Some people may assume that being a member of a popular rock band is the best thing in the world. They think that playing music, writing songs, performing, giving interviews are easy. And I get why they believe this, it really doesn’t look like a hard life, but I don’t feel like they’re right. For me, at least, it’s not that easy.
I’d describe our band, Future Island as a family. A twisted, weird family. Or that’s what they are to me, since two of the members are my childhood friends, and I don’t have my own family by blood. The whole band is of five members: we have a singer, a guitarist, a bass guitarist, a drummer, and me, the solo guitarist. My friends are Iau the singer, and Kane the drummer and keyboard player. Hoshi is the bassist and Montaro is the other guitarist. I love them to death, Future Island saved my life, Future Island is my life. But now I’m planning to leave them. I’m finishing this tour, and then I’ll no longer be a member of Future Island. I’m abandoning my life.
"Hey, Keiji, are you okay?" Iau puts his hand on my shoulder, waking me up from daydreaming. - Your cigarette is not even burning anymore. - He points at the stub between my lips.
"Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize." He starts laughing.
"Don’t apologize, here’s a new one." And he takes the one from my mouth and puts a new one in, lighting it up.
We are sitting in the backstage, waiting for Kane to finish his 13 minutes drum solo. We’re mid-concert, holding a huge, almost 4 hours gig. It’s exhausting, but we love doing it. We are alive on stage, we laugh, we cry, we really feel alive. I’ll no longer have this.
I still haven’t planned anything. I started a solo career two, maybe three years ago, and I’m doing well, participating in other projects too, but it’s empty without the guys, no matter how much I love music on its own.
"Are you ready?" Iau smiles at me over his shoulder from the door.
"Yeah." I get up, adjusting my guitar on me, heading to the stage.
Kane is lying next to his drum set, wet, heavily breathing. His neck long light brown hair is stuck to his skin, covering his whole face.
He looks like he doesn’t care about anything, the concert, the fans, but in reality, he’s just enjoying the moment, feeling everything all at once.
Iau goes up, singing, starting a sad and emotional song. At first, with a gentle voice, lights touching him, shining on his ear long black hair. Both of them on the stage are half naked, only wearing tight black leather pants, while we’re waiting for our turn on the sideline with Montaro and Hoshi.
After a few minutes Kane gets up, goes up to Iau and they hug tightly, ignoring everything, forgetting to sing, crying. Now is our time to go up, I sit down next to the drums, starting my accords. Kane then goes to the piano and starts playing, and so the show continues.
Our fans think it’s all for them, fan service, that it’s part of the show. But I know the truth. They love each other. And I love them. It’s always been like this. Endless pain of love. That’s also the title of one of our songs. We have many love songs, Kane and I wrote the majority of them, all about each other. It always makes me laugh when I think that our listeners assume that we wrote them for other people, or when they don’t even care about the cause, because they can relate to them. But it doesn’t matter, as long as we know the truth.
Once the song is over, we leave the stage, only to go back in a minute with a new song. In that minute break we try our best to stop crying, comforting each other. Poor Hoshi and Montaro, they never know what to do with us in these emotional moments. They just stand there, patting us, telling us that it’s okay. I wouldn’t say they don’t understand us, they just can’t handle us.
Montaro is the one that brought Hoshi into the band. When we were almost complete, looking for a bassist, one day Montaro stood up and told us that there’s another band that has a freakin’ good bassist and we should get him. We told him to bring him to one of our practices, and he did. When we first saw the small man with short brown hair, huge eyes and a nice smile, we were doubtful, but once he started playing, we felt what Montaro told us about: energy that could destroy the world. Everyone looks down on bassists, they think that it’s the easiest role, but I believe that creating those basic vibes for a song that make it perfect is really important and requires a lot of effort.
So those two are close to each other, and we three are close to each other, but we all are Future Island, and it means a bond unbreakable.
The next song is our anthem. It’s about the band, about our music, and our fans. Iau talks a lot, heating up the already heated mood. Kane, though, doesn’t like much talking, so to make Iau shut up, simply takes his microphone, yells in it a few times, then starts playing the song. Iau laughs at him, looking at him like a doting parent, while we others are smiling. To take revenge, Iau, while he is singing, goes behind Kane and pours water on the drummer, who becomes wet once again. After finishing the song, Iau starts talking again at the front end of the stage, and to give him back what he did, Kane grabs three bottles of water, goes up behind him and pours it on his head.
