PAUL SHORTINO – Solo artist, King Kobra, Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot

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INTERVIEW BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ

Paul Shortino is a USA-born rock singer who has sung for several bands, including Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot, Bad Boyzz, and The Cutt. In addition, he has released several solo albums and has been a part of many different projects.  The latest solo effort CHASING MY DREAM, was released in 2009, and recently he has joined a renewed version of the classic hard rock band, King Kobra. In September 2010, Paul performed in Stockholm with the legendary band Great White.  There I had a chance to hear the latest news and some vintage stories directly from the man himself. Read on!

THE RETURN OF KING KOBRA

First of all, Paul, it’s 2010…what’s going on with your career at the moment?

There’s a whole lot of stuff. I’m filling in for Jack Russell with Great White for this gig. Hopefully, we might do some more dates, but I’m now really focusing on the King Kobra record. We have a deadline of October 30th. So, we wrote a song that is going to Ronnie’s tribute record for his STAND UP AND SHOUT FOR CANCER – foundation. All the money and proceeds will go to that. That’s that song I played for you, “Monsters and Heroes.” Ronnie was a great influence on me. I’m so sad he’s gone. Other than that, I’m just rocking and rolling, and I’m also working on a rock and roll show called “Duke Fame and His Band of Misfits” from the movie DUKE FAME. It’s going to be kind of like a spoof on rock and roll too. So, a live show. But, as I said, I am mainly just trying to get the King Kobra record done. We’re down to three more tracks we’ve got to finish.

So, what kind of plans do you have with King Kobra after the album comes out and who’s going to release it?

Frontier Records is releasing it. I think it should be released at the beginning of next year –either January or February…around that time. Then, hopefully, we’re going to hit Europe and do all the festivals and get out and rock and roll. Like I said before, if this works out with Great White, I’ll still be doing some dates with them as well. I’m working on a project with this guy named Michael Cousin. He’s like a Robin Trower type of guitarist. I’ve been working on his record for about two years on my time. When I have some free time, I work on his songs. I’ve got his whole record almost done.

The whole King Kobra thing, how did that come about?

The King Kobra thing was really trippy, how Carmine was trying to put the band together. I was in the middle of working with Ron Keel on the vocals for the Keel album we recorded at my studio. Bryan Jay from Keel was at the studio with Pat Regan. They were working on some of the Keel stuff. Carmine happened to stop by there and found out that they got signed to Frontier, and he was, “Wow, maybe I should put a King Kobra record out on Frontier.” Pat Regan said, “Yeah, maybe you should do that,” and next, Bryan Jay said, “You should just use Paul Shortino.”So, the next thing I know, Carmine is staying at my house, and David came up, and we started writing songs, and the rest is history.

I mean, he stayed at my house for a couple of weeks and then left and came back. We cut the drums in Vegas on tape. That’s why they sound so huge. It just so happened that we were going to mix the record ourselves. I told them, I said, “Well, I got an e-mail from Michael Voss who produced my last record – I think it’s CHASING YOUR DREAMS. He e-mailed me saying he’d like to mix one of the songs free.” So, he mixed “Monsters and Heroes.” Carmine was going, “Well, he wants too much money,” and Michael came down because he really wanted to do it. Carmine said, “That’s still too much money.” Anyways, he sent it around to a bunch of different people. We were telling Carmine, “You know, for what Michael’s going to charge, we’re not going to get anybody that’s going to produce this record like he’s going to do it – produce.” He’s probably going to put a signature on it because mixing’s one thing, you know? He’s just a phenomenal guy. He just really has got a talent for that. There are certain guys that can do that. I got a studio, and I can sit and mix stuff, and I’ve mixed things for other people, but there are guys that can mix and make something sound incredible.

Yeah, it’s a funny thing you just said about Michael Voss. I have interviewed Gary Barden and Mark Storace, who both have worked with Michael, and they did say the same kind of positive things about Michael Voss.

He’s a phenomenal man, and he’s just a humble, God-fearing man too. He’s into God, which is cool because I’m into God. We had a great relationship making my record. So, when he did the “Monsters and Heroes” and sent it over, I sent a version of that to Wendy Dio. It didn’t sound the way he made it sound. So, then, when I sent them this version, they said, “You’ve got to pull that off the record. We want to use it for Ronnie’s record to raise money for cancer.” So, I said, “Yeah, anything for the Dios.” I mean, they took me in their home when I… The basics Rough Cutt with Jake E. Lee, Claude Schnell, and the band then went off to Craig Goldy.

