Category Archives: Interview

Guitar World: Eric Johnson and Mike Stern Discuss Their ‘Eclectic’ New Album

EricJohnsonMikeSternWhat do you get when you combine two bona-fide guitar heroes in their respective genres — and then have them go toe-to-toe with each other? You get Eclectic, a new album by blues/jazz/rocker Eric Johnson and jazz master Mike Stern.

Recorded at Johnson’s studio in Austin, Texas, Eclectic — which will be released October 27 — is a tasty collection of songs highlighting the strengths of both guitarists. It features an infectious rhythm section consisting of drummer Anton Fig (The Late Show with David Letterman) and Johnson’s regular bassist, Chris Maresh.

Stern’s body of guitar goodness spans more than four decades. His career includes partnerships with such artists as Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius.

Johnson’s playing has often been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. His six-string wizardry earned him a Grammy award in 1992 for his instrumental hit, “Cliffs of Dover,” which came in at Number 17 on Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar solos of all time.

Johnson and Stern will support Eclectic with an Eastern U.S. tour beginning in November.

I recently spoke with both guitarists about their new album. Johnson also gives a bit of advice for properly playing “Cliffs of Dover.”

GUITAR WORLD: How did this collaboration begin?

STERN: I’ve known Eric for years and always dug his playing. Every time I saw him, I’d tell him that it would be great for us to do something together. Finally, I was doing this record called Big Neighborhood and had the idea of doing something with him.

JOHNSON: We had so much fun working on that record that one day the Blue Note Club in New York called and asked us if we’d like to do a joint gig together. So we put together a band, rehearsed and learned music. We ended up doing a two-week tour out of that and got offered to do a record and a few other tours that are now slated to happen.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Johnson and Stern by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Elliot Easton Discusses The Empty Hearts, The Cars and His Signature Gibson Tikibird

The Empty HeartsEven though the Empty Hearts feature members of Blondie, the Cars, the Chesterfield Kings and the Romantics — and even though their name was chosen from Little Steven Van Zandt’s super-secret list of unused band names — this is no cynically constructed supergroup.

Featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Clem Burke, guitarist Elliot Easton, bassist Andy Babiuk and lead singer/rhythm guitarist Wally Palmar, the Empty Hearts have parlayed a combined lifetime of rock into their self-titled debut. Their new album is a raucous collection of tunes shaped by Fifties American roots rock, Sixties British Invasion and Seventies garage-punk.

I recently spoke to Easton about the Empty Hearts, his signature Gibson Tikibird and the 30th anniversary of the Cars’ Heartbeat City.

GUITAR WORLD: When did the idea for the Empty Hearts begin?

The germ of the idea started with Andy [Babiuk]. The Chesterfield Kings weren’t doing anything and Andy called me up and said, “What do you think about doing a band with me, you, Clem Burke and Wally Palmer from the Romantics?”

I wasn’t doing much at the time so I told him that if he could get it together, I was in. Andy is such a great organizer and motivator and put everything together. We found that we liked each other’s vibe and enjoyed each other’s company. Everything about it really felt good.

How would you describe the album?

It’s a reflection and celebration of all of our influences that went into making us the musicians we are. Recalling those early days of innocence when you played music for the sheer joy of it. We really wanted to make a record that reminded us of why we got into music in the first place. You hear some Who, Beatles and our garage rock influences. It’s all stuff we loved as kids starting out.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Elliot Easton by Clicking Here!

Flyleaf Guitarist Jared Hartmann Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Between the Stars’

FlyleafFlyleaf have consistently dominated the active, alternative and mainstream rock charts since their eponymous, self-titled debut was released in 2005.

With the arrival of new vocalist Kristen May and the band’s new album, Between the Stars, which was released September 16, that trend is continuing.

Produced by Don Gilmore (Pearl Jam, Linkin Park and Avril Lavigne), Between the Stars is Flyleaf’s fourth studio album. It delivers 12 hook-laden tracks that are deeply rooted in guitar-based rock.

