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I’m staring at the large stack of bills on my desk when Josh arrives Monday morning, tossing his bag on the floor inside the door of his office before going to the kitchen.
“Addie!” he calls. I can hear him moving around in the kitchen, pulling a coffee cup out of the cupboard and rinsing it out before pouring his coffee. He kicks the wheels of my chair, startling me. I jump. He laughs, setting down a cup of light khaki colored liquid in front of me.
“Hey, wake up,” he says, smiling. “Did you work last night?”
“Yeah, sorry. Thanks, but I don’t like coffee,” I say, pushing the cup aside.
“If you’re going to keep up this schedule, you’re going to have to learn to like it. Trust me. It took me a while too, but what I’ve made you is basically cream with a dash of caffeine. Try it.”
I take a tentative sip, trying to make sure I don’t let too much in to her mouth in case I start gagging. It’s a terrible reflex. If I don’t like the taste of something, I can’t choke it down like a normal person. It’s like my whole body revolts. I tried coffee before and it hadn’t turned out well.
This smells different though. When the hot liquid hits my tongue I’m surprised by the sweetness. With the next sip I lets a bit more into my mouth and feels the warmth spread down my throat.
“Wow. This really is good.”
“See, I told you. Come into my office. I’ve got a project for you.”
I take another drink and follows Josh into his office. He picks up his bag as he walks in, pushing a chair out of the way with his foot, then turning his body sideways to fit in the tiny space between the front of his L-shaped desk and his wall. His office is just to the right of the reception area, a long narrow room that is actually smaller than the supply closet. He chose it over what became the supply closet because of the window, but he keeps the shade drawn most of the time. There is a book case just inside the office door with an old boom-box on the shelf that stays perpetually tuned to talk radio and is on all the time. I set my coffee on the edge of the desk, grab the chair Josh had pushed out of the way and settle into it just inside the frame of the door. The room is covered in Revolver memorabilia. I recognize a t-shirt from their first tour. I have the same shirt at home. It’s too worn out to wear but too sacred to get rid of. Josh settles himself into his chair, turns his computer on, takes an iPad out of his bag then settles back with his feet up on the metal supports of the desk.
“You like it?” he asks, indicating her coffee.
I take another drink. “I really do. What’s in it?”
“The secret is to use flavored coffee and flavored creamer. That way, you don’t have to add any additional sugar, but it gets nice and sweet.”
I nod. The announcers on the radio show are distracting me. The volume is low enough that I can’t tell what they are saying, but high enough that I can’t tune it out.
“Your radio almost gave me a heart attack the first morning I opened. When I unlocked the door the alarm started beeping, then I heard people talking. I thought there was someone in here.”
Josh laughs. “What’d you do?”
“Flipped on all the lights as fast as I could and ran to the alarm. By the time I shut it off I realized it was your radio- they must have said the call letters or something, but I still felt like I had a heart attack.”
“Sorry. It doesn’t shut off.”
I wonder if he’s kidding. I can’t tell by his face.
“The switch is broken,” he says. “And the plug is behind the bookcase, so I can’t unplug it very easily. So it stays on.” A file opens on his iPad and he takes his feet down, leaning closer to me and sharing the screen. “Here’s what I’ve got for you. Revolver’s starting to record next week. I need you to arrange for hotel and food for the guys for the next few weeks.”
Josh is in his late thirties, married, and had been working in the music industry for six years before he came to Clouded. He wears ringer t-shirts and blue jeans every day. A lot of his t’s are band shirts from the early nineties, mostly groups that he has worked with. He also has a full line of plain ringer t’s that he wears whenever he has meetings outside of the office. In the four months I interned I never saw him dressed up. He was originally hired to book shows for the acts on Clouded’s roster, and brought Revolver, the pop- punk band that he had been booking, to Seth for management. I had been a fan Revolver since high school, and they were how I first learned about Clouded. He still does some booking, but his main roll now is managing Revolver for Seth.
The four members of Revolver live in Nashville when they aren’t touring, so they had been to the office a few times while I was interning. Their music is loud, fast and fun, and so are they. The three original members of the band grew up together in Seattle, bonding over their hate of grunge rock and bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. They had their first radio hit when they were still teenagers with a song that made fun of high school dances. At their concerts a crowd of screaming teenagers, boys and girls alike, crowd the stage, bobbing their heads, dancing, and singing along with every word. I’m thrilled to have the chance to work with them.
“Where are they recording?” I ask, opening my notebook.
“Studio 6, same place they did their last two albums.”
“Isn’t that here in town?”
“Don’t they live here?”
“So who am I getting hotels for?”
“The guys. They need to feel like they are “away” when they record, it helps them concentrate.”
“Okay. How many rooms?”
“Five. Each of the guys gets his own, so does the producer.”
What a colossal waste of money. “What about the food?” I ask.
Josh gives me a blank look.
I try again. “What do they need?”
“Everything. Make sure they have enough food for the whole two weeks. Stock the kitchen at the studio and create a budget for meals. There should be snacks in the hotel rooms too.”
“What do they like to eat?”
“Anything. They’re guys.”
“Okay,” I say again, trying to think of a way to get a few more details, or some more direction. “Anything else I should know?”
“Nope. But don’t tell anyone they are recording. Especially no one at the label. And I need to see all of the invoices before they are paid.”
I nod, wanting to ask why the label doesn’t know about the recording. Usually that’s something they would pay for. In return, they would also be involved in every decision, from producer to song selection. Contractually, the label has the right to steer the project in the direction they want it to go. Most artists don’t love it, but when the label is going to invest hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, they get over it.
Josh sees the confusion in my face. “We’re in contract negotiations. The guys need to record now because they’re touring this summer, so I can’t wait on the label any longer. Plus if we get it done, we can ask for a bigger advance because they’ll already have something to work with. If not, we can easily find it a new home and still get it out this fall.” He starts typing on his computer. “I just sent you Sean and Simon’s phone numbers. Talk to them about the food. Jacob and Gavin will eat whatever.” He grabs a stack of contracts off the corner of his desk and starts flipping through them. “Thanks,” he says, without looking up.
“Um, I’m sorry, how do you want me to pay for it?”
Josh looks up. “You don’t have a credit card yet?”
I shake my head. Am I supposed to have a credit card?
“Here, use mine. You’ll have to run it as a debit card so they don’t check your ID. And ask Seth to get you a card.”