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Below are the miscellaneous opinions of one Dominic von Riedemann. These are his semi-coherent thoughts on various subjects. These are not the opinions of The Kindly Ones, and they're subject to change without notice, whenever I change my mind (or just get a lube oil and filter).

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Rant#9: Talking With The Band

(A rant Jeff sent me, about how to influence people without making friends)

The best time to discuss anything with the band in any meaningful way is at the middle of a song when all members are singing at the same time [such as a multi harmony part]. Our hearing is so advanced that we can pick out your tiny voice from the megawatt wall of sound blasting all around us. Musicians are expert lip readers too. If a musician does not reply to your question or comment during a tune, take this very personally. Singers have the ability to sprout a second mouth to talk with you and sing at the same time; if the singer doesn't, it's because they are purposely ignoring you; if this happens, immediately cop an attitude. We love this. When an entertainer leans over to hear you better, grab his or her head and yell directly into their ear, holding their head so they cannot pull away from you, this is an invitation to a friendly game of tug of war between their head and your hands. Disregard any respect for the musician's hearing.

Musicians are expert mind readers. Only refer to your requests with the phrase "Play my song!" We have a chip implanted in our heads with an unlimited database with the favorite tunes of every patron who ever walked into the bar, so feel free to be vague, we love the challenge. If we do not remember exactly what tune you want, it's an intentional ploy to offend you. Remember, entertainers live to be offensive; we stay up all night thinking up ways to do this. We also never get enough abuse, so any abuse that you add will keep us in line.
If a band tells you they do not know a song you want to hear, they either forgot that they know the tune or they are lying to you. Try singing a few words for the band; if one member halfway knows part of a chorus, the rest of the band will instantly learn the entire song by osmosis. Knowing this, if the band still claims to not know your song just keep requesting the same song ad nauseum. Never try to request another tune the band actually knows. Scream your request from across the room several times per set followed by the phrases, "AW COME ON!" & "YOU SUCK!". Exaggerated hand gestures expressing disapproval from the dance floor are a big help such as the thumbs-down or your middle finger. Put downs are the best way to jog a band's memory. This instantly promotes you to the status of, "Personal Friend Of The Band".
If your choice of music is a complete departure from what the crowd loves (and cannot get enough of), i.e. if they play original Blues, ignore this. Simply put a lot of money into the tip jar to bolster your argument; this will circumvent any lack of knowledge they have about your requested tune. The more money you tip the band with, the more power you have to dictate what happens on stage. Feel free to use your money to bully the band. Entertainers are notorious fakers and never prepare for shows, they simply walk on stage with no prior thought to what they will do once they arrive. An entertainer's job is so easy, even a monkey could do it, so don't let them off the hook. The band and club's income does not depend upon numbers of people patronizing the bar, screw them, your request is all that matters. If a metal band had played at the club for the last few weeks, the next band that follows will automatically know every metal tune the previous band played, even if the current band is a blues or country band. It's the law. Feel free to yell "AC/DC" or "SLAYER!" to a band that plays strictly originals or blues for example. Conversely, Deadheads may yell for Grateful Dead tunes at a dance or metal band.

If you inform the band that you are a musician in a garage band or singer in a Karaoke bar, be sure to let them know that you can run rings around them and they need you in their band. In fact the sole reason the band has not exploded onto the charts is because they do not have you as their big break And besides that black guy singing the blues is just copying Downchild and Clapton in spite of the fact that he's 63 years old. Tell the band, unequivocally that your mere presence as a member of their band will save them from the depths of mediocrity and assure them of success beyond their wildest
dreams. This works every time. If the band continues to refuse your repeated demands to perform with them, stand on the dance floor and perform with every tune they do. Do everything you can to be louder than the band. If they won't let you perform with them, be disruptive. Nothing asserts your superiority like an out of tune harmonica, vocalist or a tambourine played out of tempo.
For extra credit, use these instruments in tunes that do not have them in the original recording. Musicians love to play cover tunes with instruments that do not belong there; they will overlook how badly you play and will wonder how they have gotten along all these years without you.

As a last resort, wait until the band takes a break and then get on stage and start playing their instruments; evenif you are 86ed, you have made your point. The band will call you
immediately the following day to offer you a position.

