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Do You Ship Us? - 43. Mark

“Hey guys, how are you?” Mark asks cheerfully looking at the boyband who were all sitting very quietly with their body language screaming distrust. Not one of them looked sure about being in another office to discuss a contract.

“Can we get straight to why you want us to sign with you? As you know we’ve had issues with our previous ‘employer’ and we’ve opened that can of worms up in a very public way, so why would you see that and decide, you want to take us on?” Simon speaks for the group, his tone assertive and his expression hard and cold.

“Look, I know you’ve had a shit go of it in the past, frankly I don’t care much for drama and conflict, I’ve got a lovely team behind me in this company that handle issues and keep things running smoothly. You can also look into the history of artists I’ve produced and see that I’ve been able to keep their personal business out of headlines, and I always stick by my artists. See my first passion was music, in recent years, It's been slowly being overtaken by being a people person. I believe what you have come from is someone who’s focus was on the income that you get from a happy fanbase. I couldn’t care less how long it takes for you to make your albums, don’t care how they sell. Wouldn’t lose sleep over having your music flop and the whole thing fall apart as long as you had your heart in what you were doing. The first album you guys put out, there was passion. Whatever that shitshow was you performed for your fans, was not passionate, not until the last song of the last show. You all looked like you had lost your interest in your own music until that last one.” Mark pauses and takes a moment to read the room again. Everyone was listening but still very closed off. Mark leans back in his chair and takes a deep breath.

“You looked like a group of teenagers who were plucked randomly from the audience to perform songs on stage together. None of you wanted to be there and none of you had your heart in it, until you were all together to support Jasper in his moment of emotional expression. You know what that tells me?” He continues, getting the feeling no one else was ready to talk or trust him at all.

“As a producer I’d imagine that tells you we aren’t going to be worth signing. We’re just a bunch of un-enthusiastic delinquents that publicly shamed and quit our last employer.” Blake comments, rolling his eyes and looking at the other members who also only seemed half interested.

“Yes. But you guys are performers, you were simply performing an asshole act that whole show. I’ve seen you guys perform amazingly so I know what you’re capable of. No, I was going to say, it told me you guys are lost. I mean I’ve heard you guys can play instruments, where has any of that been? Was it your choice to not play?” Mark asks and watches everyone just shake their heads. “What about those songs, you know how much I had to search, to find out who you guys actually are? What your hobbies and interests are? It’s not clear in the music you’ve produced recently. Who are you guys?”

“So, what would you want from us?” Simon asks, sitting up a little straighter in his seat as the interest woke him up a little. Mark opens up a note pad and looks at his note, running his pen down the list of notes.

“I’m thinking you guys need to re-find yourselves. I’d put focus on you finding your individuality again. You all have your own taste in music, and a unique way of expressing yourselves, yet you’ve been forced into a box to satisfy your previous producer’s paycheck and sold to your fans as your typical boyband, when really there’s a lot of different forms of talent amongst you. If I was producing you I’d be wanting to start with solo project mini albums that were focused completely on each of you.”

“Wait hold up.” Jasper sits up and sighs. “This sounds like you’re trying to say you want to produce solo albums, not as a band?”

“Works for me.” Blake jokes.

“Not solo.” Mark corrects. “I’m talking, you guys all write 4-5 songs, you choose who sings what parts, how it is going to be performed, what instruments and what sound you want for it, one music video each that you have complete creative control over. You focus on showing the fans who you are through these mini albums.” Mark had everyone’s attention now, he could almost see the sparks return to their eyes.

“So, you want us to work on albums by ourselves and you’ll just produce them?”

“It’s not my job to tell you who to be, it’s my job to show the world who you are. Success is found not in a bank, but in a heart. Mark smiles and leans back in his chair as he makes his philosophical remark. Every looks at each other, not sure what to make of what they were hearing, it all sounded a little too good to be true given what they had come from.

“I like it.” Blake admits. “I was strongly leaning towards going solo, but this is kinda winning me back.”

“I’m not sure this is so good of an idea, I’ve been told I don’t have anything to say musically.” Jasper shrugs.

“Have you got nothing to say, or have you just gotten use to not being heard?” Mark watches Jasper as his words sink in, softening the skeptical expression on his face.

“Oh shit, now he’s asking the real questions.” Blake scoffs and shakes his head at Jasper.

“No, I really think I’ve hit a road block. I have absolutely no more inspiration.” Jasper sighs and looks down at his hands and anxiously fiddles with the bottom of his shirt.

“You think I believe that after seeing your newest song? A road block maybe, but that’s nothing you can’t work through. And the bonus to having no time limit and no theme, is you can work at your own pace and write about things that actually matter to you.” Mark was very confident, with a motivational attitude, that much was clear but the guys were still far from convinced.

