Shinsou took one look at the papers he’d been handed, before looking up to frown at his father, “I refuse to work with a band that has an umlaut in their name.”
Aizawa ignored his son and instead continued handing him more paperwork, “Good thing your opinion doesn’t matter. Go fix them.”
The purple-haired man arched an eyebrow at the wording, “Fix them?”
“Yes, fix them. Is your hearing going? We signed them a month ago and Iida has requested a different band to work with.”
Shinsou blanched, “If Iida can’t work with them I don’t see how you expect me to do it.”
“Son,” Aizawa sighed, “If you want to take over Logical Ruse Records one day, you’re going to have to earn it. I spent years handling bands more chaotic than these kids. Think of this as a step towards being taken seriously in this business.”
It was a fair argument. Shinsou understood that his father was trying to put him through the wringer in hopes of making him better. That’s how he’d always been. His father often reminded him: “It might be uncomfortable, but you’ll be smarter and stronger for it once he’s done.” So he didn’t question his judgment. However, that also didn’t stop him from complaining.
Shinsou sighed, “Are they at least a talented band?”
His father brought a thoughtful hand up to scratch the scruff on his chin. “They need polishing, but they’ve got a good sound. Something a bit different from our usual line-up, but worth taking the risk for.” He turned to his son with a slightly amused smile, “I’m amazed they’ve made it this far. If they weren’t so close with each other I think they’d have fallen apart out of sheer ineptitude. Honestly, if their EP hadn’t been literally handed to me I would never have known them. Even with their cult band status, they aren’t going anywhere without a label.”
Hitoshi wasn’t a fan of what he was hearing, though it was reassuring to learn they’d amassed a following, even if it was only a small one. “And I’m supposed to ‘fix’ them?”
Aizawa ruffled Shinsou’s hair in a manner he knew the boy hated, “As much as I am loathed to remind you, you’re extremely talented at what you do. I’ve seen you act as assistant manager to some of our bigger headliners and do well. You have the calm and control this band needs. I think you’ll be a good fit. It’s about time one of them had a good head on their shoulders. They’re nice kids but an absolute trainwreck when it comes to common sense.”
“Iida didn’t help? He’s tamed any band you’ve thrown at him.”
“That’s exactly it,” his father hummed, “These kids aren’t the type to flourish under strict control. They need someone flexible who can handle a mess without getting heart palpitations like Iida did.”
Hitoshi winced. Considering what he’s been hearing about this band, it made sense that Iida wouldn’t be able to stomach them. Shinsou felt some pride at knowing his father had decided he was a good fit. Then again, he wasn’t sure he wanted to be the best option this time.
“Say that I agreed to your terms,” Hitoshi started.
“I’m your father and your boss; there aren’t any ‘terms’ to agree with here.”
“Say that I agreed to your terms,” Shinsou repeated, “does this mean you’ll finally let me manage unsupervised?”
Aizawa smirked, “You’ll want supervision with this group, but sure.”
This changed everything. So far, Hitoshi hadn’t run a tour without one of his fathers breathing down his neck. Hizashi was a lot more flexible with letting him find his own style, but Shouta was clearly trying to teach him the Aizawa Method. Which largely consisted of staring down venue bookers with a cold stoic look until they gave in, reminding the band involved that they were only as talented as they could be marketed, emphasizing his 15% cut of the profits when musicians got a little too excited about how much they’d make on a gig, and relentlessly forcing the band to practice both their music and public behavior. That general recipe hadn’t failed him yet, but there were a couple of changes Shinsou would make, and it was looking like he’d finally be able to put those into practice.
A chorus of yowling cats rang through the room, and Aizawa pulled his cellphone from his back pocket, “It’s your papa.” The man pressed a button and held it to his ear, grunting a wordless hello.
Hitoshi drowned out his father’s phone conversation by reading the material he’d been given. The band was called “The Sqwäd” and Shinsou was convinced they must play metal music before seeing their sound described as “punk rock with hardcore elements.”
Don’t umlauts only happen in metal bands? Who the hell are these people?
