Today I’m back with another deleted scene from my new novel Anthem of the Sea. Last week I shared a flashback moment to when my lead character Daniel Blake, just sixteen, auditioned for the boyband Overload. This scene continues that flashback, charting the rise and fall of the band. I really enjoyed writing these flashbacks, but for the purpose of the story, they weren’t necessary. In the end, I was able to get Daniel’s backstory across in a more succinct manner, but I love this stuff.
My long-term goal has always been a write a novel about a closeted 1960s popstar, that will be full of flashbacks, musical references and period detail. I’ve been researching the era and stars of the day on and off for years. It’ll be an epic story. 600 hundred pages plus. I’m not quite ready to go there yet, but it won’t be long. It’s a story I have to write. It just won’t go away.
In the meantime, enjoy this trip back to the music scene of the early 2000s.
My handwritten first draft of Anthem of the Sea
Deleted Scene #2
The following week, at Sam’s insistence, he moved into a three-bedroom semi-detached house with the other boys. Sam’s boy band had actually been formed six months earlier and they’d been living together all that time. They had already recorded the twelve songs that would make up their debut album. Their first single would have been out by now, except Sam had sacked their lead vocalist three weeks earlier.
“The kid was a nightmare. I had to get rid of him before it was too late.”
“What? So I’m just a replacement?” Daniel couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He was on his way to meet the rest of the boys for the first time when Sam filled him in on their history.
“Don’t get precious about it. I could have put you at the front and got you to mime to the other fucker’s vocals. But I’m not gonna do that because you sound better than any of them. I want you singing lead vocals on all the tracks.”
“Those other guys are gonna hate me.” He felt really sick.
“Then you’ll just have to make them like you.”
Daniel had a week to pick up all twelve songs and record replacement lead vocals for the album. It was intense. As the newcomer, he expected the four original members, who were all a few years older, to hate him, but they were surprisingly cool about him joining.
“The other guy was a prize dick,” they told him over dinner one evening. “As long as you don’t turn into him, it’ll all be good.”
Ben, David, Christian, Luke and now Daniel were collectively known as Overload.
In the lead up to their single release, Sam sent them on an intense promotional schedule. They frequently performed two shows a night; school discos followed by late gay clubs. The set involved them performing high energy dance routines while miming three or four of their songs. Groomed as clean-cut boys next door, they were an immediate hit with their target audience.
The gay clubs were an eye opener for Daniel. He’d known since he was eleven that he was probably gay. He’d always fancied other boys but had yet to act on his desires. Now here he was, sixteen and still a virgin, being lusted over by horny men in the kind of clubs he’d only dreamed about.
“Don’t fuck the fans,” Sam warned all the boys. “No groupies of either sex. If word gets out your glittering pop career will be over before it starts. The teeny boppers don’t want to hear about girlfriends or sex scandals. They want you for themselves. Good boys they can take home to the family. Maintain that illusion at all costs.”
Sam determined that Overload’s debut single would be a cover of ELO’s All Over the World. Daniel had doubts about the choice but didn’t dare voice them. The original was a classic. Their version was clunky and cheesier than fondue. It got the crowds going in the gay bars but that probably owed more to the atmosphere and alcohol than their song. He couldn’t understand how it would fit on the current pop charts. Tastes were changing again. Steps had already split and S Club weren’t having the kind of success they once enjoyed.
Sam was undeterred. They shot a video for All Over the World and performed the song on every TV show that would have them. The promotion schedule was insane. The boys would be up at 4.00 a.m. to perform their song on some TV breakfast show. Then they were onto a bus, travelling round all day to sing in schools and shopping malls before ending the day with a 1.00 a.m. nightclub PA.
Their effort gained little reward.
All Over the World entered the UK single chart at number seventeen. It fell to forty-nine in its second week and was off the chart by its third. The boys were devastated. Though Daniel had little faith in the track, but they had put so much into its promotion, flogging themselves twenty hours a day, it was a massive disappointment to see it flop.
The song fared marginally better abroad. When it broke into the top ten in Japan, a five day promotional tour was hurriedly put together. The work load in Japan was even more extreme than at home. While in the east, Daniel shared a room with band mate Christian, who at nineteen was the closest to his own age. When they came back to the UK, Daniel was no longer a virgin.
It was no big romance. Daniel liked Christian a lot, he was fun and good-looking, a great guy to be around. But a buddy rather than his big first love. They came together out of curiosity and a mutual desire to experiment. Daniel felt safe with Christian. He trusted him. There was no one else he’d rather lose his virginity to. But there was no great passion there.
“Let me know if it hurts,” Christian said, breathing softly on his face as he eased his hard cock inside.
Daniel opened his legs wider and held Christian tight, breathing deeper, waiting for the pain. It never came. Christian took his time. He was tender and careful and used a lot of lube. He was experienced, recognising what was good and what to avoid. When Daniel came with Christian’s solid cock moving confidently inside him, the power of the orgasm rocked his entire body. It left him dizzy.
“My God. I never expected it to be like that,” he gasped.
Christian kissed him all over his face. “You have no idea how beautiful you are, do you? Your face when you came, I wish I’d taken a picture to remember it.”
Back in the UK, Overload shot a video for their second single and began the promotional cycle all over again. Summertime of Love was another upbeat, cheesy pop song with a manic dance routine.
It failed to make the top forty.
Undeterred Sam Leferve pushed on with the album release. The songs were already recorded so why the hell not? The album was preceded by a new single. Sam took no chances with this one. The release would be a double A-side aimed straight at the Christmas party market. They had a change of pace on one song, a wintery ballad called The Coldest Season, while its counterpart was a ramped up cover version of 10cc’s Things We Do for Love with additional sleigh bells added to the mix.
“A drippy love and a tremendous party anthem. This cannot fail,” Sam said confidently. “Christmas number one, here we come.”
The single manged a slight gain on its predecessor, making number thirty in December. Their album, Overloaded, released the same month, failed to chart.
By his eighteenth birthday, Daniel’s dreams of pop stardom were over. Overload lost their record and management deals and the band fell apart.
“Bad luck, kid,” Sam told him over the phone. “That’s the way these things go. It’s a shit business when it doesn’t go your way. You’ll get over it. You’re young enough. Besides, I think you’ve got something. I really fucking do. Don’t give up.”