I remember having a conversation with Annmarie a short time before our breakup, about how we would approach being gay in conjunction with our careers. I remember saying we should stay in the closet. At the time, we had a lot of activity overseas. We had a brand-new album. We had the editor of Hot Press (an Irish music mag on par with Rolling Stone) excited about the band, mentioning us in almost every issue. We were slated to play Oxegen, a well-respected music festival chock full of world-famous bands. We had a promo tour lined up, with a fashion photo shoot. It looked like our band was really taking off.
I had just completed our album Turbulence. We held a celebratory party in my one-room apartment on Virginia Avenue. All our favorite peers were there, even our drummer's mom. I felt triumphant. It was my first self-produced album, and we were so proud of it!
And then we broke up. You know that feeling when everything shrinks down into a black tunnel? There's space, and then there's less and less space until there's just a very small view of the world? Your stomach tightens in knots till your breathing is so short that you're not sure you're still breathing?
In an uninterrupted Xanax haze, I (barely) remember the aftermath gigs. The period post-breakup was surreal. We were being courted by a smart record executive who wanted to sign us. He swooped in exactly at the time we broke. In some ways, I felt he was the glue that held us together during those first few months. He eventually took on the role of being our manager. To add to the strangeness, in time I dated him.
The boys in Saucy Monky were shell-shocked. A close friend told us they had no idea what was happening, just that something was very, very wrong. Probably out of the habit of hiding, we did not disclose our involvement to the band. I can't imagine living like that now, but the goal set really trumps common sense. Just because you're hiding, you think nobody knows. Well, everyone knew! We just made this choice, out of fear and habit, to make it a big secret.
The strange and painful months post-breakup created a wedge between us. We still had to fulfill our touring obligations. I remember playing O2 in the Park (a huge gig where everyone lip-syncs in front of 100,000 people). Annmarie and I were terribly disconnected. This day was one of the most difficult in my adult life. Ireland equaled purgatory. Imagine touring with a newly ex-girlfriend, singing with her every night, no separation, no time to heal, long car rides to boot, with no privacy to grieve.
It didn't come out until later, but there was another woman in the picture -- no cheating, but I knew in my heart of hearts that I had lost Annmarie's attention weeks before the break.
We were in negotiations with 429/Warner Bros., with a pending deal with Measured Records in the UK. Again, the momentum held it together, with our hearts at the roadside. I remember drinking an awful lot. I remember contemplating leaving the project. Our band members started taking more and more outside gigs. They were less and less available. We started to fight about their unavailability and, in my mind, their lack of loyalty. I have that funny, Italian thing with loyalty. Sometimes your culture sneaks in, and you carry the habits of generations past.
When the guys missed our UK showcase, I didn't feel supported by my bandmates, not realizing they probably felt completely disregarded by us. I mean, how do you not share such an event with your band family?
On the night of our U.S. showcase, we packed the Viper Room. Our newfound separation was an enormous adjustment. Annmarie and I were standing on opposite sides of the venue. It was devastating. I remember sitting in my car outside the club before driving home. We spoke. I mentioned something about feeling like an old pair of shoes, tossed to the wayside. In that moment, I think I broke Annmarie's heart.
After that night, she stopped seeing the other girl. Some of the immediate pressure was relieved. Somehow we kept going. We got through each awkward gig, every gnarly fight, each sarcastic quip thrown across the stage to bing the other in the head.
We parted ways with our bandmates and spent the next few years touring in my Honda Civic, caught up in the whirlwind of our dreams, caught up in the habit of being close (however unhealthy), caught up in the love for our music, and for each other.