Our gigs are always this funny, at least for outsiders. We always make the viewers laugh, but what they don’t see is that after all of this, we go back to our room, and start fighting. That’s what is awaiting us now.
We say goodbye to the audience – which takes us like fifteen minutes –, then go to the backstage and drop on the couch.
"It was amazing, wasn’t it?" Asks Kane after a few long minutes of catching our breath.
"Yeah, though you could let me speak sometimes." Answers Iau, irritated. It’s beginning.
"Well, if you could say anything that makes sense, maybe I’d let you talk."
"Guys, don’t start it again…" I try to obviate the fight, but I only worsen it.
"And you!" Kane points at me. "If you ever touch my drums again, especially during a concert, I’m breaking both of your arms."
He is referring to when I sat down at his drum set between two songs and hit it a few times. I can’t say anything, I’m at fault, I knew very well how much he hates it. It’s a surprise I still have my arms.
"No, no, no." Iau stands up and goes to stand in front of Kane. " Maybe you should get off the high horse and do your job up there instead of playing like a kid."
"Oh really?" Kane stands up as well, now they are so close to each other, their chests are almost touching. "How about you decrease the talk and focus more on your job."
"My job is to entertain the audience."
Iau looks at Kane like he is going to kill, but at least hit him. Kane looks back, then he grabs Iau’s face, kisses him hard, then lets go of him and storms out of the backstage.
"Sorry about him." Iau stands where he was left, seems like he is deep in his thoughts.
"Are you okay?" Montaro goes to him, but as he’s about to put his hand on his shoulder, Iau turns to us, smiling.
"Yeah, of course, it’s just the usual stupidity, I’ll have to talk to him again."
"All right then." Says Montaro, but he doesn’t seem to believe him. "Well then I’m gonna change now. Hoshi, are you coming?"
"Coming~!" Stands up the bassist, with his ever joyful attitude and follows Montaro to the dressing room.
Now it’s the two of us, left in the backstage. I think that it’s the perfect time to come out with my plan of leaving them.
"Hey, Iau, can I talk to you for a second?"
"Sorry kid, not now." He answers, petting my head and leaving the room.
I’m left alone, feeling awful.
The next morning I wake up in a hotel room, having a massive hangover, not remembering a thing at first. Then I see Kane lying next to me, and Iau on the sofa.
I have to think hard for a moment to get the pieces of my memory together. I remember changing after last night’s concert, then I went to find a bar and got drunk. At one point my phone rang, and though I don’t remember picking it up, I must have done that, because Kane came to pick me up. I wanted to stay. And I think I started crying. And I may have told him about my plan. I think he was shocked and told me to not tell anyone else about it. When I asked why, he said he just has to think, and that he doesn’t want to lose me. Then he hugged me, and we made out until Iau arrived. He put us all in a car and we came to the hotel. That’s all I remember, and now I’m a little confused.
I push Kane to wake him up but he turns to the other direction. I climb over him and call his name to which he snorts in a few minutes.
"Let me sleep you bastard!" He groans and puts a pillow on his head.
"Hey, Kane, what happened last night?"
"Hm?" A muffled sound comes from under the pillow.
"I don’t remember everything…"
He ruffles his hair and half sitting up, leans on his elbow. His eyes are not focusing yet, and last night’s makeup is smudged over his face.
"Kei, just go back to sleep."
He hangs his head and crawls closer to me, laying on my lap.
"You told me you will leave us. And I told you to not tell it to anyone else. I’m not gonna let you leave." He hugs my waist. "I don’t know why do you think you have to go, but whatever bothers you, I’ll fix it, okay? So just stay with me." By the time he finishes talking, he’s half asleep again.
"Kane, it’s not that something is bothering me, I just think that it’s time, I have to do it."
"You have to do what?" A voice comes from behind me, and I turn to see Iau stretching his arms on the sofa.
"Iau, good morning! I already told Kane, so now that you’re awake, I’m telling you too. I’m going to…"
"No!" Kane on my lap cuts in, yelling.
He sits up and kisses me, then he pushes me down to the bed while he turns to Iau to talk.
"He’s just feeling down lately and wants us to pet him. That’s why he ran away last night. Right, Kei?"
"No, that’s not the problem…!"
"Don’t be ashamed of it, I know I’ve been hard on you in the last few weeks, I’ll be nicer, all right?"
