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Isabel Martinez

Enigmatic founder of Psychosis

0 · 464 views · located in Baltimore, Maryland

a character in “Win Hands Down”, as played by Lonesome Matsuzaka

Description

Full Name: Her full name is Isabel Ana-Maria Martinez de la Cruz. She doesn't have any particular disdain for the name or anything, it's just really damn long, so she's just been Izzie Martinez since she moved to the States.

Stage Name: Nope.

Age: Forty, as of 17 January.

Appearance: Izzie is nothing if not a distinct presence, standing head and shoulders over nearly all her peers with broad shoulders and a barrel-chested build. Her dark skin is pockmarked from place to place with scars, birthmarks, a couple of tattoos (they're from her younger years, back when she was still living in Colombia), patches of discoloured skin just a shade lighter than the rest on her upper arms, throat, and back. She wears her greying black hair in long, proud curls not unlike the mane of a lion, framing an angular face with high cheekbones and a pointed nose, and her heavy-lidded brown eyes are set beneath severe, hard brows. Her stage attire is no different from her day-to-day wardrobe, which mostly consists of an old biker jacket over some random shirt, a pair of jeans, some boots.

ya girl

Role: Lonesome Matsuzaka's side character, guitarist and vocalist of Psychosis.

Musical Style: Despite a musical upbringing primarily rooted in thrash metal and hardcore punk-- as reflected in the earliest recordings she appeared on as a vocalist-- Izzie has since developed a style firmly entrenched in the realms of technical and brutal death metal. Primarily influenced by bands like Suffocation and Devourment, her work in Psychosis is characterised in large part by breakneck blasting sections, chunkier grooves, and a penchant for abrupt time signature and tempo shifts; she's not much of a lead guitarist and never seemed to take much of an interest in shredding, or developing her own style of soloing. Her vocals manifest mostly in the form of a deep, guttural bellow, occasionally drifting up in pitch but not quite edging into screaming territory; earlier recordings, particularly with her sister, featured a hardcore punk-influenced snarl.

While her professional career has been rooted in metal, she does have a fondness for playing flamenco and is a talented finger-picker; there's a hint of that in Psychosis, where you might catch a riff or two that clearly makes use of hybrid picking.

Instruments: Her main guitar for anything in A tuning (like Psychosis) is an old Gibson SG-- she's got a few others, but this is the one you're going to see her wielding in the studio and on the stage, and it does seem to be nearest and dearest to her heart.

Personality: The foibles of youth have unfortunately burdened Izzie with a certain reputation for abrasiveness and perfectionism bordering on violent at times, but she's mellowed out in a major fashion in the years since; it's hard to see that angry, caustic personality in the rather soft-spoken, private woman she's since become. However, vestiges of the old Izzie yet linger, manifesting in the Mussolini-esque control she exerts over her band and her ruthless approach to bettering her music and her musicians. These elements-- in conjunction with her preference for privacy and a strict line between professional and personal, an ethos which can easily be mistaken for arrogance-- make her tough to work with, but she's approachable enough, if not quite warm, and even has a vein of dry humor about her.

Biography: Much as could be expected of such a fervently private individual, Izzie doesn't go around blathering all about her personal history, at least outside of what can be gleaned from the litany of bands she's played with since she moved to the United States. She grew up in the dusty seaside slums of Cartagena, Colombia, with a younger sister who in many ways was her whole world growing up and with whom she formed her first band when she was just a lanky, acne-ridden teenager. She was principally a vocalist at that point, and didn't really make any inroads into playing guitar until, at around age sixteen, personal upheaval led her to part ways with Colombia and head for America.

She settled down first in New York City, where she joined a couple of hardcore punk and thrash metal groups-- first on vocals, and then later as a guitarist. She took a hiatus from music to attend the City University of New York, where she earned her BA in history and began working towards a Master's with a specialization in European medieval and Renaissance history. Those plans were put on ice when she moved to Baltimore in 1995, and then abandoned altogether when she decided a career as a historian wasn't for her, that she preferred to make music her focus.

By then, she was already a far cry from the rough-hewn, sometimes explosively violent youth she'd been when she'd first come to NYC and gotten involved in its music scene. Still, the East Coast metal scene was pretty insular; she'd wound up with something of a reputation, and it took a while to substitute that image with the politely professional one she'd since cultivated. By the late 90s, she was once again an active musician, though it didn't take her long to realize playing second fiddle really wasn't in her character-- she wanted to be in the driver's seat.

To that end, in 2001, armed with a handful of songs she'd been working on through the preceding couple of years, she began assembling Psychosis. At first, it was kind of a revolving door-- musicians came and went, some because they had failed to live up to her astronomical expectations, some because they didn't exactly appreciate the level of creative control Izzie exerted, some just because they didn't gel well. In the last four years, blessedly, the line-up has largely stabilized around a core of her, Rick Silva on bass, and Valentina Diaz on lead guitar; Ada Rae Leveque became the band's drummer after the last one was fired for getting drunk, sexually harassing Rick, and being five minutes late to rehearsal. Izzie's still not sure which of the three annoyed her the most.

On the whole, she's satisfied with where she is in life: she's never really been the sort to want or need the company of others, preferring intellectual and creative pursuits instead. She keeps a novel by her bed each night, she likes to learn and explore new subjects, and she enjoys picking up new skills-- lately, for example, she's been teaching herself to draw. It's a quiet life (figuratively speaking), and not one she, as a rule, leaves open to others, but it's the one she's arrived at, and she's content to return to it after a long day at the studio or a couple of weeks out on tour. Heck, it's only recently that she's begun interacting with Rick outside of the studio or the stage, and he's been in the band for five years. Presumably, that's about as long as the line she draws between personal and professional is.

So begins...

Isabel Martinez's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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When Val interrupted Izzie's admittedly fun jaunt through "Gilles de Rais", Rick dropped his volume and took the opportunity to adjust his fuzz settings. Briefly he considered gluing the knobs in place like Peter Steele (shit, was he really gone?), but as quickly as the idea came he dismissed it. So absorbed was he in getting the tone that he didn't notice the audience, at least not until Izzie addressed them.

And apparently she knew one member of Sturm, too. Not too unusual, he supposed; Baltimore was only so large of a city. No doubt they had met somewhere. No doubt he would never, ever hear how they had met. Izzie just wasn't that sort of person, which was fine. Just another layer of mystery in that enigma, wrapped in a riddle, encased in a titan.

