The incredulous sensation rippled through the hotel room like waves of fire. The four were swimming in an ocean of energy, still reeling in disbelief from the very knowledge of what had transpired.
Troy Hills sat on the ugly plaid couch of the room, still studying the Rolling Stone magazine with his somber blue eyes wide, ticking back and forth across the page erratically. His thin-lipped mouth was still slightly agape as he read aloud to the other three scattered about the room in states of shock and joy.
Some would say the era of shoegaze was born and died with My Bloody Valentine, but the rip-roaring sounds of Neno, New York's own Slow Loris has drawn the attention of many a grunge critic. With chainsaw-like guitars, dreamy vocals, and pop-oriented synth lines, Slow Loris brings a new natural feeling to the long-dead genre. Some critics have gone so far as to label their first mainstream album, "Darling... They'Re Going To Kill Me", as a new genre, newgaze. Troy Hills, the lead singer and frontman, describes Slow Loris's sound as falling into a coma of red. While vague in description, it is worth arguing that Hills's description is rather spot-on. The droning effect of the pedal-driven guitar lines indeed bring a sense of coma to the listener as Slow Loris beckons them into a world where love took a backseat to a sense of being. Slow Loris's tour ends soon, but their second album is due out sometime next spring.
As he finished, there came a sigh of pleasure from one of the beds where Thom, the bassist, was lying in a state of ecstasy. His gangly limbs extended to the edges of the sheets, which had been rumpled as he thrashed about, trying to make sense of the unbelievable: they had been covered by Rolling Stone. He giggled maniacally and sat up rather suddenly, twiddling his fingers as though he were a clich movie villain.
I still can't believe it, he said in an obnoxiously high-pitched voice. We've made it! An article!
From across the room, there came a disgruntled groan. Thom's eyes were immediately drawn to the flickering of the desk lamp as Marcel poked the lampshade repetitively out of pure discomfort. He was a taller guy, with muscular arms and a penchant for playing devil's advocate. He was not one to be fooled by optimism, even now. Sighing, he poked the lampshade once more and turned his gaze to Thom, who had taken to moving his eyes into a sort of glare.
What? Marcel asked, letting the lamp fall back into place. The dim light bounced across the dark room, sending little beams dancing across the faces of his bandmates, revealing little more than their shared excitement.
Must you kill the buzz, Buzz Killington? Thom asked, letting his voice falter back into its normal alto range.
Oh, come on! Marcel shot back, rolling his hazel eyes around in their sockets. One article? Just below an expose on Katy Perry's boobs!
Wait, really?! came a surprised shout from the window. Alicia turned back to face the room. She had been gazing dreamily out the window at the busy street below. New York was such a strange sort of city. People went to sleep, but the city didn't. The pulse of life never really left the concrete. Below the veins in the sidewalk, there rested a strange sort of heart to the thump-thump of the city's blood. She couldn't put her finger on what fueled the heart, but her mind was naturally distracted by Marcel's offhand comment.
Yup, replied Troy, a tinge of disappointment in his voice. Alicia quickly rushed over to where he was sitting on the couch and wrestled the magazine from him. Flipping past the front cover where Kanye West's eyes stared into her mortal coil, she finally found the page where the article about them was printed. Indeed, mere inches above the short paragraph and photo of the foursome standing in the woods, the pop star's impressive mammaries were displayed in full semi-clothed glory. In a moment of pure aesthetic pleasure, Alicia ripped the top of the page from the magazine.
Hey! Troy shouted, pulling the remainder of the magazine from her hands. Careful! Our article!
But Alicia was much too transfixed on the magical piece of laminated sheet she now held in her pale hands. Running a hand along her strawberry hairline, she smiled triumphantly.
This is going on my wall, boys! she proclaimed with a massive smile. She was no stranger to either gender, but then again, neither was Troy. The rest of the band had no issue with the pair's free sexuality; they were all rather open-minded. Thom was what one might call a man-whore, frequenting the nightlife when they didn't have a show or practice, trying desperately to fill some sort of void in himself with sex. Marcel, on a completely different spectrum, seemed completely asexual. The band had been touring together for the past year, living in tight quarters on a dirty tour bus, living elbow-to-elbow, and knew everything about one another; and yet, no one had ever heard of Marcel bringing a girl home or even having alone time. He was like a robot at times, not blinking, never leaving a monotone.