"What’s up with you guys?" Iau stands up. "Both of you are acting weird. Yesterday’s gig wasn’t that bad."
"I know!" Kane stands up and clings to the singer. "I’m probably just tired. Because someone didn’t let me sleep enough." He squints at me and I give up. I’ll talk to Iau later. Though I don’t know why it’s such a big deal for Kane.
"But are you okay? Does your wrist hurt?" He holds it gently to see if it’s swollen.
"Not really. It’s fine."
"I see. Then let’s go to eat something and hit the road." Iau smiles at both of us then heads to the bathroom
Kane lets him and waits until the door is closed, then sits next to me on the bed. For a long minute he just stares in front of him, then he opens his mouth.
"I know sometimes I abuse you…"
"No, you don’t!" I cut in, because ever since I met him, he’s always had some hatred towards me, but he’s never hurt me. And I know he feels guilty, without reason.
"Yes, I do! It’s not like I don’t love you, but sometimes it’s hard for me to show it normally."
Kane has always been conflicted by loving two people at the same time. For him, it’s something he can’t consider being right.
It’s different for all of us. I don’t mind anything, I accept my feelings and take it as normal and right as they are. Iau is so full of love, he thinks for him it’s a given to love more than one person. But Kane blames me. He loved Iau first, then I showed up and blew over his views and feelings. So he hates me for loving me.
"I’m sorry." I apologize to him, even though I’m well aware that it only upsets him.
"Is it because I don’t love you enough?! You’re leaving because of me?"
"Of course not!" Well, not entirely.
I love both of them so much, but I can see how Kane suffers. I was the one to ruin everything, now I’m gonna make it right.
I sit in his lap and he holds me as I kiss him. He’s kissing back painfully. It breaks my heart. I know he loves me and wants me, I can feel that, but his guilt is radiating.
He stands up with me in his arms, puts me on the bed and crawls on top of me. He’s roughly undressing me, touching and kissing all over my body. His strong muscles flex as he holds himself above me.
I feel like crying, but fortunately a knock on the door disturbs us. Kane stops, panting heavily. Another knock finally makes him sit up, and I quickly put my clothes back on.
I hurry to the door and open it. Hoshi’s standing outside and gives me a questioning look.
"Aren’t you guys coming? Breakfast is already waiting for us and personally, I’m starving."
"Oh, yeah, sure."
"I hope I meddled in something."
"You did. Thank you."
"Hey, are you okay?" He leans closer and holds back his voice.
"I dunno, you wear a worried look."
"Am not." He looks skeptical.
"Okay, not my business. Wanna ditch those two and come now?" I look back to the bed and see Kane sitting on it, looking awfully depressed.
"Yeah, I’m going."
"Great!" Hoshi pats my shoulder and drags me by my arm.
The door closes behind me and I wanna punch myself. We’re almost running on the corridor of the hotel and Hoshi takes me to one of the private boxes in the restaurant. I expect Montaro to already be there, but to my confused look the bassist explains.
"He ate already. He went to supervise the packing of the instruments."
"I see." We sit down.
Montaro does this on every tour, after every concert.
After we order tons of food, Hoshi turns to face me.
"So, do you want to talk about it?"
"Kane is being an ass with you, again?"
"Yeah, it’s not that."
"Nothing. I guess I just feel a little down lately."
Obviously he doesn’t believe me, but he decides to not push me further.
Hoshi and I are very close, but I can’t bring myself to tell him how I feel. I know that for me it’s a serious problem, but I also know that others may find it stupid.
We start consuming all the food they bring to us, and talk about other things, details about the tour, the next concert, what could we do differently so the show will be better.
I remember the first time Kane met Keiji. The younger boy just moved to the neighborhood, and I was playing in the park with Kane. The game was some roleplay, we pretended to be grown-ups and acted out everyday scenarios. We knew that we want to play music for huge audiences, even though we were only six and seven years old. So we played that we write songs and practice and perform.
As we argued about a song’s theme, a small kid wandered there and hid behind a tree, but I could see him. I didn’t tell Kane, because I didn’t want to ruin the game, so we started ‘performing’ the new song, and after a while the boy came closer and sit on the ground in front of us with huge brown eyes, becoming the first member of our audience.