Craig Goldy?

I mean, many people in Rough Cutt ended up being in Ronnie’s band down the line. I said, “Anything you guys want for whatever Ronnie would want….” So anyway, they heard that version of it, and then we decided to pull the record. Now, we’ve got to replace it plus a couple of other songs because we did a version of “Love Hurts” – which is unbelievable. It’s not like any love hurts you’ve ever heard before. It starts with acoustics and then comes into Carmine’s huge drum sound after the first verse. Then, it goes and does like an old, and I would say, like a Vanilla Fudge ending with harmonies and stuff. It’s a great, unique version, but Frontier doesn’t want us doing any cover songs, so we can’t release that song on there. So, we’re going to release that one by ourselves.

Maybe you could release it as a bonus track or something?

I think they don’t want to pay the licensing fee. So, we’re going to just release it ourselves anyways, on iTunes. You know, it’s King Kobra, and it sounds fantastic. It really is. So, we have to replace that track with another. So, we’ve got to record three more tracks now, and then we’re almost done with the record. We’re taking the groove from the Blue Murder album from Blue Murder…A song in that kind of feel. So, we have to write three more songs before the records are finished and have them mixed. So, getting back to Michael Voss, once everybody heard, and once we’ve figured out what we could afford out of the budget for Michael to do this, he’s going to make this record sound incredible. That one track is just, like, over the top.

It’s been a couple of years since some of the King Kobra members have been in the music business. When you joined the band, was everything else set up already?

Well, no. Actually, it was me, Carmine, and David (Michael Philips). We started writing the songs, putting them together. Then, we contacted the rest of the guys. Carmine spoke to the rest of the guys, and they were on board. Since Mick (Sweda) heard my voice, we talked; he said, “You know, your voice is inspiring me to get back into the music scene.” Johnny Rod was just excited about getting back into it. I guess that my voice was the icing on the cake because I, David, and Carmine, David, had already some tracks – demo stuff that he had. I just put my voice on it, and we rearranged it. It’s just smoking stuff. I mean, there’s just… This whole record is as good as that track, you know? All of a sudden, everybody got on board. It’s just been snowballing. David’s got a studio, I’ve got a studio, and I hooked Carmine up with a guy who has a studio called Hit Track in Las Vegas. His name is Tom Parham. He’s got an SSL board. He prints up records. There are CDs and stuff there. He’s got a whole business out of his house. He’s got five acres house. The whole house is recording, mastering, duplication, for both CDs, DVDs, whatever. He’s one hell of a guy. Carmine wanted to record the drums on tape and not just on Pro Tools. So, he brought out his twenty-four-track studio machine, and boom! We’ve got the drums on tape. Then, Carmine is also doing a sample record with grooves and stuff. So, when we needed to come up with more songs, he had already tracked these songs. So, when I get home, I’m sending David my hard drive. It’s got fifty-eight gigs of different drum things. Then, he’s going to pick some things and write the next songs. We’ve got a ballad that we’re doing, and it’s really cool. The ballad is acoustic, but we just read the contract that we can’t have acoustic songs. We’ve got to make it… So, it could be partially acoustic, and then it’s got to go to the band. There are some grooves that might work to pull in for the drums and then make it a band thing. The song is about not taking life for granted. Living every day like it’s your last, you know? Because we’re here for such a short time. So, you should make every moment count. That’s basically what the song is about. David sent me the song with the chorus. Then, I’ve been working on the lyrics in between learning these Great White songs. I had to put the King Kobra things aside because I needed to focus on this gig.

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Johnny Rod, David Mick Sweda, Paul, Carmine Appice, and David Michael Philips

THE GREAT WHITE GIG AND FAMILY JEWELS

How much did you have time to prepare for this Great White gig?