Guitarist Jared Hartmann’s hypnotic riffs are tastefully executed, creating a surreal landscape of infectious melody that takes the listener on a sonic journey. Flyleaf is Kristen May (vocals), Jared Hartmann (guitars), Sameer Bhattacharya (guitars), Pat Seals (bass) and James Culpepper (drums).

I recently spoke with Hartmann about the new album and his musical upbringing.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the sound of Between the Stars as compared to previous Flyleaf albums?

It’s going to be a little different than some of the other Flyleaf records. Obviously, it will be different because we have a new singer [Lacey Sturm amicably left the band in 2012], but it’s also going to be a bit different musically as well.

We used a lot of keyboards on this album to add some interesting elements to a few of the songs. We’ll see what people think! There’s something that’s similar to our previous albums but it’s also going in a new direction.

How did you connect with Kristen?

After Lacey decided to leave the band, we started looking for singers and someone suggested that we check out Kristen. Her band, Vedera, had recently broken up, so the timing was perfect. So Kristen came in, knew all of the songs and was cool to hang out with. She’s the perfect fit.

Read the rest of my

gw_logo
Interview with Jared Hartmann by Clicking Here!

Supertramp Co-founder Roger Hodgson to bring musical legacy to Bethlehem, PA

HodgsonRoger Hodgson has been widely recognized as one of the most gifted composers, songwriters and lyricists of our time.

A co-founder of Supertramp in 1969, Hodgson remained with the band for fourteen years before embarking on a solo career. It was Hodgson’s tenure with the band that became the driving force behind their monumental success. Writing music that defined a generation of progressive rock.

Hodgson wrote and sang Supertramp’s most enduring anthems, including “Breakfast In America”, “Give a Little Bit”, “Take the Long Way Home” and “It’s Raining Again”. Songs which helped the band sell more than 60 million albums. His trademark way of setting introspective lyrics to upbeat melodies resonates in the hearts and minds of people from all over the world.

Accompanied by a four-piece band, Hodgson will bring his rich, musical legacy to the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA on Sunday, Nov 9.

Hodgson talks about his career and what fans can expect from his Bethlehem performance in a recent interview.

What can fans expect from your Bethlehem performance?

People often tell me I am one of music’s best-kept secrets. I have many fans following me around the world because the show I am currently doing with my band is so special. Even many huge Supertramp fans are admitting that the band I have put together actually sounds better than the original, so the audience is in for a wonderful surprise. This year, in addition to my popular duo and orchestral shows, I am performing with an excellent band of four very versatile musicians. They are high caliber musicians and passionate about the music.

You will hear songs that I have written on my life journey – of course I’ll be performing all the songs people want to hear from my time with Supertramp. You can expect to hear “The Logical Song,” “Breakfast in America,” “Give a Little Bit,” “Dreamer,” “School,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “It’s Raining Again,” and “Fool’s Overture”. as well as some of my later material – “In Jeopardy”, “Lovers in the Wind” and “Death and a Zoo”.

What’s your writing process like?

Songwriting is an amazing and magical process. For me, the music always comes first. There are usually a few lines of lyrics that come at the same time. For a two or three week period I sing the new song every opportunity I get. It’s like a brief love affair; the emerging song just goes round and round in my head the whole time. It has that consuming quality to it, like falling in love. The structure and melody come to me relatively quickly – the lyric usually takes much longer.

I do realize I have written some wonderful songs and have an ability for writing great melodies, but I think the reason these songs have stood the test of time so well is because they came from a very pure place and were not contrived. I never sat down to try and write a hit song. Music was where I went to be alone to express my deepest emotions, my deepest longing, my deepest pain and joy and questions. And I think that is why the songs have endured so well over time.

Can you tell me a little about your Spiritual connection with your songs?

For me, music was where I went to express my longing to know God, to know true love, my longing to feel truly at home inside myself. I put this inner quest into my songs and I believe, because they came from such a deep place, this is one of the reasons they have such an enduring quality. They touch that place in everyone who is searching for true happiness, belonging, for God – whatever you want to call it.

