"Oh, I don't believe this," Jay says, looking through the window into the broadcast booth, where two members of Allsystemsgo sit talking with the college station's student DJ. "These guys are always one step ahead of us, aren't they? Why the hell didn't Steve say they were going to be here the same night as us?"
"Maybe he didn't know," says Peter. "I'm sure he would have mentioned it."
The guys inside the booth notice Peter, Jay, and Danny standing in the hall and give friendly waves. The boys from Hellakill wave back.
"I am going to freak out," Jay says through clenched teeth, trying not to move his lips. "This is too much. Are we going to be friendly with these assholes?"
"They haven't really done anything against us," Peter says. "Except for a scheduling conflict, and that's probably just a coincidence anyway."
"Maybe, but I sure am sick of seeing them every time we turn around."
The music coming through the ceiling speakers starts to fade and the guys watch as the DJ goes back to work. "So, we're back with Brad and Jimmy from Millenburgh band Allsystemsgo. We were just listening to 'Wednesday Night Love Song' from their forthcoming self-titled debut album, which is coming out in November on Indianapolis label Artifice Industry Records. And you're doing a big launch party for the record, is that right?"
"That's right," says Brad (or maybe it's Jimmy - none of the guys in Hellakill can keep the names of the guys in Allsystemsgo straight). "The launch is going to be at The Station on November seventeenth. We're getting The Bantam All-Stars, our new label-mates on Artifice Industry to come in and do a set. They're going to play, and we're going to play, and it's going to be a really huge party. It's just going to be a blast."
"Yeah, the same night as our gear benefit," Jay snarls.
"Wow, A.I. Records," Peter says. "That's a good label. Have we ever sent them anything?"
A door opens and the skinny, bug-eyed kid from the production booth pops his head out. "Hey guys, I'm Adam," he says, coming down the hall to shake hands. "Thanks for coming. We're going to play one more song from Allsystemsgo and then we'll get you in the booth, okay?"
"Sure," Jay says. "You know, we didn't know these guys were going to be here tonight."
"Yeah, we were lucky to get you both for the same show. Awesome, huh? So, are all three of you going in?"
Peter and Jay look at Danny. The younger boy shrugs. Jay looks at the production student. "Yeah, all three of us."
"Okay, that's cool. And did you bring music?"
Jay pulls a small stack of CDs out of his jacket pocket. "Yeah," he says. "Four bands, but Hellakill, Pattern Disruption and The Old-Timey Railroad Band only have one song each. The Lady Endorphin disc has like, eighteen tracks or something."
"Do you know which one I should play?"
Jay shrugs. "I haven't actually listened to them. Sorry."
"No problem. Okay, I gotta go. Good luck." The kid takes the discs and disappears back into the control room.
"So I'm going on the radio now?" Danny says.
Jay looks back in on the DJ talking with Allsystemsgo. "Sure. Why not? You're in the band, right? Shit, you're our secret weapon."
"I don't know about that," Danny says. "Look, Kathy still thinks I go to IUM, so you can't say anything about me being in high school."
"Oh come on," Peter laughs. "How dumb do you think that girl is? You don't think she still believes you're in college, do you?"
Danny looks back and forth between the drummer and his brother with a confused face. "Why? Did someone say something?"
Peter shakes his head incredulously. "No, but shit, it's like, when you turn around there's a nod and a wink. I don't mean that she's making fun of you or anything, but seriously, you keep up this act when anybody can tell you're not in college. Personally I think she feels sorry for you. Like when you guys came in and said your parents were splitting up. She looked like she wanted to adopt you or something."
Danny's face grows red. "Jay, is he right? Is this like a joke behind my back?"
"What?" Jay keeps looking into the broadcast booth. "No. Well, yeah, she probably knows you're not in college. Who cares? We've got other things to worry about right now."
Danny bites his bottom lip and stares angrily at the floor. Inside the booth the DJ starts another Allsystemsgo song. He stands up and shakes hands with Brad and Jimmy (or is it Jimmy and Brad?), and the two musicians stand up and remove their headsets. They step out of the booth, pushing open the heavy soundproof door.
"Hey, Peter, Jay!" says the first one out into the hall. "How's it going?"
"Good," Peter says, shaking hands with both of them. "We didn't know you guys were going to be here tonight."
"It was last minute," says the other one. "We need to get the word out about our CD launch party. Hey, I heard you guys are having a show the same night."
"Yeah," says Jay. "A big one."
"Aw, that's sucks," says Brad (or maybe Jimmy). "I love seeing you guys play. And now it's like we're competing directly with each other."
"Yeah, it's almost like that," Jay says in a deadpan voice. "Anyway, I wouldn't worry about it. With The Bantam All-Stars playing, I'm sure you guys will get a great crowd."
"Right," says Jimmy. "We heard about your gear. That really sucks, man. Too bad. Have you got new stuff yet?"
"Nah," Peter says. "We need a bit more cash. He flicks an eye and sees that Jay's face is getting red. "We'd better head into the booth. Good luck with your CD and all that."
"Thanks. Good luck with your gear situation." Brad and Jimmy turn and walk off down the hall, waving at the production student as they pass his booth. Inside the broadcast booth, the DJ is waving to the Hellakill boys, beckoning them inside.
"I was gonna say something," Jay says angrily as he pulls the door open.
"About what?" Peter says. "Those guys are okay."
"They're so smug. Listen to them. 'Good luck with your gear situation,'" Jay says in a snotty voice, mimicking the musician from the other band.
"Hey dudes," says the DJ. He's probably twenty, with a rockabilly haircut and long sideburns. "I'm Paul." The members introduce themselves, and Paul writes the names down. "Okay," he says, "We've only got a few seconds. I generally heard what's going on with you guys, but I think we can just wing the interview and have some fun, okay?"
