It started the way sibling fights always start: with something stupid. I can’t even tell what, whether Declan was taking too long in the bathroom (ew) or Tommy used his toothbrush, or what. What I do know is that Tommy had finally stopped growing and Declan was catching up to him, so when it did devolve into the inevitable wrestling match it always had to be, Tommy still won, but he noticed that it was getting harder for him.
That’s why he brought up the band.
“What about my band?” said Declan.
“What about my band?” Tommy mocked in that voice all older brothers have to mock their youngers.
“Oh, yeah, well, what about your band, huh?” Declan countered.
Tommy p’shaw’d. “My band’s good, man, the Elk’s gonna be tking it all the way to the Eagle this year.”
The Grey Eagle is this venue in town that hosts the classic all-American Band-Battle Extravagonzo every year, and of spring.
“You’re not gettin’ the Eagle,” Declan scoffed back.
Tommy threw up his hands in a condescending “We’ll see, sugar,” except maybe with something stronger than sugar, and that was the end of it.
That’s what gave Declan the idea. “We need unity,” he said to the others at their next meet. They’d been practising, but not very well. Not very focused. Raven had a killer voice (when she used it) and was starting to sound okay on the bass; Blake on the drums was a natural, almost a no-brainer; and Declan? Well, he didn’t like to toot his own horn, but he knew what he was doing on the git-fiddle. Now, Jasper—I mean, don’t get me wrong. He got better. But he was never actually good at playing the guitar.
The problem was the overall sound. “We’re all doing different shit,” Declan clarified. “And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if that’s how we sound, we still gotta make it work.” Declan was not a big believer in the idea that a band should have a unified sound like a brand or a lable. Having a voice was important—limiting yourself to one was not, necessarily. “Take the Beatles,” he would point out. “Listen to I Wanna Hold Your Hand and then skip ahead to Across the Universe. Do those sound like the same band?” They don’t to me, but I’ll admit I don’t know much about music. “What about Yellow Submarine? That sound anything like those others? Anything like Helter Skelter?” Another band he liked to bring up was Acid Monsoon. “Sometimes they’re this hardcore heavy metal and then they’ll blend that into this Trip-Hoppy Jazz weirdness—and they’ll do it in the same song, like, ‘cause they just don’t give a fuck.”
Caspar June, Acid Monsoon’s front man and lead singer, disagrees with his judgment that this means they don’t have a unified sound, but whatever. That gave Declan a target.
And now his asshole older brother had just given him a goal.
“I wanna play the Eagle,” this high school freshman told the band he’d incited. “I wanna play the Eagle this year.” And after he’d explained to all these noobs what that entailed, he got them all to work.
“Hey, Deck-face,” his brother mocked him in the halls the next day, and once he had his attention, Tommy crouched down low and started flapping his arms and caw-cawing in a desperate screech.
But Declan just rolled his eyes. “Whatever, dude,” he said. “I’m going Elk-hunting.”
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