Heh.

Oh, right, the visitors. The first two looked like salt and pepper. "Pepper" looked younger for his lack of a beard and height, and seemed like a guitarist, if only because the bag slung over his shoulder looked far too short for a bass. Besides, "Salt" looked much more suited to bass, or possibly bodyguard. Jesus he was big, right about Izzie's size.

"Saludos," he said, waving with a free hand. "Rick Silva."

-----

"Lionel," the guitarist responded, trying not to feel intimidated. Psychosis clearly had years of experience on Sturm, and though Lionel wasn't the biggest fan of the brutal-tech sound, he had to admit they had honed it to a fine art.

Patience, he reminded himself. This wasn't a competition. Music never was.

Although to the newly-arrived Christina, maybe it was in one respect. "Yeah, he got lost," Lionel said, almost embarrassed on his fellow guitarist's behalf. "He should be here soon, though. I gotta watch for him." He sidled past Christina, Zack, and an unfamiliar third person, a woman who didn't look like she belonged anywhere near two partial death metal bands. He ignored her and headed back outside, guitar-bag still on his shoulder.

And just in time, for as he walked out, a green Sentra came barrelling down the road. Lionel waved, and the car slowed dramatically, put on its turn signal in time to swing into the lot. It parked next to Christina's Accord, and out came Ted, tall and lean, rumpled sport-shirt buttoned one shy of the collar. He didn't wave to Lionel until after he'd retrieved his guitar case from the back of his car and locked it back up.

"You can stop smirking now," he growled, more annoyed than malicious. "That's Christina's car, isn't it."

Lionel tried to answer, but could only laugh and gesture for Ted to follow him into the studio.

Ted sighed, then asked, "What's with all the other cars?"

"I was aboutta say," Lionel began, quickly sobering. "Short version, we got company. Long version, we got company, and one'a them knows you."

When he got no response, Lionel glanced back. Ted hadn't stopped short like some stereotype of shock, but his face had frozen in confusion. Lionel decided to put off the ride question for later on.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Christina Kjær Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
Zack looked into the room and gazed at their gear, noting what they used. When the setting was right and the people eager to talk, he would readily engage in gear talk. A gear freak when he was allowed to be. He nodded and smirked behind his beard, fixing his eyes on the members of the band that occupied the room. He was quite impressed by the sudden flash of skill from the guitarist of Psychosis. He had no time to comment on it though, before a giant of a woman directed words at them. Zack nodded in reply and looked behind him as Christina arrived.

"You're going to tease aren't you?" He said and smirked. They knew that none of them could tease Ted with that. He wouldn't like it. At all. But maybe Christina could get away with it. If she smiled prettily while she teased it.
Zack pushed those thoughts away and returned to the situation he was currently in. []iShe's so going to tease him...[/i]

He nodded to the man who introduced himself as Rick Silva. Actually, he was the only one to properly introduce himself. Zack figured that he should just go ahead and get it over with himself, then. "I'm Zack." He started. "I play the bass for Ted." Zack fixed his eyes on the giant woman who'd mentioned the frontman of Sturm by name earlier, prior to any introduction. "I take it you know Ted?" He added and smiled.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Introductions were a little slow for her, but they got it overwith. Well, almost. The huge man from Sturm deigned to state his name and role. She watched as Rick did the same, aside from stating his role since that was evident. Ada knew that meeting Psychosis could be a little intimidating. Mainly because of Izzie, but still.

She decided to stretch out her hand and take Zack's. "Hi!" She greeted happily. "I'm Ada." His rather large hand took hers and her small one almost disappeared. Zack smiled and shook her hand. Compared to Zack, Ada was tiny. She felt more normal when looking at the newest arrival, another woman. She repeated her gesture and stretched out her hand. "Hi, Ada." She took a step towards her as she spoke. "You look lovely. Welcome to the studio!" Ada smirked. She could be very open, from time to time. And she hadn't even had her first drink yet! Haha. Hmm.

"Well..." She said as she turned away and walked into the room. "What's up?" Ada called to her bandmates, hoping that the distraction of these new people would make Izzie forget that she'd been a little late. "You all good, Rick?" her small frame approached him and she put a hand on his shoulder, leaning down. "Izzie hasn't promised to disembowel me yet, right? Did she notice I was late?" Val wasn't as approachable as Rick was, Ada felt. She was working hard on that, though. Soon they would be getting drunk together and hugging and all that. That was her goal. She wasn't going to ask Izzie for obvious reasons, so that left Rick.

Ada turned and looked at the members of Sturm again and smirked. She wanted to see how Izzie was going to interact with these guys. That was always fascinating. One of the traits Ada found fascinating and truly liked her for.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva

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A NEW DAY




The perfect fuzz tone finally came to Rick as he started warming up to track bass on "Gilles de Rais". He recognized it in a trill that sounded almost liquid. He didn't yell anything when he found it. He just looked up at the ceiling and kept trilling the two notes, hearing the seamless transition and sustain, feeling it, living it.

Then he remembered Izzie was watching from the control room, and quickly stopped. "Right," he said, adjusting his headphone mix back to the clean channel over the fuzz. "Listo."

The metronome clicked off eight lead-in beats. Rick took a deep breath. The bass part to this song was harder than the standard for Psychosis bass, with a few jumps in time signatures and a blistering bass-guitar trade-off section. They could punch the fuzzed-out fills in, but he (and Izzie) would prefer a single take for the overall part, so much the better if he could get the fills in the same take.

One minute. Intro and first verse, nothing special, too fast for anything fancy. They tracked a fuzzed part simultaneously, just in case anything sounded better. He didn't complain, since it meant no need to punch the fuzz on, and therefore one fewer opportunity to screw it up.

Two minutes. The slam chorus offered a chance for his contrapuntal efforts to shine, but then back to a steady gallop.

Three minutes. The gallop gave way to a second slam, this one with axes set to kill. Val would sow her demented brand of lead guitar later on, but for now, the stage was Rick's, for two short solos. The first one was simple, a double-stop slide up and a few flashy but easy licks. Nailed it and transitioned seamlessly back to the slam groove where Val would have her rejoinder. Then it was time for the second solo. A quick slide up, then a pseudo-sweep—

"Fuck!" He slid up too far, putting the whole solo out of tune. He stopped playing, but held a finger up. "Keep going," he added, before transitioning back into the slam for Val's second solo. They could punch that in.

