"This is not a club show. You can't just get onstage and play whatever you
damn well please. You're under contract now, and your actions can reflect poorly on those for whom you work. It's
very important that you turn in your ENTIRE set list. Not just a part of it. Mr. Carter needs to make sure that all of your
songs will be appropriate for his audience of fourteen-year-old girls." Shane paused and took a deep breath, maintaining his
angry expression for the sake of mimicry. "After all, we're a bunch of stodgy pricks who can't enjoy a good show because we're
too busy trying to pick the tighty-whities out of our butt cracks. You try wearing a fucking suit all day and you'll
see what I mean!"
The other three band members burst into laughter at the impression. Only moments earlier, Nick's
tour management had engaged in quite a tirade over the surprise cover song. They didn't have a concrete complaint of any kind,
but they were extremely frustrated by the loss of control over the set. Unfortunately for the suits, though, their eruption
had little effect on Adia and her crew.
Keelia chuckled at the memory, set her glass of champagne on the coffee table
with a thud, and leaned forward.
"Man, that was hilarious. They're so ridiculously anal about this stuff..."
almost makes you want to go onstage and play something like 'Nookie' just to piss 'em off," Jason laughed, taking a gulp from
his own glass. "I mean, come on. How offensive can Cheap Trick possibly be?"
"Oh, but they could cause plenty
of emotional damage to Nick Carter's prepubescent audience. Remember, they're tender souls."
Keelia rolled her eyes
at Shane's obviously sarcastic interjection. "Good God..."
Adia bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Guys, we seriously
should be careful. We don't want to piss off management too much just yet. It's still kind of early in the tour."
pouted at her. "But it's so much fun! Admit it, Adia...you loved it."
She just shook her head, trying to keep her smile
"You're telling me that you didn't enjoy watching the composed, professional Irving Azoff turn purple?"
had her and he knew it. She sighed heavily and prepared for a reluctant acquiescence. "Well, when you put it like that..."
fucking hilarious," Keelia finished with a grin.
Jason lifted his glass in the air and chuckled. "Hell, I'll drink
The group clinked glasses and drank, much to Adia's chagrin.
"Ani's going to kill us. You realize
Shane snorted indignantly. "Bullshit. If I know Ani, she'll love it. In fact, she'll probably find it
just as funny as we did."
"She might even rip them a new one for chewing us out without talking to her first," Keelia
added with a grin. At long last, Adia laughed.
"Somehow, I doubt that Ani has that much power over Jive Records."
not," Keelia agreed, "but she's got a hell of a lot more credibility. Whether they like it or not, they do have to listen
"Thank God for small graces," Jason muttered with a roll of his eyes. "If they ban us from pulling anymore
stunts like this, the tour's going to suck."
Shane snorted indignantly. "Like they could actually ban us from performing
the traditional cover song..."
"Amen," Adia agreed, allowing herself a grin. "You know we'll find a way to work around
the system. Maybe we can bribe Nick into quote-unquote pre-approving everything."
"That pompous ass?" Keelia groaned.
"Yeah fucking right. We'd have a better chance of bribing Irving."
"I don't know," Adia laughed. "Onstage, Nick looked
like he's broken a few record company rules in his lifetime."
"Because 'I Want It That Way' was such a controversial
song," Shane returned in monotone. Adia threw a pillow at him.
She stuck her tongue
out to keep from smiling. "I can do you one better and make that our next cover."
"I'd rebel," Keelia laughed. "I'd
make Nick Carter play bass."
"Yeah," Jason retorted, "but I'd give the drumsticks to Whittier. Take THAT."
winced at the thought of Jive's uptight tour executive in Jason's drum box. "Okay, okay, I give."
Shane hooted. "She knows we're right. She loves that we break the rules."
Adia couldn't hold back her smile. "Guilty
Jason wasn't about to let it go, though. "Hell, I bet she wants to do it again!"
Adia finally burst
out laughing. "Fine, you win! If I had my way, we'd do an entire set of covers next time."
Keelia giggled so hard that
she snorted. "Jive would shit a brick."
Adia giggled with her. "Can you imagine how many people would pay to see that?"
would shit a brick all right," Jason acknowledged, "but Carter wouldn't be too far behind. He didn't say a single word to
us when we walked off."
"Maybe they chewed him out too," Shane chuckled. "They seem like the kind of people that would
"Wait, they're people?"
The laugh-ridden ridicule of Jive's upper staff was silenced by a knock on
the dressing room door.
"Cover-friendly followers may enter!" Shane hollered. The rest of the group burst into champagne-induced
giggles again. The door opened slowly nonetheless, and a blonde head peeked in.
"Mind if I join you guys for a minute?"
Keelia's eyebrows buried themselves somewhere in her hairline at the
sight of their unexpected guest, but she managed to get her bearings before the other three.
"Not at all, man. Pull
up a chair."
He shoved his hands in his pockets and shook his head. "Nah, no thanks. I kinda have to make this quick,
because my bus leaves in about five minutes."
Jason frowned. "Man, they never tell us about that shit..."
smiled amusedly. "We've got another half-hour, Jase. You can relax." That said, she turned her smile towards an oddly bashful
Nick Carter. "What can we do for you, Mr. Carter?"
He sighed heavily and dropped his gaze to the floor. "Well, I'm
supposed to chew you guys out for performing a cover without permission."
"Too late," Shane said with a grin. "Irving
Asshole beat you to the punch."
Nick laughed nervously and reached a hand up to scratch the back of his head. "Yeah.
Uh, sorry about that. He's kind of a control freak."
