We are all familiar with the tiresome refrain: I'm famous and my life is not my own anymore. I can't go anywhere without being accosted, my private life is a tabloid journalism fundraiser, I should just set up some swings and slides on myself, after all I am public property. It's a well documented syndrome and I have nothing to add beyond absently noting that famous people deserve all the hassles they get. It is impossible to become famous without courting fame itself. How does the interview come about in which the famous person complains about being famous arise in the first place? Because the famous person or a publicity agent acting on their behalf organised it so as to ensure they became more famous.
In typically selfless fashion I'm far more concerned about my situation and those of my marginalised ilk. We, for whom fame has brushed oh-so gently, like a butterfly wing caressing a petal, exist in a disconcerting nether zone. Why is that person staring at me? The odds are 99 in a hundred it's because my fly is undone but there's always that one person in a hundred who saw our video at 3am on Rage and wondered why the miming didn't match the music. This creates a permanent state of unease. Who am I? What do these people know about me? Moreover, what do they think they know about me? The genuinely famous tend to handle these issues by employing teams of highly trained security personnel and purchasing vicious attack dogs to pace the perimeter of their razor wire-fenced compound. For those of us in the twilight zone, however, it's not so easy.
In the course of a week I find myself revisiting the same situations over and over. My days pass with the certainty of a Scalextric car, eternally stuck in the same groove with no possibly of deviation; future laid out clearly, endless and unchanging, no different from the past. Occasionally I jump the tracks, tumbling briefly on to the carpet, disoriented and unsure, before fate's giant hand reaches out and places me once more back on my infinite treadmill.
Across 7 days I will visit the same supermarket at least 6 times, purchasing roughly the same foodstuffs and queueing in one of 2 or 3 of the same aisles. I will drink my coffee at the same café, buy my stamps from the same post office and swim my laps under the watchful eye of the same pool attendants. I will refuel my car at the same service station at the same time where the same cashier is inevitably on duty. I'll buy foam earplugs from the same quizzical chemist and purchase a newspaper from the same disapproving shophand.
Through all of this routine I tend to mind my own business. Like a 19th century child of harsh Victorian parents I will not speak until spoken to. But people are friendly and they take an interest, particularly when you've just ordered a flat white at precisely 11.13 AM in the same café for the 50th day in a row. It's only human to speculate as to why a person has so much time on his hands. The cup slides on to the table and the question, casually framed, drops like a paper napkin beside it: so, what do you do?
We dance an excruciating dance, our steps constrained by human social convention. I lead by replying that I'm in a band and our feet are instantly entangled. We stumble, as it becomes clear that the interrogator has never heard of The Fauves and is now full of self-reproach for what she imagines must be an awful slight. She is embarrassed for me and moves quickly into a storm of apology. I'm embarrassed for her, desperate to convey with a forced smile that it's OK and I take no offence. I know I'm nobody in a band going nowhere. But it's too late. She's off, explaining in great detail that she doesn't get out much anymore, although she did get to Powderfinger last year at Festival Hall and that was really good, and have you ever played with them? Yes? Wow! You guys must be doing all right! Well, not really, why do you think I'm in here everyday trying to shape a groove in your chairs for my arse to fit into? Have you got much work on? We're not a fucking cover band love, whoring ourselves 5 nights a week. Where do you play? Oh, here…there….everywhere really… A slight furrow of the brow and cloud across the face as though perhaps I'm lying because I haven't named any venues. The Royal, The Grand, Kirks…? Ever play there? Well no, we don't tend to play around Mornington much…not really much call for it. I'm trying to sound gently self-deprecating rather than suicidally self-loathing. But most of this I'm not even saying. It's all in my head, while outwardly I'm smiling and nodding and constricting my sphincter and reddening to a colour approaching that of the twenty dollar note I'm fumbling for, desperate to pay and get out. I'm gulping the coffee now, huge mouthfuls of scalding milk searing the roof of my mouth and burning an agonising path through my chest. Over my shoulder the door taunts me, opening and closing, mocking me with its tantalising prospect of freedom.
This is the life of the Never Were Famous But Have Experienced One Or Two Moments Of Renown. Running into people in ordinary, everyday situations is an often painfully accurate barometer of the prevailing climate in which your career is operating. Usually, even the most well-intentioned comments have a dark subtext that no matter of forced bonhomie, hand shaking and even autograph signing can mask.
"Hey Coxy, I loved you on Sale Of The Century" - I wasn't aware that you'd done anything since.
"Thought you guys broke up after that doco" -You may as well have broken up after that doco for all the rewards your subsequent endeavours have garnered.
"That Dog song is great!" - You have released nothing of merit in the last six years.
"When are you guys going to put a new record out?" - Despite your having spent $30,000 recording a new album and another 20 or so in promotion I have not so much as heard one song off it nor, moreover, been aware that any in fact existed.
"Settle an argument for me. My mate reckons you say it Fooarves but I reckon it's Forves!" - Across 15 years of touring, recording and its associated publicity, you have yet to make an impact on the general public even to the point that the man in the street knows how to pronounce your band name.
"What happened to that Doctor dude?" - Although Doctor, a foundation member, has always been and still is in the Fauves, I have never paid enough attention to even know who he was.
"You guys should play Livid this year" - I remain steadfastly unaware that there is a selection process for all major festivals and, regardless of whether or not your band is interested, none of their promoters are.
"What's that new song of yours?"
"Um..Insert Your Life?"
"Yeah that one…" - Anything I say from here on in will only offend so instead I will subtly employ a judicious use of silence to convey my deep antipathy towards your recent release.