ATN's Music News of the World -- Indy Rocker Fonts

Addicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports: U.S. Tobacco's attempts to create a positive link between rock 'n' roll and smokeless tobacco with this summer's R.O.A.R. rock tour appear to be going up in flames.Not only has Natasha Hale, co-manager of British pop stars 60ft Dolls, a band currently listed on the R.O.A.R. Tour web site as being part of the line-up, stated that smoking is "a disgusting unhealthy addictive habit...," but both of the group's managers say the Dolls never agreed to participate in the tour. "We turned it [a place on the tour] down purely because of its involvement with tobacco," Hale wrote in a May 6, 1997 letter to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that ATN acquired a copy of yesterday.Hugh Williams, the other co-manager told ATN this morning (May 20) that, "We were never confirmed to do this tour. I'm surprised we were on any literature."In her letter to the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids Hale wrote, "I want to make it as clear to you as I possibly can that 60ft Dolls are not playing on any of the R.O.A.R. dates... The main singer, songwriter in the group [Richard Parfitt] is an anti smoker and so did not want to do the shows."U.S. Tobacco recently recognized R.O.A.R.'s potential to become a public relations fire hazard. Last Wednesday (May 14), the company issued a press release announcing that it would "modify certain aspects of its sponsorship, including removal of references to our sponsorship from all future R.O.A.R. Tour print advertising, press releases and promotional material." The release noted that "some such reference will occur in books (e.g., magazines) already printed."While Dolls manager Williams offered the band's support for the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids, he said, "We'd rather not be so vocal about [the tour]. We'd rather say we'll leave it at that and not be seen to be screaming and shouting about it. Because we were never at the stage where we were doing the tour any way."Alan Kaiser, spokesperson for U.S. Tobacco could not explain why the band is listed as part of the tour lineup on R.O.A.R.'s web site. He referred ATN to tour publicists Rogers & Cowan. Karen Bell, a representative from the firm was unaware of the listing, and said the band was only thought to be participating "ages ago...[The web site] probably just hasn't been updated. I think it's just an oversight."Initially when they were putting the tour together, they were going to be on the bill," says Bell, "and then for some reason or another they weren't."However, Williams said, "As far as I was aware, we were never formally offered it."Although tobacco-sponsored tours by blues, country, and jazz artists have long been common, the R.O.A.R. (Revelation of Alternative Rhythms) tour is thought to be the first rock tour underwritten by a tobacco producer. The festival will hit 40 cities beginning this month, and will feature main stage artists such as Iggy Pop, the Reverend Horton Heat, Sponge, Bloodhound Gang, Linda Perry (ex-Four Non-Blondes), Tonic, Ryan Downe, and Treadmill Trackstar. The tour will also carry a slate of second stage acts, as well as a concourse known as the Lifestyles Experience Village (L.E.V.) featuring motion simulators, a Velcro wall, bouncy boxing, and a bungee run.U.S. Tobacco's Kaiser pointed out that the L.E.V. allows access only to people age 18 and over, and thus will have signage featuring the Skoal name. "There will be no other signage at the event," said Kaiser, "and there will be no selling of merchandise." He could not say which magazines will carry the older R.O.A.R. advertisements that mention Skoal.Jennifer Thorp, manager of media relations for the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids, said of the decision to yank the Skoal name, "We feel like we made them blink. We're not happy. We don't feel that it's enough. If they're willing to take their name off of promotional items, what's the benefit to them? Why don't they just cancel the tour?"U. S. Tobacco has attempted to portray the tour as appealing to adults. "We have a long history of sponsoring events that appeal to primarily adults, including music tours," said Kaiser. "The bands that are performing on this tour appeal to adults, 20 to 25, not minors. We also believe that there have been a lot of recent distorted characterizations of the tour."Kaiser was presumably referring tactics such as the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids' "April Smoke Alarm" press release calling on the R.O.A.R. bands "to withdraw from the company's youth marketing effort."A Washington Post essay by Campaign president William Novelli asserted, "Those under the age of 20 are the biggest purchasers of rock music. The companies are using the universal teen language of music to create the impression that tobacco is stylish, cool and acceptable."U.S. Tobacco's own release maintains that artists such as Iggy Pop (who had two songs in the recent hit youth movie Trainspotting), and MTV darlings Bloodhound Gang "are heard regularly on alternative music radio stations whose audience is primarily adult."NEW MANIAC TAKES MERCHANT'S PLACEAddicted To Noise Senior Writer Gil Kaufman reports: Taking a cue from their rock brethren Van Halen, who taught us that the loss of a front man (or two) doesn't necessarily spell the end of a band, the four remaining members of 10,000 Maniacs have rebounded from the 1993 departure of school-marmish singer Natalie Merchant.They've found her replacement.Following the departure of the highly sensitive Merchant, who quit the band to pursue a solo career, band members Robert Buck (guitar), Dennis Drew (keyboards), Steven Gustafson (bass) and Jerome Augustyniak (drums) set out in search of a new lead singer and didn't have to look far to find Mary Ramsey. Ramsey played viola, violin and sang back-up on the Maniacs' last two albums, Our Time in Eden and MTV Unplugged.In addition to Ramsey, original member John Lombardo has re-joined the group for their new album, Love Among the Ruins (June 17), produced by John Keane (R.E.M., Indigo Girls) and Fred Haher (Lou Reed, Lloyd Cole).INDIE PUNKS BOUNCING SOULS SOON TO HAUNT EPITAPH RECORDSAddicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports: In punk circles, some folks think of Epitaph Records as the label equivalent of software-gobbler Microsoft.Sure, Epitaph's roster contains notable bands that it has fostered all along (NOFX, Pennywise, and Bad Religion before they left for Atlantic spring to mind). But they now have company.In the past year or so, the imprint has fleshed out its ranks with great punk acts who first proved themselves with several releases on smaller indie labels, such as the Humpers (formerly with Sympathy For The Record Industry), New Bomb Turks (ex-Crypt), and Gas Huffer (late of eMpTy Records).Add to the latter list the Bouncing Souls, formerly with the BYO label: Epitaph will announce soon that it has signed the New Jersey pop flavored punks. Later this month the band heads into an L.A. studio with producer Thom Wilson (the Offspring's Smash, T.S.O.L., the Adolescents) to record their first disc for Epitaph, due out in September.The Bouncing Souls are best known for 1992's energetic The Good, The Bad, & The Argyle, which features tracks such as "I Like Your Mom," "Old School," and "These Are The Quotes From Our Favorite '80s Movies." Over the years, they've toured with the likes of Green Day, the Offspring, the Descendents, and the Swinging Utters. The band's most recent release is Maniacal Laughter (1996).Off-The-(ATN)-Wire: The quirky fontography of font designer and "alphabetician" Chank Diesel has found its way onto dozens of different products from Honeycomb cereal to Tanqueray gin and most recently to the Golden Palominos. His Rockstar Fonts kicked off in March with "Darling Nikki," which he digitized from a handwritten alphabet sample provided by Golden Palominos chanteuse Nicole Blackman. The latest installment of these personalized alphabets, downloadable for free from the webzine Tripod (www.tripod.com), is by Soul Coughing singer M. Doughty, a loopy, cartoony font he calls "Wichita" (www.tripod.com/triteca/eyesite/chank/970415.html). Chank says you can look for new fonts from Kelly Deal, the Poster Children, Morphine, Babes in Toyland and Motley Crue in the coming months... Primus upcoming album, due in July, is titled "The Brown Album"..."Music News of The World" appears every day in the on-line rock & roll magazine, Addicted To Noise, which can be found on the Internet at: http://www.addict.com/

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