After that he only had another verse and the perfunctory outro. The mistake haunted him, but he kept it together just long enough. After the last note, he gave the strings a frustrated whack, sending a dissonant chord into everyone's headphones.

"Sorry!"

-----

"Is this gonna be a regular thing?"

"No. Now c'mon."

Lionel sighed, then eased his guitar into the back of Ted's car, then himself into the shotgun seat. Ted pulled away and lurched into traffic.

"Studio's nice," Lionel said.

"Yeah." Ted wasn't in the mood to talk, but he had to admit that.

"I'm not sure if we're gonna get much done in a half-hour."

"Is what it is," Ted replied.

Truthfully, it wasn't about getting extra work in. Ted wanted to observe Psychosis at work. He considered himself a fine guitarist, but production was a different animal. He had self-produced his own solo record, but that was, well, a solo record. It was him and the acoustic, piezo pickup, a bit of added reverb at parts. This was a full metal band. He'd need all the experience he could glean.

Plus, it might be nice to reconcile with Izzie. Despite the terse split, he respected Izzie as a musician. They didn't work well as bandmates or musical partners, but Ted had had enough trouble over the years to know it hadn't been entirely her fault. It hadn't even been largely her fault. Compared to the "only prog nerds play in 5/8" argument that had landed Ted out of Evil, Izzie's quirks seemed so minor. And as much as he hated to admit it, she had been right about not needing seven takes of that solo.

Lionel's navigation landed them outside the Studio With No Name a few minutes earlier than Ted had projected. They came in to find the place eerily quiet. A third sign had joined the band signs, one word: SILENCE.

The guitarists glanced at each other, then quietly slunk over to their rehearsal room to drop off their guitars. Bereft of their axes, they made their way to the recording area.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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"Not exactly," Ted said. "The bassist was the one behind that stunt, actually. He had some, uh...interesting ideas about recording. Mostly involving lunchbox amps on full volume." His expression turned a little dour at the memory.

Lionel shook his head, still confused about the epithet of "Jazzhole." It appeared he wasn't the only one. He made a note to ask Ted about it before they settled into rehearsing. Nice place, he mused, glancing around at the spartan engineering booth. He gave a small wave to the bassist in the recording room. Poor guy looked a little bored.

As soon as he turned to respond to Zack, the bassist had retreated to the hallway to call Christina. There was still time before Christina had to be here, about twenty-five minutes or so. Still, couldn't be too careful. Ted seemed in an alright mood, though, so maybe it wouldn't matter so much.

"So can you record multiple people at once in there?"

Lionel glanced over to his fellow guitarist. His expression was serious, but neutral. Suddenly coming by a half-hour early made sense. They'd discussed recording practices a few times, but Lionel hadn't been much help. Blasphemme had recorded into Jo's computer with some arcane process involving GarageBand, simulated amps, and input-output settings that Lionel had never bothered to learn. Neither had Evan Caul, so when Trap came about, they set a voice recorder on a music stand in front of their rehearsal setup and played.

Sturm had done the same thing for their demo, but this was different. This was professional. Well, more professional. They had to sound good, however that happened. Presumably it involved actual amps and microphones and shit.

-----

Rick, meanwhile, noticed that Izzie had removed her headphones, started practicing the next song, alternating with a few random ideas of his own. He wasn't sure what to make of the other band. He'd found their demo online after a bit of googling ("Sturm Baltimore" did the trick). The recording was pretty messy-sounding, but that seemed more bad production than bad playing. The two guitarists certainly seemed serious.

How Ted/Edward was related to Izzie intrigued him, but he knew better than to ask her. On the other hand, nothing prevented him from asking him. And if Ada had her way, there would be quite a lot of hanging out. And a not-inconsiderable amount of beer.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva

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"A fair point," Ted replied. "We'll just be rehearsing. Let us know if we're too loud." He turned on his heel as he waved, and started back towards the Sturm Room.

"Nice to meetchuz," Lionel said, following his fellow guitarist to the opposite end of the studio.

As they passed the kitchen, Ted said "Morning Christina," almost as an afterthought. He hadn't registered when, exactly, the drummer had arrived, but if she was late, it wasn't about to harm things any more than his little chat with Izzie. Psychosis' other guitarist was right; there were only so many hours in the day, after all. The best way to fix that wouldn't be one of his stares, but merely getting to work more quickly, and putting in a little bit more effort.

As much as Ted and Lionel considered their axework a team effort, they were definitely different guitarists. Their warm-up routines made this obvious. For one thing, Ted had an earbud in one ear, connected to a metronome. For another, Lionel was playing excerpts from songs rather than exercises.

Each way had its benefits, but Ted preferred more abstract scale exercises to limber his wrist and fingers. Creativity would come later; this was purely mechanical. And a little aural, he admitted, as he turned the amp's treble control down just a tad. Everything fit together in its own way, sonically, mechanically, musically.

-----

Rick, meanwhile, continued his noodling, eventually falling into Wrathchild. At around the bridge he noticed the distinct lack of half of a conversation in his headphones. He had tuned the conversation out once he realized that he wasn't getting an explanation of "Jazzhole" any time soon, but the silence turned out to be more noticeable than the noise.

Though he kept playing, he looked up. There in the booth sat both Martinezes, alone, not looking angry, but not happy to be waiting. Oops.

Best not to keep them waiting. The bassist stopped playing with a sheepish grin. "Did you want another take for Gil?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
"You have that power." Zack said dramatically and smirked. He was quite a bit bigger than Christina. The kitchen blended perfectly with the rest of the studio. Not overly modern, but it had all the necessities. Fridge, small freezer, oven etc. Zack began making Christina and himself a cup of coffee. "So.." He started, but Ted and Lionel appeared in the doorway and greeted Christina. he smirked to himself. Ted was a good guy. So was Lionel. He always made sure to look people in the eye and greet them. It was good for the four way relationship that was this band.

Zack was rarely rushed or hurried upon, so he calmly and quietly handed Christina her cup of coffee and took a sip of his own. Ted and Lionel went to their room and warmed up. Since Christina had almost just landed at the studio, he figured it was fair that she was given some coffeine to get going. "So, did you go out last night or what?" He asked curiously, looking at the drummer over the mug.

Silently he reminded himself that they shouldn't let Ted and Lionel wait for too long. They did pay for their time here.