The guys nod and sit down, pulling the bulky headsets over their ears. They can hear the Allsystemsgo song beginning to fade and Paul begins to speak.
"Okay, this KJHG 97.3, Indiana University Millenburgh Radio, and I'm Paul Smith. Brad and Jimmy from Allsystemsgo have left us, but now we're joined in the studio by Peter, Jay and Danny of local rock band Hellakill. How's it going, boys?"
"Good," Peter and Jay echo.
"Right on. So, we didn't have a whole lot of prep time, and just so everyone out there knows, we're kind of flying by the seat of our pants here. I know you guys have played a lot of gigs in the city. I remember seeing you play at Leish Park last summer on the Labor Day long weekend, but in case there are any listeners who haven't seen you guys, can you tell us about the band?"
"We're rock," says Jay, leaning forward aggressively. "Straight-ahead guitar rock. You take a big, hard guitar riff and add a heavy rhythm, and then add in a front man who can scream and sing, and there you go, that's Hellakill."
"We've played just about every venue in the city," Peter adds. "I would think a lot of the regulars in the music scene here would be familiar with us by now."
"Yeah?" says Paul. "How long have you guys been at it?"
Peter looks at Jay. "Well, I've been with the band almost two years. Steve's been with us about a year. Jay and Tyson, I'm not even sure how long you guys have been at this."
"Tyson and I are the old-timers," Jay says. "We've been at this since high school, about five years. I'm going to say we've played probably a hundred shows, including back yards and house parties, free festivals, campus stuff, clubs, bars, benefits. We've played The Station and The Venture. We've played Monty's and Duke's, The Round, The Chug'n'grill, Murdock's. We did a weekend at The Twa Corbies before they went out of business. Man, we've played The Press Club, we've played high school gyms...you name it. If it's in Millenburgh we've probably played it."
"And you and Tyson are..."
"Tyson sings and I play lead guitar," Jay says. "Peter plays drums, and Steve plays bass."
"How about Danny here?" asks Paul.
"I play rhythm guitar," Danny says. "I'm new."
"So you've been around for a while and you've played a lot of gigs," Paul says. "What's next? What have you got coming up?"
"Well, we've kind of gotten ourselves into some trouble," Jay says. "All of the band's gear was stolen out of Peter's van when we were playing at the benefit show for the women's shelter a while back, so we've been planning a benefit show of our own to replace our stuff."
"Oh, fantastic. Have you got a date for that?"
"Yeah, we're playing The Venture on the seventeenth," Jay says, "the same night our good friends Allsystemsgo are having their little CD party."
"Really?" Paul says. "Same night?"
"Yeah, it's a shame too," Jay says, "because we would have liked Allsystemsgo to come out and support us instead of directly competing with us. But I guess that's the way they roll."
Peter shoots Jay an alarmed look.
Paul grins. "So you think maybe there's some ulterior motive there?" he asks. "Some less-than-friendly competition?"
"No, no," says Peter. "No, we don't think that at all. The two bands each just booked their dates and they turned out to be the same night. He just means it's an unfortunate coincidence."
Jay smiles and leans back. "Sure. That's what I mean."
"Allsystemsgo are bringing their new label-mates to come in and play. Are you worried about drawing a crowd against The Bantam All-Stars?"
Peter starts to speak, but Jay cuts him off: "Oh, sure, sure. They're a great band. Hell, I'd go see The Bantam All-Stars play. But we've gotten together a good group of Millenburgh bands that are willing to help out. Allsystemsgo might need to bring in some big name from out of town to get people to go see them, but we think we can put on a pretty good show using some exciting new local talent."
Paul starts to laugh. "I didn't expect this," he says. "Anyway, let's throw some music on. I understand we're going to play one of Hellakill's songs first. Jay, do you want to introduce the track?"
"Yeah, this is something called 'What You Call Living.' It's a special mix that was made for us by Lady Endorphin, who is one of the acts that will be joining us on the seventeenth at The Venture."
The track starts to play and Peter pulls off his headset, turning angrily to face Jay. "What the fuck are you doing?" he snaps. "You sound like a complete asshole! You're calling out this other band, and they haven't done a thing wrong. It's a scheduling conflict. A scheduling conflict! That's all!"
"Hey, maybe it is and maybe it isn't," Jay says. "I'm trying to promote a show. Besides, if we get some healthy competition going it will help both bands. It'll get people talking. If you look at it that way, I'm doing them a favor."
"It won't help us any if you make us sound like a bunch of sour little pricks."
When the song ends, Paul reintroduces them and asks about the other acts. Jay runs down the list, talking up each band like they're the next big thing. Jay talks and talks, and Paul plays the tracks from each band (except Sharp Edge, who didn't give them anything).
"It sounds like it's going to be a great show," Paul says as the get ready to wrap up.
"Yeah, better than the same old thing," says Jay. "We're really glad we'll be able to show rock fans in this town something new. But if they want to see The Bantam All-Stars for the fifth time and Allsystemsgo for the tenth time, they can always go to that other show."
Paul laughs. "I wonder if we can get the Allsystemsgo guys back in here for a rebuttal," he says.
"I doubt it," Jays says. "They're probably too busy sitting in their limo exchanging rim-jobs with their 'label-mates.'"
Paul laughs again and Peter's face turns red.
* * * * *
"That was really stupid," Peter says as he drives the brothers home. "It's going to come back and bite us in the ass. There's no reason at all to start this kind of feud with another band, and no matter what you might think, it's not going to help anybody. This is going to cause big problems."
"We'll see," Jay says, tapping his cigarette pack against his knee. "We'll see."
2008 Nolan Whyte