(Here endeth the rant)

Rant#8: America Eats its Young

(BTW, also the title of a great Funkadelic record).

Recently I had the dubious pleasure of seeing one of those daytime talk shows (Sally Jessy Raphael, I believe, they're all the same). Anyway, this segment was called "Control your wild teen!", and it had the usual cast of characters: the dope smoker, the out-of-control, hormonal girl, etc., ad nauseum. They played their parts to perfection, being slapped down by the firm but Solomonic hand of SJR, and at the end received their comeuppance when a big, black man dressed in a drill sergeant's uniform marched up and started screaming at them. Much to the delight of the watching crowd. Presumably, there would be a follow-up show, when these kids have been "scared straight", would learn to "act right", and "respect their elders", and take their place in the festering snakepit that is modern society.

We love to hate teenagers. They're loud, obnoxious, wear weird clothes, act irrationally, listen to loud music, and take drugs. Every teenager is a potential drug-abuser, car stealer, and killer. We devour stories about teenage gang-bangers running wild in the streets, teenage squeegie kids tormenting little old ladies in their cars, and applaud the application of "traditional values" (usually involving a large, heavy object applied to one or more parts of teenage bodies with extreme force).

We also *want* to be teenagers. We wax nostalgic for our time in high school, we ogle professional teens like Christina, Mandy, Justin and Britney, and we watch what they're watching, wearing, and listening to like hawks. We try to like hip-hop, we say that Tom Green and 'Jackass' is funny, we try wearing our pants really low. Teenagers have the largest disposable income of our society, and their fashions set the standard. They have healthy, firm, wrinkle-free bodies that we try to attain with Botox and regular trips to the gym, and they keep with a steady diet of McDonald's and potato chips. See a double-standard here? Oh yes!

You can see the jealousy at work. What over-age swinger or cougar wouldn't want a naked Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake in their bed? But we hate them! How dare they be young! How dare they be wrinkle-free and beautiful! How dare they not have to pay rent! How dare they be angry at society!

And here is the fatal flaw in our attitudes towards our teenagers. We *want* them to be angry, because when they're angry, they're not thinking straight, so we can manipulate them easier. Advertisers foster this attitude: "You're young, you're rebellious, you're wild, you're free, you drink Coke!" Each succeeding generation is the most manipulated, most brainwashed generation of adolescents in history. However, we're not thinking of the consequences of such a practice. We stir them up, and then we don't know how to channel that aggression. Then we're horrified when they go out and break stuff. We foster the attitude of rebellion, and then wring our hands and moan when they unleash that attitude in a way we don't like. And this is where it breaks down. Teenagers react to the jealousy, the attempts to stir them up, the blatant imitation, and they explode in a million different directions. And since it's too much work to understand them (bizarre, considering all adults were teens once), we hate them. We love it when Sally Jessy Raphael gets a big black man in a drill sergeant's uniform, or some banshee "social worker" to scream at them until the teenager cowers like a whipped cur. They're teenagers. We love them. We hate them. We eat them. Here endeth the rant.

Rant#7: The 100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time

(thanks Clark Allore for sending this to me)

Gee, Rolling Stone has decided rock isn't dead. The magazine that still has one foot in the late 60's and early 70's (when they're not breathlessly touting some new pop star who doesn't even make it to Warhol's "15 minutes of fame") has decided that people are still interested in who the "greatest guitar player of all time" is. Can you take a wild guess at their #1 pick? Everyone together (1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . .) JIMI HENDRIX!!!!! (Really, Rolling Stone is a very modern magazine. Trust me).

