Remembering (the Life I Never Had)

Us, at a gig

We had a great run. A string of sold-out shows, nine months on the road. Traveled across three continents. Up the coast, down the coast, across the pond and back again, until our ears buzzed, and sleep had become an afterthought. Venues crammed with people, their hands held aloft, singing along to our tunes. Or screaming at the top of their lungs. Or clapping off beat, maddeningly so, as folks tend to do at a live gig. Belting the lyrics out better than we did, or so it sounded at times. We were having a blast. Felt like we were on top of the fucking world, y’know, and there was no way to go but up.

And then, things went to shits.

Staying off the booze and pills was tough. Proved harder the longer the tour went on, when actual physical soreness kicked in and I was supposed to gobble the painkillers up for a reason.

It wasn’t any different from when we stayed in the studio, honestly. The five of us creating music and the odd shot of whatever was needed to keep our creative juices flowing – that’s how our best sounds came to life. And it really wasn’t different, once we started touring. Only the scale got grander, as did the stages. The music was more vivid. The energy of the crowds too infectious to keep up with without. It rings hollow now, when I say I hoped to stay clean. But no. I was guilty just as much as the rest of the lads.

It was the norm, y’know, the quick fix in the bathroom filling out the blank spaces in between being a rock band on tour. And there were a lot of those. Arriving to the new city around noon, lunch, checking out the venue, sound check, dinner, gig, packing it up, boarding the tour bus and off to the next stop. We kept ourselves busy. But you’re never too busy for some things in life. Sadly.

Things came to a head on the West Coast leg of our US tour. Albuquerque, I believe it was. There was an after-party of sorts, totally unplanned, but precipitated by a couple of dolls batting their eyelashes at our singer. Before we knew, there was a whole bunch of people backstage, about ninety percent of them strangers. And things got rowdy. As they’re bound to when there’s an over-abundance of liquor, illicit substances and young (-ish, in our case) people who don’t mind getting cozy with someone else. The rock & roll life. Our own version of it, I guess.

Was one explosive cocktail too many, turned out. A girl had an overdose. Inevitably, you might as well think. Well, to our drug-addled minds, it was anything but obvious. Perhaps there was a small voice somewhere, lodged in the deepest recess of my skull and bleating in alarm, while observing the nonsense on display. Not that any one of us fucking listened.

If the sirens of an ambulance are not sobering enough, the night spent in a cold cell coming to grips with the death of a nineteen-year-old sure is. Then again, I’m not entirely sure all of us understood just how deep up the creek we found ourselves. The realization took some time to hit home, I think.

Our band never quite recovered.

We had our run. Lasted nine glorious months in all. Too short? Or too long? I keep reliving them like they’re condensed into one Groundhog Day, destined to repeat ad nauseam. Thinking about what could have been, if only our minds had been clearer. Trying to remember when it ceased to be about music, doing a gig for fun, and became a festival of self-indulgence. The answers elude me.

It wasn’t only the music that we lost.


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