About ten days. You know, with twelve songs, and trying to learn a song a day. It’s just; I’ve been learning them all the way up till I get on stage because I don’t want to get on stage and have to read any lyrics. I mean, I want to be able to feel what I’m singing. I’m going to take my cheat sheets up there, but I’m going to be prepared when I hit the stage because when I sound really good, then they’re going to sound really good – and they are already are tight. They’ve been doing this stuff for a long time. So, basically, I’ve got a good, strong voice, but I’m still the weakest link because I don’t know the songs as well as they do.  I stayed in last night and worked on the songs. I’ve been up since 7:00 this morning working on the songs. We had one just rehearsal with the band.

Yeah. Audie Desbrow told me about it.

Yeah. It’s going to rock, though. We’re going to rock tonight.

I’m looking forward to it.

They’re going to continue working with Jani Lane when they go back to the States, right?

Right. Yeah, I guess he’s supposed to finish the tour out, but I don’t know. They’re not sure if that’s what going to happen or not. So, who knows? Who knows? Jani’s a good singer, he’s an incredible, talented writer but I think that wasn’t their choice. I think that was the management. Because he manages, Obi Steinman manages Jani Lane and Great White. So, I think that was more of a… I don’t think the band had much to say about it. I don’t know. You might find out more than I know because I was just asked to do this gig. So, my feelings are, I’m going to do it the best I can do it. Hopefully, they’re going to want me to continue doing it because I’m going to knock their socks off and my socks off by doing it.

Yeah. Does it seem that no one doesn’t know how long time Jack Russell’s recovery will need?

I wish for a quick recovery for him. I don’t wish anybody to get ill, and he’s way too young. He’s forty-nine old, a way too young. I mean, I just turned fifty-seven, but I think that in the magazines, it’s five years – fifty-two? You know and burn. Wendy Dio, lie about your age, you know? I’m proud of it. I got two grandchildren; I got a thirty-three-year-old kid.

You’re grandpa! Pretty cool, yeah.

I wasn’t in a hurry to become a grandpa, mind you. I didn’t want my son to go that quick, but I love my granddaughters. I’ve got one Skyler, Summer – Skyler Nicole, and Summer Alexis. So, I’m grateful that God has been good to me. I got all my hair…

That’s rare in your age.

Some of my friends… That is rare for my age. I got good health. I owe it all to my wife, Carmen, who takes really good care of me.

How long have you two been together?

Nineteen years. We just had our… Two days ago was our anniversary. The day I left, September 8th. So, I had to rehearse with Great White on my anniversary.

Congratulations on your anniversary anyway!

Yeah, it’s great. Ten years, we renewed our vows, and she was able to get in a wedding dress because we eloped. We were in Las Vegas, and I went into this club nineteen years ago called the Rock Club. I knew the band that was playing. So, I got up and sang a couple of songs. They knew a Rough Cutt song, so I think we did “Take Her” or something. These people were in the audience; it was their anniversary. They said, “We got married in the Valley of Fire.” I went, “Wow, that sounds cool. Get married in the Valley….” In Nevada, there is a place called the Valley of Fire where everything’s red. I was just, “Wow.” I looked at my wife-to-be now. I mean, she wasn’t then. We were just engaged. I said, “Do you want to get married in the Valley of Fire?” Jeff Northrup was my best man. She says, “Well, we can’t get married in the Valley of Fire because nobody would marry us out there because it’s out in the middle of nowhere, and it was three or four in the morning, right?” So, I said, “Well, do you want to get married anyway?” So, we went to get married. I had only thirty-five dollars left in my name. I lost all my money gambling. I needed another thirty-five dollars to get married. I had bought the marriage certificate. Then, we had to pay the justice of the piece thirty-five. So, her girlfriend kicked in the thirty-five bucks, and Jeff Northrup was with me; he was my best man. Carmen’s made-of-honor was a girl named Denise Truscello, who is a photographer for WireImage. So, we got married, and we lived apart. She lived in Nevada, and I lived in L.A. for six months. Then, I got a place, and we moved together. Then, I came over to do the Shortino’s IT’S ABOUT TIME record in Germany. We started on that in the year, and she came over for a while, and we put all our stuff in storage. Then, I went back home, and then we came back. We were actually living in my rehearsal studio. We were sleeping on drum risers and showering outside. I figured if a woman sticks with you when you go through that stuff… Do you know what I mean? You know, showering outside with a hose. Then, we ended up getting out of the studio and buying a house. We put our rig in storage because I was coming back and forth from Europe. We actually lived in Germany for a year together, and I called it “Good for nothing” because we were right next to the French border, so actually, we could have… They close everything up in Germany. I mean at 6:00… One Saturday a month, you get to go to like Walmart – it’s a big place called Globus. You can go shopping there. Then, I found out that we’re leaving for good the week that we can go into France – we’re right by the border – and shop six days a week. So, but it’s all good. We had fun. We got home, and we got a place. Now, we’re living in Las Vegas. We got a beautiful home there. I miss my son and my grandkids because they’re in L.A., but it’s not that far of a drive; it’s only four hours. So, it’s not that big of a deal. Other than that, God, I thank you so much for bringing me here to Sweden to be able to rock out.

