Desert Isle Keeper
Loud Is How I Love You
Don’t fuck anyone in the band.This is rule number one of being in a band, and it’s especially true when you’re the only girl. Which means whatever I’m doing with my guitar player’s face between my legs goes from Oh God, oh yes, oh please at five a.m. to Oh no, oh shit when I wake up at noon.
These are the first lines of Ms. Brown’s kick-ass debut novel Loud Is How I Love You. The girl in question is Emmy and despite her profound conviction that “Start fucking your bandmates, and showing up on time for soundcheck is the least of your problems,” she’s just slept with Travis, her lead guitarist.
I don’t blame her. Travis is a demi-god in blue jeans and untied Timberlands. He’s sexy and sweet, true to himself and devoted to Emmy. He’s one of the great guys, the kind worth breaking all the rules for. Emmy, though, doesn’t think she can have the band and the boy and for her, the band is the most important thing in her world. As she says,
I front Stars on the Floor. Locally our nickname is “Soft” because when Billy Broadband, the WRSU DJ (that’s Rutgers college radio, folks), was trying to say “SotF” on air it sounded like “Soft,” and whatever. Close enough. One thing Soft is known for is having its shit together. We’re also a good band, if you like our moody, dark, loud, guitar-driven brand of angst. We pack the local clubs on the weekends, we play Manhattan and Philadelphia on a regular basis, and we play our fair share of out-of-town shows, too. But there are plenty of bands around here doing as well as we are right now. We’re a regular headline at the Court Tavern because we’re not fuckups. I may only be twenty-one, but that matters to me.
The morning after their night of oh so smokin’ sex, Emmy meets Travis for their usual breakfast.
“What happened last night . . .” I start to say, but I can’t continue because I am choking on the awkward.
“Was really awesome?” He finishes the sentence for me with a crooked smile and I die. Then he lowers his voice to a whisper again. “I thought so, too.”
“That’s not what I was going to say.”
“Really?” he asks in mock surprise. “Because last night you seemed to think it was pretty awesome. That is, if all the orgasms were any indicator.”
“… Travis, I’m serious.”
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m serious, too. Last night really was awesome.”
“Look, this can’t change anything. We’ve worked too long and too hard to fuck everything up now by this one little moment of weakness, all right?”
Now he looks serious. Not the serious look he has when he’s trying to nail a difficult solo or when he’s negotiating with the door guy for our fair cut, though. This is more of a pissed-off kind of serious.
“Sure,” he finally says.
Over the next 200 pages, Ms. Brown explores in temporally brilliant detail what happens when you fall in love with the person you can least afford to fuck things up with. Travis, Emmy, and their bandmates Cole and Joey are fully rendered musicians—I spent much of my mid-twenties hanging out with indie bands and I promise you this is what is like. The road trips, the sound checks, even the drinks on the house are so authentically an indie band in the 1990s that reading this book is an immersive experience, one that I desperately didn’t want to end.
There will be readers frustrated by Emmy’s inability to see that, sometimes, you get the dream and the dreamboat. But Emmy’s love limiting fears are grounded in something so inherent to her as an artist, as a female artist in a male dominated world, that I had faith she’d find a way to love and to sing.
“Stay loud so I don’t lose you. I will follow the sound of you anywhere.”
Travis writes these words, but I’m stealing them, sort of.
Ms. Brown: Write loud. I will follow your words anywhere.