---------------

That resolved itself pretty nicely. . Ada thought to herself, giving the other band a smile before they left. Valentina had spoken up - which had surprised Ada a little bit - and reminded them all that they hadn't recorded the drums. The pressure suddenly came flooding back into her mind, and the small drummer shuddered a little bit. This was going to take another drink. While she'd enjoyed getting to know the other band, she also knew that Valentina was right. They did pay for their time here, and it wasn't exactly cheap. Actually, Ada didn't know what it cost, she could hardly remember what she had been asked to pay, but she knew recording studios were never cheap.

"I'll be right back, guys." She excused herself and quickly exited the room, hoping that her bandmates didn't notice anything odd. Silently, she cursed her insecurities as well as her face for betraying her.

In the kitchen she found the burly guy and the drummer from the other band. "Hi," she beamed, slightly more composed now. She lingered for a moment and then fished a beer out of the fridge.

"Hello," Zack mumbled in his beard. "Sorry if we occupied precious time back there. We realize that studio work isn't free, we just like to make new friends." His smile was slightly apologetic.

"Oh, don't worry. So do we." Ada thought for a moment. Technically she was pretty sure she and Rick were the only actual social people in the band. Izzie was hard to place. She decided not to say anything though. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I better get back to my guys." Ada said sincerely, before she hurried back.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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By the time Sturm's rhythm section joined the band's twin guitarists, Lionel had gone from Judas Priest and Kreator to Sturm songs. He perched on the stool with his guitar in a pseudo-classical position, running through their opening number. He hit a sour note and stopped with a grimace, but the riff continued. For a half-second he couldn't quite grasp the obvious, but when he glanced over to Ted, he realized his co-guitarist had joined in.

"Ah, nuts," Ted muttered, trailing off. "That wasn't too bad. It's a lot easier to concentrate without the screaming."

"That's why you wear the earplugs," Lionel deadpanned back.

Ted briefly glared at Lionel in response, but quickly returned his attention to the guitar, turning the volume down to run an alt-picking exercise up and across the neck. Lionel glanced over at Christina, who was clearly still a little tired as she settled in behind the drums. Then again, she always seemed a little tired before she got going. A quick jam would take care of that nicely.

Zack, meanwhile, always looked ready to go.

"Right, then."

Lionel turned his attention back to Ted.

"Now that we're all here, and we can't use the recording area...what's the warmup?"

The question itself was one of the trademarks of how Ted led Sturm (Lionel supposed he was the leader, in a loose sense). From the beginning Ted had mandated they never start rehearsal with a Sturm song, only a cover. However, he always solicited ideas for that cover, and they'd built up a small repertoire of those warmup songs.

