By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
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By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
One Thursday last spring, Ted Myers was stuck in a cubicle, trying to figure out his future. He'd graduated from ASU with a degree in communications the year before, and got a job selling ads for a local newspaper (coincidentally, the one you're reading), where he dressed business casual and spent his days making phone calls and driving across town to meet with clients.
This particular day, Myers was on the phone in his cubicle, pacing. He's a fidgety guy, never can sit still. He finished up a call without closing any deals and let out a sigh.
As soon as he put the phone back in its cradle, it rang. "Theodore Myers?" a woman's voice inquired. "Are you sitting down?"
The woman was from the Mayo Clinic's twice-annual Health & Wealth Raffle. If you've been anywhere near a television or radio in the past five years, you know all about the fundraising spectacular, which offers prizes like new houses, cars, and cash for $100 per ticket. Myers had won a raffle ticket from a local radio station a few weeks earlier. His mother, who bought tickets every year, said she had a feeling he'd win big. Myers thought she was crazy when she said that.
He sat down.
"Congratulations," the woman said. Ted Myers had won the grand prize package: a new house in Goodyear, a new Mercedes, and cash — valued in total at a million dollars.
Some people have no idea what to do with a windfall like that. Not Ted Myers. He had a plan, one that would lead to great fame and fortune — or at least some amazing stories to tell his friends.
There's an old joke that goes something like this.
Question: Why did the bass player break his window after he locked his keys in his car?
Answer: To get the drummer out.
Ted Myers doesn't laugh at that one, because he's a drummer — and he's not the stereotypical, dumb, party-drummer. In fact, when he won the Health & Wealth Raffle, Myers wasn't just an ad salesman. The fair-skinned 23-year-old was also a talented musician and aspiring rock star, and months before he won the money, he'd already devised a plan to transform his band into superstars. He'd even found a few potential investors, because the plan was somewhat intricate — and very expensive.
The day he won the raffle, Myers called all his would-be investors and told them to never mind. Then he called his bandmates and told them not to worry about money anymore. He had an investor who would pay for everything.
Myers' first step was to fix Faucet. That was the admittedly drippy name of his band. He decided that Hollywood Heartthrob sounded much more glamorous, and he hired a graphic designer to create a neon logo around a hot-pink heart with white, feathery wings.
Being young and hot is an important part of the plan. None of the guys in Hollywood Heartthrob is older than 25. The bass player, Nate Beilmann, isn't even 21 yet.
Every member of the band fills a role. Ted Myers is the undisputed leader, the steady-handed drummer with the game plan. Tall and wiry, Beilmann's the subtle wisecracker of the band.
There are two lead guitarists — Frank Littlefield, a big guy with long blond hair, and Brent Sutton, a pretty, dark-haired boy with a lip piercing, both arms covered in colorful tattoos. Littlefield's the quiet one, the skillful, bowed-head ax man who focuses on his guitar while his face hides behind his hair. He gives the band its metal edge. Sutton's the showman/partier, the bad boy who can take a shot and a punch back-to-back. The pair's dueling guitar solos and layered harmonies are the most impressive parts of Hollywood Heartthrob's songs.
Like Sutton, singer Grady Melton's got tons of tattoos and a chiseled, cover-boy face. He's outspoken and snarky (favorite comeback: "Whatever"), and his vocals contain both the impassioned wails of emo and the nasally ring of punk. He's shorter than the other guys in the band but makes up for it in rock star attitude.
Melton helped Myers come up with a trendy new image for Hollywood Heartthrob, and everyone in the band pulls off the rock star look better than many bona fide rock stars (they may even do the satellite-dish-size sunglasses thing better than Bono).
Though they look the part of celebrities, they all work day jobs, including Myers, who sells pretzels and beer at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale to help pay the mortgage on the house he just bought in downtown Phoenix. He invested just about everything else in his own record label, Juiced Records, and the Hollywood Heartthrob makeover.
Sometimes, the idea of an "insta-band" grows into a reality. Danity Kane — the all-girl R&B group assembled and mentored in 2004 by Sean "Diddy" Combs on the third season of the MTV reality show Making the Band — had two albums hit number one on the Billboard charts. Of course, they were on MTV every day for four months with an obscenely rich rap star, who's also the CEO of a large hip-hop label, Bad Boy Records.