a girl's knicker-drawer for a brain sometimes Jimmy, the shite you pull out of it.'

‘We've already got some rockers on the album Aesop,' said Dónal. ‘We thought we'd close it out with a simple ballad.'

‘And anyway,' said Jimmy, ‘it still needs a bit of work. And I've another verse to write.'

‘Oh brilliant. One about snowdrops and daffodils?'

‘No, Aesop. The song is about …'

‘Cream-coloured ponies? Fairies and fucking lollipops?'

‘Aesop?' said Sparky at last, putting down his tea and looking up. He always had a short fuse around Aesop.

‘What?'

‘Shut your bollocks.'

Aesop blinked at him and then sat down and picked up a bikkie from the plate in front of Dónal.

‘Well I wrote a song too, yiz bastards.'

‘Let's hear it then,' said Jimmy, handing him the guitar. ‘Come on. What's it about? We're all listening.'

‘You'll think it's crap.'

‘We won't.'

‘Yeah you fucking will. After the pole-smoker song you just sang? Jesus, all it needs is a recorder solo in the middle. If it went on any longer I was afraid Sparky and Dónal were going to start fingering each other in here, the heads on them.'

‘What's your song Aesop?'

Aesop grinned at him.

‘It's called “Brokeback Fountain”.'

Jimmy frowned.

‘And what's it about?'

‘It's about this pair of lesbians.'

‘Right. How many songs about lesbians is that now you're after writing, Aesop?'

‘Only two.'

Jimmy nodded.

‘So what about them anyway?'

‘Well, one of them is after spilling ice-cream all over her tits.'

‘Jesus,' Jimmy sighed, shaking his head. ‘What was she doing with it, for fuck sake?'

‘I don't know. It doesn't matter. So anyway the other one gets to work, but sure one lesbian can only eat so much ice-cream, right? And …'

‘Okay Aesop. Right, I get it. But the thing is …'

‘So, into the shower with them. That's kind of it. Well, there's lots of bubbles and all. And they keep dropping the sponge and stuff …'

‘Right. But Aesop, we're not really …'

‘You think it's stupid, don't you?'

‘It is fucking stupid, Aesop. But that's not the point. We're not writing that kind of album. It's not really our genre, is it? Y'see, we do this thing called rock music. What you're after writing there is called lesbian porn. See how they're not the same thing?'

‘They could be.'

‘No they couldn't, Aesop.'

‘I have one about eating porridge as well,' said Aesop. ‘I thought of it this morning.'

‘Did you? Well, there you go. That's fucking stupid as well.'

‘You haven't even heard what it's about yet!'

‘Is it about porridge?'

‘Yeah.'

‘Right then.'

‘Do you want to hear it?'

Jimmy looked up at the clock over the desk. It was time to stop fucking around and get a bit of work done.

‘Later Aesop,' he said, grabbing his guitar and heading back out the doors into the recording room. ‘Come on. Let's see if we can get some clicks down for “More Than Me” to get us started. I've got a bass line down on track one there, Sparky. There's an arpeggiated loop on track two that'll get us to the chorus, so just kill it then and bring it back when I give you the nod. You'll get the idea. I'll play the melody here. Aesop, it's four-four, no tricks. I need you to play off the high hat until the chorus but I want it to build up to the first verse, so open it up gradually until I start singing. Sparky, that's when you bring in track one. The bass will hold us up there until the change. Track two is from the top. Four bar intro. Plus one to count us in. Are we right? Dónal, will you keep an ear out for an acoustic part. We'll need one to fill it out for us, but I didn't get a chance to put one down this morning. If anyone has any better ideas on any of this, let me know when we're done.'

They all got themselves ready. Aesop just got in behind the drums, took off his jumper and settled his headphones over his ears. By the end of the day he'd have forgotten all about his lesbian and porridge songs, so Jimmy wasn't worried about him getting sulky. Slagging and shite-talking aside, when it came to this type of thing Jimmy was the boss and everyone was cool with that. Aesop was his best mate, but The Grove was his baby.

Dónal smiled. He'd been hoping that Jimmy would come up with something good to finish the album, and here he was now after pulling this total fucking cracker out of nowhere. It was single material. It'd be all over late-night radio. The tune was already in his head and would be for the rest of the day.

Jimmy counted them in when they were all ready to go, his eyes closed and his head nodding as everyone came in where they were supposed to. The song sounded even better now with all the work he'd done putting backing tracks down before everyone else had gotten in. Then he started singing, leaving them behind in the studio and going with the song until it finished in a clutch of ringing notes on his guitar. He opened his eyes and held his bottom lip in his teeth for a second, just staring at the wall opposite him. The others waited. Then he looked at Aesop and grinned.

