This was an English assignment I did a couple of weeks ago. I have edited it with the help of the commentaries my English teacher gave me. I have also edited the bands names, since I used BFMV and Thyrfing as examples.

SLASH ALERT!!! If you are uncomfortable with slash or a homophobe, then I suggest you click the "back" key on your browser. It's not much slash, certainly nothing graphic, just a small kiss. Anyway, enough comments, read and enjoy. I'm putting this up on:

12/10/06

Assignment 4

By Andreas Hårsaker.

Strings and Amps

"Great, now what?" Tim asked the rest of the guys lounging on the backstage sofa. "Without Chris, who's going to play lead guitar?" Chris, the band's lead guitar player, had backed out at the last minute because of "personal problems" as he put it, much to the chagrin of the rest of the guys. "Why don't we ask one of the other bands if we can borrow their lead?" asked Matt, the drummer. "Because he probably doesn't know any of our songs." Answered Padge, the singer.

Tonight was the Battle of the Bands competition, a contest where local bands get to play in front of a large audience as well as have it broadcast all over England. Their band, The Ghoulies, had earned their place in the contest with the song "Face of Evil" and were hoping to attract the attention of one of the large record companies whose representatives were there. Although they probably wouldn't even be able to play without Chris. Michael, the band's rhythm guitarist, could play the solo parts pretty well, but without the twin-guitar harmonies, the songs would just sound bland and uninteresting.

"Looks like we have to forfeit, then." Said Padge and got up from the couch. "Yeah, you do that, Padge, leave the music to the big boys!" called Dani, the lead singer from their rival band, Tyr. "The only thing that actually makes your music good is Chris, and he's not here. Go home losers!" Tim rose from the couch, his face red from anger, and started walking over to Dani. He would have punched him in the face if it weren't for the rest of Bullet holding him back. "Stop it Tim, he's not worth it, everyone knows he can't sing for shit!" Dani just laughed and looked at Tim, mocking him. "Alright, alright, I'm cool, let me go." Said Tim and the guys let him go. Tim turned away from Dani, spun on his heels and punched him right in the face. A huge fight broke out between the two bands, resulting in both bands getting disqualified.

A couple of days later, they were rehearsing in Padge's garage. After the fight, rather than holding a grudge, they decided to be even better for the next BotB competition that was going to be held two months later. Although they were a little annoyed at Chris because of his absence. They were in the middle of a new song Padge had written, "Corridor", when someone knocked against the garage door. It was Chris, looking rather nervous, his eyes darting all over the place. "About time you showed up, Chris, we had to start without you," said Matt. Chris twitched a little and said: "It doesn't matter, I just came to get my equipment, I can't play with you guys anymore, I'm moving." A heavy silence fell upon the room, and then a collective "What?!" came from the band. "What do you mean, 'move'?!" Michael yelled, "why do you have to move?! We have a good thing going here." Chris tried to say something, but was interrupted by Tim. "You're just a bloody traitor, aren't you? First the Battle, and now this. Damn it, Chris!" Chris looked down to his feet, shuffled them for a bit and said: "Sorry guys, I just have to."

The guys stared at him as he collected his gear. Padge stood up and walked over. "Listen, we're sorry about the outbursts, if you have to move, then you have to move." He stuck out his hand. Chris looked at it, and then tentatively shook it, and then the rest of the band came over and did the same and wished him luck. After Chris had left, none of them were in any mood to play. "I guess we have to hold auditions then." said Padge.

To say the auditions went well would be a lie. In fact, the auditions went horribly. Of all the guitar players that came, about 32, only 5 of them could actually play well enough. The 5 who could play just didn't have the attitude or technical prowess required for BFMV, and it wasn't even the lead guitar position, it was the rhythm position. Michael took over the lead.

After the last person had left, the guys were exhausted. They had to listen to 32 people try to play one song they came up with themselves and then one by Bullet. Listening to 32 people trying to play "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin is tiring, especially when they can't play it at all. They gave up auditioning people from school and started hanging up posters at public places like parks and markets. This didn't go so well either. Most of the people who turned up, left when they discovered that the band consisted of teenagers aged 17 to 18.

They were ready to give up and start playing with just one guitar until…

School was done for the day and Michael was walking through the school hallways heading for the exit when he heard soft music being played in the music room. He walked over to the door, opened it slightly and peered in. What he saw was the back of a boy no older than 16, with shoulder length blonde, almost white, hair. He was playing the guitar like an expert, strumming the strings with a pick. Michael listened closer, and heard that he was playing "Do Ya Know What I Mean?" by Oasis, a very hard song to play. He was mesmerized by the way the boy alternated between playing the fast and slow bits, without a single error. When the song ended, Michael intended to make his presence known, but before he had a chance, the boy switched the tone on the amp from 'clean' to 'overdrive', producing one hell of a crunch. The song he played now seemed very familiar to Michael until he realized that he was playing "Face of Evil".

Michael listened until the song was done and coughed. The kid jumped with shock and almost dropped the guitar on the floor. He looked at Michael and blushed. "Sorry, I didn't know there were anyone here, after school and all." He placed the guitar back on the rack and wheeled the amp back into the closet, and then he looked at Michael and said: "Hey, you're the guitarist from Bullet for My Valentine. Sorry if I butchered your song." He blushed again. Michael chuckled. "Nah, it was quite good actually. My name is Michael, what's yours?" "Dan," the kid answered as they shook hands. "So, how long have you been playing, Dan?" Michael asked as he sat down by a desk. Dan also sat down. "Since I was six or seven I think. What about you?" Michael thought for a moment. He had been playing the guitar for as long as he knew. "Probably since I was six or something."