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REMEMBERING RONNIE AND THE EARLY YEARS

Our promoter here, Chris LeMon, wanted me to do… He asked me, and my favorite song was “Dreaming Again.” I was thinking of doing “Black Widow” acoustically, and then I’m going to do something for Ronnie. I’m going to do “Heaven and Hell” – just a cappella, I think. Then, sing the whole song.

That’s going to be great. Ronnie was an open great, and friendly person on every level, I would say.

He was such a humble man and such a good human being. Do you know what I mean? He was always a gentleman. He always had time for everybody. When I went to his funeral, his memorial, I sang “In My Life” written by John Lennon because everybody else was doing Dio songs. I thought, “Wow, you know, he’s a legend in my eyes, and John Lennon was a great legend.” “In My Life” pretty much says it is all about just being here on Earth and having your friends who aren’t here anymore. It was tough for me to get through that. In fact, when I did my song, everybody cried because I couldn’t hold it back.

I said, “I don’t think I can do this.” Then, everybody lost it. They were coming to me, “Hey, I was fine until you sang. That’s all, you know. I started crying, and I….” But such a loss at such a young age. He was only sixty-seven years old. That’s just too young for someone that talented and who was as warm as a person. He always had time for everyone. That’s what I try to do too. I always try to have time for whomever because these people – your fans and stuff – are the ones that keep you doing what you do. They make you want to do what you do, you know? When people get, “You know I don’t have time for that.” I’ve run into actors and actresses that I really looked up to, and they didn’t have the time of day to give me an autograph. I said, “I’m sorry; you just got yourself into this business. You need to support your fans like your fans support you.

You and Ronnie have such a long history together. How did you first get to know Ronnie in the very beginning?

It was really weird. What had happened was, I knew Wendy Dio when she was about twenty-one or twenty, and I was about sixteen. She married a guy named Rick Gaxiola, who was with a band called Mama Lion years ago. I met her. He went to England, and she was actually with Ian Paice at the time, and they got married. That’s when I met her. So, then, Dave Alford from Rough Cutt knew the Dio’s and said, “You’ve got to hear this singer that I want to get in the band.” Because we got together, Dave, me, Claude, Joey Cristofanilli, and Jake. We were rehearsing at the Starwood. So, they came down and heard us. Ronnie had always told Dave that if he needs a good singer, look me up, and I’m like, “Yeah.” So then, all of a sudden, Wendy wanted to get into managing. I didn’t know that it was this Wendy I met years ago because I was probably already about thirty years old when I…

Did she remember you when you now met again?

No, she didn’t. So, we all went out to lunch because I was signed to management with these other people. We went out to lunch, and we were at this Chinese restaurant – Ronnie, and me, and Wendy, and I went, “Are you… Were you married to Rick…?” And, boom! Then all of a sudden, because I was so when it came to just believe in people. You know the people I signed the contract with – with this management contract – I believed in them as they believed in me. They ended up owning everything, and they could pull out my hemorrhoids.

My first child, my home, if I were to get home, they would own part of that. I went, “Wow! These people, they were my friends, and one of them is godfather to my godson.”  So, I took it to Ronnie and Wendy’s attorney, and we got out of the contract with them. Because I was such a trusting person and would just believe what people would say and hand me a paper, I always signed contracts without looking into it. Well, they moved me into their home because “This guy is so… He believes in everybody. We got to keep an eye on him, take him under our wing.” So, I moved in with them. Then, I got really close with them. Ronnie was working on the HOLY DIVER album. I got to see how that whole thing came about with the artist.