‘Jaysis, Aesop, I think you were right,' he said. ‘It does need a recorder solo.'

Aesop just raised his eyes to heaven and shook his head. Then he turned to Dónal and Sparky in the other room and leaned into his mike.

‘Into the jacks with the pair of you, now, and wash your hands.'

*

It was a good morning in Sin Bin. They got a lot of work done on ‘More Than Me' and then found time to tidy up the chorus on one of the other songs before lunch. Another week or two and the whole thing would be in the bag. Jimmy and Aesop decided to go for a sandwich, and maybe a pint, for lunch. Just one, because Jimmy had to go back to the studio afterwards. He'd be there all afternoon and most of the evening. As well as being in The Grove and contracted to Sin Bin Productions in that capacity, Jimmy was also a business partner of Dónal's and Sparky's. He'd bought in a few months ago with a payout he'd gotten from his previous job in IT. Dónal had been short of dosh and Jimmy had been flush. They got on and respected each other. Right time, right place, right circumstances. Jimmy was the kind of bloke who wouldn't be happy just singing in a band anyway, so when he suggested to Dónal and Sparky that he get on board properly with Sin Bin, it all just fell into place. So now he was helping produce other bands too and learning the ropes when he wasn't doing his own stuff with Aesop and The Grove.

Aesop wasn't doing any of that. He was just the drummer in the band and that's the way he liked it. He'd be spending the afternoon looking at furniture for the place he'd bought with Jimmy from their album advance. He was living there on his own and paying rent for the moment to Jimmy. Jimmy already had a house so it was all working out fine so far. Aesop had a bit of money coming in for the first time ever in his thirty-three years, and his old man had been fairly keen that he get out of his house, take his fucking drumkit with him, and learn what it was like to have a bit of responsibility for a change. Everyone was up on the deal, as long as the band kept up some momentum and the arse didn't completely fall out of the property market. If they got the projected royalty cheques over the next few months, then Aesop would give Jimmy back twice the money that he'd put into the apartment, pay the balance of the mortgage off completely and own the thing outright. He still grinned to himself every time he walked in the front door. His front door. His gaff. From playing the drums with Jimmy. Who'd have fucking thought it?

‘What are they like, this crowd you're seeing later?' said Aesop as they headed down the stairs just after one o'clock.

‘Young fellas. Not bad. I've only heard a couple of bits from them. Be interesting to meet them. They're s'posed to have one song that Dónal reckons could be a starter. They call themselves Leet.'

‘Leet? What's that mean?'

Jimmy shrugged.

‘No idea.'

They got out onto the street and stepped around two young lads who were standing against the wall outside.

‘What's their sound?'

‘That's the thing. It's a bit mad. Imagine The Specials mixed with Coldplay …'

‘So … brilliant mixed with shite, like? Very novel.'

‘Yeah. But it works, apparently. They've a bit of a following around the city.'

‘Jesus, who'd have guessed there'd be that many gay ska-heads in Dublin?'

‘Well anyway, they're catchy enough. The arrangements are a bit obvious, but we can fix that. The singer has a good set of lungs on him. The drummer writes all the songs, Dónal says.'

‘Drummers are always the best songwriters, aren't they?'

‘Yeah. “Brokeback Fountain”, “Octopus's Garden” … it's a fucking quality list that just goes on and on, isn't it?'

Jimmy heard something behind him and looked around. The two kids that had been outside the studio were walking behind them. A bit young for fans, although it wasn't at all uncommon these days for people to stare or point or even follow them. Sometimes they didn't even say anything, which Jimmy found a bit unsettling. He turned back to Aesop.

‘So what are you up to tonight, after you go shopping for rugs and coffee tables?'

‘I'm heading over to Donnycarney first to see me Nan. She's been giving Jen shit that I haven't been over. Then they're showing a Cure gig on the telly and …'

‘The Cure? But you hate The Cure!'

‘I know. Isn't it funny? But they were playing “A Forest” on the radio this morning when I was getting up and I can't get it out of me head now. They weren't that bad, were they?'

‘They were fucking brilliant! Jesus, the shite you used to give me in school for liking them. Cheeky fucker now. And the … wait … hang on a minute, Aesop …'

Jimmy turned around. They were after going around a couple of corners now and the two boys were still behind them.

‘Are yiz all right lads?' said Jimmy, stopping. They were only about eleven, but Jimmy just wasn't used to this kind of attention yet and it gave him the willies a bit.

The smaller one looked at the very slightly bigger one.

‘Are youse The Grove?' said the bigger one.

‘Yeah.'

‘We weren't sure. Where's the Chinese fella?'

BOOK: Ride On
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