Now, I'm not minimizing the late James Marshall Hendrix' accomplishments. What he did for rock guitar has yet to be equalled. But yeah, putting him at #1 is pretty boneheaded. And ignores several other worthy names. Why not, for instance, Les Paul as #1? He's merely the pioneer of sound-on-sound recording (otherwise known as multitracking), first guy to use delay, pitch-shifting, one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar, and someone whose helped design the most famous signature model in music history. BTW, he was #46 on the list. There were a couple of other howlers. Jack White of The White Stripes is a fine player. But is he better than The Edge (#24), Tom Morello (#26), Mark Knopfler (#27), or Danny Gatton (#63)? I don't think so. Even he wouldn't think so. That was just a sop to "younger readers", the same reason why Kurt Cobain was #12, above two *much* more influential players: Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth (#33 and #34 respectively). Quite frankly, I would have reversed those listings, and I'm sure the pre-ventilated Cobain would've agreed. And what's with omitting Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction? And there were some players listed (John Cipollina [#32] or Leigh Stephens [#98]) who definitely fit into the dinosaur category. These guys' glory days happened before I was even born! And throwing in D. Boon (#89)or Greg Ginn (#99) may have helped convince the editors of RS that they were hip to hardcore, but they missed out. Great as those players were, they weren't as interesting or as influential as Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Bob Mould, Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers) or Mick Jones of The Clash. And what's with Joan Jett (#87)? A fine rhythm player, but not by any stretch of the imagination, in with the greats. If you wanted to put in a "token chick", what about Jennifer Batten (Jeff Beck Band)? A much more impressive choice. And while we're at it, why the hell am I bellyaching over something appearing in *Rolling Stone*? I don't even read that rag any more! Screw it, gonna go write a song. Here endeth the rant.

Rant#6: What Does It Mean?

"One day you will wake up and know what side of the bed you've been lying on." - Logo on a t-shirt designed by Bernie Rhodes (former manager for The Clash)

Over the past year, as we've been passing out stickers and flyers & playing gigs, people have been asking us, "Why The Kindly Ones?" It's a band name that's generated confusion, bad jokes, and (my favourite), "Ooh, I love your name! It's so sweet and happy!" Obviously the world is divided between those who get it, and those who don't. Those who get it, get it big time. Those who don't . . . let's just say it makes for some pretty funny stories.

Well, am I going to put all of you headscratchers out of your misery, and tell you *why* we three instrument-slinging malcontents call ourselves such a seemingly-innocuous name as The Kindly Ones? ARE YOU KIDDING?!!! There's a very good reason why we called ourselves The Kindly Ones. It's a name that makes perfect sense for this band. It encapsulates our sound, our philosophy, and who we are. And we're certainly not going to give it all away! If we were, we'd call ourselves something simple and easy to digest. Guess what? Simple, we ain't. If we *wanted* to be simple, we'd have called ourselves A Simple Plan, or Gob, or something that everyone gets immediately, so that they can go back to listening to the party in their heads. Then we'd go out, play interminable VI-IV-I-V chord progressions with bonehead A-A rhymes, and end up overdosing on hard drugs because we'd be so fucking bored! The Kindly Ones: it's a name that has many facets, many layers of meaning. We're complex people, so we give ourselves a name that's complex. It's as simple (heh-heh-heh) as that.

"I can't tell you the answer to the riddle. You have to find it out for yourself. I can only pose the riddle. When you can answer the riddle, then you'll be happening." - Bernie Rhodes.

But we're not totally heartless. The clues are all here on this web site. Some of you may have looked at one or two of my t-shirts, and gotten it straight off. Some of you may have to dig a little. Some of you may have to look at things you've never seen before. Go ahead. Look around. Read. Learn something. Here's a simple rule: you learn or you die. Got a problem with that? I don't. Here endeth the rant.

Rant#5: Commercialism

"I like fashion - and Porsches, and Rolexes - all that stuff! How nice of the morons and drones to wear uniforms, so one can avoid them . . ." - Spider Robinson

I'll come back to this one, but for now, the above quote pretty much covers it. Here endeth the rant.

Rant#4: Our Next CD.

CD's I'm currently listening to: Interpol -'Turn on the Bright Lights', Jane's Addiction - 'Strays', Joy Division - 'Substance', various Siouxsie & the Banshees singles, QOTSA - 'Songs for the Deaf', various Nick Drake songs.

At this writing, it is official. We have sold over half our copies of 'Edge of My Skin'. Thanks to everyone who picked one up. As for everyone else; what the fuck are you waiting for?! Okay, that's a little harsh, but once they're gone, they're gone. We're not going to press any more copies when they sell out. Right now, I'm in a bit of a funny place. It's not that I'm not proud of what Sarah, Jamie and myself did on that CD, but it was a space in time that we're no longer in. I've written new songs, Jamie is no longer with the band, and we have Jeff who is starting to make his presence felt in the arrangements and the spirit of the songs. Quite frankly, listening to 'Edge of My Skin' puts my teeth on edge. I hear the sweat, the artifice, the little compromises we had to make, due to the uncompromising nature of the recording process. And I'm looking forward to the next one. At which point you're probably wondering, where are The Kindly Ones going next? Are they going to rehash a bunch of older songs, recontextualizing them in new ways, or start with a totally clean slate? And what is the idea of going into a "proper" studio going to do?

