Oshawa Ontario Canada, 2001
With a slam, the kid roars into his room with a huff. To call him skin and bones would be a frank insult to skin and bones as a statement–he’s an almost negative degree of musculature. Slight. If he’s a day above 13, it would be a shock. His hair is done in a tight crop, save for the base of his skull, where a glorious blonde rat tail flows free.
And he’s pissed.
His room is the picture of a boy on the ascent to manhood. Posters of cars and hockey stars intermingling with rock bands: Pantera, Monster Magnet, Clutch. It’s also small. The carpet is thin and coming up. Martim Delgado’s youngest boy is used to the squalor, but he’s not used to not getting what he wants. He clutches a dog-eared, weathered copy of Musician’s Friend, where he’s circled a Rogue electric bass. A cheap one, too. Real starter shit.
And from his reaction, his request for 89 dollars worth of solid rock power has been denied.
He stomps for a few, then retrieves a roll of tape. He tears the page out and hurriedly adheres it to his wall.
With his eyes not leaving it, he drops to the ratty floor.
He begins to do pushups. One, two.
One, two. One day.
Present Day, Home2 Suites by Hilton, South Las Vegas
If there was a noise that accompanied Huw Ollie’s frown, it would be the sound of someone settling into a leather chair.
And we’re seeing that creak right now.
This is a rarity–we see Trent and Barry at home often enough, a tableau of expensive alcohol and, at least in Boogie’s case, expensive ebony escorts. Huw keeps things more simple. Compared to the glamorous excess of his clients, he might as well be a monk. A Home2 Suites by Hilton isn’t exactly glitz, but as the working epicenter of the enterprise that is Solid Gold Rock and Roll, it works. The clothes in the closet, the two separate laptops on the desk area, the gathered Trader Joe’s bags at the kitchenette. The plastic bag taped around the smoke detector.
He’s shuffling through his mail–really the band’s mail, because not many people write a road manager unless there’s a bill that needs paid–when his phone trills. He sighs, grabbing it, bracing for some bit of bad news.
But as he opens the message, we can watch it. The eyes widen. Then they widen some more. As if not ready to accept the truth, he hurriedly grabs to his breast pocket, retrieving his reading glasses and putting them on. Upon the re-read, his mouth converts from a frown to a shocked, open mouth smile.
To see a man this sedentary and craggy move fast is one hell of a thing. He paces, dialing a number.
“C’mon. Pick up.”
The pacing is hurried–but he lights up when he hears what he needs to.
“Monique, sweetheart. Be a doll and put Barry on, will ya? I grasp that he’s working out, but he’s gonna want to hear this. Hold the phone up to his ear if he won’t stop–it’s that important.”
Monarch Beach California, 2002
He doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s dogshit.
With the frustration of pure adolescent anger, he throws the cheap pawn shop Squier guitar onto his bed. For a child’s room, it’s massive–and a bit cold, lacking in a lot of the worn-in feeling that a kid’s room should have. It looks staged almost, like it’s a page in a catalog. His Sabbath poster is framed and hung, not held up by poster putty or scotch tape. He crosses his arms.
His fingers don’t want to listen. He’s lanky, the son of Sadiq Sadikaj, and his digits have a length that would denote him as a natural for strings or piano, but his brain just can’t connect the dots. Can’t stitch the motion. Which for him hurts twice as bad, because all he ever wanted to do was shred. Blow minds. Rock the house.
A deep sigh echoes through this cold room. He stands up, jeans torn, Converse all-stars padding on the cream berber. All he ever wanted in life was to be on that stage, melting their faces…
He’s looking at himself in the mirror.
He tosses a stray lock of hair from his face in a direction one would see in a shampoo commercial.
A plan formulates. He finally sees something. His potential. His looks.
Blow minds. Rock the house. Cream jeans.
Present Day, Tableau, Las Vegas Nevada
Back room at a trendy brunch spot?
SGRNR Gonna need that.
Because this isn’t some fly-by-night match against some duo of whoevers with zero stakes. Nah, Huw Ollie put out that call, and baby, the brand is on too many defcons to count. They’ve taken over a back room, pitchers of mimosas litter the tables in various states of drained, all draped over furniture. Not one among them seems to know how to dress like they aren’t ready for a photo shoot, so they’re in various flavors of leather, denim, silks, and studs. We’re catching them mid-conversation, where their drummer is proposing a plan.
Iron Sam: I think the best bet is full assault. High-tempo, hard driving, the kind of pace that makes you wanna shake your hips and stomp your foot, right?
Savage: Honest, I watched some of them matches, yeah? An’ I can’t agree ‘ard enough-like. You two is bigger, stronger, I says make use of it. They gonna think you’re apt to take it slow, to feel ‘em out cause they’s the champs, but don’t let ‘em breathe.
Riff Tannen: Frontal assault does seem your best option.
Iron Sam: Fast Pace.
Long Don: Like “Road Hard” offa Just the Tip.