"Pull the Plug," Lionel nominated.

~~~~~

Meanwhile, across the studio, Rick nodded to Izzie's suggestion, fluttering his fingers to make sure they were still limber. He ran through the previously-flubbed bass break one more time, sliding up into the pseudo-sweep perfectly, then trailing off from the written solo into a slow slide back down. "Listo!"

In that brief moment between that word and the start of the metronome, he did, indeed, feel totally ready. The silence reminded him a bit of the moment before the end of the intro tape and the beginning of Ada's count-in, when the only sound was the crowd, ready to become a riff-driven storm of bodies.

Five-six-sev'neight--

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva

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A NEW DAY

The moment Lionel opened the rear door of Ted's car to place his guitar, he noticed the case wedged between the backseat and the seatbacks was different—one of those smaller semi-rigid cases, not the beat-up hard case. He didn't say anything, though. Perhaps Ted had gotten a new case for "Blue Fire" at the shop; he'd mentioned needing new strings. A new case wouldn't be amiss for a guitar that Ted prized so highly.

They departed from Lionel's apartment to the strains of Traced in Air. Lionel asked if he could put something else on. To his surprise, Ted obliged. After searching the center console to find only some assorted jazz records and something hand-labelled "SP new band" (what), Lionel understood why. This was the most metallic they were gonna get until they reached the Studio.

"Next time, I'm bringin' some fuckin' Accept," he muttered.

Unseen by him, Ted smirked. They continued with only Cynic filling the air for a while.

At length, Lionel ventured, "I dig the new case."

"Hm?"

Lionel pointed his thumb backwards. "The Gator. Bet it's lighter."

"Oh, it is," Ted said. "The guitar's not much lighter, but the case is worlds better. It's even got a padded strap—"

"Wait wait wait," Lionel held up a hand. "You went out to buy strings."

"Yeah, and I bought strings."

"And a case."

"Yeah."

"...And?"

Ted sighed theatrically. "I was hoping the reveal would be when we got there, but...yeah. I bought a guitar. Case came with it."

"You. Ted Marubini. Bought and are using a guitar that ain't Blue Fire."

"I'm not BB King," Ted retorted.

"Hey, I ain't judgin'," Lionel said with a chuckle. "It's just weird. Like Accept doing a schmaltzy ballad."

"They didn't?"

"No?"

"I thought they had a couple. Wind of—"

"That was Scorpions," Lionel cut him off with a hint of irritation, then continued, "And we're getting off-topic. What kinda guitar?"

Ted hesitated, then got a smug look. "You'll see when we get there."

"Damn."

Fortunately, they were almost there. And indeed, once they got situated in their rehearsing room, Lionel saw the new guitar.

"Hot damn!" Psychosis may have heard it.

-----

Rick certainly did. Fortunately, he heard it from the kitchenette between halves of the studio, not from the recording room or the Psychosis rehearsal room. He didn't pay it much mind. The bass tracking was almost done; only "Brutalised and Skinned Alive" remained. Izzie was listening to his last take while he grabbed a cup of water. He thought it was fine, but it was Izzie's song, Izzie's band. He was the most senior bandmember, but he never held illusions about being more than that.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
He reached over the bass and seized his coffee mug, taking a sip. He’d been up early and had gotten a lot done today. It had left him with plenty of time to fiddle around, and now he was stringing up and adjusting his bass. Zack enjoyed a well-adjusted, newly-stringed bass more than most other things in the world. Some people found that weird – even other musicians. He grumbled in his beard and set the coffee down, tightening the last leg to around where he figured was the right note. He fished out the tuner and plugged it in and began tuning his bass.

A few moments later he was done. Of course, Zack knew that he’d be tuning several times today, but new strings never hurt a recording. He took the bass of the table he’d made specifically for the purpose of working on his instrument, and put it back in its case. Then, just to be sure, he got out his phone and shot Christina a text.

‘Hey. Just checking. You live?’

Zack smirked and turned, grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.

When he reached the studio, he got his things out and went inside – coffee and bass in tow. He walked into their room and offered a couple of nods in greeting, then set his bass down and sat down on an amp. It took a second and another sip of coffee to figure out that Lionel and Ted were staring at something. Or admiring? What were they doing.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Zack asked, a growing excitement spreading in his stomach.

They were staring at something in a guitar case. That had to mean either new guitar or that some improvement had been made. Either way, Zack was curious.


In her less-than-expectedly messy apartment, Ada was still fast asleep. There was a glass of rum & coke next to her bed and her clothes were sprawled everywhere. She had initially decided to go home and have a quiet night in, but as that got boring rather quickly, she had decided to go out on the town. Ada had considered asking her bandmates, but she’d remembered that she didn’t want to die. Izzy might kill her just by having her keep up with her, and Val might just kill her. Ada was even less shy when she was drunk.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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"Yeah, sure, another time," Ted said. "But get thinking about what song you want for today's warm-up. I want to get right into it today. If we need to write more, best to start early." And perhaps his new guitar would help with that. Guitarists always talked about guitars holding songs or inspiring certain riffs, which had admittedly made him leery of the idea. The last thing he wanted to be was a guitar collector chasing an illusory perfect guitar. The metaphorical jury was still out on whether it was any better for him to become a guitar customizer, chasing illusory perfection in modification. Then again, he had settled on the guitar's current setup fairly quickly. But what if he needed similar pickups in this new guitar? What was the point in getting a new guitar anyway?

But he was getting ahead of himself. More important now was playability: could he play on this as well as on Blue Fire? Only time would tell.

"Let's defeat some fucking Huns."

Ted blinked and looked up. Lionel was walking in right behind Christina, with no expression on his face to complement, counterpoint, or otherwise explain his desire to murder Old Germanic barbarians. He offered no further explanation—though Ted noticed Christina give a wry grin to the guitarist. Inside joke? Inside joke.

"Right then," Ted said. "While we settle in, anybody got a warmup idea? Lionel, you don't get to pick."

Lionel shrugged and shouldered his Stratocaster.

-----

Was that...? Rick let the unexpected reference go and headed back to his band. That little break had been plenty of time for Izzie to make a judgement call on his last take. He made a mental guess of a...62.5% chance that it would pass. As he took sight of the band, all silent and staring at each other, he revised his guess to 37.5%.

Prodigal son? 12.5%.

"Yeah, I can give it another shot," Rick said. "I had some dry mouth, I bet that was affecting it." A blatant lie, like most of his excuses for insufficiently good takes. It was more his own joke for the bandleader than an actual excuse.

In the booth, he settled the headphones on, making sure the cord was running behind him (a mistake every guitarist made once—once), and fluttered his fingers to make sure they still worked. "Listo!"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Rick Silva

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"Pendejo," Rick growled under his breath, slamming the brakes mid-intersection for only the second time since picking Izzie up to avoid a costly rear-end on whoever decided it'd be a good idea to zoom around a right turn on red. This guy hadn't even done the dubious courtesy of a rolling stop to gauge the wisdom of his decision. Rick never regretted moving up to Baltimore, even with the mierda loca that had once seemed to follow Psychosis like a bad penny, but often he wished other people would learn how to drive.

