Behind the Green Door
fictional story #2
I strolled through the car park sucking on my empty pipe still coming to terms with the altered perception of my existence. A figure approached me. “Hey mate have you got any skins.” He asked me. I took a step backwards as I cautiously looked him over. He was a young man with a wild haircut and friendly eyes. “Who me? Not realy, just the one I’m in.” I said smiling and perhaps a little surprised by him being able to actually see me, especially in the moonlght.
He went on.“You see we’re doing our first set of new tunes tonight, it will be an all night rehearsal thing for a gig this weekend. The drummer remembered to bring the weed but forgot to bring the skins, the dick head.” He said with a grimace.
“Oh I see, and what is it you want from me again?” I was still unsure what he was talking about. “You know mate, papers, skins to make a spliff.” I stared open eyed back at him. “It’s for a smoke mate whilst we are playing.” He said to clarify his request. “You can borrow my pipe, if you want.” I said jokingly, I pushed my arm and hand forward, holding the pipe up with some reverence. “Nice one man.” The young man said. “You can come up to the rehearsal room if you want and have a poke, that’s if you like to try the weed.” I thought about the word ‘Poke’. I presumed he meant a sample of his ‘weed’ and not the meaning that the word had meant when I was his age. I agreed to the offer of a ‘poke’ and followed him through the yard towards the filthy urine smelling lift on the ground floor. The rehearsal rooms where on the third floor of the old Victorian cotton mill. It’s odd, I thought, why these young people never take the stairs?
He looked to the corners of the lift. “Bands today man, what are they like? They piss anywhere and everywhere, they all think they’re fucking Oasis or something.” The boy showed disgust at his fellow musicians lack of respect and their bladder control. We arrived on the third floor and was greeted by the mural I had painted many years ago. It was an abstract image of the Beatles walking into abbey road studios. I looked at the mural, but made no comment about it. The paint was slowly fading away, yet somehow that gave it more authenticity. “Sort of ironic reminder of Pop music.” Said the young musician and he pointed to the mural. “Why ironic?” I asked him. “You know, it’s fading away, like all bands fade away, when their fans get old and fade away.” Then he laughed.
These rehearsal and recording studios were indeed old, but still much used by the local musicians, perhaps because they were cheap to hire. The building carried a unique musical history with it, going back several decades. I first came here as a young ambitious visual artist wanting to be around the new music that was exploding onto the scene at that time. They called the place ‘The Green Door Rehearsal Rooms,’ due to the large metal doors of the entrance that were painted green for as long as anyone can remember but no one knew why — I of course knew, because I was the one that painted them when I created the wall mural on either side of the metal doors. It was the only colour the owner of the Studio had to hand at the time.
The young man and I walked through the Green Door and there seated on two worn out leather sofas was the rest of the band. The young man introduced each of them in turn. “Ok, this is Monny our Singer and this is Spider, lead guitarist, thats Pete, rhythm and this is Woody our drummer and I’m Smiffy, base. He went on. “This guy is the provider of the pipe for the weed, I couldn’t get any skins. Sorry man but I didn’t catch your name?” The young man said as I shook each of their hands and introduced myself simply as Denis. “And I’m the bands public relations expert.” A young blonde girl came out from one of the side recording rooms, she held out her hand. She resembled an updated version of Marilyn Monroe with rather heavy red lipstick, matching coloured finger nails and the possessor of an unbelievable curvy figure. She shook my hand gently but firmly. “Pleased to meet you, my name is Sandy” She said. “But the band call me Andy”.
Are you an artist? She asked. “Of sorts.” I replied. Before Andy could develop the conversation Smithy had loaded the pipe, fired it up and handed it to me. Blue smoke filled the air accompanied by the distinctive sweet aroma of marijuana. I decided to be polite and not refuse but to partake and sucked on the pipe. The dope caught my throat and I bent forward and coughed. “Good Mary Jane.” I said. The band looked at me confused. “You know, marijuana — MJ.” I said. They laughed at the dated references to the drug, as each of them took turns to suck and blow in between refilling the pipe with the weed. “Did you say you’re an Artist?” The singer said. “I was a painter, many moons ago.” I answered. “You didn’t you do that mural at the entrance did you?” The lead guitarist asked. “Guilty as charged”. I said smiling. “And I was actually paid for doing it.” I replied. “That’s sick man” ‘Woody’ said.
