‘The Soul Birds?’
The Demeaning of Soul?’
‘No, I mean can we pull over for a pitstop? There’s a service station at the next junction, just there.’
Ray Sunshine slumped back in his seat and put on his best pout. He had a world class pout, developed during years of being spoiled. The rest of the band was not overly fussed by Hazard’s decision to keep moving. They were on the run, after all. Ten miles out of Coppleton they had stopped for snacks and Laina Gould picked up a copy of that morning’s Yorkshire Beagle. Its front page gave them rather a start:
BAND INCITES RIOT, ARSON AT HISTORIC PUB
The humble pub goers of Coppleton were left bewildered last night by the exploits of a mysterious, quite possibly dangerous new musical act.
Fronted by notorious troublemaker Alan Hazard, the five-piece outfit tormented onlookers for eight straight minutes before fist fights and fires broke out. As of this morning most of the structure is ash and the in-house drum kit is reportedly missing.
“It was one of the greatest exploits of rock and roll I’ve ever seen,’ said local beauty Elaine Gold. “Wherever they’ve gone I sure do hope people go see them play.”
Police are making enquiries into the incident. At press time the band’s location is unknown.
As pleased as everyone was by this inaugural piece of press (and infamy) it did spark a rather keen desire to stay on the move, a desire compounded by the distant sound of sirens. They’d piled back into the van and had been racing south since.
Hazard was at the wheel, a show of authority he thought vitally important at this early stage in the band’s development. Sunshine sat next to him, a tepid show of defiance he likewise thought vitally important at this early stage in the band’s development. Bas and Stone sat at the rear of the van playing around with some tunes. Waltz was hyperventilating in his bunk.
Gould meanwhile had retreated to the bathroom with her phone. Her dark spell over the group momentarily broken, Hazard had begun speculating on potential band names to further assert his dominance. Only Sunshine had made any suggestions – to assert his defiance – and they were all terrible.
‘Guys come on,’ Hazard said. He glanced at the wing mirror and was relieved to see the plumes of smoke finally slip beneath the horizon. ‘How can we be the world’s biggest, baddest band without a name? How will people know to come see us, or buy our albums? Or our merchandise?’
No response. A tender melody drifted from the back of the van like a dove riding a spring breeze.
‘That’s pretty,’ Waltz said, his anxiety momentarily reigned in. ‘What do you call it, Bas?’
‘Aitycbag,’ Bas said.
‘Splendid,’ Hazard muttered. ‘Songs with no titles brought to you by the band with no name.’
‘The Band with No Name? That’s not a bad shout.’ Gould had emerged from the bathroom looking disconcertingly pleased with herself. ‘It’s mysterious, and might make people think of Clint Eastwood. Just as well if the alternative is thinking about any of you.’
She eased herself between Hazard and Sunshine and lit a cigarette. For a while the three of them were silent, each tapping a foot to the jam unfolding behind them. Waltz had joined Bas and Stone with his bass and the three of them were working each other out.
‘You’re going to need a name by tonight,’ Gould said at last. ‘I’ve got you a gig at a place in Birmingham. They were impressed by your exploits last night and wanted some of that energy. Their insurance policy is very good.’
‘The Band with No Name,’ Sunshine muttered. ‘Could be worse.’
‘Sort of meta,’ Hazard said.
‘Next exit,’ Gould said.