“I’m sooo excited. We’re just minutes away from the arrival of our special guests, Zach Rohnan and Jason Maldonado from the band IED! As you all know, that show has been sold out for weeks now but KSTR still has some tickets to give away, so keep listening all the way up to my show tomorrow when Bad Boy Billy, who, sweetheart that he is despite his name, will be pulling a double shift, giving away the station’s last pair of tickets while covering my show and then his own. But I’ll be checking in via live remote throughout the night as one lucky contestant and a guest join the members of IED for dinner, front row seats and the after party! And people, let me tell you that you wanna stay tuned in for the rest of my show today, especially if you’ve been registered for the awesome night tomorrow! Zach Rohnan himself will announce the big winner. That’s just a couple of hours away! Now, let’s start the afternoon drive home with the latest single from the new IED album, Under a Blood Red Moon. Here’s Your Money’s Worth on the only station that rocks Denver twenty-four-seven, KSTR.”
Starr flipped a switch and then moved and clicked the mouse, confident that the run of music playing the next several minutes would give her a chance to run to the restroom and double-check her appearance for the umpteenth time. Her hot guests hadn’t arrived yet but they would be here any minute and she didn’t want to use the mirror in the green room and be caught primping. She would never hear the end of it from her co-workers, especially since her “no-celebrity-rule” was commonly known. For the life of her, she could not fathom what was going on inside her head. This wasn’t the first rock stars she’d interviewed and they sure wouldn’t be the last. But, she admitted to herself, she’d really gone all-out to look good for these guys—okay, one of these guys.
Looking in the mirror, she said out loud to her reflection, “Confess, bitch. You know you’re crushin’ on Rohnan.” Certainly not the first time the thought crossed her mind.
Yes, she was. She was just so impressed with how he handled the rock and roll lifestyle. He wasn’t a bleeding heart, but he wasn’t an asshole either. And, honestly, those were usually the two extremes that many celebrities fell into. She remembered being on a flight to L.A. a couple years back, covering a Lollapalooza event and she happened to be sitting in first class with Jay Leno. She’d always loved the guy on late-night TV, but he was a total dick to the flight attendant. It really colored her opinion of him. And besides her own ill-fated romance years before, most all of the media personalities she’d met fit into one or the other category.
Using a cotton swab under her eye to wipe away some mascara, she then took a finger to rub a bit of shadow that seemed darker on one side. She sprayed some spritz on her hair, careful not to get any on the black and brown feathered earrings, scrunching up the strands at the top to give it a little lift and a bit of a messy look. Finally, she pulled out her lipstick and re-applied the burgundy color along her lip outline. A quick spray of Chloe perfume on the leopard print suede short dress she wore with fishnet stockings that encased her slim thighs right before they disappeared into a pair of knee-high black moccasins finished her off and she raced back to the studio with seconds to spare before the last track finished. Just as she sat down, clicking over to the advertisement spots set to run in the first break of her show, she saw through the large window next to the studio door the band members being led in by her now-officially-former producer and the new assistant program director Mac Sherman. He waved to her, as did the other men, while they passed the studio onto the green room, where they could relax and gather their thoughts for a few minutes before she introduced them. Maldonado blew her a kiss with two fingers, smiling suggestively at the same time, but Rohnan just nodded his head in acknowledgment, turning his attention back to Mac. She ignored the rush of disappointment, focusing on the next segment of her show.
“And we’re back and just moments away from our very special guests, Zach Rohnan and Jason Maldonado, lead vocals and bass for the bad-ass IED! In fact, I have a pair of tickets to give away for the first caller to correctly name, in order, all the singles of their first full-length CD and the CD too, of course. Now here’s some System of a Down, Spiders, to get us all in the mood.”
Over the next several minutes, Starr took callers who were trying for the ticket give away. She returned on-air with the recorded call of the winner.
“Who am I speaking to?” her voice asked energetically.
“My name’s Mandy,” came the excited reply of a young woman.
“So Mandy. You say you know all eight of the songs on IED’s debut album. Let’s start with the name of the CD.”
“The CD is called Run For Cover.”
“Now can you name the singles?”
“Yes, I sure can. I love that album. And I love you, too, Zach! Track one, Give It a Rest, track two, Take It or Leave It, track three Hit By a Bus, track four, On the Run, track five is the cover title, track six is Redemption, track seven is Blood Splatter and track eight is Longing,” the young woman finished breathlessly.
“Hot damn, you got it! Mandy, you and a friend are going to the show. Hold on while I get your information to be added to the guest list. You already know who you’re taking?” Starr asked the wailing caller.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe it! And yes, even though my boyfriend might not like it, I’m taking my sister. Her birthday was a week ago and we have been trying to get tickets to this concert for a month. In fact, I listen to your show everyday on the way home from work. I was hoping that somehow, I’d win tickets! I’m so excited and Gwen, if you’re listening, happy birthday, big sister!” the woman finished as Starr disengaged the call.
“Well, I imagine Gwen doesn’t mind this late birthday present one bit! When we return, I have a gift for all the listeners out there. Zach and Jason are coming up after this commercial break. Stay tuned!” she finished, clicking on the next set of advertisements scheduled to run during the show. She buzzed into the green room and told Mac she’d just run a five-minute, thirty-second ad reel and was ready for her guests. A few minutes later, all three men entered the studio. Bar stools had been brought in earlier that day in anticipation of the band members. Jason carried an acoustic guitar and three mircrophones had been set up, two about the height of the men and one about the height of the instrument.
Starr immediately stood up from her chair and greeted the men with an outstretched hand. Mac, in the back, nodded his head and ducked back out of the studio.
