In a series of dizzying, hilarious, heartbreaking snapshots, Jen Trynin captures what it's like to be catapulted to the edge of rock stardom, only to plummet back down to earth. "Everything I'm Cracke
Jen eventually signs with Warner Bros., who re-release "Cockamamie," untouched. "Better Than Nothing," Jen's really-looks-like-it-might-be-a-hit single, is going gangbusters at radio (even though everyone thinks the song is called "I'm Feeling Good"). She and her band have been out on the road for a few weeks and are swinging back through New York to be on TV. For the first time in any of their lives. Twice. In one day. (It's also helpful to know that Head Honcho is the Warner Bros. GM with whom Jen is developing a very Charlie's Angles/Kung Fu kind of relationship; Burns is the band's tour manager; SoundBoy is the soundman; Randy is Jen's personal managaer, and Kavallah is Randy's assistant.)
We're in the studios at MTV and there's the usual table full of donuts and bagels and cream cheese and bags of Doritos and potato chips that always seems to be everywhere anywhere around video-type people. It's 10 A.M. which isn't really that early but it feels early because I didn't get to sleep until four. I've had no coffee, no cigarettes, no food, and my eyes are puffy.
We're introduced to Matt, the fat bald guy who hosts 120 Minutes. He's wearing the same knee-length shorts we're all wearing and a gray T-shirt that says WALLOW. He shakes my hand. "'Feelin' Good,'" he says, nodding, smiling. "Cool song."
Okay, I admit it. I should've called the damn song "I'm Feelin' Good" instead of "Better Than Nothing." It's been confusing people from the get-go and has already caused a myriad of marketing snafus. And I can only imagine that when people are calling up radio stations and requesting "the 'Feelin' Good' song" instead of "Better Than Nothing," the DJs are playing the song "Good" by the band Better Than Ezra.
Regardless, things are going great and "Better Than Nothing" is high up on the Alternative and Modern Rock charts, and climbing. At least that's what My Team has been telling me. Since I've been out on the road, I've not allowed myself to look at so much as a single music magazine or playlist. I don't want to know the specifics. As long as my song's still climbing, I've got nothing to worry about. That's what everybody keeps telling me. But what happens if it stops climbing? I ask them. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, they say. Then they laugh. But I don't know if it's a Don't-be-ridiculous, that-day-ain't-never-gonna-come laugh or if it's a Don't-be-ridiculous, we-don't-even-talk-about-such-things laugh. Lately I can't seem to decide what's more frightening: that it'll stop climbing or keep climbing.
I've never been in a TV studio before and all I want to do is run around — What's this? What's that? Who're you? Can I press this button? Where does that door go? But I just stand there, trying to act nonchalant, which I'm afraid is coming off snooty. Head Honcho has told me to watch out for the glaring.
"I'm not glaring. I'm looking around."
"People think you're glaring."
"Well, what am I supposed to do? Shut my eyes?"
"How about smiling?"
"Smiling at what?"
"Smiling in general."
"I need to smile specifically."
"Why are you so difficult?"
"I'm not difficult."
Now I feel like everyone's staring at me and I don't know if it's because they love my music or because they hate my guts (Isn't that the big bidding-war chick?) or maybe they're just wondering who the f*** I am and why I'm glaring at everything.
The actual 120 Minutes studio surprises me. On TV it looks like this little cozy room with a nice cozy Oriental rug in it. But in reality, it's this cavernous space with lots of baffles and dark corners and people in the shadows behind cameras who don't say anything. Oh. And there's an Oriental rug on the floor. And it's about 2 degrees.
Burns and SoundBoy have already set up our gear. First, we're going to play through three songs three times each. Then, we interview. That's what I've been told. Buck slings on his bass. I put on my guitar. Robby sits behind his drums up on the riser. We're waiting, I'm not sure for what. No one's talking. Now all I can feel is nervousness. Nervous. Nervosa. Necrophilia. Philadelphia. My mind is racing and my mouth is tight. Blight. Fight. SHUT UP!
A voice comes over a speaker. "Go ahead," it says.
Buck and Robby and I look at each other. I count us in.
We play through "One Year Down," and my face feels so tight it's like my lips could crack.
When we come to the end, silence. Shuffling of cameramen's feet.
The voice comes over the speaker again. "Take two."
The interview. The three of us sit on a big trunk in what I can only imagine are unflattering positions, hunched over, our legs dangling. A woman is sitting behind a camera with a huge light above it shining in our eyes. I can't really see her. She says something I can't really hear.
"What?" I say.
"When did you start playing guitar?" she says.
Dear God: Please don't let this be one of those interviews.
"Around eleven," I say, mouth tight, hair in my face.
"When did you decide to pursue music seriously?"
God? I asked nicely.
"It was like the day after Halloween when I'd just moved to Boston," I say, as Buck inspects his cuticles and Robby softly kicks the tip of his cane over and over with his sneaker.
"Did you move to Boston for the music scene?"
"I didn't even know there was a music scene."
I'm afraid. Afraid that this whole interview is going to focus on me me me, which is going to stick in Buck's craw and he's going to freak out. On camera. On MTV.
"Didn't you used to be a jazz artist?"
Okay, now this chick is blowing my cover. I fumble over my answer, trying to be funny or cute or smile or something, anything.
"So tell me, Jen," says Buck, suddenly turning to me, hand on his chin, crossing his legs. "Weren't you born a small black child?"
I laugh. Robby laughs. I punch Buck on the arm. He winks at me. We carry on.
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