Session Man

Oct. 6th, 2011 12:09 pm
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[personal profile] tikific
Title: Session Man
Author: tikistitch
Rating: PG-13
Summary: A day in the recording studio
Warnings: Swearing, written from the POV of an OC, also, TIKI ATTEMPTS N/C!!!!!! (Run far, far away.)
Notes: Eppie and I sometimes discuss how DK parallels the Beatles in some ways. I was watching a George Harrison doc the other day, so this is probably inspired by that, and also a real story of something that happened with a musician on a Beatles session.

This is going to be about my day doing a session for some dickheads who live in a cloud.

First, about me: you don't care, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. You know when you were a teenager, screwing around, getting high? Well, I wasn't, I was practicing my fucking french horn. And during summer, when you got a job at the pizza shop in the mall and got to make out with that boy who was always playing pinball? Yeah, well, I wasn't there, I was at band camp. With my fucking french horn.

I suppose my life maybe would sucked anyway if I hadn't had a pushy stage mom. But, whatever, it sucks in a very particular way. Such that, when I got the call, and the promise of the big fat paycheck, what could I say but “Yes?”

“You're playing for THEM today?”

Yeah, I'm thirty years old, but I still have a roommate. I told Kat to shut up and give me a hit.

“Dude, I'm worried about you,” she said, choking as she exhaled. And she meant it. Kat is pretty nice. “I've heard things. About that place. People who don't come back.”

“I've heard things about people who don't pay rent,” I told her.

“Be safe,” she said. The taxi was outside, and she was now leaning over her phone to answer a text from her boyfriend, so I grabbed my case and hit the road.

Now, going to visit them, it ain't like visiting New Jersey. I got directions to an empty lot, and then you ride a military style helicopter up to the grounds. Nobody much talks along the way, they just hustle you along, and occasionally jab out some more paperwork – waivers and suchlike – so you can sign your life away before you even get in.

They play you video tapes of a cartoon character giggling and babbling, but they're crap quality, so I tuned them out after a while. And then I'm being hustled out of the aircraft and into a side entrance and through miles and miles of corridor.


It wasn't so bad, once I was finally inside the studio. Dickie Knubbler and I go way back. It was him who called me – or had someone have another guy call me, or whatever these assholes do. I planted myself down at the mixing board beside him, and we mellowed out and shot the shit for a while. He's a character. He's got great stories, which inevitably end with someone getting shot. I guess he was being harassed by one of the ex-wives, which is a drag.

The artificial eyes were new. They're a trip! They've got little green Xmas tree lights in 'em, but when he started talking about Lilith (the troublesome ex) I swear to god they got red. I almost wanted to get him off about something (like bringing up the LAPD or whatever) just to see him blinking.

“Didn't really expect to find you here,” I said, trying to be oblique.

“These guys,” he said, leaning forward, flashing green. “They're heavy, baby. I can't explain it. They made me a believer, yeah.”

I wanted to ask, but then something changed, and it was clear the band was coming. One thing I gathered from the annoying cartoons was that there's some “no touchie band member” rule, like keep back 50 feet, so to be on the safe side, I grabbed my case and got into the booth and started to set up.

The first one I spotted that I'm pretty sure was one of them kind of barked and then headed off to catering. That was the last I saw of him. Then the guy from the old Snakes and Ladders band showed up, looking much the worse for wear. He didn't really say anything, just planted himself at the mixing board and smoked and sucked down beers. It was morning, but they're musicians, so who knows, maybe this was evening to him.

Then it was the guitarist, the blond one. He's trailing a few women. A groupie and her mom? I can never remember his name – something Norwegian? Anyway, he's got a guitar, so I figure I'm supposed to clear the booth? But it seems like he's just hanging with a guitar, but then he starts haranguing Dickie about something. I can't really make out what the guy is on about.

“Dickie. I'm set. You wanna play the scratch track for me?”

There's some more interplay of Dickie with this blond bimbo, and then Dickie is on the intercom: “No, baby, the track is top secret, doll, yeah.”

“You got sheet music?” I know the answer. There's one or two rock musicians out there nowadays who are music school grads, but I seriously doubt any of these clods can even read music, much less write it.

