Tuesday, May 10, 2005
“meet me in the a/v club room.”
A text Sophia Kumar had received during her class. A member of the local rock band, The Pushers, was busy writing a random poem. The teacher was droning on to the point she was bored of his monotone voice.
She didn’t recognize the number, so she texted back, “who is dis?”
Sophia rolled her eyes, figuring it was probably Ethan the Slacker. “wat do u want?”
“I’ll tell u when u get here.”
“I have class”
“so? Come by during my lunch break”
“ur lunch break is during my class”
“wat’s 1 class?”
Sophia looked back at the teacher, who was writing something on the chalkboard. She could skip one class. It wouldn’t hurt anybody. She could always text her bandmate Derrick for any updates. He was in her class. Might as well see what the slacker wants.
“You’re late,” Ethan as he leaned against the door to the A/V Club room.
“Only by one minute!” Sophia exclaimed. “Can’t a girl pee first?”
Ethan stared at her as he crossed his arms. Sophia rolled her eyes at him. “Do we go in or not?”
He opened the door, led her inside the room. He said, “You need to move fast.”
Confused, she asked, “What do you mean?”
“UTurn is adding more people to their band. I heard they have until next weekend to find their new members.”
She raised an eyebrow, and asked, “So you want me to join UTurn? You do know I’m in The Pushers, right?”
“No, I need Derrick and Amanda to join UTurn.”
“Why not? Look, I need you to push those two out of The Pushers and into UTurn. It’s urgent, so make it snappy.”
Sophia’s eyes widened when she heard that. So far, she had convinced Derrick that he needed to start booking gigs as soon as possible. They needed to get their name out there for their official debut single! He resisted at first, but eventually agreed to plan. Soon his grade began to slip as he worked hours on end writing songs, booking gigs, and making phone calls. He had even become quite irritable lately.
Yet she knew that wouldn’t be enough to get Derrick to quit The Pushers. Maybe Amanda as she seemed more involved with her thoughts. Still, it only made all five members work even harder than usual, especially with bandmates Eric and Dan about to graduate in June. Suddenly, an idea popped into her head.
The Pushers were in the makeshift recording studio, also known as the garage to Derrick’s house in East Boston. Since April, the band had been recording songs for the debut album, though they hadn’t talked about where it would be distributed.
Sophia looked at her bandmates as they all played their instruments; practicing for the upcoming Middle Grade Dance. She needed to break up the band as quickly as possible. She needed to get Derrick and Amanda into UTurn. She was on borrowed time, before the pop group gets two other people on their own.
So she took a deep breath, interrupting the practice to ask this: “So how should we sell out music? Go on iTunes? Do you want us on those pop radio stations alongside Green Day and Fall Out Boy?”
The four other teens looked at her, all of them with varying expressions on their faces. Eric replied, “Well, I guess that would be kind of cool.”
Amanda chimed in, “Yeah. That would be kind of cool, especially if our songs are being played all over America.”
“Maybe even in the entire world.”
Suddenly, everyone heard Derrick clearing his throat. They all noticed his displeased expression. He asked out of irritation, “Seriously? You want us on those fucking mainstream radio stations?”
Clearly surprised, Amanda asked, “What’s wrong with that?”
“We’re not some mainstream, capitalist pop tarts! We’re an authentic rock band! We don’t belong on those stations!”
Amanda crossed her arms. “Then where do we belong?”
“Not on those radio stations.”
“So, maybe on the iTunes charts?”
“No,” he said flatly.
Amanda raised an eyebrow. Eric asked, “Derrick, she’s got a point. If you don’t want our music being played on, well, anywhere, then why are we doing this?”
Derrick glared at him. “We’re doing this to show we’re not like the other bands who sold themselves for Hollywood.”
“I’m not asking to go to Hollywood,” said Amanda. “I’m saying our music shouldn’t stay in the garage. We want to share our work with everyone. By hiding our material won’t lead us anywhere. We’ll be stuck in our usual ways, maybe even worse.”
Derrick scoffed, “So what? You wanna join some other band? Like UTurn?”
Sophia noticed Amanda’s face reddening, as if Derrick caught her as being some sort of a UTurn fangirl. She figured Amanda had been contemplating this for a while now. Why? Was it because her ex-boyfriend was in UTurn? Was she still in love with Andrew?
Wanting a clear answer, Sophia asked, “Wait, are you a fan of UTurn?”
Amanda blushed more, clearly from both guilt and embarrassment. She replied nervously, “Well, I don’t care for their music. But you have to admire them for working so hard.”
Everyone stared at her as Amanda continued, growing confidence in both her voice and in her body language: “Yeah, they were formed by that bimbo who was a fan of a group of British pop tarts. But she, and Andrew, drove their band to a win. Their fan base is growing by the minute. They’ve even formed their own image and sound. I don’t see why we have to hate on them when they’re actually sharing their work to the entire world. They’re not gonna hide themselves, like what Derrick here wants to do.”
Sophia was impressed with what she said. Amanda actually had a point. Sure, UTurn was one of the pop acts whose music would be played alongside the currently biggest names in pop music; but their work ethic was something that shouldn’t be questioned. It was true they worked hard to reach their goals, and so far, they did.
Sophia faced Derrick, who seemed even more pissed than usual. Then again, when wasn’t he pissed? He just seemed so angry these days, as if nothing would satisfy him. The scowl on his face was permanent like a Sharpie.
He asked Eric, “Do you think Amanda here is right?”
Eric shrugged, “Like I said, she got points. Besides, isn’t she your girlfriend?”
Amanda muttered, “We never dated.”
Derrick faced Dan. “What about you? Does she have ‘points’?”
Dan just stared at him, obviously not wanting to answer that. Derrick turned to Sophia, and asked, “Do you think these two got ‘points’?”
“If she didn’t before,” Sophia said nonchalantly, “she does now.”
Derrick glared at his everyone for a good minute. He finally told them, “Fine. All of you. You’re out of the band.”
“What?!” the four exclaimed.
“You heard me.”
Amanda asked, “What about the band? What about your brother and his dream?”
“He would be pissed with all of this bullshit.”
Amanda took off her guitar, walked up to him, and said sternly, “If you really want to honor your brother’s dream, then keep the band going. Share the music to the entire world. But I guess it’s all about pissing off the capitalist society now, isn’t it?”
Derrick looked away from her, keeping his eyes to the ground. Amanda scoffed, “Fine, destroy your brother’s dream. I’m sure he’s rolling in his grave now, thanks to you.”
Sophia watched Amanda stormed out of the room. Then Eric and Dan followed, and so did Sophia. Derrick was left alone in the garage, probably thinking about what he just did.
Eric asked as he walked to his car, “So now what?”
Amanda shrugged, “I don’t know. I don’t care anymore.”
Sophia looked at her. She knew what Ethan had in mind. She got the band to split up; now it was up to Ethan to get the ball rolling.