First off, I can say that our next CD will be more polished than our last (duh!). I also want to mess with some more tonal variation than with the last record. 'Edge of My Skin' was recorded with just my Les Paul and my amp. Sure I messed with delays and different flavours of distortion, but essentially the same set-up. This time I'm planning on begging, borrowing, or stealing every guitar, amp and FX I can lay my hands on (friends of mine, consider yourselves warned!). I guess I want to be more focused on this record. 'Edge of My Skin' was essentially a collection of songs. Some pretty cool songs (in my not-so-humble-opinion), but not much focus. The only sign of creating a coherent piece of work were the two bookends: two musical salvos at a certain ex-girlfriend which opened and closed the CD. The Kindly Ones were a band in the process of finding itself, seeing what its identity was. A large part had to do with putting the songs out there, and seeing what the reactions were. And for the most part, it was positive. People looked past the roughness of the recording and found the songs therein. This time, I want to sharpen my focus. I want to create a coherent statement. This next CD will not be merely a collection of great tunes, but will link up, not just emanating from the diseased cerebral cortex of yours truly. What will that mean? Bringing the CD more in line with our influences. The most common threads seem to be that we sound like a cross between Husker Du and Interpol. That sounds like a cool mix to me, and one that not many people are exploring. As far as I'm concerned pop-punk is dying. The crap bands have hit the scene, are cashing in, and any music fan with any sense is looking elsewhere. And that's where The Kindly Ones want to be; shining our mirrors, reflecting the world around us. I think this CD will be more moody. The aggressiveness will still be there (hey, it's *me* we're talking about here!), but I want to record some of those dark ballads I've rediscovered in the corners of my catalogue. The creepier stuff. Will we re-record songs off 'Edge of My Skin'? I'm torn. Some songs definitely did not get their due (Over You and Shoggoth's in particular) in the way we did them. But there is also the temptation to start with a clean slate. So this is the compromise I'll work towards: I'll re-record EoMS songs if they work within the thematic framework of the CD we envision (Oooh, "thematic framework"! Don't I sound like quite the artiste!). The only thing I can truly say is that our next CD (whatever we call it) will be a true statement of what The Kindly Ones are. Here we stand; warts and all. Not terribly coherent and well-written perhaps, but here endeth the rant.

Rant#3: Our "Freaky Fans"

"A painting that doesn't shock isn't worth painting." - Marcel Duchamp, artist (I've used this quote before but bear with me)

Well, the vultures have come home to roost on the music industry. After the profit-bloated 80's and 90's, and years of force-feeding us crap like Britney Spears and the bastard daughter of a certain Triumph bass player, the music industry is whining that they're not making any money, and that evil downloaders like Napster and Kazaa have destroyed the industry. Well, there are so many reasons why the music industry is in trouble (73-minute CD's with only two worthwhile songs on them, artists with more image than talent, the fact that the baby boomers have converted all their LP's to CD, and aren't buying any more), but I had to chuckle while I was watching various industry types moan and groan at Canadian Music Week.

