by Jesse Romo
It wasn’t glamorous. Returning to the city he’d known so well when he was trying to live like everybody else; before his own path had been forged and he’d ventured over the horizon. But now things were different. Strung-out on his hopes and dreams, the couch made a comfortable enough bed.
It was a sacrifice, but there were always sacrifices. If you weren’t willing to spill a little blood or break a few eggs, you’d never get anywhere, he thought. He saved up as much as he could and looked for a place to immortalize his compositions.
Costs were prohibitive, but the biggest problem was the style of music. Without a master of the British and Irish influences he’d absorbed during his stay and throughout his life under the Joshua Tree, anything he produced would be packaged incorrectly. Like a Picasso twisted and contorted into an advertising campaign; it would lose its soul, slowly rotting from the inside out.
His high hopes still fuelled his search, the memory of that fateful drive replaying in his head and reminding him that it would all be worth it one day. Sitting in front of the array of dials, sliders and lights, he was struggling to stay afloat, being continually sucked down by his own inexperience.
The music was there, but there was a huge, gaping black hole sucking in the limited resources he’d saved. He felt scammed, cheated out of the opportunity, but he wouldn’t give up.
Two of the pieces fell into place. Hitting upon that perfect location and finding a master of the four strings in the process, the foundations were finally being laid. There was still the synthetic hand dragging the mix down, however, the emotionless thumping that never stood up to the real thing. It needed a human touch. He unleashed his powerhouse guitar and malevolent bass-lines were laid down, but there was still a piece missing from the puzzle. The stage was just one step away.
The first mix was poverty-stricken, lacking the ostentatious instruments and the flawless mixing required to truly breathe life into what they’d created. They could only watch on as their crystallized idea revealed itself to be cloudy and imperfect, scratched up by their affordable hardware.
They did the only thing they could, retreating and building their perfect location from nothing. After a dismal failure – a session without the force of emotion needed to grab listeners by the shirt-collars – the old fork in the road caught up with the band and he was left alone again.
This time, he didn’t wallow. The drummer was there, he knew it, and it didn’t take long before their paths crossed. The raw, pounding and relentless beat drove him to venture back to the other side – grab his fallen comrade and show him the way forwards. It didn’t take long; they were finally ready.
The custom-built space could barely contain the energy they unleashed, rattling the walls and shaking the foundations as they finally immortalized what they’d been striving to create all along. They found themselves on the elevated platform, the spotlights beating down on them as they re-iterated their recording; all for a handful of fans.
But the shows gained momentum, snowballing and accumulating until there was a baying, eager crowd waiting on the other side of the fourth wall. The roar from below them sent the blood rushing through their veins, lifting and illuminating them to another level.
But as quickly as it took off, it came crashing back down. A somber two years dragged on, but it wasn’t filled with inactivity. Too much time had passed, he thought, I’ve learned too much to sit on my hands and wait for the dream to come to me.
If there was one thing he’d learnt from that drive it’s that you can’t wait for your high hopes to come true. You have to reach out with both hands and grasp it for yourself, and if you had hold of it only a fool would release his grip. He kept going, looking for the perfect place to cut the record that would burn their name into music history.
It wasn’t the end. As the ashes cleared, the three found themselves together again; older, wiser and with a new type of determination. They held something big, something powerful and something important in their hands, and they had all realized it wasn’t something to give up on. It was time to recruit an army; it was time to take those final steps.