So, yes, a lot of my songs have a spiritual theme to them – when I write music, I am always alone and it’s very much an inner communion for me. It’s not generally known that I never wrote with the band, and the other members of Supertramp didn’t share many of the spiritual beliefs that I wrote about – so all my songs – new and old – are all very personal expressions for me.

It’s now been more than thirty years since you left Supertramp. Do you have any regrets about it?

When I left Supertramp in 1983, it was to follow my heart, which was telling me it was time to make home, family, and spiritual life my priority. I wanted to be with my children as they grew up. I had become disenchanted with the music business. Supertramp had been my baby, my life for 14 years but I felt a completion. At that point I chose to have my primary focus be my family and not my career. I also pretty much left the music industry and took my family to a healthier place to raise my kids – up in the mountains of Northern California. I moved out of Los Angeles and built a home studio so I could continue to create music and although I made a few albums, I never toured behind them. My kids are now grown and I’m older and wiser and very happy to be touring again these last years.

Contrary to what people believe, Supertramp did not break up because I wanted to start a solo career or because of difficulties between me and Rick [Davies].

Do you ever foresee a reunion of Supertramp?

Many fans used to ask me about a possible Supertramp reunion. Because I knew how much it meant to the fans, I did make an offer to Rick Davies and his agent to join the band for some special Supertramp reunion concerts in 2010, but they declined. So at this point, the time for a reunion has passed. The ship has sailed.

What inspires you as an artist?

One of the things that I like most about making music is how it has brought people together from all over the globe and how many lasting friendships have been made through a common love of my songs. It is a very special and personal connection I have with many of my fans and that the fans have with one another. I feel it’s because my songs came from my deepest longing and joy and pain and touch those same places in the hearts of the people who listen. At my concerts I’m now seeing three generations singing along with me and it’s wonderful to see more and more young people discovering my music.

Roger Hodgson will perform at
The Bethlehem Sands Event Center on Sunday, Nov 9.

‘Atlas Shrugged’: Actress Laura Regan discusses new film, “Who Is John Galt?”

Laura Regan (Photo: Russell Baer)

Laura Regan (Photo: Russell Baer)

It’s been a busy year for Laura Regan. The amazingly talented actress, whose previous roles included a recurring part on the award-winning series “Mad Men” as well as guest appearances on the shows “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Bones”, is now taking on an even greater challenge in “Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?”.

The film, the final installment of the epic Atlas Shrugged trilogy, is based on Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel about a dystopian society in the not so distant future.

With a nation’s economy approaching collapse, crime and fear begin to take over. An overreaching government strangles the country’s few remaining business leaders and amidst the chaos, society’s most productive members begin to mysteriously disappear.

Laura plays Dagny Taggart, an intellectual heroine who fights an increasingly authoritarian government. “Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?” also stars Kristoffer Polaha and Peter Mackenzie and is set for theatrical release on September 12th.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Laura about the third installment of Atlas Shrugged, her career and more!

What were your first impressions of the Atlas Shrugged project?

I remember when it first came up, bells went off in my head. I knew that it was a big, iconic book and I was immediately intrigued and attracted to the character of Dagny. Not only is she a great literary heroine, but she’s also a strong woman with a strong inner compass. She’s secure in what she wants and what she believe is right. I found that very attractive to play. It was a role I could really sink my teeth into.

Did you have to do a lot of research to prepare for the role of Dagny?

Reading an almost 1200 page book is a lot of research on its own [laughs]. But I also talked to a lot of people who had experience with the book and how Ayn Rand’s philosophy might fit into it. From there, I set off on my own path and started thinking about who Dagny was to me — and then I gave her life.

How would you describe the story of “Who Is John Galt”?

I would describe it as a love story. The third part of the book is about the meeting of John and Dagny. They’re two very principled people who both have different ways of approaching the same problem. John’s approach is to withdrawal and to create his own type of community, whereas Dagny’s is not the same. She can’t step away from all of the work she’s put into her company and watch things crumble. It’s a meeting of how these two minds fall in love but won’t do anything about it until they’re both on the same page of this big moral issue.

How real-to-life are some of the events in this film?