After a silent pause in the conversation I defended my creation. “I thought it was Ok when I did it, but it may look a bit sick now I guess.” “No man nice one, sick means it’s good. I always wondered who painted it, now I’ve met him.” Said Spider.
“My company is called Sync-In” The blonde bombshell interjected. “That’s with a ‘Y’ and a ‘C’. She clarified her companies name by handing me her business card. I looked at it impassively. ‘Sync-In’…keeping you in touch with todays sounds. The card said. “That’s cool” I replied to her card, trying to appear as with-it as any old man could be, given the present company, who’s average age I guessed to be no more than twenty one years old. “Are you a well known painter?” She asked. I stuttered a little before answering her. “Well yes, but only to myself.” I said and the band laughed. The pipe finally arrived at me again and I took one huge drag and then passed it on to the blonde bombshell. “Oh, thanks, don’t mind if I do.” She said politely. “Hey mate.” Smiffy shouted. “Wanna hear a tune or two?” “Sure.” I answered enthusiastically. After all I had nowhere else to go, also the blonde bombshell intrigued me. We walked into one of the smaller rehearsal rooms and the band began to warm up their respective instruments.
Sandy sat next to me. “ They are really good” She said. “I’m organising a video for the Tube’s New Sounds Channel. “So we decided to record a live gig.” She purred. After numerous twangs of electric wire strings and drum rolls, the band launched themselves into their first new song.
‘Smiffy’ created a base line that led the lead guitarist into a hook line whilst ‘Woody’ became one with his set and clicked his sticks together to ascertain the beat, his bobby hat being the only thing in view behind the large drum set. The band spun-off from each other as the rhythm and lyrics began to slowly gel together into a melodic beginning. It went well until Andy decided she wanted the band to rehearse how they would appear on stage, for the video. She began positioning them, explaining which was best stance for the film. The band went along with her for a while. Then, Woody got up from his drums and went back to the sofa, quickly followed by Pete and then Smiffy leaving only the lead guitarist and Monny and me in the room.
I excused myself and joined Smiffy on the sofa and the boys. They were passing my pipe to each other and looking glum. “She does my fucking head man.” I looked at him with sympathy. “I mean don’t get me wrong she’s good at what she does, but I don’t see why she has to be at rehearsals every fucking week. I mean she maybe shagging Monny, but for fucks sake…we gotta get some real rehearsing time in..seriously man…we a’int anywhere near tight enough yet for this gig.” He took another suck on the pipe and then handed it to me. “You know she is probably wasting her time anyway.” I said to Smiffy. “What d’you mean?” He sensed I was on his side. “Well, of all the bands I’ve ever seen in here, and thats like hundreds and hundreds in my time.” I stopped speaking for a puff on the pipe. “How old are you man.” Smiffy said. “As old as pop music”. I said with a wry smile. “Now as I was saying, of them all, the very best didn’t so much play music as feel it.” “Well yea, we all still do feel the sounds man, what’s that gotta do with Andy and her fucking about with our rehearsing time?” “Perhaps you should mention to Monny that if the recording is to be of any substance, musically and visually speaking, then Andy should allow you to be filmed exactly how you feel when you are performing the tunes. No rehearsals are needed for that. You should be perfecting the tunes at rehearsals and only performing them at the gig. If anyone has to be in rehearsals at all, they should be the likes of me, invisible for most of the time. That way it will be a great video and not stiff, like so many of the pop artists I have witnessed over the years.”
Smiffy looked at me and raised his eyebrows. “Well you tell him that but I doubt he’ll listen, I think he goes deaf when he sees her massive tits, he can’t concentrate on the words of the tune, man.” He was right again, as in so many cases, personal or physical relationships and creating art cannot be mixed, if they are it’s generally for the worse, especially in a creative group. I persuaded Smiffy’s and Woody to go back into the rehearsal room and try again to play at least one song from top to bottom without Monny’s girlfriend’s involvement. And I would try to help that become a reality by distracting her somehow.