How old were you back then?

I was about thirty. Thirty years old, maybe a little older – thirty-three, thirty- four. I moved in with them. Then, they started working on… Ronnie was going to the studio with us. Actually, I found out just recently from Ronnie’s old engineer who did the HOLY DIVER album and a couple of others– THE LAST IN LINE and SACRED HEART albums. Angelo Arcuri told me that Ronnie and he wanted to take us to the studio. When they didn’t want us, they wanted another producer. Ronnie had already been in the studio with us… So, it was kind of a letdown that I just found out recently that he was let down. That he didn’t get to take in the studio, and so did Angelo. Because they took us to the studio, that was there. They were working on getting HOLY DIVER ready. So, they were getting comfortable in the studio working on Rough Cutt, preparing for HOLY DIVER when they did the record. So, we did a lot of stuff with Ronnie and Angelo; we did a lot of songs – demo stuff – before we were signed. Then, when we got signed, I recently found out that they were a little disappointed that they didn’t get to do the album. So, they ended up doing their thing and going out on a “Holy Diver” -tour.

We finished our album with Tom Allom, who had worked with Priest and Krokus before. We went out with Krokus and Accept for a while. What is a funny coincidence is that I hadn’t seen Udo for years, and now I saw him here last night at the bar. Anyway, we were out with Krokus, and then Accept asked us to do a West Coast tour with them. So, we went out with just Accept/Rough Cutt. We finished the album, and then we got fortunate to be able to go out on the “Sacred Heart” -tour with Ronnie. We toured the whole U.S. When the Rough Cutt first album came out, that’s when Tipper Gore was doing the PMRC stuff, putting stickers on there. That record wasn’t anything really to be because of the cover with a knife and the heart…

But I think that PMRC stuff helped the record sales in a way?

Yeah, it did for people that already released their records, like W.A.S.P. and Ratt. They released their albums, everybody released their albums, we were signed before a lot of those people, but they released their albums sooner. We waited a year to find the right producer. If we would have released the album the same time everybody else would, they slapped the sticker there; it would have helped sales. We came out after the fact. So, we’d go into radio stations, and we were on this huge tour with Dio, and going to radio stations, and there’s the record – it’s not even opened. Doing radio is like, “Come on down tonight to the concert.” That was about the closest to the radio we got as far as in playing our stuff. So, in Warner Brothers, we lost our A&R guy, Tom Whalley, who ended up leaving and going and doing Capitol right in the middle of our record release. So, having your artist representation leave, nobody was fighting for us. So, we’d get to certain cities on the “Sacred Heart” -tour, and there would be no reps there; there would be no in-store stuff going on. There would be a rep who was really into the band and some in-store stuff in certain places. It was a rough road. After all these years, it seems like I’m starting all over again, you know? Just getting out there to tour because I haven’t toured in so long. You don’t tour, and then nobody wants to. I’m just putting albums out, but I haven’t been touring. It’s nice to be able to come out and do some dates with these guys. Hopefully, we’ll continue to do some dates, but we’ll see?

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QUIET RIOT TIME

How about the band Quiet Riot. Is it still a painful subject to discuss for you?

Yeah, it’s still painful. We were touring Japan – Rough Cutt – and we got dropped from our label. Kevin and Quiet Riot were touring at the same time in Japan, but they were ahead of us. The band and Kevin were having a problem, so I don’t know if it was musical problems, whatever. There were differences that they were having. So, I think Kevin quit the band, or they fired him in Japan.

Some stories do say that he got fired back then?

Okay. So, they got rid of Kevin. Then, when they had heard that they were looking for a singer and we were in the studio re-recording stuff, trying to get another deal, they asked me to come down and check it out. I was, “Well, this should be a good career move for me – to get in Quiet Riot.” Then after it’s said and done, I think I probably should have stayed with the boys in Rough Cutt because it was a real band. We started from the bottom, and the connection as far as bros. I mean, Frankie and I are good friends and everything, but it was very, the whole Quiet Riot thing was very political. I spent $30 thousand, and they spend like what? Twenty-five grand just to renegotiate the contract because Spencer bound everything. We were in litigation for a year. It was kind of a whole political thing. We came out with a great record. I regret not doing another record. They asked us to do another record, but I was so frustrated about how everything was going that I just figured I would do my own thing. That’s when I put band Badd Boyz together. We recorded for about six/seven months at Pasha Studios because they still have me under contract.

