“Yes, but you don’t have the time to create your own music. You said it yourself. It took you forever to create those tracks. So we took the hard part out of your job. Now, you just go in the studio and do what we tell you.”
“We aren’t robots.” Eric sighed, taking off his glasses and pinching his nose. “We don’t just do that cookie-cutter bullshit.”
“Yeah, didn’t we tell you that from day one, Max? We wanted to be us—the Wreckage. Not some bullshit manufactured band that doesn’t have a voice of their own,” James added in.
I sat there quiet, unsure of what to say, because one: I was a tad bit drunk. And two: I couldn’t come to grips with the fact that all of those months of our work were gone. Everything we’d sacrificed to create that album meant nothing.
All the time I could’ve been back in Eres with Hazel, growing our connection . . .
Whiskey was supposed to drown out my thoughts of Hazel, not make them heavier.
But still, the lost time creating music that ended up being worthless hurt.
Fuck. What was the point of it all?
“That was before this leak happened. Look, you guys, I’m pissed off too. You think I wanted this to happen? Of course not. But this is where we are. This is the place we are sitting, and we can moan and whine about it all damn day, or we can get to fucking work. Besides, Warren Lee makes superstars, and you are going to be superstars if you get out of your own fucking way.”
The mood of the whole space was pretty damn disheartening. My bandmates looked as if they’d been hit by a semitruck. Eric kept going on and on about how he didn’t understand how something so major could happen with the record company’s security system.
How did a whole album just get fucking leaked?
“And if we refuse to use Warren’s songs?” I asked.
Donnie pushed his lips together and gave me a hard look. “Listen, you signed a contract with Mindset Records, and we know this issue wasn’t a fault of yours, but to put it frankly, you owe us music. Time is ticking, and I don’t want to have to bring in the legal department on this.”
We were being pushed in a corner, forced to create something that wasn’t authentic, something that wasn’t ours.
It was literally an artist’s worst nightmare.
Why did it feel as if the world was crashing around us? Why did it feel as if our dream was slowly but surely shifting into something that wasn’t ours to hold anymore?
We were in the hands of a record label that had the power to control our every move with the threats of lawsuits—lawsuits that I was certain we’d lose in a heartbeat.
I cleared my throat. “Can we have a minute to talk with the band alone?”
“Sure. But don’t waste too much time trying to figure out a way around this,” Donnie mentioned as he stood, along with the lemmings who followed after him. “We don’t have time for diva artists.”
I didn’t know it made someone a diva to want to speak their own truths.
They all left the room as the guys and I sat at the table.
The guys and Max.
We all glanced his way with confused looks. He looked around with a cocked eyebrow.
“We were hoping to talk alone,” Marcus mentioned.
“I’m your manager. I need to be here for these meetings.”
James shook his head. “This is more of a band-only conversation. We’ll notify you once we get our thoughts together.”
Max sighed and brushed his hand over his mouth. He muttered something under his breath, and I was happy I didn’t hear him. He was probably calling us spoiled brats or something.
He picked up a folder and slid it our way. “These are some of Warren’s songs for you. Look them over. These have Grammys written all over them. Don’t be stupid about this, you guys. Make the right choice.”
With that, he left, closing the door behind him. The moment that door clicked, Marcus flew to his feet. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he exclaimed, waving his hands around like a madman.
“There’s no way we can do this,” Eric said, flipping through the songs. “I mean, I’m sure these tracks by Warren are great, but they aren’t us. And we’ve built our whole social aspect around being us. People don’t want songs from Warren; they want songs from us.”
“It’s impossible to create a brand-new album in that amount of time. We can’t do it,” Marcus said, sounding defeated. “Plus, I’m sure they’ll fuck us with law fees, and we’d end up broker than we were before we left Eres.”
“We can try,” James offered. “We can try to make our own music over the next few months. I know it will be hard as hell, but we can work our asses off to make it happen.”
The three of them began going back and forth—arguing about what would work and what wouldn’t. The more they argued, the more my chest felt as if it were on fire.
I picked up the pages on the table and began flipping through the songs Warren Lee had written.
I zoned out as I read the lyrics. Lyrics that meant nothing to me. Lyrics that were cookie cutter and mainstream. Lyrics that belonged to someone else.
And I was going to be forced to sing those songs.
“We’re taking Warren’s songs,” I said, pushing myself to stand up.