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And their experience with the label was overwhelmingly good for the most part. Nobody lost their A&R guy to a merger. The label never told the band how to dress.

“We were treated like a major-label band, but we were 16-year-old punks,” says Stein. “We were so well taken care of. We’d go to New York, and we’d get three or four hotel rooms.”

“We would get all these great opportunities, but it didn’t feel real,” Stein says. “We got the opportunity twice to go on the Warped Tour but we turned it down the first time. We were all stupid enough and naive enough to say that sucks. It just seemed lame to us. It still seems lame. I know some good bands have played it. A lot of people love it, but we just weren’t the kids that said, sweet, let’s go to Warped Tour.” Still, it didn’t cause much of a rift with the label.

Looking back, Stein says, it was impossible for a bunch of teenagers to fathom the level of commitment required to the industry, and that shortsightedness made them take for granted a deal that most bands would kill for. Ironically, for all their punk-rock, devil-may-care attitudes about playing major-label ball, one thing the band members did was manage their money. According to Stein, no one blew their advance on the expected silly stuff, like a lifetime supply of Pixy Stix. Stein has invested in real estate and added to his motorcycle collection. Four years since the deal, he’s still living off advance money today.

“The people we worked with were great, but I think there’s a lot of outdated morons at major labels spending too much money on young bands,” he says. “And we were fortunate enough to be one of them. But now I feel more fortunate and am having more fun being on a low budget, being more involved and sleeping on floors than I ever was having hotel rooms every night.”



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