While attending CMW, I submitted 'Shoggoth's Old Peculiar' to a panel of industry types at a demo-listen session (go to our music page and click on the IUMA link to hear it. Be honest.). While the panel made some legitimate critiques of the song, other comments were downright hilarious: "Too many lyrics," said one, "Chorus isn't strong enough," said another (a fair comment). The prize however, was a rant about the song itself. "CFNY will never play a song called 'Shoggoth's Old Peculiar'!" panelist Jody Ferneyhough (Universal Music) blustered. "This stuff is fine if you want to be a touring band and play for your FREAKY FANS (emphasis mine), but it will never go on radio." There you have it, fellow freaks. This is what the music industry thinks of anyone who wants to hear something more than another shop-worn way of saying, "I love you." If you want lyric-driven music that actually has something to say, then the music industry has no time for you. I'm going to indulge in some hubris and imagine similar reactions if these panelists heard 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie McCarroll' or 'Heroin' (not that I'm comparing myself to Bob Dylan or Lou Reed, but to illustrate a point). "Where's the chorus?" they would say. "The tempo fluctuates too much!" "No-one would ever want to hear songs about a black woman getting killed or heroin addiction!" If you think either of these two songs are great art, and not an uncommercial waste of time, then the music industry thinks you are a freak. If you want to make up your own mind about what is great music, and not be swayed by some marketing type, you're a freak. Well, you know what? I'm a freak. I think both those songs are genius, and my ambition is to write songs that can be mentioned in the same breath. If you think that's a worthy ambition, then you're the sort of person I want coming to see The Kindly Ones. Let's make up our own minds about what is good music (without a myopic industry brainwashing us into thinking that "Avril Lavigne is the future!" If Avril Lavigne is the future, then shoot me now!). Let's stand up, stick our middle fingers towards the paid taste-makers and yell out, "Say it loud! I am a freak and I am proud!" Here endeth the rant.


Rant#2: Who Killed Punk Rock?

Dedicated to Joe Strummer (1952-2002). You rocked.

This is hilarious; CMW 2003 is holding a forum on "Who Killed Punk Rock?" A corporate music event hosting a seminar on one of the most anti-corporate styles of music (now just another faceless pop style) ever developed. As if any one of those corporate tools ever had anything to do with punk. They'd probably shit themselves if they ever ran into Mike Ness or Jello Biafra. Of course, this got *me* thinking, "Who Killed Punk Rock?" For reference, I looked at two books: "American Hardcore; A Tribal History" by Steven Blush and "Punk: The Definitive Record of a Revolution" by Stephen Colegrave & Chris Sullivan (thanx Chris Fowler for getting them for me). Any quotes I throw up are from either of these two books.

"Punk was not a movement to perpetuate itself. It was a movement that had to hate itself. It had to make itself violent by its own ethos - to fuck itself up." - Paul Durden (former roadie)

Okay, let's define our terms here. Start with the College English Dictionary, circa 2000, which says, "Punk n.(1) A youth movement of the late '70's characterized by anti-establishment slogans and outrageous clothes or hairstyles. (2) An inferior, worthless, or rotten person or thing. (3) Worthless articles collectively. (4) Short for punk rock. (5) A young male homosexual; cat (6) A prostitute-adj." Okay, we've done two things: we've defined our terms, and given a few hints.

"The attitude wasn't about conforming - it was about people doing it for themselves, whether collectively or individually. It wasn't doing what you read in the paper" - Paul Simonen (bassist, The Clash)

Who Were the Punks?

"I thought a punk was someone who took it up the ass." - William S. Burroughs, writer.

Originally, a punk was a male prostitute. When he was 15, Dee Dee Ramone pawned his "prison pussy" on the corner or 53rd & 3rd in NYC (which inspired the classic Ramones song). To be called a punk was (and still is) a deadly insult in prison.

"A painting that doesn't shock isn't worth painting." - Marcel Duchamp, painter.

The first punks were the kids growing up in economically-depressed London or NYC, who couldn't get jobs. So they channeled all that frustration and boredom into art. Art influenced by beatnik writers like Kerouac and Burroughs. Art influenced by painters like Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp, who took the mundane and made it artistic. Art influenced by musicians like The Velvet Underground, who spoke about living in NYC and scoring heroin. Art that would appeal to frustrated, creative people like themselves. The freaks, the drag queens, the types mainstream society wouldn't piss on if they were on fire. And the music reflected that. They knew society would look down on them; just because they had a lower-class accent and no money, so they turned that scorn into a badge of honour. Say it loud: I'm worthless, and I'm proud!

It's generally conceded that punk started in NYC. Andy Warhol's Factory laid the groundwork, bringing in the despised elements of society and mixing them with the rich, the talented and the beautiful. The Velvet Underground (whose first record was produced by Andy Warhol) is arguably the first punk band. Certainly anyone who wears black and has an attitude owes something to them. A former country and bluegrass bar called CBGB's started booking acts no-one else would touch, like The Ramones, Television, Blondie etc. When The Ramones toured England with The Talking Heads, they turned heads. Quite a few people who caught them (Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten) formed bands. The rest, as they say, is history. More bands sprung up, and gradually music execs realized that there was money in this sweaty, obnoxious bunch of kids. So did older rock n' rollers who switched to punk, like The Police or The UK Subs. They codified the rules of punk, and conformity replaced non-conformity.

