I'm the lead singer of a very popular band. I won't say who, but you'd have definitely heard of us. Anyway, I've been in the rock game for twenty years, and at the top of it for the last fifteen. What happened during the first five years? It's a good question, so good that I'll answer it now.
We struggled, like a lot of bands we struggled to make the leap from pub band to the most famous band in the world. Sometimes we weren't even the most famous band in the pub. Our songs were as good as any, nobody could deny that, but we were missing something. We tried everything. We'd play sober, we'd play drunk, we'd play all messed up on mind drugs, but it was always the same. We tried playing more poppy mainstream stuff, but it was no good. In a last desperate attempt to get ourselves noticed we sacked our drummer and replaced him with a monkey in an astronaut suit. He couldn't play for shit.
It was after that gig when we decided it was time to call it a day. We told the monkey trainer that we wouldn't be needing the monkey or the suit again, because we were breaking up. He said that it was a shame, because he really liked our songs. He suggested we changed our name. It was so obvious I couldn't believe none of us had thought of it before. He said he knew a guy who sold band names, but we didn't have a lot of money, so we decided to make our own. We tried a few different names, The Animated Love Monkeys, The Stone Shoe Pirates, Inarticulate Deathray, to name just a few. Nothing changed.
We decided once again that it was time to call it a day, but the monkey trainer really insisted that we gave this band name guy a try. So we did. He didn't live in Britain though. He lived in India. It was a long way to go, but the monkey trainer said that he was the best there was. I got to India and hired a guide to help me find the man. He lived inside a cave at the peak of one the world's highest mountains. It was a long way to climb, but the monkey trainer said that this guy had come up with The Beatles and The Sex Pistols, so I climbed. It took four days.
When I got to the top I was quite surprised to see that the inside of the cave looked a lot like a 1950s American diner. I was even more surprised to see that the man had red skin, horns and a tail.
"You're not the devil are you?" I asked.
"What a horrible thing to say." he said. Looking back, it really was quite a bad thing to say to someone I'd never met before. I explained my problem and he said it would be the easiest thing in the world for him to make us the biggest band on the planet.
"How much is it going to cost?" I asked "A thousand pounds?"
"Pah, I don't want your money" he said.
"What do you want then? My soul?" I joked.
"Don't be ridiculous."
"What then?" I asked.
"Your happiness. All of the happiness that you gain from being the biggest band in the world, I want that. I get off on it." I leapt at the offer. I wasn't an idiot. I didn't believe in all of that mumbo jumbo and he didn't even want me to sign my name in blood. He didn't ask for a signature at all. Not even a handshake. He gave me the name, but I wasn't blown away by it. In fact, I was quite underwhelmed. Part of me thought that the whole journey had been a waste of time. I'd spent my last £300 on my flight and I was going to have to get a proper job as soon as I got back. I was a bit pissed off and not looking forward to my climb back down the mountain.
So I got home and told the rest of the band the name. They were speechless. I thought they were taking the piss, but they said that they genuinely thought it was the best name they had ever heard.
"Ok, then" I said "Let's try it out. Let's make some flyers and play at the Golden Panther on Friday."
Friday came and there were a lot more people there than when we usually played. Maybe it was the name on the flyer, maybe there was nothing else going on that day. Who knows? So we played the same songs we always played, just as well as we always did, but the crowd went insane. Some slick-haired pony-tailed record company bigshot was in the audience and he asked us to come in to lay down some demos the week after. Six months later we released our first album. Another six months later we were the biggest band in the world.
We'd made it. Every night I was having sex with the most beautiful women you could ever imagine. I had so much money that every morning I poured a gram of cocaine on my cornflakes, a gram in my coffee and a kilo out of the window. Just because I could. Everyone wanted to be my friend, and not just the people who wanted to be my friend because I was famous, millions of people genuinely wanted to be my friend. Most importantly though, I was doing the thing I loved, making music. But was I happy? No. I couldn't stop thinking about my deal with the man at the top of the mountain. Could he really have my happiness? Did he just say it just to mess with my head? Did the band name even have anything to do with it? I felt completely numb.
Eighty-seven million record sales later, half a billion dollars in the bank, four thousand notches in my bedpost, enough heroin to bring down a thousand rhinos, and I can't remember the last time I smiled.
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