They chatted for a while until Michael got an idea. "Say Dan, how would you like to be in our band?" Dan froze and looked at him with wide eyes. "What?" he asked. "I said, 'how would you like to be in our band?'" Michael answered. Dan shook his head. "No, I can't. I'm not very good at playing in front of people." Michael spluttered, "But you played just fine in front of me. Dan shook his head again. "That's because I didn't know you were there." They argued a little back and forth and Michael got Dan to agree to at least play for the other guys to show how good he was.

The guys took a shine to Dan immediately. When he played, they would gape and stare as he manipulated the strings. It took a while to convince him to join the band, but when four musicians gang up on you it's hard to say no. For the next couple of weeks they practiced hard. Dan, Michael and Travis, the bass player, practiced so hard they practically bled from their fingers. Padge had a permanent sore throat and Matt broke several drum sticks and almost passed out from exhaustion. Whoever said being a musician is easy was a damn liar. The atmosphere was relaxed and enjoyable when they played, but when they were just talking or watching a movie, Michael felt himself being attracted to the 16-year old. He had always known he was gay, but he had never really 'felt' anything for other guys. He didn't do anything though; he didn't want to ruin their friendship.

BotB was coming up, and the guys decided that they needed to play somewhere else first, so they could be prepared to play in front of a large audience again. This had Dan sweating. "Listen guys, I don't know if I can do this," he said backstage. Michael sat down next to him on the couch. "Hey, you are going to do great. It's always scary the first time, but you just need to find the rhythm, and everything will be okay." Dan felt a little calmer, but was still distressed. Michael noted this, but didn't do anything. He regretted it later.

The gig was a disaster. Halfway through the first song, Dan had started playing badly, missing cues and notes. He almost broke down in front of the audience. If it wasn't for Michael taking the lead, the whole concert would be for nothing. They were booed out by the third song. After it was over, they had to convince Dan to continue, mostly with pleads. He reluctantly agreed. Again.

Michael started spending more time with Dan, teaching him several tricks for standing in front of an audience and the like. Tension grew. Sometimes Michael would catch himself staring at Dan. Luckily he didn't notice. As the days went by, Dan improved more and more, until he felt confident enough to stand before a large audience without screwing up too badly.

The big day was here. BotB let them qualify once again, although they were given a strong warning that they had a strict 'no fighting' policy. As they were preparing their equipment for sound-check, Dani stepped onto the stage. "So," he said. "This is the new lead, eh? Well I hope the guys have told you that there's no way you can ever live up to their last. Heh, with Chris gone, this band won't make it to the finals." The band stood behind Dan, who was remarkably calm. Tim was going to say a snappy comeback, but was interrupted by Dani. "Hey, if you want, you can join my band. We recently fired our lead guitarist because he wasn't good enough." That was the last straw for Tim, who lunged at Dani, but was held back by Michael. "Remember what the officials told us, if we start a fight we will thrown off again." This calmed Tim somewhat, but they could almost see the fire in his eyes.

The person who spoke next, much to their surprise, was Dan. "I was willing to give you a chance to prove that you're not as bad as the guys say, but from what I've seen and heard right now, I've decided that I don't like you and I will never join your band. Get lost!" They stared at each other for a moment, then Dan resumed setting up his amplifier. Dani stood there, looking rather undignified until he stormed off the stage with a huff. The boys laughed and congratulated Dan for embarrassing Dani. "Looks like you have a bit of spunk after all," said Padge.

As the time for their cue loomed closer, Dan started feeling panicky. It was bad enough that he was going to play in front of hundreds of people, but then there was also the fact he had started feeling attracted to a certain guitar player. He literally jumped when Michael came to tell him that it was their turn. Michael's heart stung when he saw how distressed the younger teen was. He grabbed Dan's arms and looked him in the eyes. "Hey, listen," he said. "No matter what happens, remember what I taught you. Ignore the audience; imagine that we're back in the garage, just rehearsing. If you start feeling dizzy again, remember, I'm right next to you." Michael's hands moved up to Dan's shoulders. Dan started blabbering about not being able to play. Michael silenced him with his lips. The kiss was a short one, and when they parted, Michael said: "I'm here for you." Dan stood still with shock and touched his lips, and then he smiled and ran after Michael onto the stage.

The curtain was drawn in front of them, keeping the audience from seeing him. Matt started banging his drumsticks together. One, two, three, four. Michael struck a chord as Dan started plucking a calm intro, then, the curtain dropped and all hell broke loose as Padge screamed into the microphone. It was insane, with the high-end amplifiers on loan from BotB the sound was deafening as the audience moshed, banging into each other. Everything went well until they got to the solo. Dan played like mad, his fingers flying over the guitar neck. It went great, until he missed a fret, and then the panic sat in. He made a lot of mistakes, to the point where he was ready to give up, until he looked at Michael. The sincere smile on Michael's face coupled with the adoration in his eyes was enough. With an entirely non-verbal gesture from Michael, Dan's confidence soared as he got back on track on the solo and played the rest of it perfectly. And the audience went wild…