The guys hold auditions to replace Frank. Who will they choose?
The four remaining band members are sitting at the table when I walk in. They have been holding auditions all day, and still they haven’t found a decent guitarist. I look them over carefully. They look tired. I’m beginning to question whether my call to find a new guitarist so quickly was a good one.
Sure, the guys need to get back out on the road. For the fans and for themselves. Gerard has said it many times, this band is therapy for all of them. But still, maybe I’m rushing them. This isn’t like last time, when Matt had left the band and Bob had joined it. That had been a peaceful, mutual transition. This is much harder.
Maybe the guys need time to get over Frank. Maybe rushing them isn’t such a good idea. Maybe it is. But either way it doesn’t seem to matter, because they haven’t found a guitarist who is good enough to fill Frank’s rather sizable shoes. Nobody was even close.
Gerard looked up at me, still standing in the doorway. “He really was damn good, wasn’t he?” he asks.
I nod, silently. Now that the anger is fading, I can tell Gerard is starting to miss Frank. They all are. You never realize exactly how much you rely on someone until they’re gone. Whether or not Gerard’s pride will allow him to admit it, Frank was a big part of this band. His absence is starting to take a toll on the guys.
I never thought replacing him would be easy, but at the moment it’s looking downright impossible.
Then she walks in. The answer to our prayers.
“Hey guys,” she says from behind me. I move to let her enter the room. There is a weak chorus of “Hey Jess.”
I’m glad to see her. She was by far the best guitar tech we’ve ever had, but a messy break up with the one and only Frank Iero had made things too uncomfortable on tour. When her contract expired she left.
She stops and smiles sadly at them, before walking over and pulling Mikey into a hug. “I’m so sorry, guys” she whispers. She breaks away and hugs Ray and Bob, then pauses, looking uncertainly at Gerard before reaching out and hugging him too.
There’s a moment of heavy silence as she pulls away from Gerard and we all stand there, lost in thoughts we’d really rather not think. Thoughts of before. When everything was OK.
“He’s really gone then?” she asks. The pained looks on their faces are answer enough. “I’d heard rumors, but I never believed he could do that,” she mumbles. “It’s so not like Frank, he loved this band. I don’t understand.”
“None of us do,” I say. “But now we’re left to pick up the pieces. Problem is there’s nobody out there who can play like Frank.”
She nods sympathetically. Suddenly Ray speaks up. “Jess could.”
His voice is quiet, and I can see him thinking it over. “Yeah,” he adds. “Jess and Frank used to play exactly the same. I could never tell who was playing.”
I smile to myself. This just might be it. She’s worked with the guys before, she knows them, knows the atmosphere of the shows, knows the songs. They all love her and she’s a damn good guitar player. And she understands what they’re going through. I think that was the biggest element lacking from all the other guitarists we’ve auditioned. They couldn’t relate.
But Jess can. Because Jess has lost Frank before. She knows exactly what it’s like.
Ray glances around nervously and I can see he’s getting excited. “Jess,” I say. “You still play?”
She nods. “Of course.”
“Would you mind playing for us now?”
“What? Like an audition?”
I don’t answer but I don’t have to. The look on my face says everything. She nods thoughtfully then says, “I’ll have to borrow a guitar.”
Ray gets up and offers her his. She sits and begins to play the intro to ‘Early Sunsets Over Monroeville.’ She’s amazing. Easily as good as Frank, yet slightly different. She’s making the song hers without changing the chords at all. It’s truly amazing. She stops, glancing around, then starts in on ‘Teenagers.’ After a minute she stops.
I look at the guys. From their faces I can tell they’re thinking the same thing as me. I turn back to her.
“Jess?” I ask. “Would you like to join us for the rest of this tour? As Frank’s replacement?”
She smiles, a genuine smile. “I’d love to.”
Sorry it's so short. I'm super busy and I just really wanted to get it out there. I may expand this chapter later. Thanks for all the sweet reviews guys. Love you to pieces (don't make me make that literal).