Fifteen minutes.

Andy Warhol famously said that in the future everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes.
In the last couple of weeks I genuinely came to believe that at long last my chance had come, my 900 seconds in the spotlight, my perfect moment (as Martin McCutcheon would put it before she went off peddling yoghurt with made up science in it).
What happened is Carl Barat, beloved ragamuffin and songwriter to The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things and indeed Carl Barat put an open invite on Twitter, Facebook etc to join his band. I was of course excited at such a prospect but similarly didn’t hold out much hope as I attempted to pen a mirth-spunked email which I could only assume would be scanned and discarded by one of Mr Barat’s many underlings.
I included two songs as attachments (She Calls The Shots and Comin’ Down for those of you interested in my discography) along with my standard Interwebisphere avatar where I’m tastefully greyscaled and beautiful. And then I played the waiting game, which is one of my least favourite games (after I Spy and The Generation Game).

Last week I received an email from actual Carl himself, or at least someone who used his name to sign off an email, asking me to come for an audition at a pub in South East London. I was told to learn Gin & Milk by Dirty Pretty Things and Death On The Stairs by The Libertines. My heart leaped. What if this thing I had put to the back of my mind actually came to fruition? What if I actually met him? I get starstruck at the best of times. At a book signing for Simon Pegg’s Nerd Do Well I told him I wanted to keep my brother in a shed.

I got myself together. I learnt both the songs (even if I had to write the structure to Gin and Milk on my wrist for reference), I booked a half day from work and then I was off.
Now the odd thing about auditions is that I had never had one. In my line of ‘work’ they are rare. You don’t audition to be a writer. You don’t audition to be a songwriter/guitarist/muso/journalist or any of the other things I could put a backslash between and claim to have turned my hand to. It’s just not the done thing. Auditions are for actors.
What happened when I turned up at the supercool Amersham Arms in New Cross was I found guitarists spread about the place like hulking figures on Greek pottery. There were PR/A&R types bouncing between everyone trying to collect details and arrange timings and get permissions while each of us tried to be as erstwhile and cool as possible. As you know, this isn’t my natural form. Instead I’m more of the death-obsessed anxious faux-intellect than the belching, leather and denim-clad rock god .My USP, I had decided was that it didn’t actually look like I belonged there, as though I had wandered in whilst searching for the Liechtenstein exhibit which closed six months ago at the Tate Modern.
I got a pint of Kronenbourg and waited.
I was told to ensure my guitar was tuned.
Then I was told I was next.
Then I was collected and taken through the back doors of the pub. There was another bar and a small stage where a session bassist and drummer awaited. One man sat in a chair with a camcorder while select members of bar staff watched on. I was reminded of the scene in Hook where Peter sends a colleague to film his son’s baseball game because he’s so consumed with office work. It was hardly the eagle-eyed talent scout panel I had been expecting. In my panic I couldn’t get the overdrive pedal to work so connected straight into the Marshall stack provided, and then shook hands with the bassist and drummer who said they would follow my lead and asked which of the two songs I wanted to perform. Looking down at the smudged Sharpie of Gin & Milk deconstructed on my wrist I went with Death On The Stairs and began frantically jigging about after playing the opening chords and as the drums kicked in. The band were fried gold. I don’t think I’ve ever played with anyone so attentive (sorry NPS and Willows). They knew exactly where I was going for the next three minutes and matched my grins and nods as I bounced and sweated my way through, scraping the solo in a manner befitting what I considered to be the imperfect style of the spirit of the intended band and the punk attitude in general. It certainly covers for not being the most dexterous or apt musician.
I licked my way through the outro and stopped. There was polite applause. I thanked the band and got down, feeling slightly sparked from the adrenaline. Like it or not, those few minutes had made a decision for me. I hate anything being out of my control and as I returned to the pub, to the sanity of the room of awaiting guitarists I felt a crushing dread. I was told to wait for a callback if any callback was necessary. I got chatting to some of the other guitarists, one of whom had flown down from Inverness just for the day. I couldn’t help but tweak my accent to include his, calling the session drummer a ‘wee lassie’ whenever he did so. I am such a fraud.
After two more hours and three more pints I was informed by text that I would not be required for a callback. I had tried to prepare myself for it but there is little more damning to a heart than a break up by text message.

Andy Warhol famously said that in the future everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes.
I guess I’ll have to shine mine on for a little longer.







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