DAISY: That was a great haircut.
SIMONE: It was a really good haircut.
DAISY: I’ve always said, “The Italians know hair.”
SIMONE: Daisy didn’t even seem all that surprised to see me. Which just told me how messed up she was. And the first thing I noticed when I sat down was that she had a huge diamond ring on her hand. And this guy comes out—thin body, thick curly hair—and he had no shirt on. And Daisy says, “Simone, this is my husband, Niccolo.”
DAISY: Technically, marrying Niccolo made me a princess. That can’t be left out of the equation. I did like the idea of belonging to a huge royal family. Of course, that’s not what my life with Nicky was like at all. I should have known being with Nicky wouldn’t turn out the way he made it seem. Here’s a lesson for everybody, take it from me: Handsome men that tell you what you want to hear are almost always liars.
SIMONE: I tried to get her to come home but she wasn’t budging. Because when I would tell her there were things she had to do—you have to get ready to tour for your album or you should stop doing so many drugs at one time or you should try to spend a little time sober—there was Nicky telling her she didn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to do. He was there, amplifying all of her bad instincts. All the time. He was like a bird chirping in her ear, validating every impulse.
KAREN: When we all met back up in January, Daisy wasn’t anywhere to be found.
GRAHAM: We are sitting in Teddy’s office over at Runner with Rich Palentino and we’re all gonna give the final mix a listen. And we were all expecting to…Well, we all figured we knew exactly what we’d recorded, give or take.
WARREN: I was hungover and there was no coffee in either of the coffeepots at Runner’s offices. I said to the secretary at the front desk, “What do you mean there’s no coffee?”
And she said, “The machine is broken.”
I said to her, “Well, I’m sure as shit not gonna be alive in this meeting then.”
She said, “You’re too much.” And then she seemed a little bit mad, like I couldn’t get a read on her. And I was really hungover.
I said, “Wait, I haven’t slept with you, have I?”
I had not.
KAREN: The album starts playing, we’re all sitting around the table…
EDDIE: First song, out of the gate, “Chasing the Night,” he changed my fucking lick. He changed my motherfucking lick.
BILLY: I don’t think I realized, until we were listening to it all together…I don’t think I realized just how many things Teddy and I had changed.
EDDIE: It just got worse from there. He changed the tuning on “Please.” Completely changed it and rerecorded it. As if I wasn’t going to notice he’d shifted to Nashville tuning. Like I’m not going to notice that the song has to be played on a different goddamn guitar. And everybody else, they saw it! They could see what he’d done. But no one was going to speak up, you know what I’m saying? Because Teddy and Runner were so happy with the record that they were talking about booking stadiums and pressing over a hundred masters and all this shit. They’re saying they want to release “Turn It Off” as soon as possible and they think it can hit number one. So everybody had dollar signs in their eyes and nobody said much of anything to Billy. Or Teddy.
KAREN: He’d pulled my keys off of two songs. And I was mad, of course I was mad. But what were we gonna do? You’ve got Rich Palentino so excited about the album, he’s spitting when he talks.
WARREN: I’d have respected it a lot more if Billy hadn’t tried to pretend he wasn’t producing the album with Teddy. I don’t like underhanded shit. I don’t like saying one thing and doing another.
But I was also the drummer in a successful rock band that everybody was saying was headed to the top of the charts. I’ve always had a good sense of perspective. If I do say so myself.
ROD: That’s when the whispering started. Everybody stopped talking to each other and all started whispering to me.
Karen would say, “He took out my keys and he didn’t even run it by me.”
And I’d say, “You have to talk to him about it.”
And she wouldn’t.
And Pete would say that the record was too soft now. That he was embarrassed by it. And I’d say, “Talk to Billy about it.”
I’d say to Billy, “You need to talk to your bandmates.”
He’d say, “If they want to talk to me, they’ll talk to me.”
And everybody’s wondering when Daisy’s coming back, but I’m the only one willing to try to track her down.