What’s going on in today’s world is very frightening and I think that explains the attraction and lasting power of the book and why it’s so relevant today. There’s definitely some “science fiction” elements, but the impulse is there for people who want more control over their own lives and more power to decide on its direction.

Is there a message viewers can take away from the movie?

I can’t speak for the creators but for me, I would want people to know that they should never give up their opinion on something just because of the status quo. Don’t go with what the masses say just because you might be afraid to buck the trend. If it’s something that you really believe in, then go with it!

Did you always know that you wanted to become an actress?

It took me a while to realize that. My first love was actually ballet. I had an injury in my program that eventually led to my exit, but it wasn’t until my second year in University that I started getting more and more into drama.

Was there something in particular that gave you the acting ‘bug’?

I would say it came from taking an English Literature class and getting a chance to read all of the great classics, like Shakespeare. I remember just falling in love with it and thinking “Ok, reading this is great – but let’s do more!” It just took off from there. Each experience I had became more thrilling and before long, I was completely hooked.

What are some of the differences between doing a feature film as opposed to a guest appearance on television?

Feature films present a different kind of challenge, because you really get to see your character’s journey all the way through. With television you still have to be just as prepared, but your character’s journey may not be the journey of the show. TV is more of a narrow approach, whereas a film has a wide ranging draw.

Is there a bit of advice you can offer aspiring actors and actresses?

Never think that you know everything about your craft, because there’s always something more you can learn to enrich yourself. Maybe you’ll go to a workshop or maybe you’ll get together with other actors for a play. Whatever it is, you’ll always get something out of the experience that will enhance your next audition or role. Never stop learning.

Follow Laura Regan on Twitter @TheLauraRegan

Guitarist Joel Hoekstra Discusses His New Gig with Whitesnake

JoelHoekstra2Whether he’s performing as part of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages, touring with Trans-Siberian Orchestra every fall or jetting around the country for sessions and shows, Joel Hoekstra is one of the hardest-working guitarists you’re ever likely to meet.

And now he’s taken on another challenge.

It was recently announced that Hoekstra would be leaving his gig with Night Ranger to become the new guitarist in Whitesnake, replacing departing guitarist Doug Aldrich.

Hoekstra’s seven-year tenure with Night Ranger included three critically acclaimed albums and tours, not to mention being part of a killer one-two punch with guitar great Brad Gillis.

With Whitesnake, Hoesktra finds himself in a band whose ranks over the years also were filled by guitar royalty: John Sykes, Adrian Vandenberg, Vivian Campbell, Steve Vai, Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach. Hoekstra will join a Whitesnake lineup that includes David Coverdale (vocals), Reb Beach (guitar), Michael Devin (bass) and Tommy Aldridge (drums).

I recently caught up with Hoekstra and asked him about the new Whitesnake gig and also got a sneak peak into the band’s next album. I also asked him what he’ll miss most about his time with Night Ranger.

GUITAR WORLD: How did you first hear about the Whitesnake opportunity?

Oddly enough, Doug [Aldrich] and I are friends and were texting the night before the news came online. He didn’t mention anything about it to me at the time. All he said was there was some news coming. The next day, I woke up to hear Doug would be leaving Whitesnake.

How did you wind up getting the gig with the band?

I think it was a combination of me putting out some feelers and some people recommending me for it that led to me going out to meet with David at the end of May to hang/audition. That went well, so the next step was to go back in August to play on material for the upcoming Whitesnake album and to make sure it was going to be a good fit for both sides. At that point, I started to realize this was really happening.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Joel Hoekstra by Clicking Here!

‘World On Fire’: Slash Discusses New Solo Album, Gibson Les Pauls and Guns N’ Roses

Slash_-_World_on_FireOver the course of his illustrious career—one that includes time in Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver—Slash has amassed album sales of more than 100 million, garnered a Grammy (to go with his seven nominations) and was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Slash also has seen plenty of success with his solo albums. Both his Slash and Apocalyptic Love offerings landed in the top five of the Billboard albums chart.