"Understatement," Keelia coughed, and Nick managed a small smile.
I'm supposed to remind you that all songs go through Irving or myself before you play them, and you're not encouraged to play
songs with the f-word in them."
Keelia groaned. "You mean we can't say 'fuck'? How about 'fucking'? Are we allowed
to say 'sex,' or is that banned as well? I mean, what the hell else are the kiddies calling it these days? Making love?"
leveled her with a glare. "Keelia, enough."
Nick closed his eyes for a moment to get his bearings. It had been a good
show, but he knew that he was nowhere near as musically talented as the four kids in front of him, and that alone had dealt
a good blow to his ego. Looking at them now, though, he envied their nonchalance. They'd done a good deal to piss off the
record company that evening, but even Adia seemed nonplussed by Irving's brutal lecturing.
He wanted to be that confident
Instead, Nick fought the urge to wince at the memory of the tongue-lashing that he'd received and opted to continue
his conversation with his new favorite people.
"You're also not supposed to play songs that require us to search for
"Except that covers don't require copyright material," Shane countered. "Next?"
winced. "Honestly? You really should wait until Irving leaves to call him an asshole. When he hears you, it kinda sets him
When he looked up, all four were sporting guilty expressions.
"Sorry man," Jason laughed. "Didn't mean
to turn a rabid dog over to you."
Nick cracked a small smile. "It's cool. I've dealt with him for a bit longer now,
so I'm kinda used to it." That said, he heaved a sigh and tried to summon enough courage to break a few rules on his own.
"Listen, all formalities aside...you guys really did an excellent job tonight."
gaze shifted to Adia, who looked mildly amused by the situation. "Yeah, cover included. The whole show was excellent."
eyebrows rose considerably. "Wow. Thanks, man."
Keelia offered a lopsided grin. "Yeah, thanks. You know, you didn't
do too badly either."
Nick laughed nervously, trying to hide his blush. "Good to know."
Adia smiled. "The cover
of 'Just What I Needed' went really well."
Shane chuckled. "And our Dia is a pretty big 80s fan, so her approval holds
a lot more weight than one might think."
Nick frowned in surprise, forgetting his hesitancy for a moment. "You're an
Adia laughed lightly. "Guilty as charged."
Keelia chuckled. "You mean the Letters to Cleo-slash-Cheap Trick cover didn't tip you off?"
her. "For some reason, you don't strike me as an 80s rock kind of girl."
Shane smirked. "I'll bet she didn't
strike you as a sexy stage goddess either, though."
Nick silently agreed. There wasn't much he could say to that that
wouldn't sound somehow sexist or offensive, and he didn't want to set Keelia off. Jason gave a little snort at Shane's comment,
though. Apparently, they'd discussed the transformation before.
Nick sighed and cast a shy smile towards the brunette
on the counter. "Well, thanks for the compliment, at any rate. I'm glad you enjoyed the cover."
She chuckled. "I'm
glad you enjoyed our show." She looked up meaningfully. "I hope we didn't get you into too much trouble."
a hand dismissively, trying to look as nonchalant as Jason, who was drumming contentedly against the arm of the couch. "It's
not a big deal. Irving just doesn't like to feel out of the loop, you know?"
Keelia groaned knowingly. "Can't stand
to think he's not in control?"
Nick chuckled. "Something like that, yeah."
Shane rolled his eyes in annoyance.
"Freaking suits always seem to think they know what's best for the music."
"Ain't that the truth," Jason muttered.
"Of course, there's a reason they're in an office instead of a studio."
Adia laughed. "At least they can't destroy
the creative process."
"That's up for debate," Nick retorted bitterly. As soon as the words left his lips, though,
his eyes widened in surprise. Oh, shit...open book much, man? Now they're going to think you're a bitter, pompous pop
To his surprise, Jason looked up with a frown. "That's right, you're with Jive. I bet they're a little bit
more controlling when you're laying down the tracks, huh?"
Nick heaved a sigh of relief and allowed a nervous smile.
"Definitely. They're good with publicity, but sometimes they get a little bit overbearing."
Adia nodded her understanding.
"That's why we're with Ani. She knows music better than anyone I've ever met, and she's much more interested in what's going
on the CD than how it will be received."
Nick nodded. "You're lucky. There aren't too many label execs like that anymore."
telling us," Keelia grumbled. "It took us freaking eons to find Ani."
Shane laughed. "She's exaggerating,
but we certainly ran across a few assholes before Adia sent a demo to Righteous Babe."
"Smartest thing I ever did,"
Adia said with a shy smile. "We're not likely to find a more supportive label."
Nick sighed heavily. "Between you and
I? I wish the fellas and I had shopped around more before we signed with Jive. They do promotion well, and I can't really
complain because we've been so successful, but we're successful at the expense of creativity and experimentation."
was the smartest thing he'd said all day, and he meant every word.
"Why can't you protest? Force Jive to listen to
you," Keelia muttered. "They're assholes anyway."
Jason shook his head in amusement at the bassist before answering.
"You're successful for a reason, man. You should use your success to your advantage and make yourself heard every once in
Nick was just about to reply when Elena breezed into the dressing room. "Time to trek to the bus, kids. We're
got a long drive ahead of us." When she saw Nick, she grinned knowingly. "Irving's pissed, man. You're late."
flinched, a premature reaction to the lecture that was sure to come. A hand clapped him on the back, and he looked up to find
Jason winking at him.
"We'll talk musician's politics later, man. Good luck calming the asshole down."
Nick replied, offering a nervous smile. "I'll need it."