Andy was still positioning Spider and Monny for camera angles as we walked in. When the band set up she sat down next to me. “So, Andy, tell me, are you planning to be on stage with the boys at the gig?” She looked at me as if I had insulted her. “Of course not, this is about the Band not me.” I sucked on the pipe, which was by now empty. “Oh, I see, I thought you would be.” I said. “Why? She asked turning towards me. “It would be natural for you to do it wouldn’t it? Or have you employed a camera person for the job? I asked politeley. “Well, not exactly, the producers said they would have to use qualified camera people.” “I see, so you have no real input with them do you?” “None at all.” She said. “So now, you are trying to get the band to put themselves in a position on stage as if you would be filming them, is that it?” “Well, I hadn’t thought of it like that but I suppose so.” I looked at the pipe and looked at Andy. “Could you do me a favour.” I asked. “Depends on what it is.” She said with a cheeky smile on her face. “Can you find something to put in this.” I held up the pipe. “I believe you will some of Woody’s weed in his jacket on the sofa and perhaps you could warm it up, so to speak” I said smiling. “It will be a pleasure” She said flicking her long blonde hair over one shoulder. Then Andy obligingly walked out of the room. Spider looked over to me. ”Thats why we call her Andy.” He shouted. I must have looked confused as he qualified his statement. “You know, handy for this, handy for that and handy for the other!” The whole band laughed, except for Monny, who still grinned nonetheless.
The band finally began their first real rehearsal of the night. They repeated the introduction as they had before. This time Monny was concentrated. “Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain” ‘Monny’ sang and faded out the last of words as ‘Spider’ caressed his electric tool and produced an addictive repetition of notes. Smiffy played a pulsating captivating hook base line throughout. Monny looked up from the staring at the floor and began to sing with emotional power. “A million thoughts are spinning round my head, a sinking feeling like I’m in a dream.” He continued. “Remembering all the things I could have said…to you.” He turned to face the drummer and turned quickly back again grabbing the microphone in one movement while simultaneously upping the volume of his voice. “When you’re gone there’ll be no second chance, you made your bed now lie in it.” The rest of the bands volume increased three fold and Monny roared. “Rain on me and wash away my tears, shine on me and brighten up my years.” Spider played a haunting solo on lead as Woody rammed the drums with powerful expression. The instruments then fell silent except for the faint haunting rhythm played by Pete. Monny looked down at the floor and shook his head from side to side as if he was crying. He looked up at the ceiling and quietly sang with a sad delivery. “We all come to a bridge of life.” Monny then looked to his side and then looked directly at me. “Has it ever occurred — no-one crosses it?” The guitar kicked in much louder and the drummer became a blur of flashing sticks. “Rain on me” ‘Monny’ cried out and then repeated the same lyric as he expanded the line. “I’m taking one day at a time, one day at a time” He followed it swiftly with an emotional tone. “Rain on me and wash away my tears”. He pleaded “Shine on me and brighten up my years.” He asked with passion. He repeated the line “Brighten up my years.” Building up to a crescendo. The band now knitted together and slowly played in total unison to the fore with an immense addictive sound. It was, I thought it the best song I had heard for many a year, behind this Green Door.
I found myself standing up accompanied by Andy, who had come back into the room moments earlier smoking and she was ready to dance. We danced together at a furious rate matching the increasing beats of Woody’s drums and our own ecstacy. By the end of the song I had collapsed emotionally exhausted into the chair. “I have to leave.” I said. “Wanna a poke before you go?” ‘Monny’ asked me. I looked at the pipe and looked at Andy. “No thanks Monny, but you can keep the pipe, and by the way, that was what I call a tune.” I walked to the Green studio door, as I opened it I turned my head towards the band. “What do you call yourselves?” Monny rose to his feet and proudly said “Teaser.” “That’s with a very big ‘S’ in the middle” Andy added.
I looked at Andy. “Andy let the band do the video exactly as they have just done, then it will be a sensation, I’m sure of it.” I said and walked out of the room making my way towards the disgusting elevator before detouring towards the delapidated yet less replusive smelling old stairway.
“Rain on me and wash away my tears. Shine on me and brighten up my years.” Metaphysical tears fell from my eyes as I sang the tune and slowly walked down the all too familiar stairs through the mill yard leading back to my non-existence.
If I cross the bridge of space and time again, I shall have to go behind the Green Door once again, who knows? I may even beyond them next time.
This story is dedicated to the memory of John (Monny) Monaghan and the band ‘Teaser’ — Lyrics to the song ‘Rain’ are ©Teaser1998