There came a sudden, disembodied flush from the bathroom. Thom turned his head to the front of the room, where the bathroom door stood ajar.
Ah, my toilet coffee is ready! he exclaimed, and leapt off of the bed.
You mean bathroom coffee? Troy asked, tossing the Rolling stone onto the nearby desk, which creaked uncertainly beneath the light weight. They were all familiar with the usual hotel guidelines: the coffeemaker was in the bathroom, and it was common practice to simply brew and drink it in there. Marcel had grown fond of what he referred to as coffee-baths, which were exactly what it says on the tin: drinking coffee in the midst of a bubble bath. But Troy was sincerely hoping Thom had simply afforded himself a malapropism.
Nope, Thom replied, disappearing into the bathroom. Curious, Alicia followed, only to discover Thom wasn't kidding about toilet coffee. As she rounded the corner into the off-white glow of the bathroom, she beheld a most queer sight. Thom was crouched before the toilet, extending a mug into the bowl to scoop out a thick, not-so-warm brown liquid, which she really hoped was actually coffee. The lid to the back of the toilet lay against the bathtub, and from where she was standing, she could see that Thom had jury-rigged the coffee-maker's filter to the plunger of the mechanism in the back of the toilet, allowing it to flush when the water in the tank had reached a sort of coffee equilibrium.
You know, if I wasn't seeing this, I don't think I'd believe it, Alicia muttered, brushing a lock of hair from her pale blue eyes, hoping Thom wasn't being serious. He was a wicked sort of genius at times, and that sometimes frightened her. Thom turned to face her, holding his mug of toilet-coffee aloft. He smiled.
If I didn't do it myself, I wouldn't believe it, either. He replied. Then, in an act of pure disgusting brilliance, he took a big gulp out of the mug. As Alicia turned green at the very thought, he swallowed deeply, took in a deep breath, and smiled a coffee-stained, toothy grin. That was more than enough for Alicia, who immediately pushed him out the door, slamming it closed behind him as she took to the toilet in an attempt not to vomit.
Thom was all smiles as the door to the hotel room itself opened and a familiar face walked through. Thom quickly saluted the man and took a huge gulp of the toilet coffee.
Dennis! Thom gurgled through the brown liquid, Want some toilet coffee?
You mean bathroom coffee? Dennis asked. He was a shorter, middle-aged looking man, whose salt and pepper hair didn't reflect his actual age, but provided a strange sort of contrast to the more youthful appearances of the members of the band. He was wearing a bright yellow polo shirt, flared up at the collar, of which the edges were frayed from frequent use. His slacks made a strange wooshing noise as he walked past Thom and into the main part of the hotel room. From the corner, Troy could see that he was carrying a stack of papers in his left hand, which he immediately held aloft to show Marcel.
This, Dennis announced, is the glorious contract for your second album. Just need some signatures.
Dennis was the band's sort-of manager. They were still small-time in comparison to other bands, but Dennis had been with them since the beginning. He had been the manger of a messy little restaurant back in Neno when Troy and Marcel had come in to pick up lunch after an early morning band practice in Thom's garage. They had gotten to chit-chatting while waiting for their order, and one thing led to another. Next thing they knew, it was two years later, and he was following their tour bus in his crappy tan sedan, blasting bluegrass music and waving to girls on the freeway.
There's always a catch, Marcel argued, crossing his arms and standing to meet Dennis's gaze. Dennis could only chuckle at this. He fished a pen out of his shirt pocket and clicked it a few times.
Well, yeah. He admitted, tossing the pen to Marcel, who unfolded his arms just in time to catch it. You guys have like, three months off to write some stuff. Then you head into the studio in January. Label signed you guys up to that weird little studio in Navareth.
F--k Navareth, came Troy's call from the couch. At the front of the room, the bathroom door swung open and a flush was heard. Alicia emerged, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. Thom gave her a hearty grin, to which she replied with a sneer.
