Oppressed and Censored - The Story of Militious-Redneck Roulette
Getting signed to a record contract is every band's dream. It conjures up visions of videos with
go-go girls, tours sponsored by cola companies and greatest hits CDs. But what happens if the record company breaches
your contract and turns your music into something other than what was intended? In the case of a talented and marketable
band called Militious-Redneck Roulette, it turned the dream into a nightmare.
Most of your reading this article have probably never heard of Militious-Redneck Roulette. Well, there are reasons for that (to say the least!). You see, in the history of recorded music, there has probably never been a more censored and oppressed band (Gangsta' rappers not withstanding). In Parts I and II of this series, you will learn all about corporate and governmental censorship and oppression, the likes of which you thought could only happen in China or the former Soviet Union! But it did happen - and it happened here - and it could happen again! (Part III(Same ole same ole....The Library of Congress Screws Over Militious-Redneck Roulette Again!)
Part I - The Corporation
In 1996, during a small militia rally in Lansing, Michigan, an alternative/southern-rock/surf band formed. This unnamed band began playing basements and parties in locally-zoned townships and trailer parks throughout Northern Michigan. Hook-filled music with meaningful and often humorous lyrics made the band an instant success among young and old. Their gigs grew crowded with A&R people, agents and concert promoters - a promising sign for any new band - but it wasn't until a company named Sovereign Society came calling that the band (still unnamed) decided to take their message to the next level. Unfortunately, this was a decision the band would regret for a very long time.
Despite the company name, Sovereign Society was anything but! A ruthless corporation run by sleazy lawyers and accountants, its goal was to rip-off folks with strong ties to grass roots movements. Sovereign Society specifically targets these folks because they pay cash and they don't file taxes. What makes this attractive to the likes of Sovereign Society? Simple: Since the company has no intention of ever delivering on any of its promises, it needs customers who have absolutely no recourse. Since grass roots folks hate lawyers (and can't afford them anyway) and won't ask the government for help (since they probably owe the government more than they've lost) they're the perfect targets! Allegedly involved in everything from extending outrageous lines of credit for rural music festivals to satellite dish subscription scams to "insuring" hay rides, Sovereign Society exploits the grass roots movement unlike any company before them. And with it's own income sources unverifiable, Sovereign Society has reportedly made millions of dollars without paying a dime in federal taxes!
Why Sovereign Society decided to get into the music business is unclear. Perhaps they saw Militious-Redneck Roulette as a demographic tool: CD sales would be used to identify pockets of rural culture that would be targeted for loan-sharking and insurance schemes. Others have theorized that Sovereign Society uncovered the top-secret frequencies that access the tiny computer chips implanted in each of us by the government (during our childhood vaccinations - the chips are updated during subsequent "flu shots"). The frequencies would be mixed in with the music on the CD. Then, when the CD is played, re-programming of the chip begins causing the listener to buy unnecessary insurance, borrow from Sovereign Society's bank affiliates, etc. Since this reporter's phone calls to the company were not returned, one can only speculate…
In any event, there was Sovereign Society, offering its new studio and distribution network to an intelligent but inexperienced band. The band's leader, Thomas "Cletus" Jefferson, was initially skeptical of the deal, but was so impressed with the studio equipment (which included a two-stroke gasoline powered generator - similar to the motorcycle engines he repaired for Evel Kneivel!) that he agreed to the contract. The band's other leader, known only as "The Colonel" was similarly skeptical of these smooth-talking big-city fat-cats, but when they complimented him on his beret, all was settled.
"Jeremiah" Revere, the other leader of the band, was the most difficult to convince. Suspicious of "suits" his whole life, Jeremiah demanded that the band be given total control over their songs in a verbal contract sealed with handshake. After much consideration, someone from Sovereign Society's organization allegedly agreed and consummated the deal with a handshake. (My sources say Sovereign Society is prepared to argue that "the handshake" was simply a polite greeting misconstrued by Jeremiah as a legally binding contract. Even so, the so-called "handshake" was a weak, limp tug on the fingers - with no palm at all. It was allegedly "so girlish that no man would could ever consider it to convey a commitment!") Recording began the very next day.
Without getting into detail, suffice it to say that the recording process went smoothly. Ultimately, the band would decide on seven songs to release as an EP-CD, with a longer ten-song CD planned as follow-up. Deciding on the band's name was much more difficult matter.
Cletus was dead-set on the name "Redneck Roulette". Jeremiah believed "Militious" was a more subtle but descriptive name. The Colonel, sensing strife, allegedly suggested several silly names including "Patricia of the Militia" and "Heaven Via AK47" to reduce the tension, but it was no use. A deadly dual between Cletus and Jeremiah would be the only way to resolve the dispute… (For the full story on the outcome of the dual, you'll need to listen to the song called "Redneck Roulette" which rests on the second CD.)
With the songs in the can and a name chosen, the Militious-Redneck Roulette (self-titled) CD was ready for post-production, or so the band thought…
While details of subsequent events are sketchy (and probably won't be revealed until the lawsuit is settled), the scuttlebutt is one of Sovereign Society's CEOs grew uncomfortable with content of the CD, and two songs in particular: "I'm in the Michigan Militia"and "Three Days in the Pokey". Per a memo obtained from the company's dumpster: "Releasing that 'Militia' song would be irresponsible! It suggests government corruption and involvement in conspiracies! We can't let regular people know that stuff is going on… And 'Pokey' is too gritty! It describes prison intimacy in a way that might encourage people seek the more intense relationships only available behind bars. We can't make money off our customers while they're in prison… I want voice-overs and edits and I want them now!"
It was several months before the band finally heard their CD (see Part II for the explanation of the delay), of course it really wasn't their CD. They listened in horror as phrases like "my asshole is my womb" were overdubbed with meaningless fluff like "Bubba wants to be my groom". They were listless as a whole subplot about lawyers conspiring to retain their titles of nobility was deleted from the 'Militia' song. At one point, Jeremiah reportedly jumped up into the air and shouted at the top of his lungs, "I don't want any more pancakes! I had pancakes for breakfast! If I wanted pancakes for dinner, I wouldn't have had pancakes for breakfast! Now get in the kitchen and fix me a steak!" As he fell headlong into the hardwood, his friends and family discreetly re-holstered their guns and left the room. While resetting the safety on his own 44 Magnum (auto-slide), Cletus turned to the Colonel, who purportedly said, "Revenge is a dish that's best served cold…" (Its also possible that someone just remembered that line from Star Trek II - The Wrath of Kahn, and then imagined hearing the Colonel say it.)