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During the interview, Shark will talk about how it's funny because Lit is a "cool hard-rock" band—"[but] I don't want to categorize you,"Shark adds—and all these 13-year-olds think they're so cute. "When I made the announcement that the show was canceled a little while ago,"Shark says, "these girls are like, 'What do you mean, they're not playing?' It's obvious their CD collection is, like, you guys and Backstreet Boys, which is, Whoa! Hello!"
"Ouch!" says Jeremy, not because they've been lumped together with the Backstreet Boys, which is what Shark originally thinks ("No, no, no, no, no! That's not a diss or anything!" Shark quickly adds), but because one of their anti-rock-star commandments is "Thou shalt not speak ill of any band or any style of music." Earlier in the day, Jeremy asked Kevin if he had called Joey from 'N Sync yet. It appears the two bands struck up a friendship while mixing albums in New York. Hang out with Lit long enough, and you'll begin to feel guilty for ever raising your eyes at such a friendship.
"We're not against any bands," Jeremy explains patiently to Shark. "We just think what's great about music today is that the lines are sort of blurred, and people are just into all kinds of stuff, and that's great. We don't want anybody to categorize our music, and by the same token, we wouldn't expect anybody to only listen to one kind of music."
"So true!" Shark offers. "I mean, here you guys are a with a killer song that is a lot harder than Sarah, but we can play Sarah McLachlan and Lit, which I think is very, very cool!"
Everyone's looking for something real and something genuine. But by its nature, the music industry fabricates. Bands that want a shot at big-time success know that railing against the artifice of the industry will get them nowhere—although that, too, sells some product. Most learn to package themselves, which is precisely what those who would knock Lit can't stand.
"We didn't have to sit down with them and ask, 'How do you see yourselves?" says RCA's McGuire. The band knew. "They're like, 'This is what we're about: poker, Vegas, chicks.' And you listen to the songs, and they totally have a vision about what they are and where they're going, and we're like, 'You know what? We can roll with that.' The hardest thing is to get an image."
(Now, another word or two, this time about the Vegas thing: it has been beaten into your head that Lit are Las Vegas. You can't turn around without being reminded that the Popoff brothers collect vintage Cadillacs. The CD art is a festival of stylish, hip '50s-era Vegas iconography. Jeremy wears shoes with flames on them. You witness some hair gel and shiny shirts. By the end of the night, the guys do some gambling. But at no point do you find yourself thinking, "By God, Lit are Las Vegas!" Of course, such a big deal has been made of the Vegas thing that anything short of Jeremy opening his wallet and having a cocktail onion and a pair of dice roll out would set your mind to thinking. . . .)
The odd thing, though, is that while some may find Lit's shtick a little too contrived and belly-ache over authenticity, the national audience—removed from local music-scene politics—doesn't care that Lit are conscious of things like image and selling records, doesn't care that Lit have changed their musical style over the years. They like the music they hear now, and it means something to them. They connect with "My Own Worst Enemy." They could be that guy in the song. To their fans, Lit are genuine.
"Lit have their own identity," says McGuire. "They are who they're projecting, and fans pick up on that."
"Think about it: 11 years ago, they set out with a dream to be on MTV," says Schechter, the band's guitar tech. "Any band that says they don't want fame or stardom is fucking ridiculous because you set out to be in a band to play in front of people. And the more people you play in front, of the better you feel about your band. If the chance comes along for you to pursue those goals to the fullest extent, should you give a fuck what 50 people in your hometown might say because they saw you at your second show?"
By dinner, after a few drinks by the Hard Rock's flashy tropical-desert-paradise pool, things begin to unravel a bit. It seems that after Unwritten Law's set, Lit are going to go onstage and, using Unwritten Law's equipment, play just one song—"My Own Worst Enemy," of course—without A.Jay. They will invite audience members up to sing along karaoke-style.
Allen is worried about having to play on someone else's drums. "I just wish you'd told me earlier," he says a couple of times, most likely meaning he wishes he'd known before he'd indulged in pool-side margaritas. Kevin is excited to play, though. He reminds Allen that he's playing on borrowed equipment, too. "But a bass has four strings," Allen says. "They're always in the same place."