Driving improved markedly after exiting Route 40, in part because there was very little left. Parking was nearly full, but only nearly, and soon Rick and Izzie were entering Caton Castle. A double bass and drumkit dominated the stage, but a blue Les Paul and Fender Twin could still be noticed off to the side of both. A trio? No, a quartet, Rick noted on the chalkboard. Ah, there was a music stand between guitar and bass, no doubt for the bandleader. Trumpet? Saxophone? No me importa, he decided. This would be a good night regardless, a nice break from 8-10 hours of playing or listening to fragments of the same 9 songs.

-------

Meanwhile, on another side of Baltimore, a quite different scene took place.

"JL, my man!"

"Dannyboy!"

Bartender and customer exchanged a frantically embellished handshake over the bar. "Here for the game?" Dannyboy said.

"And a Cuba libre," JL answered. "Open up a tab."

"Right on," Dannyboy replied.

Lionel handed over his debit card for the tab, and received the lime-crowned concoction a minute later. He took a stool near the end of the bar and situated himself to watch the talking heads talk pre-game shop. There was reason for hope after trouncing the Rangers, especially since today was at home, but still Lionel declined to wear any Orioles merch. Twasn't the season to celebrate the team. Twasn't the decade, really.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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There was a difference, Rick would argue, between perezoso and relajado. Perezoso meant letting life pass you by. Relajado, by contrast, was knowing when to let life pass, but also when to take control. When it was wise to speak up and when it was wiser to let the chips fall. It required restraint, yes, and a calm affectation, but more than that it required perception. Hard to seize the moment if you didn't see it, after all.

The above mishmash of Sherlock and Zen was Rick's explanation of how he noticed Izzie's momentary pause. He followed her gaze quickly to the stage; something had caught her eye there. No doubt it was the bright blue Les Paul. It certainly was something unusual. Maybe a custom job? But then its owner would have had the self-respect to get it refinished at some point. Goddam, the light was not kind to that guitar. Then again, he and his bass had been through a lot with Psychosis—to say nothing of Izzie's SG! Perhaps he should not throw stones.

Just after he ordered "Ron's Famous House Chilli[sic]", the lights began to dim. Four men took the stage, two black (trumpet? and drums) and two white (guitar and bass). After a few moments of idle noodling, they began the most famous five-beat in jazz history—maybe all music history.


-------

Meanwhile, over at the Anchor, the talking heads were just getting warmed up. Lionel was nearly halfway through his first drink, and had somehow found himself listening to the man five drinks deeper than he (At six-fifteen! Why‽) debate fashion with Danny.

"I tell you one thing, son," the man said. "You know what I see a lot of, and I'm not sayin' you do it, but I see it a lot, and I just don't get it?"

How to ask a question, clearly, Lionel thought.

"Wuzzat?" asked the bartender, glancing aside to Lionel.

"Well," the tippler began, before taking a deep breath and apparently inhaling the only gnat in the whole damn bar. Lionel snatched his drink as the coughing fit started, just before his fist came down hammerlike on the bar.

"Careful, man!" Danny's hand came down softer but firmer on the man's wrist. "Don't overexert yourself."

Lionel looked up at the television in a vain hope the pre-game would be more interesting, then surveyed the bar again to see if anyone new turned up. He turned just in time to see a chick downing an entire beer bottle. From the look on her face, she probably needed it. Her companion seemed keen to lift her spirits, anyhow. Maybe a bad breakup. Though as he turned back to the tippler, finally ending his coughing fit, he couldn't shake the feeling he'd seen one or the other of them someplace before...

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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It was about the middle of the third number ("Suggested by Minor Swing," according to the bandleader) that Rick put two and three together and realized the guitarist of this band was also the "Great Jazzhole" whose band was sharing the studio with Psychosis. The guitar was certainly distinctive, though its owner was somewhat less so. Despite his name, he played a pure sideman here, standing straight as a cornstalk through comps and solos alike, barely acknowledging the knowing chuckles from a few tables when his rambling solo finally resolved into "Classical Gas." Rick could have made a comment about that, but he withheld it, knowing Izzie was probably doing the same. She never pronounced judgement until she understood the subject, and for a musical performance that meant waiting until it was finished to say a word. Ted's aimless solo cast a shadow over his inventive comping, but he and the bassist traded eight-bars with a synchronicity that made Rick wonder if he had played with Ted's metal band before Barbagrande.

As the applause died, Rick scooped up a bite of the "chilli," but paused with it in his mouth on hearing Izzie's judgement. Realizing how silly that looked, he quickly closed his mouth, chewed the bite, waited for any other comment. Nothing came until after he swallowed, whereupon he had to respond: "That's it?"

-------

"That's it, man! You gotta get it!"

"Get what?"

"Get summa that," the tippler said, using his olive-pick to indicate the yin-yang pair at bar's end.

Lionel tried to ignore him. "Did she say why?"

"She just said, the guy next to the really drunk guy, could you bring him a beer," Danny repeated flatly. "I dunno either."

"You're helpful," Lionel grumbled. "I guess I'll pay in kind and see what happens."

"You're getting her a beer?"

"He's gettin' her! Y'knowhatI'msayin', he's gettin' some—"

"—fuck up," was the only audible part of Lionel's answer.

Danny blinked. "What?"

"I said get her a Cuba Libre too."

"Fuckin' kids, quit playin' games. She wants the—"

"An' I told you to shut up," Lionel cut him off. "You do your thing, I do my thing, cool?"

"Kids," the tippler grumbled. "I'mma take a piss." He lumbered steadily away towards the sign saying "EMERGENCY EXIT."

"Don't worry about him," Danny said. "He's not that drunk yet."

Lionel grunted. "Ask her why she got me that beer."

"Only if you tell her why you're getting her a Libre when she probably doesn't do rum."

"Well, I don't do beer," Lionel retorted. "Pen?"

Danny obliged. Lionel grabbed the anchor-emblazoned napkin and scrawled under the twin hooks, "TRADE?" Danny smirked. Lionel half-hoped the game would start soon, half-hoped he wasn't getting buttered up for a rebound, half-guessed he was misinterpreting the whole situation, half-wondered how many halves would fit in his state of mind.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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Rick couldn't resist grinning at Izzie's expanded commentary. She sounded like a talent scout, or a producer, or a bandleader—which she was, of course. He wondered if she could have been anything else. Could she have played the sidewoman to another? Maybe not with her stature—then again, Dio had played with taller men and never lost command of the stage. He was a born frontman, with a golden throat powered by aetheric lungs that could make the stuff of Michael Whelan covers sound like Renaissance art. And Izzie, in turn, was a born leader, with a clear vision of what she wanted, a keen ear to hear what suited it, and an iron determination to leave behind that which didn't suit it.

Then again, all of that could also apply to a world-class dictator. Perhaps he ought to be more cautious. But for now, there were more important things, like talking shop.

"Good? No, I gotta pay. And talk to the bassist. Hablamos bajista, ¿clara?" 'Bassist-talk' made sense in his head, but not so much out of his mouth. Still, he would stick to it.

It didn't take long to flag down the server for the cheque, and even less time to flag down the bassist, a skinny muchacho who seemed in no hurry to leave. In their low-end discussion, neither of them noticed as the quarter's guitarist quietly made his way to the bar, to a particular young woman with fair hair and a flowing caftan dress.

-------

For a brief moment, Lionel felt a pang of jealousy for Ted, and could not say why. That was a lie: he was jealous because Ted was at a jazz club, the sort of soporific place where people went to relax after a hard day. A bar such as the Anchor, on the other hand, was for a bit of excitement after a long day of modern ennui. Normally that was more Lionel's thing than the jazz club. But this was not a normal situation. The drunk sumbitch was not only drunk and vicariously horny, he was getting violent. With a woman.