When I talked to him, he told me his name is Keiji and that he likes music and wants to play with us. Kane however wanted to drive away Keiji, saying that we didn’t need more members, so he started bullying him. He pushed him so hard, he fell to the ground, started crying and ran away. I scolded Kane, and it seemed like he feels a little bad for what he did.
We didn’t see Keiji after it for about three weeks, but one day as we were playing, I noticed him hiding behind a tree again, peaking at us shyly. I waved at him, but to that he ran somewhere away. I didn’t see him after if for years.
I started the 4th grade, Kane one year under me, when among the school starters I saw Keiji again. It seemed like he didn’t recognize us on the entrance ceremony, but we recognized him. After school we went to play again as always, and coincidentally Keiji happened to pass us on his way home. He probably saw us being loud, pretending to play instruments - Kane hitting a box with sticks with all his strength - and he stopped mid-step, staring at us. I saw him approaching slowly, but not saying a word. He stood almost in front of us, and I could see the recognition in his eyes as he remembered. He took a step back, but I spoke to him. I asked him if he wants to play with us. By that time Kane became more mature too, so he encouraged him as well. To that, Keiji stopped, and quietly asked if he can.
From that day, we hang out together in school and after it too, until the sun went down. This went on for three years, we became friends, but one day when we were in school, Keiji was taken home by a stranger, we saw it from the classroom’s window. After that, we waited for him, but he didn’t return.
Later we found out, that Keiji’s parents were murdered during a burglary, and he was taken to his grandmother’s.
"Where is Keiji?" Iau comes out of the bathroom and looks around.
"How am I supposed to know?!" I stand up, about to storm out of the room, but Iau stops me.
"I can see that something’s wrong between you two. Is it your guilt again?"
"I guess so, yeah, it’s my fault that he can’t even stand staying in the same place as we are."
"Kane, stop this." He strokes my hair and pulls me closer. "He understands, so you just have to reinstate things with yourself."
"Fuck, how could you know?! I’m the reason we have problems, always. He’s not tolerating me anymore." I free myself from his arms and go out, shutting the door behind myself loudly.
I’m aimless, I don’t know where I was going, I just wanted to leave that room. I’m the worst, really.
Who the fuck thought that allowing humans to love more than one person at once is a good idea?! It’s like a fucking sick joke! Fuck!
I punch a wall and I hear my worn out joints crack painfully.
How can even Kei and Iau handle their feelings so well? Why aren’t they going through the same shit as I? Why am I the only one this miserable, full of angst? I can’t wait for tonight so I can destroy my drum set again.
As I walk past the dining room, I see Hoshi and Kei sitting at a table, talking while gesturing. It must be something serious, seeing their faces. Does Kei tell Hoshi his plan too? I hope he doesn’t. I have to make him stay somehow. Without him, everything’s impossible.
They don’t notice me, so I continue walking. When I reach the bar, I sit at the counter. Soon a waiter appears, taking my order with mildly concerned look. After a few drinks I start to lose my sense of time, and when I notice a piano in the corner, I find myself walking towards it. I sit by the keyboard and start playing one of our songs. It’s a ballad, one that’s almost thirty minutes long. It gets too painful almost halfway, so I stop. I start hitting random keys, then I notice that it’s not even that random, and I’m actually composing. Tears roll from my eyes as I’m laughing. This is how it works, I compose a song on my piano, and with Kei, we write it to other instruments, finally with Iau we write lyrics for it. But it won’t be like this from now on, right? All those fun times arguing about sounds and rhythm and syllables are gone. Because of me, because I can’t accept my feelings. The one who should leave is me, not Kei.
I get up from the piano, losing my balance for a second, and rush to the table where Kei sits with Hoshi.
"I need to talk with you." I look at him, trying to focus my vision.
"Kane, what happened?"
"Just come with me, okay?"
He nods and gets up, and we walk out to an empty corridor.
"What is it about, Kane?"
"Kei. I’m leaving."
"What the hell are you saying?!"
"You don’t have to leave, I’ll do it."
"No, you won’t. I already made my decision, and I’m not changing my mind. Regardless of what you say or do, I’m going to leave."
"No… Then just tell me, why?" I yell at him. "Am I that horrible? I’ll change! You can’t hate me this much…" I burst out crying, sliding down at the wall.
Kei kneels down in front of me, holding my hands, looking disorganized.
"Of course I don’t hate you, at all. But I see how I destroyed you. I’m so sorry Kane! I’ve never meant to cause this much trouble to you, I had no idea this would happen when I fell in love with you and Iau."
