Matt entered into the rehearsal hall with purpose. Everyone could tell by his stride that he was a man on a mission. He walked into the first room. All but one band was there waiting for him.
He looked around. “Where is Mother’s Little Helper?” The others shrugged. “Damn. When I give a time to be somewhere, I expect them to be there. The rest of you have what I requested?”
The lead singer of Sardis Rising was the first to step forward. He offered Matt a stack of papers. “Here. This is all we have done.”
Matt counted the sheets. Twelve in all. Not a bad start. But not good either.
He looked at him. “You should have at least twenty to start. Once you begin to work in the studio, you’ll find half aren’t really as good as you want them to be. Those, you will take and rework until they sound really good. The ones that make it to the finished recording are the ones that you will release.
“Twelve isn’t a bad start, though.” He handed back the stack. “We’ll look through these as the day progresses.” He looked around. “Anyone else?”
The guitarist for Nergal’s Switch offered their collection reluctantly. Matt counted them. Forty-two. He was impressed. He handed them back.
One by one, he took the piles of lyrics offered to him and counted them. Most had more than enough, though a couple more had too few. Each one, he handed back.
The members of Mother’s Little Helper appeared after everyone had been seen to. Matt glared at them. “You aren’t famous enough to be fashionably late. When you are given a time to be somewhere, be there. No excuses.” He held his hand out. “Got your lyrics?”
The leader handed him fifteen pieces of paper. “Here.” There was a bit of an attitude behind his reaction.
Matt frowned. “If you’re going to have an attitude, you might as well walk right now. In my nearly fifty years in music, I have never been fashionably late without a damn good reason. Nor did I ever appear on stage or in the studio high or drunk. It ruins your rep. Big time.
“Unlike you, I started out as a studio musician. I learned the ropes at a young age. I had to. I had to learn how to survive.
“What you think of as fun today was thought of as coping for some when I began. It is really neither. It is a slow boat straight to hell. I know. I went that route in the eighties.
“I suggest that, if you use, you stop. As it is, your career will be way too short. Add drugs to that, and it will be even shorter. Either you will O.D. or you will burn out.
“And being drunk all the time? Overrated. Take it from one who has been there and done that. It isn’t worth it.
“And this late crap will get you a bad rep with both your fans and the venues. Drop it before it destroys your careers.”
He had come out and stated it. He had been there and done it all. He knew what happened. But he’d been lucky. He had survived it. He was wiser because of it.
He hoped that his advice would stick. He hated to see potential destroyed because they thought drugs made them better. Or alcohol. Neither made an artist better. They just made them look bad.
If he could make it stick here and now, maybe they would take it away with them once they were on their own. If they strayed from it afterward, it was on them. But if they stayed away from it all, they would have a longer lifespan as a band.
He looked at them. “I have been lucky. I was able to keep a career despite my slipping into a temporary drug habit. Unlike most newer bands or artists, I did it because it was the thing to do at the time. From 1970 to1990, drugs were the in-thing where the touring artist was concerned. It was cool to do it. Almost as cool as it was to fuck as many women as you could in a tour.
“Yes, I did it all. Those bands that didn’t do coke, heroin, or other drugs drank. heavily. I quit drugs in 1988. Two years later, I was married to one of the most wonderful women to grace my life. She remained my rock for fifteen years.”
The leader of Mother’s Little Helper looked at him. “What happened?”
He looked at the youth. “She died from cancer. Never smoked a day in her life, never took drugs. Hell. She never even drank.
“I spent from the death of my nephew until I met my fiancee drowning my sorrows, or thinking I was drowning my sorrows, with booze and smoking my life away. It took my family, my sons and daughters, to drag me-kicking and screaming-out of my self-pity.”
The young man was stunned. “Really.” It was more of a rhetorical statement, not a question.
Matt smiled. “Yes. My daughter brought home one of her friends. The most amazing woman I have ever met. The right woman will bring any man out of his thoughts and turn his world upside down.
“But, you go the route of booze and drugs and you throw that chance and that love away. You also throw away your success and your wealth. You waste it in an attempt to either escape or to enhance. And they help you do neither thing.
“Do not waste the chances you are given. Love, success, wealth, fame, life–these are all precious. At the same time, never forget where you came from because you can always end back up there. Always show respect for those who put you at the top when you make it there. Your fans are more important than any trends.
“They like you because you are unique. Not because you play something that someone else sang first. I asked to see your lyrics because I wanted to impress upon you that a real artist writes their own material. Meaningful material. Anyone can sing someone else’s song, but the true test of one’s music abilities is how well they write their own material.”