This never ended well. Danny had seen that too, if Lionel interpreted his quick bark for "Elliot" correctly. Presumably he meant the large man edging his way through the crowd. Lionel had seen this scene a few times before. Swing and a miss, a forward pitch, then either a strikeout or an intentional walk. And sometimes that happened in the baseball game instead!

Time for a curveball. "Ayo, let her go!"

Drunk Sumbitch froze, still holding the woman's wrist, but his attention on Lionel, bleary eyes narrowed. "Why d'you care?"

"'Cause she don't want none of you, old man!"

Lionel expected that to be a serious aggro-draw, but instead Sumbitch grinned. "Whatcha gonna do about it?"

For the first time that night, Lionel realized he might have fucked up.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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#, as written by iCakez
Sighing with annoyance, she turned on her stool. Ada had no patience for that drunk prick anymore. It was starting to get on her nerves, that he couldn't leave her alone and let her have a good time. Ada had gone out in the hopes of getting buzzed (potentially blitzed) and have fun with her bandmate. One of those seemed unlikely to happen so far. But when she turned and saw Val, her expression turned more curious than anything. There was a smile on her face. Val didn't look like she was on the warpath, no, instead she brought a peace offering. The way she handled the situation amused Ada, but it was also quite endearing. Val was really no good with people.

"Val," The name came out softly. Ada didn't know what to say for once in her life. On her lips was a rare smile. It wasn't flirting and it wasn't because she wanted something. It was just genuine. The way Valentina was fidgeting and messing with her skirt made her heart flutter. Ada was surprised that she had such a reaction to the woman before her, and decided to shake it off. For the past many years she'd been a fast-paced, hard-partying drummer girl with little time for genuine emotion and she was quite content with keeping it that way. There was no idea in pointing out to Val how adorable she was, as she was certain she would never forget that. And they would have to get back into the studio, and Val would still speak in her monotone and be back to her normal self. In her mind, she imagined that the fact that she was witness to the scene unfolding, was like knowing a deep and dark secret about a high-ranking politician. Ada would pay Valentina the respect of keeping it secret. As secret as possible anyway, with Lionel sitting right next to her.

Grabbing the hand that was toying with her skirt, Ada gently pulled Valentina closer. She then accepted the glass of whiskey and locked eyes with her bandmate, as if accepting the dare that was hidden in the undertones of her offer. Ada took a sip. The liquid was sweet on her tongue but burned delightfully in her throat. She liked whiskey and rum, but always faced the issue that she was skinny and would get very drunk, very fast. She held the glass up eye-level and inspected the liquid for a moment before shifting her gaze to Valentina yet again. "Apology accepted." Ada said, though no apology had been offered. Not directly, at least. The glass in her hand would be as close as she'd get and that would have to do.

"Now!" She announced and turned to introduce Lionel. "Valentina this is Lionel, Lionel, Valentina." She set the glass down on the bar. "He's in the other band at the studio." As she spoke, her mind raced to remember the name but unfortunately that was one of her flaws. Ada seized the moment while the two of them greeting each other, to look over at where Val had been sitting to see if she had been drinking any more. Three beers. She looked at her again, trying to gauge if she was drunk.
"So can I buy you another drink? Or are you good?" Ada offered her a smile, pointing past Val toward where she had been sitting. Somewhat mirroring the tone in Valentina's words from before, there was that tone as if she was daring her to have another drink.

If she hurls, what's Izzie gonna think?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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Numerous words coursed through Rick's mind as he pulled in at the studio. About two-thirds of them were in Spanish. None of them were suitable for print or primetime television. He still brought his bass and the "efectos" bag with him, just in case Izzie wanted to re-track any parts, but that was unlikely. The contrapositive of her infamous perfectionism was that perfection needed no re-takes. Once she had the perfect take, whether her own or her bandmate's, she never asked for more. It was a fair tradeoff.

One whiff from the kitchenette was enough to make him glad he'd decided to grab a cup from elsewhere. That was the real reason he had been late, in a sense. The side-trip to Abaddon's had forced him to take a route notorious for traffic hangups, and this morning had been no different.

"Saludos," he said upon entering. "Sorry I'm late. Did you already soundcheck?"

-------

It took a moment for Ted to acknowledge Zack's question. Lionel supposed he hadn't gotten much sleep. Perhaps that was why he was risking such memetically strong coffee, even if he wasn't playing. That much was obvious from the splint, all the way from mid-forearm to thumbtip.

"Oh, this," Ted said, indicating it. "Yeah, about that. I had an accident last night. Overextended the tendon or something like that. Hurts like hell. I gotta ice it every day, then I'm seeing a doctor next Tuesday to get a better prognosis. They..." He faltered, took a sip of coffee, then continued: "They didn't say I'm not going to play again, but...they didn't seem to be able to say a lot. I'm gonna have to wait until I talk to the doctor. Maybe then I'll know. For now...I can't play on the record. We'd have to push everything back by a couple months, and we already have the studio time, so..." Shrug. "Say hi to the new producer?"

"Hi," Lionel said, feeling pressure settle in over him like never before. He'd expected some of this since Steph's telephone call last night, but only now was it all falling on him. All of the guitar work on this record would fall to him. The riffs weren't a problem; he might even enjoy the chance to play both his parts and Ted's elaborations, but what about the leads? Ted played a solid majority of those, and they were always so different. How could he equal that?

"Fuck," he muttered to himself. Not having much else to say, he picked his guitar case back up from where he'd left it and headed for the rehearsal room. If he was going to have to play for two guitarists, he had best start warming up.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
"Would Doom count as jamming? That has a pretty badass soundtrack, although a little more mainstream than our little shop of horrors here." Ada shot in, taking a sip and looked from one Martinez to the other over the rim of her mug, expression non-revealing. It was one of the very few video games she knew of. Not because she had played it, but because she had been recommended its soundtrack by a friend. Ada enjoyed the idea of video games but she had never had the ability to sit down for long enough to play them. Apparently, it was possible, for a few people, to make a living playing video games nowadays. That had come as a surprise to her.

While entertaining the thought of purchasing a system to play video games on, thus giving her a little hobby aside from playing music and drinking, Rick walked in. Ada looked up and smiled at him. "Speak of the devil." She murmured, sipping doom sludge again. She leaned forward in her seat and sighed. "Anyway, I think this might actually be altering my brain, so run me through what we're doing today again?" As she was quite a distracted person, it was hard for Ada to keep track of what they were doing from day to day, if she wasn't directly involved. She knew that Rick had been tracking, but she was not sure he was done. That was sort of up to Izzie, and Ada was not particularly interested in challenging her authority. The frontwoman was not opposed to any input, but it had been made clear from the moment Ada had joined the band that she was in charge. Which was fair enough, it was easy for Ada that way, though perhaps harder for Izzie as she was so distracted and had such a hard time sitting still for extended periods of time.




"Huh." Was all that escaped through thick beard. Zack was not enjoying the solution to their problem, but he realized that it was their only option. If Ted was so injured that he couldn't play, he shouldn't. But Zack wanted Ted on the record. He wanted to have him play the parts. On the other hand, he was pretty sure Ted would guide Lionel well enough through playing his parts that it would work out fine in the end. "Shit man." The bassist's shoulders slumped, disappointment clear.