Oh, good, Thom laughed, reacting to the flushing toilet. You made another cup for me.
Go to hell, Thom.
Coffee... Dennis pondered for a moment, connecting the dots with Thom's disgusting new favorite drink. Then, he was right back to businessman: Anyway, little addendum. I know you guys just got off of your Rolling Stone high, but I got a little somethin-somethin to keep you all excited.
He paused dramatically, looking each member of Slow Loris in the eye before continuing.
Tomorrow, we have to pick up a reporter from the Port Authority Terminal. He's going to be trailing you guys for your three-month break. We're getting a follow-up story in the Stone.
For a moment, the room stood silent in awe of the revelation. If their previous story was only a paragraph, they could only imagine how long their article would be if this guy were to be following them for three months. Marcel immediately took this as his cue to sign, and snatched the contract from Dennis's hands before adding his John Hancock. Following this, Dennis looked to Alicia hopefully, extending the pile of papers toward her.
Hang on, man. Alicia implored, crossing her arms uncomfortably. We've been on the road for the past year and a half, and you expect us to settle for three months off, most of which we'll be being followed by some nutty reporter? No deal, dude.
Oh, come on. Dennis sighed, rolling his eyes at her cynicism. Even Marcel went for this, and he's Mr. Rain On Everyone's Parade!
Don't patronize me, Marcel muttered, reclining on one of the beds, his hands resting behind his head. My art is a gift to the world.
But seriously, Dennis grumbled back at Alicia, did you think all this would be easy?
Thom growled from the bottom of his throat and gave an exasperated sigh before handing Alicia his mug of toilet coffee and trudging over to Dennis. Snatching the contract from his hands, Thom took no time in signing it, quickly scratching off his signature in his awful chicken-scratch handwriting before lobbing the pen and papers over to Troy on the couch. Alicia silently placed the mug of disgusting brown water on the nearby desk, not wanting to even breathe in the pungent odor.
There, Thom announced, two down. Sign it, Troy. If Alicia's not in, there's always replacements.
Ouch, dude, Alicia shot back, rubbing her arm as though she had been stuck with a needle, that hurts.
I'm not surrendering my one shot at the big time because you want time to bone, Thom argued, giving Alicia a snippy smile. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Troy glanced over the contract, skimming the many pages before collecting them in one hand. He clicked the pen uncertainly, looking over to the rest of the group.
I can understand where Alicia's coming from, though, he grumbled, biting at the tip of the pen. A bit of ink emerged and began dribbling off his lower lip, though he didn't notice. I mean, yeah, this is kinda the dream we're living here, but I mean... we've been away from home for so long. Three months doesn't seem quite enough time to readjust. It's like the army, y'know. One month off, eleven in a warzone. It's uh... not ideal.
It's not like we have much of a choice, Dennis added as he bit at his left thumbnail, clearly nervous. It was apparent that he had no intention of going back to that damn restaurant in Neno. That was the life he had abandoned in search of this dream.
True... Troy muttered, pulling the pen from his mouth. He pondered for a moment, lost in the thought of how they were living. It was indeed the life he had always hoped for. But how long could it really go on? A few years? Then, they end up has-beens, washed up and doing stupid reunion tours until their bodies give out? It wasn't a pleasant thought, but Troy had been raised on the life of rock n' roll by his dad, who never had the opportunity to hit it big. He really had no better option. This was the only real choice.
Troy clicked the pen and signed the paper.
Sighing a sigh of relief, Dennis took the stack of papers from Troy and returned to Alicia, extending the contract to her. From her view, she could see the pleading heart-to-heart feeling in Dennis's pale gray eyes, begging her to do it. Dennis had always been one for manipulation, but she couldn't sense it in him now. This was honesty. He had nothing left to go back to. And, for a moment, Alicia believed, that neither did she. Neno was a hodunk town on a lake too small to even show up on a map. The only thing waiting for her back in that town was a dark reputation and little more. There was no fighting this.
Okay, she said quietly.
With a shaking hand, she signed the papers.