I’m with Jasper on this, I’m not sure I’m ready to have a fully focused album. I mean me personally, I’m not really a song writer, I love performing, but I’m not sure I’m any good at writing songs, I don’t know where to start.” Ryan admits, seeing Jasper dejected over his writing abilities made him feel even less confident that he could write anything quality for an album himself.

“Well actually Ryan, I would especially love to see yours because no one knows all that much about you. Although you may have your hands full performing so you’ll have plenty of time to see what the others are doing and maybe get some help along the way with your own stuff.”

“Performing on their albums?” Ryan asks.

“Well yes, but I was talking about that new dance show they are setting up. I heard Cathy Lewis was trying to contact you, has she not been able to?” Mark frowns at Ryan’s confusion.

“I have no idea who that is or what you’re talking about.” Ryan admits, looking down the line at his bandmates who all just shrug back at him.

“Bet she called dickface and he just wanted to keep it from you.” Blake cracks his knuckles dramatically.

“Cathy Lewis is a tv producer. The show she’s been trying to contact you for is called Dancers and Dreamers, it’s being filmed in New York. I heard about it a few weeks ago. I’m guessing that message hasn’t been passed on to you. I can give her a call right now, I’m sure that she’ll be thrilled to talk to you at last.” Mark offers, taking out a note book and flipping through pages before starting to press numbers on the phone on his desk. “I believe they were recruiting you to mentor an aspiring dancer through the competition. The winner gets a scholarship to their chosen dance school.”

“Wait. A dance show? That’s awesome!” Blake nudges Ryan.

“Don’t call her now! I need to think about it, I can’t just say yes to a job in another state, I’d need to know how long I would be away so I could make plans and work out whether I can commit to that. I have my life here.” Ryan’s anxiety was kicking in, Jasper could sense the tension from him.

“Take a breath Ry, you aren’t going to move overseas, New York is what, a 6 hour flight away? This is a really great opportunity for you, you should go for it. It’s not going to be forever but this is a big step in your career.” Jasper leans over and places his hand on Ryan’s knee, trying to comfort him.

“I think these kind of shows usually go for a couple of months. It’s one of those shows where you practice a routine for a week, someone gets eliminated. Generally there’s about 10 teams. Plus a few extra weeks for set up and production. It’s not a long time.”

“Maybe not to you, but that’s a long time to me. I don’t really know if I want to be away for a few months in a different state.” Ryan looks at Jasper and shrugs. “What do you think?”

“I’m not that clingy, I think I could survive you being away for a while doing something you’re passionate about.” Jasper smiles and rubs his knee. “I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t jump at this.” He encourages.

“They were hoping to start filming in a month or so I believe so you are running short on time to think about it, they may have given up and already found a replacement.” Mark shrugs.

“I’ll talk you into it.” Jasper winks at Ryan.

“Uh, not that this isn’t also important, but just back on the topic of us considering you to be our next manager and producer, I hope you understand we got really stuffed around with our previous contracts and we’d want our lawyer to look over the contracts before signing anything, would that be an issue?” Simon gets the attention back off Jasper and Ryan, who seemingly don’t care about anything but Ryan’s potential decision on his major career move.

So you wouldn’t miss me?” Ryan asks Jasper quietly, obvious disappointment on his face.

“That’s seriously what you’re thinking right now? I ask you to move in, tell you I’m ready to take things all the way with you and then I encourage you to go and do something amazing that I know you’ll love doing, and your take-away from that is that I wouldn’t miss you?” Jasper says quietly with a raised eyebrow at his boyfriend who just stares back at him sadly.

“A few months away...”

“Is nothing when you consider I told you I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Come on, don’t let your brain make me out to be some kind of heartless jerk, I would miss you heaps, I just don’t think that having you by my side is more important than you taking opportunities like this. I don’t want to own you, I want you to live your life to the fullest and all I want is to be included in that, whether that’s next to you, or cheering you on from a distance and making everyone support you. It really isn’t that far away. We’d literally be a few hours flight from one another, I could visit easily.”

“Guys.” Luke interrupts them, looking at them completely unimpressed.

“Sorry mum.” Jasper rolls his eyes.

“As I was saying, we really appreciate you reaching out to us, but we have a lot to consider, once we’ve spoken to our lawyer and come to a decision we’ll let you know but at this point we’re not going to be signing anything.” Simon stands up and shakes Mark’s hand. “Thank you for your time.” He says, turning to the other guys who all take the hint and stand up, one by one shaking his hand.

“Can you let Cathy know I’d love the opportunity to be on her show if it’s still available.” Ryan asks when he is shaking Mark’s hand.

“Absolutely, give me a moment.” Mark gets the phone and starts putting in the phone number again.

“It’s such a turn on seeing you be confident.” Jasper whispers in his ear and holds his hand tight.