GRAHAM: It was a strange reminder that things were changing. That we weren’t the same band we were a few years ago. A few years ago, if Billy was going to rerecord Eddie’s tracks, he would have talked to me about it. He would have bounced the idea off of me. Instead, he was talking to Teddy. But that was true of a lot of things between Billy and me. I had Karen. He had Camila and his girls. And when he wanted to talk about ideas…well, at least throughout the recording of Aurora…he had Daisy. I’m not going to say I was feeling like Billy didn’t need me anymore. That’s dramatic. But maybe I was feeling like we weren’t a team all the time anymore. That we’d outgrown that.
You know, I think a lot of how I defined myself was in relation to him. I always—my whole life until around that point—I always felt like Billy Dunne’s little brother. And that was when it occurred to me that he probably never defined himself as Graham Dunne’s older brother. Would never have thought to.
BILLY: In hindsight, I can see why they were mad. But I don’t regret any work I did on that album. The work speaks for itself.
KAREN: It’s so complicated. Was the album our best one because Billy was forced to let us in on the composing and arranging from the outset? I think so. Was it the best one because Billy ultimately took the reins back? Because Teddy knew when to make Billy listen to other ideas and when to let him run the show? Was it only the best because of Daisy? I have no idea. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and I have no idea.
But when you’re a part of something as big as that album ended up being…you want to know if you were an integral part. You want to believe they couldn’t have done it without you. Billy never did put much effort into making everyone feel integral.
BILLY: All bands have trouble with this stuff. You know how hard it is to get this many people to agree on anything this subjective?
ARTIE SNYDER: I heard little inklings of grief, later. That some of the band weren’t happy with the changes. Or maybe the way the changes were handled. But I thought it was sort of odd, the way everyone was getting upset at Billy as if he was in charge. Teddy was in charge. If Billy redid Eddie’s tracks, it’s because Teddy thought Billy should redo the tracks. I never once saw Billy do anything Teddy wasn’t backing.
I even made a joke once, when Teddy was out of the room. Billy had wanted to take out the Dobro on some song but Teddy wanted it in. When Teddy was gone, I said, “Should we just go ahead and take it out and see if he notices?”
Billy shook his head, really serious. He said, “Biggest hit we’ve had was a song I thought I hated. Teddy’s the only one that saved it.” He said, “If it comes down to his opinion or my opinion, we go with his opinion.”
SIMONE: I finally got Daisy to agree to buy a plane ticket to be back in L.A. for the start of rehearsals.
DAISY: When I told Nicky that it was time for me to go back to L.A., he wasn’t very supportive. The band had to do press and prerelease stuff. We had to get ready to head out on tour. And he knew that. I had told him all of that when we met. But he said, “Don’t go. Stay here. The band doesn’t mean anything.” And that hurt. Because the band meant everything. This thing that felt like all of my worth…he treated it like it was nothing. I’m embarrassed to say he almost had me. I almost didn’t leave for the airport.
Simone knocked on the door and Nicky said, “Don’t answer it.”
I said, “It’s Simone. I have to answer it.” She was standing there and she had this furious look on her face, and I’ll never forget, she said, “Get. Your. Fucking. Suitcase. And. Get. In. The. Cab. Now.” I’d never seen her like that. And something just sort of clicked in me.
You have to have one person in your life that you know would never do anything to steer you wrong. They may disagree with you. They could even break your heart, from time to time. But you have to have one person, at least, who you know will always tell you the truth.
You need one person who, when the shit hits the fan, grabs your stuff, throws it in a suitcase, and gets you away from the Italian prince.
SIMONE: I dragged her ass home.
KAREN: Daisy comes back from this monthlong vacation and she’s somehow ten pounds lighter than when she left, which, you know, Daisy didn’t have ten pounds to lose. And she’s cut all of her hair off and she’s got a diamond ring on, and she’s a princess.
BILLY: I was floored—I mean absolutely positively floored, my jaw about hit the floor—when she showed up married.
DAISY: What did he care? Honestly, what did he care? That’s what I was thinking. He was married. I couldn’t be married?