Aizawa cleared his throat to grab the other man’s attention, “Hizashi wants you to swing by his office before you leave.”
Shinsou smirked, “Should I tell him you send your love?”
Hitoshi snorted and took his leave without another word. He knew what his father was like when it came to business and him taking over managing this band had never been a choice. If the Aizawa Shouta decreed something to be so then it simply was.
The office building was covered in posters advertising new albums from the many bands they oversaw, they had ditched the cubicle theme for a more casual room of a few desks, and loads of CDs and sound equipment lined the tables and shelves. It’d look like a chaotic mess to anyone who didn’t work there, but there was a method to the madness. The interns they’d get from local music production schools would be the poor bastards that had to mill through it, and Shinsou had been in those shoes before so he knew how dreadful it’d be. He’d been helping out at Logical Ruse Records since he was old enough to walk- even if it meant just going from one dad to the other and bringing paperwork he didn’t understand. The company had started out in a small warehouse that still had things being stored from the previous owners in it. Now it was a sprawling and sleek office building with numerous studios, producers, managers, and musicians. Hitoshi was proud of his parents every single day.
He didn’t go through the phases that some children did of deciding when they grew up they wanted to be a fireman or a veterinarian. Instead, Shinsou walked to the front of his elementary school class and gave a presentation on his career as a “musician leader,” which his papa has never let him forget he said instead of “manager” or even “president”.
So, it’d be fair to say that he’s been waiting to be an officially unsupervised band manager since before he hit the two digits in age.
Shinsou held the now very important feeling paperwork against his chest. He was going to get this band into shape if it was the last thing he did, and his father would have no choice but to recognize his ability and promote him from a manager’s lackey to a proper professional.
When he got to Hizashi’s office door he knocked three times before waiting for the inevitable “Come in, listener!” Upon hearing it, he opened the door and was swept into his papa’s arms for a surprise hug. “How’s my baby doing today?”
“Your baby is 24 years old,” The purple-haired man grumbled against the pair of headphones wrapped around his papa’s neck.
Hizashi mimed wiping a tear with the hand that wasn’t holding his son, “They grow up so fast.”
Shinsou rolled his eyes. He loved his papa to pieces and that included his many dramatics.
“What did you call me in for?”
Yamada released his son from the hug and went to lean against his desk, “I heard you got your own band today! Those nice kids from Musutafu?”
“You’ve met them already?”
Hizashi worked primarily as a DJ and ran his own radio show from within the Logical Ruse Records building. He’d been successful as a musician before he and Aizawa had gotten their company fully running, and had been in a hiatus where he worked primarily as his husband’s assistant before coming back into the public eye after things settled down. If anyone understood what being a known musician was like, it was his papa, and it was a great help when they started to manage bands together. Present Mic was a name people respected, and it went far when it came to enticing other bands into working with them.
“Yes, I saw them open for that pop-punk band...ah, right, Haughty Bottoms.”
It had taken a while for Shinsou to stop snorting when he heard their name, but he’d finally composed himself after working with the group for a year or so.
Hitoshi adjusted the sleeves of his button-up, “So dad was right about their cult status? That’s a pretty big name to be under.”
“Yes,” Yamada agreed, “poor Iida looked a mess that night, but they played well. I hear he’s taking a leave of absence.”
Shinsou’s eyes went wide.
They forced Iida into a leave of absence?! Just who are these people…
His papa must have noticed his concern as he added, “Oh, nothing to worry yourself over! They merely reminded Tenya that it was time for him to take at least a week-long vacation. He’ll be back by Sunday.”
That made Shinsou feel a bit better, but anyone who was wild enough to unsettle Iida must have been quite a tough case.
Hizashi smiled widely, “I think you’ll get along with them! Watch out for their drummer, though. He spits.”
Shinsou blinked, “He...spits?”
“When he’s angry, yes. Which is unfortunately very frequent. Don’t worry, he never spits at people. At least I’ve never seen him do it. The point is, I’m sure you’ll do great.”
“Thanks. I’m real confident now,” Shinsou deadpanned.
