Chapter Three

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Shaking slightly, Brad slung his guitar over his shoulder and stepped forward to speak as we'd arranged a few days previously. The rest of the guys thought he was the best person to be our spokesman, despite me being the eldest. It didn't bother me, Brad was the best public speaker and of all of us, and people tended to relate to him.

"We're Ladz." He introduced himself by name, before pointing along the line, giving the other guys' names, his voice echoing through the head mic he'd been given to keep his hands free to play the guitar. Each of the boys waved nervously, me included.

"Great to meet you all. What are you going to be singing for us today?" Guy spoke again, his deep voice reverberating around the theatre.

"Wouldn't it be Nice, by The Beach Boys." Most people were shocked when they found out we always picked such an old song to sing first, and Guy was no different. It was something we'd hoped would make us stand out from all the other acts trying to get on the show.

"Interesting choice guys. What made you pick that song?"

"Our parents. Ever since we got together as a group, kept saying 'wouldn't it be nice' if your dreams came true. Or if we were able to get the chance to perform to a crowd bigger than fifty members of our families and friends. It kind of became a catchphrase in a way."

"Well, good luck. Whenever you're ready."

Taking an audible breath, Brad stepped away from the front of the stage and got myself into position. He and Josh, with our guitars and head mics, stood on either end of the line while the rest of us held regular hand mics. Giving each other a look and a smile, we got ready as Brad began to play the intro without looking down at his hands on his guitar strings.

Ninety seconds, to most people, isn't a long time at all, but when we were singing in front of all those people, it felt like time had slowed right down. Eventually, our audition came to an end and the audience were up on their feet, cheering and yelling. I even heard a few wolf whistles over the noise which caused all five of us to grin like fools.

"What the hell?" I held my mic away from my mouth so no one else could hear me, my eyes wide as I watched the crowd going crazy. "Is that for us, or did someone really famous walk out onto the stage?" We all turned to look behind us, the stage was empty.

"Shit." Shaun just couldn't help himself as he drew out the word under his breath. "I think I could get used to this." Laughing, he wrapped an arm around my shoulders and squeezed me, his body vibrating with excitement as the cheering began to die down. I could see cameramen moving around in front of the stage, recording us as well as the judges. That was just as surreal to see as the reaction the audience was having.

Finally, it was low enough for the first judge, Charlie Poole— an ex contestant whose band had won the first series of the show, could talk to us. I'd really liked their music, but they hadn't lasted longer than a couple of years before their lead singer began acting like a total prick, causing the rest of the band to go their separate ways. Charlie was the only one to have any kind of success since, which surprised a lot of people as he'd been seen as the 'one who didn't do much' while still in the band.

"Lads, I think I can safely say that I didn't expect a modern boyband to sing that song, and I'll admit I wasn't sure you'd pull it off." He had to stop talking because the boos coming from the crowd were starting to drown him out, five hundred people made a lot of noise when they were either excited or pissed off. Holding up his hands, he turned to face the crowd. "I wasn't finished..." Looking back at us, his smile was wide. "Despite my misgivings, you totally smashed it. I think it was brilliant, well done guys."

Once again, the crowd went crazy; the entire thing was surreal and it was only an audition. Next to lean forward to speak was Sam King, a vocal coach who had been a judge from day one and was known for her no-nonsense honesty.

"Hi guys. I have to say your harmonies were great, but could do with a little work to bring them up to 'amazing'." It wasn't a surprise she was booed at; it was common occurrence for her on the show. "The guy in the red shirt really held that song together." We all looked at Shaun whose eyes were goggling. He'd always been our 'lead' but he'd never been singled out and complimented in such a way before. "The rest of you were good, but he was that little bit better, with some vocal training, you can all bring your game up and could very well end up as a force to be reckoned with. Great song choice, and well done."

After that, I couldn't concentrate on anything else that was said to us. I could see the radio DJ, Lauren Morton speaking, but didn't hear a word of what he said. It wasn't until Guy Murray announced we were through to the next round did my brain kick in and start working.

:: ::

Running backstage to hug our families, we were pulled to one side by Katja Baldwin and Veronica Glass, the presenters of Next Big Boyband, who were gorgeous. Shaun had been the first to mention, on the journey into the theatre, about the possibility of getting interviewed by them if we got through these auditions with a huge grin on his face. He'd had a hard on for Katja ever since she'd presented some bloody awful kid's show on Saturday mornings. I couldn't blame him in all honesty; she was petite and very blonde, just his type. He liked his women small due to his own lack of height, something we all teased him about. It was like he'd reached fourteen, and stopped growing physically.

"That audition got the most positivity from the judges than we've had in quite a while. Well done guys." Veronica got straight down to business as was her style, whichever show she was on. My dad quite fancied her so we had to suffer through most things she appeared on.

"Thanks, we're blown away by the reception we got, not only from the judges, but from the audience too." Brad took it upon himself to speak for all of us, and none of us minded one little bit. We were more than a little star struck and breathless.

"We look forward to seeing you at the next round." Hugs all round, and I spotted Shaun slipping Katja his number as he'd been threatening to do for weeks─ none of us actually expected him to go through with it though, before we joined our families to begin the journey back home to real life.

It was going to be hard work not being able to tell anyone we were through; thanks to the privacy agreements we'd signed at our very first audition. We had to keep it to ourselves until we appeared on the live shows—if we got that far. We'd all told our families and no one else

It was going to be a waiting game for the next two weeks as the audition round travelled around the country, building up a bank of boybands for the judges to pick from. Going back to school, college, and work after experiencing what we'd just been through was going to be a nightmare, yet it was something we needed to do while we waited. My dad had sat me down a few days ago and told me to hold on to the normality of life before the show as much as I could for something to keep me grounded. Reminding me of people who had gotten famous on TV and turned into utter arseholes, he made me promise not to turn out that way; the boys said their parents had done similar things. Our families were amazing, and would be the first to kick our arses if we turned into knobby little shitheads.

None of us were particularly patient people, being teenagers and the like, and waiting sucked arse, but we put the time to good use by rehearsing as much as we could, and by setting up social media accounts for the band. We all had our own accounts, and many were either deleted or locked down as much as possible as advised by the producers at Next Big Boyband to prevent us being hounded by fans once the show went to air in a couple of months.

Eventually, it was time for us to head back to London for the next round of auditions. This time we went alone, in my battered old van, leaving our families waiting by their phones.

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