“Welcome, welcome,” she said enthusiastically, although later, she’d wonder if she’d “gushed” a bit much. The tingle that ran up her arm at the first contact she made with Zach Rohnan felt like a mild shock of static electricity and she could feel a growing irritation at herself for acting and feeling so unprofessional. Gesturing to the stools, she held up a hand for the five second countdown as they settled in their seats.
Deciding it would play well with the listeners, she gave up her internal struggle and announced, “So we’re back and in the studio I have very special guests, Zach Rohnan and Jason Maldonado from the band IED. I have to say in all honesty, I am kind of crushing on you guys,” she started and Jason immediately let out a whoop of laughter. The handsome Mexican clapped his hands together and turned to his bandmate.
“Hey, dude. It looks like I might have a fighting chance with this one,” he laughed. When the lead singer replied, Starr thought her insides would just melt at the lilt of his Irish accent.
“That’s only cuz she ain’t seen you drunk yet, brother,” came the amused reply. Staring at the auburn-haired man with the bottle green eyes, she almost lost track of her cue as she continued on.
“So, Zach. Clearly you’re Irish-born. Is Zach short for Zachary?” she asked, trying to recover her cool and put her interviewing hat on.
“Actually, my full name is Zechariah, and yes, I was born just outside of Belfast. But me mum’s American and we moved to the states when I was a teenager.”
“I think I read somewhere that she’s a naval officer. Is that true?”
“Well, she’s retired now and m’ father is a protestant minister. So, as you can imagine, he wasna too popular back in the homeland. Northern Ireland is still very Catholic.”
“So your name is biblical. I’m a little rusty on my scripture. Zachariah was a king or something?”
“Well, yes, Zachariah was, but I was named for Zechariah, the profit. My full name is spelled with an ‘e.’ It means ‘the Lord is remembered’ My nick name, Zach, is a bit of a misnomer.”
“Clearly you’ve had a spiritual upbringing. I gather your parents weren’t too thrilled with your career choice?”
“Nae, no’ at first. But they’re great people and my t’ree brothers are all respectable,” he laughed. “A teacher, a lawyer and a chef.”
“Jason, you’re from Texas, right?”
“That’s right, born and bred on barbeque and ice tea. We all graduated from the same high school in Austin. That’s how we met and that’s when we started playing together.”
“I read somewhere that your influences were Metallica, Pantera and Iron Maiden. No Beetles or Rolling Stones?” she asked.
“I got this,” Jason told Zach, exchanging a wry smile with his compadre. “We love Zepplin and Sabbath. Lord knows, my folks will be Santana fans ’til the day they die, but we really grew up with the hair bands of the 80’s and grunge of the 90’s so you’re more likely to hear us cover Alice in Chains or Pearl Jam.”
“You mentioned Santana and a few of your tracks do sound like they have a mariachi melody playing. Who came up with that?”
“No question there. That was all Espinoza—Roy or I guess I should say Rogelio,” Jason answered, jokingly putting a hard emphasis on the Spanish pronunciation so that the name came out sounding “Roy-hell-ee-o” making the “hell” sound like he was choking up to spit.
“Yeah,” Rohnan commented dryly. “I think he prefers Roy.” This elicited a chuckle from both Starr and Jason. “He also doubles as our production manager so he’s already out at Red Rock overseeing the set-up.”
“He’s your drummer, correct? I’ve heard him compared to Phil Collins. What does he think about that?” she continued.
“Well not too many of the ‘X-Gen’ even know that Phil is a phenomenal drummer. And I’d have to say Genesis is also one of our influences,” Zach answered.
“Roy gets a woody anytime he’s compared to the greats like Bohnam or Collins,” Jason added, once again eliciting a chuckle from everyone in the studio.
“You guys have done South by Southwest a few times, right? How was that? It must be amazing to be around some many other bands, many legends of the industry…”
They turned and looked at each other, more or less sending a knowing smile between the two of them. It was Zach who answered though.
“We’ve done SXSW four times now. What’s really great is seeing how our fan base has grown in the last ten years. The band’s been together for twelve years now, but those first couple of years were mainly playing friends’ parties or open mike gigs. In 2002, we were offered our first record deal and 2004 was our first show for SXSW. I think there were twelve people at that show,” he laughed and Jason agreed.
“But we played our asses off and got the opportunity to tour with Drowning Pool and Static X. Then we cut another CD and played some smaller venues on our own. But in ’06, we toured with Disturbed and Godsmack. That was when things really started taking off for us. It was an awesome experience and gave us a lot of learning tools as a band.”
“Signed With Our Own Blood was released back in 2009. That was the first CD that you toured as the headlining band. I was at that concert. It was one of my first as a working dj. I saw you guys in L.A. I almost didn’t go because I was there covering Lollapalooza and y’all were playing at another venue on the last day. But someone invited me, a record exec, and I thought, yeah, I should network this. But I was blown away. You have such a great sound. A bit of System, a bit of Maynard, a bit of Reznor. I could hear a bit of Rage in your performance as well,” she continued referring to several other bands and the talent that drove them to success.
“Oh, hell yeah!” Jason interjected. “My mom even knows the words to Guerrilla Radio. I think we were seniors in high school when De La Rocha announced he was leaving the band. Heartbroken, just heartbroken,” he groaned efficaciously.
“Well, guys, we need to take a break here but when we return, I was hoping you might do an unplugged version of Hit By a Bus?”
“Absolutely,” Zach affirmed.
“And then that moment the listeners have been waiting for. Zach and Jason will announce the winner of tomorrow night’s big give away! Stay tuned, headbangers and hard rockers. We’ll be back in a bit with Jason Maldonado and Zach Rohnan from IED!”