Hizashi walked over and ruffled Shinsou’s hair the same way Aizawa did- and he knows they do it on purpose- before saying, “I’m very proud of you, son. Do your best, okay?”
Hearing those words renewed his strength, and Hitoshi nodded firmly. His resolve was steeled; he was going to rock the hell out of this band and whip them into shape. They weren’t just going to go on tour...they were going to get into Summer Sonic. It was one of Japan’s two biggest music festivals and a lofty goal for any band, but Shinsou didn’t care. He’d pull this band together and take home even more accolades for Logical Ruse Records.
All that was left was to meet the band and start his reign as manager, and the home address he had for them wasn’t too far. It was time to go to work.
“I’ll see you later, pops,” before leaving he turned to lazily grin at Hizashi, “Dad sends his love.”
Shinsou looked down at his phone to check his location. The address showed the band’s home would be just a few blocks down from the main Musutafu train station, and he felt like he’d already passed a number of streets.
It was Fall and the wind was just chilly enough to make him shiver a bit under his bomber jacket. The leaves were turning and crackled softly from under his boots as he trudged by a line of houses. Shinsou then heard a loud bang and whipped his head to the right to find smoke curling out from under a garage door.
Hitoshi ran towards the building and saw more smoke slipping from the crack between the ground and the garage. Strange occasional banging noises started and Shinsou knew he didn’t have time to spare. He grabbed the handles and pulled up with all his strength to find five people waving their hands wildly and coughing.
Shinsou threw himself to the side and only narrowly missed being hit by a flying drumstick.
A gruff voice shouted, “You fucking idiot! What kind of moron turns on a smoke machine in a small room!?”
Hitoshi watched the smoke clear to reveal the five forms more clearly. A girl with pink skin and horns was holding one hand over her mouth and the other was using a microphone stand to wave smoke from her. Her green septum piercing and hoop earrings glinted among the artificial fog. She was giggling and snorting interchangeably while watching the others try and waft the smoke away.
The tallest figure, a man with a mohawk and oddly large elbows, was laughing so hard he was crying. He kept trying to speak but ended up back in a chuckling fit the second he saw the shocked expression on the redhead who stood across from him. His sneakers were slightly shiny from the same liquid that covered half the floor, but he was too lost in hysterics to notice.
The aforementioned redhead looked dreadfully confused and was fussing with his now wet hair, his bass guitar hung at his side. Every time he coughed Shinsou could see his sharp teeth peek out from within his mouth.
The gruff voice from earlier came from the still-shouting ash-blonde who sat behind a drum kit. The bass drum read “The Sqwäd” with two small skulls where the umlauts should be. His two silver lip piercings stretched into a sneer while the man yelled. Beside him were a bin of drum sticks that he was threatening the others with.
Finally, the smoke billowed far enough away from the last person that Shinsou could see a blonde man laughing and dodging another thrown drumstick while hiding his instrument behind him, “Watch the guitar, dude!” His torn skinny jeans were soaked up to the ankle with whatever liquid he’d been pouring into the overworked fog machine, and the knocked over bottle of it was kicked to the side by his dusty converse. The blonde’s blue shirt was ripped all over and held together largely by safety pins, but Shinsou didn’t focus on that once the man finally turned to look at him.
Hitoshi didn’t like to use terms like angelic, and the man certainly looked far too mischievous for that, but such pretty yellow eyes and hair gave him a soft appearance. His nose ring was purple, which Shinsou greatly approved of, unlike the many rainbow-colored studs in his ears. The blonde’s cheeks were ruddy from coughing, and his thin eyebrows were knitted in confusion at seeing a stranger holding up their garage door.
The ash-blonde behind the drum angrily spat from across the room, “and just who the fuck are you?”
“Bro,” the redhead said in a calming voice, “what if he’s the new dude from Logical Rose Records?”
“It’s Logical Ruse, actually,” Shinsou butt in, “and you must be The Sqwäd…”
The blonde guitarist shot a pair of finger guns in his direction, “Yeah, but you can call me handsome and available!”
It was about to be a very long day.