Clearing his throat, Zack leaned against the wall next to the door and watched Ted. "Not digging it, but I think you're right. We already have the studio so let's work with what we've got." He said, pursing his lips and nodding. Zack gulped down some of the ridiculously strong coffee. "That stuff aside though, how are you? Can you manage the pain?" He didn't want to dwell on how it was going to go, recording their remaining work. But Lionel didn't seem to be able to help himself. It was hard to blame him, though, as it would probably be him that'd record Ted's material. Zack would have felt pressured as well.

He watched the guitarist head out the door and toward their rehearsal room. "Go easy on him, yeah?" Zack said with a smirk that became a chuckle, now kind of looking forward to see the two of them work together so closely.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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"Claro, claro," Rick said, both to Izzie's implied request he get set at the console and heading off the little interaction between Ada and Val. Maybe Ada had drummed herself a little too hard the other day, or maybe something else had happened. Izzie wasn't making a problem of it, so neither would he. "What kind of tone we going for on the guitars, jefe?" Psychosis was certainly—and intentionally—not on the sonic cutting edge. Izzie's stubborn insistence on using her old SG for pretty much everything lent their riffs a sludgier quality than most other bands of similar technicality, and sometimes they didn't saturate the tone as much. Last album had been pretty heavily distorted, but not wholly devoid of dynamics.

Izzie had the idea of where she wanted to go with this, what would work best with the clean-but-growling tone Rick had already recorded. He was less an assistant producer than he was an extension of her producer's brain, more ears to listen and more hands to work the desk while her own hands worked the guitar.

Before Izzie could respond to his query, the door opened quietly. Rick turned around, wondering who on Earth could be coming in, and recognized the guitarist from the other band. Both the band's name and the man's name escaped him for the moment, but he could tell the man wasn't in great condition. His right hand was wrapped up in some kind of splint, and he had the distinctive dark-eyed pallor of someone who hadn't gotten much sleep.

"I won't be a bother," the man said quietly. "I just wanted to, uh, watch." His lips quirked in a half-smile as he took the situation in. "Not much changes, eh Izzie?"

-------

Some time later, Ted had explained the situation to his own band, just in time for them to be finishing up the scratch tracks before tracking for real. It was some stupendous timing, if by stupendous one meant horrendous and aggravating. Half of what made Sturm unique (at least in his mind) was the harmonic play between the two guitarists, or more accurately the ornamentation Ted added to Lionel's bedrock. Since Lionel had to sing live, it only made sense that Ted played more complicated parts, but now Lionel would have to play both. And sing. At least it wasn't at the same time.

Christina came to the rescue from that morose tangent with one of her typical quips. It worked for Ted, eliciting a chuckle. His semi-formal style had started in his emigration from jazz clubs, but now he supposed it was as much part of Sturm's image as Zack's mountain-man look on the opposite side of the stage. Under the funny part of the quip, he could tell she was feeling for his pain—hard to miss how she reached across to pat him on the shoulder farthest from his injured hand.

Zack was more conventionally reassuring. "He'll do fine. We'll get through this. It won't sound totally live like I'd hoped, but we'll do what we can." What else could they do?

"Anyway," he said, now addressing the band at large as he took up his coffee and followed Christina following Lionel to the rehearsal room. "If I remember right—and I'm running on maybe two hours of sleep, so maybe I'm wrong—but I think we just had to make a scratch track for Under the Lash with the new instrumental, then we'll be ready to start actually recording. Maybe we can get Christina's drums set up; Psychosis finished up their drum stuff a while ago so there's at least one room free." He smiled to himself. "I've got an idea there, too, but one thing at a time."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
At Valentina's reply, Ada's eyes widened. She was in quite the mood, the drummer thought but couldn't help smirking to herself. She was hungover and understandably so. Added to that, it was probably a feeling she was not used to. Their little night out had been a mixed experience. It was both very enjoyable and amusing, but at the same time extremely frustrating. Valentina was the most anti-social person she had ever met, but it was fascinating to watch her in social engagements. Ada sat and wondered these things and thought of how she fared when men came up to her. If that ever happened. Firstly, it required that Valentina went out which was already unlikely. Ada was pretty sure she was either here or back home playing Halo or something. Secondly, the guitarist was the inventor of the resting bitch face. Valentina would also have to speak to whoever dared come up to her. Ada realized that most men would probably be much too intimidated to make a pass at her bandmate. She pitied the poor guy who'd asked her to go to prom. Ada stifled a laugh.

It was always good fun to listen to Izzie - or any of her bandmates - track her stuff. Ada could listen along and in her mind she would always think of drum-parts, fills, blasts and other little things that she thought would add to the song. She rarely added any of them to the finished version, but saved them for their live shows. In the studio, she usually did what Izzie asked her to do. Their supreme leader was not impervious to suggestions, but Ada knew not to launch too many at her all at once. She'd only suggest something if it was thought through and something she really wanted to try out. When they played live, she didn't ask permission so much. It hadn't been a problem so far. If Izzie didn't like it, Ada had no doubt she would let her know.

Her head turned as the door opened. She remembered meeting him and the rest of his band when they arrived at the studio, but his name failed her. Ada's eyes followed him as he entered, a curious and intrigued smile on her face. She picked up a drumstick from the table to her left and began twirling it through her fingers. She didn't feel like trying her luck anymore with Valentina, so this new arrival was a fresh opportunity to engage in conversation. Rick and Izzie would be busy enough and she knew better than to disturb. "You know each other?" The question was obvious, though perhaps Ada was the only one inclined to ask. If she had been informed of how the two of them were acquainted, she couldn’t remember. But then again, she had issues remembering what they were tracking today as well, so perhaps that didn’t really say much.




Despite the gravity of his situation, Ted didn’t seem completely thrown off. It was a big problem and it was worrying to think what the doctors would tell him next Tuesday, but for now they would manage. There was nothing else to do. Zack followed his friends into their rehearsal room and leaned against an amp. He ran a hand over his beard and took a sip of coffee and listened to what Ted had to say.

He nodded along, agreeing with what he said. “Sounds right.” He said, voice coarse. He cleared his throat and sipped the coffee again, unsure if that would help or make it better. It was good to know that Psychosis were done, so that Sturm could get to work. Being able to lay down some drums meant that they have plenty of work to do, but most importantly it meant progress. So far it had worked out, sharing the studio with the other band. Initially, he had been worried if they would get in the way of each other, but it had gone pretty smoothly. But since that was not an issue, fate decided to maim Ted and cause them trouble on that front instead.

“Come on.” Zack said, shaking his head in mock disappointment. “You can’t tease stuff like that.” It was always interesting whenever Ted had ideas, especially when they came to him after the original framework of the song had been hammered out. Zack himself often had ideas, but was very critical in choosing which ones to present. But that was part of the whole creative process in the studio. Everyone had ideas for songs and so it was their job to figure out which to implement. And they wouldn't know if they had chosen wisely until the record was done.