"Not like it’s your fault…"
"Falling in love is not anyone’s fault, right?"
"Yeah, probably." He smiles at me with the kindest expression.
God, I love him so much! Loving Iau was so natural. He supported all my crazy ideas and seemingly impossible dreams, he believed in me, and with his help, now I’m at where I wanted to be. Loving Kei confused me. It just wasn’t according to plan. I was surprised to having feelings for him while I still loved Iau. I thought that it’s just a switch between people, like you date someone then you date another. But my feelings for Iau remained, while feelings for Kei developed.
When I told Iau, his eyes widened. I thought he’d be angry with me, hurt, and would hate me for it. But then he smiled and told me, he knows what I mean. I think I was more shocked than him. Then we told Kei, he just nodded and said okay. Turns out, he loved both of us from the start.
It’s a ridiculous story, and no matter how many times I replay it in my head, it just gets more ridiculous.
Kei just continued living like before, Iau was happy that he wasn’t alone with his feelings, but I was left still confused. Years went like this and I couldn’t move on. And now Kei wants to leave, because I can’t move on.
"Kei, give me one last chance. Let me try changing and be happy, for the three of us."
"Kane… do you know how many times you’ve said you’d change? And I get it, it’s not easy and why would you change at all, when this is who you are?"
"Because I don’t want to lose you."
"In a sense, you won’t. But it’s okay, this isn’t happening because you did something bad, this isn’t a punishment. Think of it as reverting to the times when it was just the two of you, Iau and you. That’s nice, isn’t it?"
"Not anymore." I hide my face behind my knees and I feel Kei stroking my hair.
I guess he gives up convincing me that it’s gonna be good, and I can’t believe him that it won’t be bad.
He sits next to me and hugs me, and I rest my head on his shoulder.
Love is as natural of a feeling as the act of breathing. No matter what kind of love it is, parental, friendly, romantic… it’s just part of human nature. That’s why I can flow with my feelings without second guessing the cause of it. If I love Kane and Keiji both, that’s it.
Lately I’ve been trying to give them more space for themselves, but it doesn’t seem to work. And I don’t know for how much longer I can remain left out. I can’t decide if I’m the selfish one or they are. While they work on fixing their relationship they unconsciously ignore me and it hurts. Not like it’s their fault, I understand it, but it’s lonely without them.
Fortunately before I sink lower, Hoshi bursts in the room, saying that Kane took Keiji somewhere and he can’t find them.
"How many times are they gonna play this?" The bassist seems annoyed.
"It’s fine, I’ll go find them."
I get up from the bed, walking towards the door.
"But Iau… Doesn’t this hurt you?" Ugh! As much as I love Hoshi, his blunt honesty can hurt. "I mean they’re problematic as hell, and you’re the one who always has to scold them to behave."
"It’s fine. They’re just stubborn."
"At what cost…? Okay, I stop!" He takes a step back as I turn to him. I guess the look on my face is not very promising.
If even Hoshi can tell how much I’m feeling bad, I must look like I’m on my death bed.
What should I do? I have a bad feeling that I’ll lose them if I don’t do something about this situation. But I’ve never imagined that my insecurities could take over like this. Maybe I should tell them how I feel when I find them.
How far does one go to save their relationship?
Oh, hell no, I didn’t just… but I thought that our relationship is over, right? Is it? Can it continue like this?
Damn, I’m so pathetic, how did I end up with these thoughts?
"Hey, Iau, stop this!" Hoshi grabs me by my shoulders as I hit my head against the wall. "Man, I don’t know what’s up with you all, but how about y’all just move on? I can’t imagine anything so bad that all three of you should be so depressed about. Are you guys breaking up?"
"I mean that’s the last thing I can think of, but I’m sure that’s not it. Then what is it?"
"Why are you so sure we’re not breaking up?"
"Because that’s impossible."
I give Hoshi a look that says you’re nuts, but his eyes are so clear, he really believes in what he says.
"I’ve been around you guys for many years now, and the apocalypse comes before you and the other two go separate ways."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Oh, so that’s it! The three of you are afraid that the love is over? Don’t be stupid. Iau, Kane, Keiji are only each other’s."
My eyes widen and Hoshi smiles. It feels like a magical moment and I don’t even know why he said it, but it reassured and convinced me.
I return his smile and he nods while I get going to find my loves.