World On Fire, which will be released September 16, is Slash’s second album with his official band, the Conspirators, which features Myles Kennedy (vocals), Brent Fitz (drums) and Todd Kerns (bass).

From the infectious up-tempo aggressiveness of the album’s title track to the sexual politics of songs like “Battleground,” “Dirty Girl” and the coming-of-age “Bent To Fly,” the 17-song opus delves into a wide range of topics. World On Fire also features a rocking instrumental, “Safari Inn.”

Produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Falling In Reverse, Incubus), World On Fire is a diverse record that covers a multitude of musical feels with a rawness and energy that’s reminiscent of Slash’s early work with Guns N’ Roses.

Make no mistake about it: World On Fire is not a solo project. It was recorded by a band with all four members contributing their strengths as a whole.

Slash is touring with Aerosmith on the “Let Rock Rule” tour. I recently spoke with him about World On Fire, touring, his love of Les Pauls and, of course, some of the most memorable moments from his career.

Read my complete
gw_logoInterview with Slash by Clicking Here!

My End Of Summer Week In Review

Wow! It’s hard to believe it’s Labor Day weekend. It seems like it was only yesterday that summer had started and now, here we are already at the end of August.

This has been a very productive summer of writing for me and this past week in particular in terms of interviews. And to prove that I’m not just a “metal-head” (even though it says that in my bio) – contemporary jazz, alternative rock and blues genres were all on the agenda!

These are my latest interviews that you can find now on AXS.com:

PeterWhitePeter White: Some of you may know Peter as one of the most popular instrumental players in contemporary jazz. But did you know that he credits his guitar playing to Al Stewart? Peter’s first real “gig” was with Al back in 1975.

Imagine this – you’re a wide-eyed teen fresh out of high school. You audition for a group, get the gig and the next thing you know… you’re in Abbey Road studios recording ‘The Year of The Cat’ with Al Stewart!

Read my interview with Peter where we discuss this story as well as his incredible new album, ‘Smile’ that’s coming out in October.

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FlyleafAlbumKristen May: Since their eponymous, self-titled debut album in 2005, Flyleaf has consistently dominated the active, alternative and mainstream rock charts.

Kristen May is the new vocalist for the band and in my interview with her we discuss the band’s infectious new album, “Between The Stars”, her musical upbringing and how a best-selling book turned blockbuster film ignited the album’s first single.

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PopovicIt’s been an extremely busy summer for guitarist Ana Popovic. Apart from touring Europe and the U.S in support of her most recent album Can You Stand The Heat, the Serbian blues powerhouse will soon join a multitude of other guitar greats for this year’s Experience Hendrix Tour.

I recently caught up with Popovic to discuss her upcoming visit to Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA, the Hendrix Tour and what she loves about Blues guitar!

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Thanks so much for taking the time to read my articles and be sure to follow me on Twitter @JimEWood  and  ‘Tumblr’ – I follow back!

Have a great Labor Day!

Actress Tonya Cornelisse Talks Upcoming Film Projects, Theater Performance

TonyaCActress Tonya Cornelisse is on the verge of a breakout year! With a series of film roles and other projects being releasing within the next five months, her star power will only continue to rise!

First up is the film “Yellow” – a dramedy centered around a young woman with a drug habit along with a myriad of other problems. Cornelisse plays the role of Starla; a sassy, foul-mouthed, single-mother and survivor. “Yellow” stars Melanie Griffith, Ray Liotta, Sienna Miller and Gena Rowlands and premieres Aug 29th in major markets with a more wider release to follow.

Cornelisse also appears in the upcoming sci-fi/horror film, Lost Time [set for VOD release on Sept 19]. The film is based on the post-traumatic, psychological effects of close encounters. Cornelisse plays Gillian, a clairvoyant who is placed in a psychiatric ward with other “lost timers”.

In addition to her exciting film career, Cornelisse is the voice of Lexus commercials and will soon appear in a revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Buried Child. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about “Yellow” and a few of her other upcoming projects.

How did your role in “Yellow” come about?