“Shut up.” Ryan nudges him, trying not to smile.

“Yes, Cathy, it’s Mark Nolan from Nolan Records, how are you? I’m good thanks, hey listen, I’ve just met with Ryan Kurtis from The Obselete, were you still trying to get a hold of him over that dance show? I see, yeah he is. Well no worries I’ll let him know. Thanks. Ok bye.” Mark hangs up and gives a fake smile. “Sorry, she said she did have to fill that space because she hadn’t been able to contact you.” He apologizes.

“Oh, yeah of course. Thanks anyway.” Ryan sighs and squeezes Jasper’s hand.

“Fucking Chris is such a worthless piece of shit. Do you reckon we can sue him for keeping you from opportunities?” Jasper asks.

“What good would that do?” Ryan sighs again.

“Ok, hear me out, we start doing extremely petty things to inconvenience him for the rest of his life as revenge, like call up the post office and have them redirect his mail from his work address to his house so he gets all the business bills and complaints and stuff sent to his house and he has to remember to take them all into work with him so he doesn’t lose them. Or we start ordering him dildos and having them sent to his house at like every few nights just to remind him he’s a dick. Or...”

“I bet this is all making Mark feel very good about considering hiring us.” Ryan looks from Jasper to Mark and back to Jasper.

“Or he might see it as a warning not to be a dick.” Jasper shrugs.

“Petty revenge songs. Think about it Jasper, I think I’ve found a passion of yours. I’d like a song about all the petty things you can think of doing to get revenge on someone.” Mark suggests.

Oh you don’t need to encourage him.” Ryan laughs and pulls Jasper’s hand as he starts walking out the door.

“That’s actually not a bad idea.” Jasper hums thoughtfully.

“What do you guys think?” Luke asks them in a whisper the moment they are outside the door.

“I actually really like him, I’m just unsure.” Jasper admits.

“I like him too, he seems genuine.” Ryan puts his arm around Jasper’s shoulders.

“I don’t want to dive into anything, but if Daniel takes a look at this contract and doesn’t find any faults then I do think we will be back on track with our careers a lot sooner than I expected.” Simon waves the contract around. “What are you guys up to tonight? Wanna grab dinner and talk it over?” He asks.

“Actually, I was hoping to have a quiet night with Ryan, we were in the middle of our own important conversation when you called. That and I’m finally losing the willpower to stay off the internet in an attempt to avoid my own drama so I think I need alcohol, a bath and some time to sob while I scroll through people’s shitty comments and opinions.” Jasper sighs and takes his phone out, turning it on.

“You might be surprised Jasper, I’ve seen nothing but supportive stuff about everything involving you and the band in general.” Luke assures him, patting him on the back.

“Thanks, but I’m sure I won’t stop scrolling until I find something that hurts me.” Jasper shrugs.

“Alcohol and a bath is such a chill way to react. I’d be turning up my music and laying into a boxing bag or driving around.” Blake tells him.

“Neither of which you can do while reading hate tweets, but thanks for your input anyway. I’m heading home for a quiet night of self-subjected emotional torment. Let me know when you’ve set up a meeting with Daniel.” Jasper starts walking off towards the street.

“It has been mostly good stuff hasn’t it? Or should I expect to be comforting him?” Ryan asks.

“Well, I’d say that depends very much on whether his parents have decided to weigh in on this. If they have, good luck. You’ll need it.” Blake warns and sends Ryan after Jasper with a push in his direction.

“You know, I’ve never been so excited to go home.” Ryan tells Jasper as he catches up to him on the footpath flagging down a taxi. Jasper turns to him with a cute, excited smile before turning back to the taxi and climbing in, Ryan joining him. Jasper gives him the address of a café on the same street as their new place, not wanting to give away their location in case the driver recognized them and told someone else. He and Ryan sit in the back smiling to themselves and holding hands as they head back towards their home.

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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It seems like the guys are going to be recording for someone else who wants it to be something that they want not him like Chris was. The possible new manager seems to be a very stand up guy who is only as good as the artists he represents not someone out for however much he can make off of them. I hope their lawyer gives them the great opportunity for them to work with Mark Nolan of Nolan Records. He had a great opportunity for Ryan to show off his dancing on a new tv show that was being tried only when he called the lady producing it he found out that the slot she wanted for Ryan was already filled because she couldn’t get ahold of him thanks to Chris. I hope that they get their mojo back and start putting out some more albums as well as single songs by each other.

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It sounds like the guys have been offered a good contract by Mark from Nolan Records, let’s see what there lawyer thinks. But the guys could be back recording sooner than they thought possible. Ryan lost an opportunity on a dance show, because Chris never passed the message about it on to him. Let’s hope the guys have turned a corner and have got some good luck and get there mojo back.

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