“No, we can't write anything down, baby. Album is all hush hush now, yeah. Can't have it getting on the internet.”

I exchange a glance with Dickie. So, OK, what now? I'm good, but I don' have ESP. He looks frustrated too.

“Ams all in my heads!” declares the blond. Or, something like that. So, he does speak English. Sort of. No eye contact is another of the rules, but I sneak a glance his way.

“Yeah, Skwisgaar, baby, you lay it on her, yeah,” urged Dickie. And the blond starts humming. And, oh, god, I hope there weren't any cats in hearing distance.

“It's in the key of H minor?” I crack to Dickie when he's done. It's an old joke between the two of us. He probably shouldn't, because these are his bosses, but he cracks a small smile.

“What ams she sayings?” howls the blond, though it's a relief to hear the speaking voice after that attempt at humming. More guys who oughta pay half their royalties to the guy who came up with AutoTune.

The intercom clicks. The same passage. But this time sung in a recognizable key. It's pretty nice too, I'll have to admit. Haunting. I risk another glance at the band. It's the Snakes and Ladders guy, like he's woken up to sing.

“So,” I tell Dickie over the com. “We got a problem.” He doesn't say anything, but he nods very slightly.

“What ams probullem?” fusses Skwisgaar the blond.

“It's out of range for the instrument,” I tell Dickie over the com. So, that's why he asked me here today.

“Why ams you not plays it?” blondie demands of me. He obviously hasn't read the no contact clause.

“Tell him the instrument doesn't go that high,” I tell Dickie.

“Baby, like we discussed, you can't play it on a French horn, yeah.”

“Why she ams refuses? She ams cunt?”

Dickie reaches over and kills the intercom, but after a lot of years spent in a soundproof booth, I can read lips OK. Spoiled rock stars won't be told “no.” I grab my case and start to disassemble the horn. This isn't gonna happen. Not today, and probably not ever.

But then something very weird happens, and the whole atmosphere in the studio gets turned on its head. I'm still muted, so I can't hear a sound, but I can feel it, somehow. Maybe it's actually too low to be a sound.

The lead singer, Nathan, has burst into the studio. I didn't technically see him open a door, but burst has to be the word. And, he's too big for the room. And by that I mean, he is big, like a big guy: tall and broad. But there's just something.... Like I said, I signed about 15 pieces of paper on my mother's grave about no eye contact, but you cannot keep your eyes off this man. He's got a black hole inside him, and all the room's gravity, like it or not, is now centered on him.

And now he's inserted himself between Dickie and the blond guitarist.

I can read “problem,” on his lips, and Dickie meekly saying something about “rewrite, baby, yeah.”

And the clear word, “No!” so loud I swear the vibrations spill through to the booth.

The intercom clicks on again. “Tell her this is our ARTISTIC VISION. This will happen. This will happen today,”

How can I explain it? Like an Old Testament prophet. He's making a dum spoiled rock star demand, but when he actually says it, something about the voice. I know in my head I can't play what the guy sang to me, but it sounds like a prophecy.

There's women, I remember, who were killing themselves over this guy. Idiots. Or that's what I thought then. He's gonna bring down the whole complex over this, going to make it come crashing down. And – how can I explain? - I sort of want to come crashing down with it.

I'm starting to wonder if that's what's going to happen: either I play something I can't play, or Nathan the singer brings on the fires of hell.

But, then another shift.

There's another guy in the studio. Sitting at the mixing board.

How did he get there? Weird on top of weird.

I can't see him clearly behind the grey cloud. Did they call in a record company executive? That seems quick. But the cigarette smoke clears a bit, and I recognize this one too, though he's not a band member. He's that guy who manages them. I remember the face from the news.

I can't see where he's looking, all I see are two soft circles of light reflected off his glasses.

And he's completely still. The way a panther is still.

Nothing but the smoke. Coiling.

And then Nathan the singer is all over him, leaning over on one side, hand slammed down on the other. But, no flinching: the guy is a wax museum replica of himself, nothing but the ghost of smoke from the end of a cigarette.

And Nathan's lips are at his ear. Not quite touching him, all a hair's breadth away. And Nathan is contained somehow, brought to heel, not shouting but whispering, almost still too.

