The insanely talented author of ‘Songs About a Girl’, Chris Russell, talks bros before shows: the phenomenon of the band bromance.
Looking back, the big romance of my teens wasn’t with a girl. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I had girlfriends (I HAD GIRLFRIENDS), but those relationships didn’t define my adolescence. My adolescence, and indeed most of my twenties, was defined by a different kind of relationship.
I met George when I was thirteen, in English class. I was reading out a story I’d written about my enormous, madcap family and he took one look at me and said to himself: That floppy-haired fellow has impeccable grammar… I really must start a rock band with him. We bonded over a mutual love of Bon Jovi and, after seeing them perform at Wembley, decided that this was what we wanted to do with our lives. Start a rock band, travel the world and, one day, play Wembley Stadium.
We were enormously earnest about the whole thing. We called our band Pro Mori (which, let’s face it, is near enough an anagram of Bon Jovi) and set about dedicating our entire lives to the pursuit of fame, friendship and rock ’n’ roll. We were so obsessed with the Guns ’n’ Roses track “November Rain”, for instance, that we spent an entire month collecting actual November Rain in a Ribena bottle, which we then kept on George’s mantelpiece as a kind of weird talisman. One day, George came home from school and announced to his parents: “If Chris was a girl, I would marry him”.
Our bromance continues to this day. George was best man at my wedding, and I was best man at his. I am godfather to his second son. We’ve performed all over the world with our band, now called The Lightyears, and though we’ve never even come close to the success of our idols, Bon Jovi, we have been lucky enough to play Wembley Stadium, four times, much as we dreamed we would when we were kids.
And though our friendship is about so much more than just the band, it is the band that has cemented it. It’s hanging out in hotel rooms, telling stories backstage, larking about on planes. It’s the old, time-worn tale of life on the road.
This is all very well, but what is it that makes a band bromance so appealing to those outside it? Take Larry Stylinson, the famous One Direction conspiracy theory that insists Harry and Louis have been in a romantic relationship ever since the band was formed. Millions – literally, millions – of fans around the world subscribe to this view, and while I’m not convinced myself (sorry, kids), I absolutely love that it’s a thing. I love that fandom has evolved in such a way that the original “what if he was my boyfriend?” fantasy, started by The Beatles in the 1960s, has morphed into a “what if they were each other’s boyfriends?” fantasy, which is of course infinitely more interesting and arguably more romantic. As Larry Shippers will tell you, if and when this conspiracy is finally blown open, it will be The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.
My YA novel, ‘Songs About a Girl’, features a 1D-inspired boy band called Fire&Lights. Although I’ve never been in a world-famous pop band myself, I feel I’ve been able to bring a glimmer of authenticity to the characters because I know what it’s like for four young guys to live in each other’s pockets while sharing a common dream. As for bromances, are any readers out there secretly shipping my fictional popstars? I’ve got no idea, but I’d love it if they were. Some have commented that sidekicks Yuki and Aiden seem remarkably close – remarkably “touchy-touchy” – and have questioned whether or not there’s something going on there. Well, I can now reveal exclusively for Maximum Pop!… that I’m not going to tell you.
You’ll just have to wait and see.
You can pick up ‘Songs About a Girl’ right now but unfortunately we’re all going to have to wait a while to see the sequel hit shelves next summer. Need more Chris in your live? Don’t worry, now you’re sorted.
Let us know in the comments who your biggest band bromance shipping is.
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