Five about the author
- Who are you, and where do you come from?
I am Meredith Shayne, and I come from Australia. But I live in New Zealand, just to make things confusing.
- What inspires you?
Music is a huge one, both lyrics and the mood of the song. Things I see on TV or read in the paper also inspire me occasionally.
- Describe your writing style in three words:
Straightforward, spare and non-flowery.
- What style of music do you like, and who are your favourite bands?
True confession – I love Duran Duran. What can I say, I’m a child of the 80s. I also love The Police. I worship at the feet of Stewart Copeland for his drumming abilities. I also believe he’s where my fetish for drummers in shorts came from. I imprinted early.But more usually, I love rock and metal. The more guitars the better, but that’s not an absolute requirement. Favourites are Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains, Garbage and The Cult.I’m going to post 3 videos from Australian bands, now all sadly defunct, that no one will have heard of. These are the bands I used to go and see practically every week in the early 90’s, when the first part of Metal Heart is set.First up, Pearls and Swine:Words cannot express how much I adored that band.Second, Killing Time, who changed their name to Mantissa after their original guitarist left and were moderately successful for a time. Awesome live. They were from Melbourne, but spent a lot of time in Sydney, and we spent a lot of time at their shows:
And finally, Horsehead. Also awesome live. There’s a scene in Metal Heart where King Phoenix play at the Annandale Hotel, and there’s condensation dripping off the walls at the end of the set. I know that that can happen there, because I was there once when it did. Horsehead made it happen. This video starts part way into the song, but it’s the one that shows what they were really like live, so:
- Been to any good gigs recently?
The two best gigs I went to last year were Sisters of Mercy (Andrew Eldritch is a goth god. If The Cult had been playing as well that night I would have exploded), and Florence & The Machine. Sisters was great because they are legendary, and it shows, and Florence was great because the gig was just so joyful. She was having a great time and wasn’t afraid to show it.I am going to see Garbage on the 20th of February for the first time in a really long time and I am VERY EXCITED.
Five about the book
Title: Metal Heart
Series: None…yet. I think there’s at least one more story in this universe still in me.
- Who is the story about?
Scott King, session guitarist, record producer, and former King Phoenix guitarist, and Ash Walker, solo artist and former singer of King Phoenix.
- What inspired the idea for this story? Any real bands, music, or places from your experience?
My friend LJ LaBarthe emailed me one day and said something along the lines of, “Hey, you know what you could write about one day? The Sydney music scene!”, and I said, “Yes, yes I could!” and then promptly forgot all about it. But in the back of my head the story was bubbling away, until one day, out it popped.It’s based on my experiences hanging out in the Sydney music scene, and having friends playing in and working for bands in the early 90s. Back then, the music scene in Sydney was amazing. You could see a different band every night of the week, if you wanted, and we frequently did. That was all we did back then, go to pubs and watch live music. It was great. We practically lived in King’s Cross. Springfields, which features in the first half of Metal Heart, was our hangout. I spent many a drunken night there. Sadly, as with most of the bands from back then, it no longer exists.
- What is it about musicians that make them irresistible?
They love music just as much as I do. Plus, there’s nothing like a long-haired man with tattoos. Just sayin’. 🙂
- As a story comes in three parts, and this is a music story, pick me three music videos that reflect how you feel the story goes.
These all relate to Metal Heart in some way, mostly lyrically. I’ll post the snippet of the lyrics that most apply and you’ll get the gist. 🙂 At first, everything is great…Cream, “Sunshine of Your Love”I’m with you my love,The light’s shining through on you.
Yes, I’m with you my love,
It’s the morning and just we two.
I’ll stay with you darling now,
I’ll stay with you till my seeds are all dried up.
Then, it’s not so great…
Look, I’m tired, I’m weak
And I’m sick of trying to figure out
Your mood, my mood
No, I don’t wanna speak.