And then Nathan finishes, lips so very close, eyes searching.

And then. Those two. Eyes locked.

Every single atom in the room should be on fire right now.

And I think, Oh.

And I think, you were right....

I hit the intercom button. “Dickie. Get everybody to shut up so I can do a take.”

And there's a minute, but then Knubbler is up on his feet, and I'm in my own space, getting my horn together, feeling it. The headphones are on, and this is the moment. I know Dickie's managed to get some kind of order in the studio, because finally the click track comes through the phones, and I'm ready. And the first part is low and sweet, and then I know I'm gonna have to reach, but I also know, this is the time, this is the place. And I pull it from somewhere, put everything I've got into it, something beyond thought, as deep as the ocean, as deep as that look, I've got that in me right now, and I can do anything, I can fold space around me.

And then it's all over. And I come back to earth and look out at Dickie, and he's there at the board, his arms crossed, and we exchange a look at a nod, that was the one, the solo of a lifetime.

The intercom crackes. “OK, dat's fine, but you ams do one more takes?”

And then Skwisgaar the blond and Dickie are back and forth again, and I'm up, taking the horn apart, because that's it for the day. And I steal a glance up. Nathan is now sitting alone at the mixing board. His eyes shift towards me for a moment, just a bare moment, and my knees nearly buckle, so I look back down at my stuff, and when I have the case closed and look back up, he's gone.

And I'm out of the booth, and Dickie shakes my hand and comes up with some bullshit about how we're gonna get together, baby. And then I'm handed off to various guys who hustle me out of the basement and out of the building and into the copter.

At some point, probably after signing more crap, someone sticks an envelope in my hands. And we're down at the helipad again.

“You want us to call a taxi?” one of the hooded bruisers asks me.

“Naw, I'm hoofing it,” I tell him, grabbing my horn and jumping off, onto the tarmac. This seems to confuse them, but they nod and then I stand and watch as the big contraption somehow gets airborne again and trundles off.

And then I pause a minute to open the envelope. It's a lot. Actually, I think it's more than we agreed on. Don't think I've ever seen so many zeroes. At least, not on a check made out to me.

There's a nice wind today. And I'm out at the highway, watching the bits of torn paper float away in the breeze.


I hear an engine. I stick out my thumb.

Date: 2011-10-06 11:48 pm (UTC)
nugatorytm: Toki wants to give you some fish! (Toki)
From: [personal profile] nugatorytm
Looks like LJ is gonna be down again until 6:30, just like yesterday.

For what it's worth, I think you pulled the implied N/C off very well. The whispering in the ear gives the scene just the right amount of sexual tension. You can tell there's something there, but it doesn't come on too strong. A good balance.

As for the main character, I thought it was going to be a total gender neutral character, until it was mentioned that it was a she. I like the fact that she either knows nothing about the band members at all, or she's fairly irreverent about the whole thing. (Snakes and Ladders)

She tore up the check. Balls of brass, that one. :)

Date: 2011-10-07 12:48 am (UTC)
nugatorytm: Deddy is a great comfort to Toki (Deddybear)
From: [personal profile] nugatorytm
It didn't sound weird to me, it was just a story told from an OC's point of view, nothing more.

Actually, I can understand the reasoning behind tearing up that check. She had created something so unbelievably epic, it could not possibly be duplicated by a fellow human being. It was one of those moments that you remember for the rest of your life and it's the last thing you remember as you go to the grave.

Getting paid for that cheapens the moment, tarnishing it forever.

For another example: I love making homemade gifts to give to people. I never take so much as a penny in return. People always ask me why don't I sell the items, instead?

I tell them: When I give something away, the recipient's reaction (joy, humor, etc.) means more to me than any amount of money. That's what makes a gift special.

Date: 2011-10-07 02:04 am (UTC)
nugatorytm: A group of bats flying against a yellow moon. (Default)
From: [personal profile] nugatorytm
Oh, Paul... *sighs* Well, the Beatles made history in all kinds of ways, I guess this story was another one. :)

Don't feel weird, I write the same way. I will try to revolve a whole fic around the one scene that flits through my head, though getting everyone to that scene is like herding cats sometimes. :D
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