"Originally, every band sounded different. Now it's been put into these narrow parameters. A band picks a style, plays in nothing but that style, and puts intelligent members of their audience to sleep . . . independence and freedom quickly became such a formula and book of rules . . . it wasn't fun anymore." - Jello Biafra (singer, Dead Kennedys)

Who Killed Punk Rock?

1) The fans. Look at our definition again. "A youth movement." What happens to youth? They get old, they get married, they get mortgages and mini-vans. They're no longer interested in going out to shows, and their younger brothers and sisters don't want to do what they did. Take the hippies. They went back to the land, were against materialism and commercialism. Their younger brothers and sisters listened to ABBA, bought loads of white polyester and snorted cocaine at Studio 54. The same thing happened to punk's younger siblings. They went into Two-Tone, Goth, or The New Romantics.

"By '78, I'd lost interest. I was in a band, we were doing our own thing and they way punk went had no relevance to me." - Suggs (singer, Madness)

"Everybody jumped on the bandwagon, but nobody understood it." - Paul Cook (drummer, The Sex Pistols)

2) The bands. As we saw before, once groups like The Clash and The Sex Pistols started making money, everyone wanted in. The Police were the most successful example, but there were many others like Sham 69 and The UK Subs, bands who thought spitting and acting like idiots were the way to go. They adopted the uniform, but not the thought behind it. And the record companies reeled it all in. They looked at punk as just another cash cow, and they didn't want the real freaks who might genuinely shock middle America. So transsexual Jayne County was out, blandly attractive Sting was in.

3) The movement itself. Punk was obviously self-defeating because the way it came about. It was the style of freaks, people who didn't fit into mainstream society. When mainstream society glommed onto it, they felt that what they were doing was misunderstood, or that the people they hated were co-opting their language.

"The whole punk thing had descended into an abyss . . . frequented by really horrible, stupid, bland people . . . who'd read all the adverse publicity and actually believed it . . . they were smelly, they spat . . they swore (very loudly) . . . and, most unforgivably, they were very dull . . . they could sniff as much glue as they desired without damaging their brain. The perfect illustration of this that many of these Johnny-come-ridiculously-late punks became skinheads and joined the National Front . . . for them it was another fashion, another trend . . ." - Chris Sullivan (author)

What can we learn from this? Today's rebellion is tomorrow's establishment. Today's vision is tomorrow's excuse to act like idiots. And greed trumps activism, every time. Here endeth the rant.


Rant#1: Dominic Sold Out

Yeah, I sold out to the Man. I did a jingle. A Swiss Chalet commercial, no less. Yep, throw the first stones. I'm a whore.

Anybody in the College St. scene knows Ken Cade, Laura Fernandez's violin player and musical director. He called me up and asked me to come down and play some bossa-nova style guitar on a commercial track. You know that Swiss Chalet commercial, where the yuppie businesswoman tries to figure out what the delivery boy has in his bag? The elevator music: that's me. It didn't pay that much, but a lot better than what I get doing original gigs in-town, and the chance to do more if it worked out. Did I jump at it? Fuck yeah! Would I do it again? Fuck yeah!

The act of selling out involves abandoning your principles for cold, hard cash. What are my principles? I love playing guitar and playing music. I love making money playing music. I want to be able to continue making music and getting paid to do it. Let's face it, so far we're lucky if we get $100 a night doing gigs, and that's usually for a cover show. Performing originals? Hell, you're lucky if you have $100 to split between three members of your band! So somebody offered me a chance to play guitar (and get paid to do it) on a commercial that's currently irritating television watchers coast-to-coast. Yeah, I got paid. Yeah, I might do some more jingles one day. Will that offend some indier-than-thou types who think that's selling out to The Man? Yes, but those indier-than-thou types aren't setting up my retirement fund. So, if I want to make some money making music, I have to grab whatever I can get. End of story. Here endeth the rant.

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