And then, they’ve got 20 years’ worth of baggage to work through…
U2, “Electrical Storm”
You’re in my mind all of the time
I know that’s not enough
Well if the sky can crack, there must be some way back
To love and only love
- If your book was a music video, how would it go? Talk me through it.Wow, this has to be the hardest interview question I’ve ever been asked! OK…it would start off with these two young guys who are smiling, happy, having a great time with each other, but then over time there’d be a montage of stuff coming between them – booze, drugs, people wanting a piece of them, until they’re both miserable and can’t get near each other because of all the stuff between them. Then they’d fade into older versions of themselves, 20 years older, still with all the stuff between them, but then gradually everything keeping them apart fades away until it’s just the two of them again. And then maybe the last frame will be them just smiling at each other before it fades to black. J
Thanks for answering!
Scott King swore off rock stardom after his band, King Phoenix, crashed and burned. Now in his forties, Scott lives a quiet life as a music producer and session guitarist. But in a box hidden in his wardrobe lie the relics of the past he left behind—a past filled with drugs, booze, and broken hearts. For sixteen years, Scott has had no contact with his former bandmates, so when he’s asked to play at a benefit gig for King Phoenix’s old sound man, his world turns upside down. A King Phoenix reunion means a run-in with Scott’s ex, Ash Walker—and sixteen years ago, believing Ash wanted to leave the band, Scott OD’d and almost died.
Since then, Scott has ruthlessly suppressed his feelings. As a result, he’s completely unprepared for the impact of seeing Ash again, or for dealing with his emotions about the band’s demise. He definitely didn’t expect Ash to want to start up where they left off. Now Scott has to decide between his safe existence and the twenty-year-old love song that could cost him his sobriety—and his heart.
In 1990, Scott turned twenty years old. He’d thought he knew everything there was to know back then, but as he sat in a tiny pub in Surry Hills on a muggy, overcast day, nursing a beer and a smoke while the latest league game played on a TV above the bar, he’d had no fucking idea that his life was about to change forever.
Dean Jones was a friend of a friend who’d gone to the high school down the road from Scott’s, a couple of years ahead of him. Dean had dirty-blond shoulder-length hair that was half Farrah Fawcett and half glam metal, and a knack for persuasion the like of which Scott had never known.
“Their name is King Phoenix. They’re a four-piece—well, three-piece right now, but you know what I mean—who have had a little trouble with guitarists,” Dean said, laughing. “Can’t imagine why.”
Scott raised an eyebrow, took a drag of his smoke, and didn’t rise to the bait. “King Phoenix, huh. Influences?”
Dean waved a hand. “Oh, you know. AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Zeppelin, Metallica. Hendrix. KISS. Rocky, but melodic.”
“Melodic,” Scott repeated, taking another drag of his cigarette. He wasn’t really the type who believed in signs, but the fact that the band’s name contained his own surname had to come close to one. Plus the Led Zeppelin and Hendrix. He really loved Zeppelin and Hendrix. If Dean had said Cream too, Scott probably would have said yes without even seeing the band first. “Have they got any gigs coming up?” He was done playing at school halls and in friends’ backyards. He wanted proper gigs, in proper venues.
“They’ve got things lined up, sure,” Dean said, which Scott knew meant no. “But they really do need a guitarist. Their singer, Ash, has been filling in on guitar while they look for one, but it’s not a long-term solution. He’s a front man. He really needs to be free to move around.”
Inwardly, Scott rolled his eyes. Bloody lead singers and their posturing. Scott sucked the last bit of nicotine out of his smoke and stubbed it out. “So when do you want me to meet them, then? If there’s no gig I can go to.”
“There’ll be gigs,” Dean insisted, but when Scott stayed silent he just sighed and moved on. “Their drummer, Tommy, has an uncle with some warehouse space near Pier One at the Rocks. They rehearse there on the weekends.”
“Okay,” Scott said, draining his beer and standing up. “Next Saturday, then? What’s the address?”
Dean signaled a waitress and got a pen from her, scrawling an address in the Rocks on the back of a coaster and handing it to Scott. “I’ll let them know you’re coming.” He held out his hand.
Scott grinned and pocketed the coaster, then gripped Dean’s hand. “I’ll look forward to it,” he said, then turned and headed out the door.