Huw Ollie: Look, we have been handed a golden opportunity here, guys.
Iron Sam: Solid Gold, one might say.
Huw Ollie: Samira, I’m serious.
Iron Sam: So am I.
Long Don: She ain’t wrong, Huw.
Riff Tannen: I’m of the mind to agree.
Savage: Aye, me too.
There’s a pause here, the conversational Gatling dying down. Huw fires up a cigarillo and exhales his next words like a particularly leathery smoke machine.
Huw Ollie: …boys?
The camera pans over to Boogie Barry and Electric Boots, both of whom are sporting gigantic, sappy smiles. Trent even pantomimes wiping away a tear, and to his credit, even the act of being this goofy and saccharine looks sexy on the Stallion–or the Stud, we’ve still yet to figure out which is which. Maybe it’s an interchangeable thing, nicknames of Freebird Rules. Regardless, he clasps his hands together and exhales.
Boots: It’s just so damn beautiful, babies! It’s just so damn sweet! All of us clicking and rocking and rolling like a real team, rising to the top, fresh cream! And Huw Ollie you sweet old curmudgeon you’re the one who pulled it all together. And now, now…we have a chance at what we came here for. What we wanted more than anything. A shot at those shiny…beautiful…sexy…belts.
Iron Sam: What you thinking though, Electric? Go hard and go fast?
Long Don: Yeah, like “Road Hard” offa Just the Tip.
Barry stands up, stretching his massive frame. That T-shirt is putting in overtime shifts to hold onto his national park service pectorals.
Boogie: Here’s how I figure it. Those two are just keeping our belts warm.
Riff Tannen: So treat them as such?
Boogie: Precisely. Huw Ollie, they’re all right about this. For once we’re all on the same page, no convincing necessary. You want us to win, everyone wants us to win. We all agree that overwhelming them represents our best chance of emerging with the titles. And those titles…
He strides over the window and looks out across the city.
Boogie: Listen. Every one of us is living the dream, right?
Savage: All day.
Boogie: We all wanted to be stars. Now we are. We all wanted to rock for a living. That’s what we do. The babes, the bucks, the all of it. And for the rest of you, you hit the peak, the mountaintop, but now–
Iron Sam: Nah. We did hit the peak. Then you two had to give us a new dream, assholes. Now we’re in the same boat as you, Barry Biceps.
He turns. That mustache is on smile action.
Boogie: We really did rope you guys in, didn’t we?
Savage: Hook, line, sinker.
Boogie: Well shit. It sounds like we all believe. But I ain’t no frontman. I leave that to this corinthian column.
Trent doesn’t stand so much as he uncoils. The chrome heels of his boots tap against the floor as he does a lazy walk around the room.
Boots: There comes a time when everyone is on that precipice, baby birds. When they can almost see the goods. The button is undone, the zipper is plunging, and she ain’t wearing any panties, hot damn! Now what are you gonna do?
With his trademark grace, he executes a double spin and stomps three times.
Boots: I said what are you gonna do?! You gonna give her a peck on the cheek? Or are you gonna go all the way, all night and all day, ain’t no games that I’m here to play?! Listen, we did not climb this far, dig this deep, and get all of you on board to just turn this opportunity down! Those belts are the hottest girl in town, and her hot mom wants to join in, and The Stallion and the Stud are here to answer the call!! But we ain’t doing it alone, babies! Put your hands in the middle!!
He places one exquisitely manicured hand over a half-eaten plate of eggs benedict. Barry joins him. No delays, everyone else gets in on the action–last to make it is Huw Ollie, who grins the grin of an aged rake.
Huw Ollie: New champs?
The grins spread across the band like wildfire.
Unison: New champs!!
Temple City California, 2011
“Hey, you posted about needing a singer?”
“Yeah, that’s us. Come on in.”
It’s Trent Sadikaj walking in, pupa stage. The hair is shorter. The lean body hasn’t developed into a delivery system for eyefulls of cum gutter and armadillo hog action. The gear is cheaper, the makeup less practiced. But it’s all NBA-prospect height of him, stepping into a run down warehouse where a trio of dirtbag-looking rockers are chilling on a couch. One of whom, though his hair is just shaggy and not mulleted, and who’s body is more ham hock than hunk, looks very familiar. Blame his proportions. He strides forward and offers a hand to Trent, who takes it, shaking vigorously.
“Name’s Cobra Delgado, nice to meet you. We talked on the phone, you’re Trent Starchild?”
“Cool. That’s Jimmy Skins, and Rockin’ Ronnie Heywood. Ready to see if you’ve got what it takes to join The Warheads?”
There’s a moment here. Their eyes meet. It’s not love at first sight or anything, but there’s a recognition, young Delgado and young Trent, feeling their energy intermingle. So much so that they seem to get lost in the moment, before Trent shakes his raven tresses and throws on a early version of his trademark plump-lipped smirk.
“Let’s live the dream.”