But they wanted to continue working with you then?

Well, they contacted me, and Frankie’s, at that time, mom was really. My mom was sick, and she had a heart attack. His mom was really ill. He had to go out on the road because of medical expenses with Wasp. So, he went out with Wasp, and Quiet Riot canceled the whole tour. We had a great tour for the states, and it would cost more money to go out on tour. For him, it was better to go out with Wasp. So, he made money. So, we just sat around like this. It was kind of aggravating – a little bit. I could understand why he did it, but at the same time, I’m going, “Wow, it’s my career, and this is a really good record, and we’re not doing anything.” We were not doing anything, just backing it up.

So, you only did that Japan tour, nothing else?

We did Japan, and we did South America, and that was it.

Was it altogether a couple of months only?

We retired. It was a great band.

The album QUIET RIOT, which you did with the band. There are some terrific songs there, like my favorite “King of the Hill.” How was the songwriting process for that album?

Frankie, myself, Jimmy Waldo from Alcatrazz, and Carlos – when we could get him to do stuff. That particular song, “King of the Hill,” was written by Trevor Rabin. It was an idea that he had worked with Frankie. Right now, we’re in dispute over the percentages of writing because I wrote a lot of the record, personally, and I gave everybody an equal share of it in the publishing. That was what we agreed upon – the publishing part of it. I ended up giving an equal share of writing. Well, you live and learn. I always figured in a band situation that if everybody gets a piece, it will stay together. There’s nobody uptight about it. When you start seeing percentages of the digital versions, then all the percentages are different. I mean, different than what they were with ASCAP. I got ASCAP, and they go, “No, you need to… Spencer sold his percentage, and he took more than anybody.” It’s kind of heartbreaking in a way to see all the work you did, and you take it at the tailpipe because you didn’t really look out for yourself. Oh well, you live and learn. Say, I’m doing the same thing. We just finished the record – giving people percentages.

How about your former Quiet Riot colleague Sean McNabb. You continued working with him on various projects. Are you two still in touch?

Oh, yeah. Sean. I haven’t seen him in a long time, but he was the young one in the band when we got to Quiet Riot. He was “the baby” and very green. I kind of took him under my wing. He’s now doing the thing with Dokken. We did some things together. I only wish anybody the best in anything they’re doing. I don’t speak to him much anymore. He is engaged to a news anchor in Los Angeles, Christine Divine. They keep to themselves pretty much. It’s like we, we kind of, lost contact for a while. I think he’s pursuing an acting career too, at least he’s trying to, actually. Because I was just seeing he’s MySpace, and there were posters of some films he’s doing some acting. I don’t know?

How was your relationship with Kevin DuBrow?

Kevin and I were good friends. That’s how I met the Quiet Riot boys. In The Stars, the thing was with Ronnie, Kevin, and we then hung out for the, “We can be strong. We have always done. And we all need to touch a rainbow.” That’s where I met Kevin. Kevin and I were good friends even after he… I heard all these horror stories about Kevin with people I was doing interviews with. That’s not the Kevin I knew. So, I never had anything bad to say about him. I can never say anything bad about anybody because it’s going to come back around and snoop you in the hiney. When I did “Metal Health,” I dedicated it to Kevin every once in a while. It was his song.

Do you still have plans to continue your solo artist career as well?

Oh, yeah. I’m still going to continue doing it. In fact, me and David Heinzerling will probably do a record together down the road here. We hit it off really well. I want to do a Motown record.

Okay, the sixties/seventies kind of stuff?

Yeah, absolutely. “I Know You Want To Leave It.” and then do it heavily. There are some great songs. That’s one thing I want to do. I want to do a heavy metal soul group – soul album, a James Brown track, you know? “I Feel Good! “

Now it’s been over one hour already…  maybe we have enough stuff already?

Cool. Thanks!

FOR MORE INGO GO TO:

PAULSHORTINO.COM

 

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