He did look forward to it too, but there was an edge of nervousness as well. He needed something to work out for him music-wise. He really, really wanted to give up his carpentry apprenticeship and play music full time, but he’d yet to find a band that had the potential to make that happen for him. It wasn’t for lack of trying, and sometimes he’d thought he’d come close, but it never worked out. Something always happened, something dramatic and stupid which made Scott want to throw his hands up in frustration. Musicians were a bunch of fucking idiots, really. He wasn’t sure how any band managed to hold it together long enough to make a record, let alone stay together for years. He hoped that he’d soon find out.
During the week, Dean dropped off a tape to Scott’s work, which turned out to be a demo tape of King Phoenix’s music. He’d put it into his car stereo to listen to it on the drive home, and then found himself sitting in the car park outside his work, wasting his petrol by letting the car idle while he stared at the stereo, listening with every fiber of his being. It was exactly as Dean had said: rocky, but melodic, and some of the hooks were catchy as hell, in a metal kind of way. But the hooks weren’t what had Scott transfixed. That was the fault of the singer, who possessed a deep, gravelly but surprisingly melodious voice that had just enough growl to it in the lower registers that shivers ran up and down Scott’s spine at the sound of it. It was a dirty voice, a smoky, sexy voice that promised all sorts of filthy things. It made heat curl low in Scott’s belly, but he welcomed that feeling and didn’t try to fight it. Lust was good for music. Lust and music went hand in hand, because lust was about feeling heat deep in your bones, and so was music. Scott had lusted after bandmates before, straight bandmates, and he’d always channeled it into his music, used it to make himself better, and then got his kicks outside the band. There was no reason why this would be any different.
When the tape had run through both sides, Scott switched sides again and pushed it back into the player, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the songs. By the end of the week he was singing along with that sexy, sinful voice, the anticipation of meeting its owner thrilling through his body.
By Saturday, the low level of simmering lust had mostly been replaced by nervousness again. His stomach churned as he pulled up outside the warehouse at the address Dean had given him. Pulling his guitar and a bag full of gear from his car, he turned for the small door next to a large roller door, took a deep breath, and headed for it. The door was ajar, and through it he could hear no music, just the murmur of voices. The realization that they were waiting for him made his stomach flip again. He took a moment to pull himself together and then walked through the door, guitar in one hand and kit bag in the other, like he didn’t have a care in the world.
There were four people lounging around a bunch of amps, microphones, guitars, and a drum kit, seated either on the floor, on top of an amp, or on a milk crate. All four heads turned toward him as he walked in, and he zeroed in on the one he knew. Dean was grinning as he got up and came toward him. Behind him, Scott saw the others slowly get to their feet.
“Scotty,” Dean said, holding out his hand. “Glad you could make it.”
Scott put down the bag of gear and shook Dean’s hand. “No problem, mate. Hope you haven’t been waiting long.”
“Nah, not at all. We were just shooting the shit, you know?” Dean clapped him on the shoulder, then turned, gesturing toward the others. “Let me introduce you to the guys. This man’s Tommy Nguyen. He’s our drummer.” A compact, wiry Vietnamese man, a couple of inches shorter than Scott’s own five feet ten nodded at him, smiling. Scott nodded back.
Dean continued. “This ginger bastard here is our bass player, Rory Buchanan.”
A slim man of about Scott’s height, with fire-engine red hair and arms covered in tattoos, grinned, then stepped forward and held out his hand, saying in a distinctly Scottish accent, “Welcome, brother.”
“Hey,” Scott said, taking Rory’s hand and shaking it firmly.
“And this man here is our singer, Ash Walker.”
Scott’s stomach twisted for an entirely different reason as he looked up—and up—into the singer’s eyes. Six foot two if he was an inch, he was willowy along with it, all long limbs and sharp angles. His eyes were so dark as to be almost black, which went along with his hair, dead straight and hanging down past his elbows, and contrasted with his skin, which was vampire pale. He kept Scott’s gaze as he held out his hand, his lips—nice, full lips, Scott couldn’t help but notice, the lower one made for Scott to bite it—quirking into a smile.
“Scott, isn’t it?”
Scott shook Ash’s hand, acutely aware of the strength in it, despite it being as willowy as the rest of him. “Yeah. Scott King.”
Ash snorted and let go of his hand. Scott curled his fingers and held his hand at his side, his palm tingling as Ash said, “Scott King, huh? It’s like you’re made for us.”
© Meredith Shayne
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