It was such a gratifying experience that came about the old-fashioned way. Matt Berry is a casting director who’s good friends with Nick Cassavetes [director]. Matt casts all of Nick’s projects and knew me from a show that did in New York. Matt was the one who suggested that Nick and I should meet me, so I went in and had a meeting with Nick. It was one of those projects where I read the script and instantly fell in love with it. It was everything I love about independent filmmaking: a strong, interesting role and a really dark, raw original film.

How would you describe the story of “Yellow”?

It’s a dark, messed-up family drama that crosses all genres. It’s one of those films that will take on an instant cult status. There’s musical numbers in it as well as an interesting dinner scene I’m in with Melanie Griffith and Gena Rowlands.

What can you tell me about your character?

Starla is a really strong, foul-mouthed, hard living single mom who’s pretty fearless and scrappy. She’s a survivor.

Let’s discuss another one of your upcoming films, ‘Lost Time’.

I love the way it was shot. We filmed in this old, shutdown mental institution in downtown LA. They do a lot of filming there for creepy things [laughs]. It’s the story about a group of “lost timers” who have been taken away and have no concept of where they went or how long they’ve been gone. There was a huge blackout and they were physically taken to a different reality. They’ve since reemerged but are now really messed up and aren’t able to function in normal society. Each of them have ailments that they suffer from. My character, Gillian hears voices in her head and is convinced that she has little creatures living inside of her. The leader of the group is a doctor played by Robert Davi (The Goonies). We’re all staying at his facility/institution where everything is monitored. It’s about the search to find answers to what’s happened to us.

What attracts you to a role or gets you excited about a script?

The ones that I love to jump into are the ones that are deep and take me out of my realm. I love roles that are challenging and off beat. Ones that I can really dive in and sink my teeth into. I love the kind of roles that make you feel uncomfortable or make you itch!

Growing up, did you always know you wanted to become an actress?

The story-telling aspect was something that was always huge for me. I’ve always liked being able to tell stories. When I was a little, I would make up my own stories and put on puppet shows. I always had a captive audience of adults around who would watch my shows. I danced ballet as a child but once I turned eleven, I started getting more into acting.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m doing the 35th anniversary of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Buried Child at the Whitefire Theater here in LA. He’s one of the great American playwrights and writes really strong female characters. It’s a three-act, epic American play. It’s super challenging and opens Sept 5. I also have a new screen play that we’re hoping to start filming around Christmas time.

Do you have a piece of advice you can offer to up and coming actors?

Always remember why you’re doing this and keep that inner child close to the surface and in your pocket. If you go back to the guts of why you got into creating this expression of art, you really can’t go wrong. Stay true to what’s inside and then, do your thing.

For more on Tonya Cornelisse Click here!
Follow Tonya on Twitter @TonyaCornelisse

‘One For The Road’: Cinderella Guitarist Jeff LaBar Delivers First Solo Album

Jeff Labar CD CoverFor several years, Cinderella guitarist Jeff LaBar had always promised to make good on his quest to record a solo album.

After years of waiting, the time has finally arrived. LaBar’s new album, One for the Road, was recorded in Nashville with long-time friend and engineer Ronnie Honeycutt and features mixing by Cinderella bandmate Fred Coury, with mixing and mastering by Chris Collier (KXM, Lynch Mob, Lita Ford).

What’s unique about LaBar’s first solo endeavor is that not only does it showcase LaBar’s guitar playing, but it also highlights his singing and songwriting prowess. Aside from drums by Tesla’s Troy Luccketta, all of the instruments and vocals on One for the Road are performed by LaBar, a true “solo” album.

The new album also captures the magic and spirit of a genre of music LaBar helped define. “No Strings” has a classic Cinderella feel, while songs like “Asking for a Beating” and ”Nightmare on My Street” take on a far heavier edge. Then there’s the acoustic-flavored “Hello or Goodbye,” which speaks to LaBar’s folk influences.

I recently caught up with LaBar and asked him about One for the Road, which was released today, August 26, plus guitars and more!

Read the rest of my
gw_logoWith Jeff Labar by Clicking Here!

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