By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
"We completely started over," says Jeremy. "We didn't want to be limited by any preconceived ideas as to what we were, so we didn't use any of our [Razzle] contacts. We just started out cold calling clubs and once again built a following up."
"I felt like it was almost a team effort, like they became part of the family," Cash says of the Lit success campaign. "They had a huge network of people in their support group because they're not jerks and they never burn bridges or sever ties. I love those guys, and the fact that they made it as big as they have, it's almost like one of your brothers, someone from your family making it. And it seems like the bigger they get, the humbler they get."
Undoubtedly, part of Lit's success is their unflagging niceness. They make people want to help them. "When they come into the office, they go down the hallway and say thank you to each person, and to me, it's like you'll bend over backward for them because they're so gracious," says Patty McGuire, who works for RCA and is an assistant to Lit's A&R man, Bruce Flohr.
Cash talks about the time, recently, when the guys came by the club. "It was one night after they had played some big show, and they had to get up, like, first fucking thing the next morning to go to some other state, but they wanted to come by and see everybody because Burnin' Groove were playing, and all their friends were there.
"A.Jay was losing his voice, and I remember he went into the backroom, and he goes, 'Dude, I'm so stressed about my voice,' and he was thinking to himself that this was the first time he'd been back in a while. He wanted to talk to all these people, and he was so happy to see everybody, but he couldn't talk. And I was joking around, so I go, 'Dude, people are going to think you're stuck-up,' and he's like, 'No way! You think so? Don't say that!' He was all worried about it."
And did anyone think he was stuck-up? "No, no," Cash says. "Everybody knows that A.Jay's just the sweetest guy. Those guys are just the nicest, nicest guys."
"You know, I don't know what kind of leather they make these seats out of, but sometimes I could swear it's fish," says Jeremy flatly, as we climb into a stinky rented Vegas Cadillac en route "to do radio."
"Fuck!" spits Allen. "Oh, this is killing me! Why haven't they changed it?" He points to the marquee ahead which still reads, "LIT AND UNWRITTEN LAW—TONIGHT."
"Dude, I wish I had a fucking picture of that!" says Kevin, looking back at the marquee. You hand him your camera, and he leans out the car window to snap the picture.
Lit will go to three radio stations this afternoon, where they will be interviewed by three DJs who look wildly different from one another yet all have that same smooth, deep FM voice. They will tell the story of A.Jay's sickness three times, and each time, it will become embellished a bit to the point where, finally, he's "deathly ill" with "a really bad, severe case of strep throat." Three times they'll explain that they've never canceled a show and that they feel weird and terrible but are relieved that there will be a make-up show honoring ticket stubs from tonight, so it's really "two concerts for the price of one." Thrice they will introduce "Ziplock"—a kind of sappy song about being caught up in your own life and maybe neglecting the people around you and feeling guilty—and thrice they will apologize for it not having a crazy fun story behind it like the besotted, regretful tone of "My Own Worst Enemy." ("Most of our songs are either about 'things are cool but they might be fucked-up tomorrow' or 'things are fucked-up but they'll probably be cool tomorrow,'" says Jeremy, who along with A.Jay takes song-writing credit.) And then, at the end of each interview, they'll read "liners," which is where they record themselves saying something like, "Hi, we're Lit, and you're listening to Extreme Radio!" Then someone at the station will ask if they can "snap a couple of shots for the trades," and then everyone will shake hands, and we'll be off to do it all over again. Fans, including a girl Allen met at the Warped tour who has driven out from Phoenix, surprising the hell out of him, it seems, will pop up unexpectedly as the band attempts to make its way from one radio station to the next. And though you'll begin to register an overwhelming existential claustrophobia by the end—as you understand a little more what a day in the life of a rock star is truly all about—the rock stars themselves will be nothing other than friendly, nice, unassuming and good-spirited.
"It's interesting because from where I sit, being a music director, certain bands have reputations," begins a solicitous feathery-haired DJ named Shark, who is making small talk with the band before the interview. "Certain bands are dicks. These guys are assholes," he says, pushing the faders up and blasting another popular modern-rock breadwinner. "I interviewed [the singer], and he's a fucking prick. I hope he's not a good friend of yours. He was a real asshole to me, and he's been an asshole to about 10 people I've known. You guys are the exact opposite. Everybody says you guys are really, really nice, from record people to other radio people. It's cool to have that reputation."