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Shane McNeil, on ‘Guy with the Chevy Tattoo,’ straight-edge punk, three chords and the truth, psilocybin, PMA & living in the gray

(Publication Date: 3.12.24)

In this episode of the We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast, Adam Williams talks with Shane McNeil, singer-songwriter-guitarist, auto mechanic and jack-of-all-trades. 

In this conversation, Adam talks with Shane about tattoos and Shane’s autobiographical song, “Guy with the Chevy Tattoo.” They talk about the early influences in Shane’s life, including straight-edge punk rock music and the ethos behind it. They talk about why Shane is so restless and optimistic, and about the most valuable lesson he thinks anyone can learn.

Adam and Shane explore being a “gray area” person in a world that wants to box people into black and white, bumper-sticker identities. Toss in a love story, Shane’s relationship to cannabis and psilocybin, and his thoughts on regrets in life, among other things.

SHOW NOTES, LINKS, CREDITS & TRANSCRIPT

The We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast is a collaboration with the Chaffee County Departments of Public Health and Housing, and is supported by the Colorado Public Health & Environment: Office of Health Disparities.

 

Along with being distributed on podcast listening platforms (e.g. Spotify, Apple), Looking Upstream is broadcast weekly at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, on KHEN 106.9 community radio in Salida, Colo., and can be listened to on-demand via khen.org

 

Shane McNeil

Instagram: @shanemcneilmusic

Instagram: @mcneilmotorcars719 

TikTok: @shanemcneilmusic

Spotify: Shane McNeil’s artist page 

 

We Are Chaffee

Website: wearechaffee.org

Instagram: instagram.com/wearechaffeepod 

Facebook: facebook.com/wearechaffee

Instagram: instagram.com/wearechaffee

CREDITS

Looking Upstream Host, Producer & Photographer: Adam Williams

Looking Upstream Engineer & Producer: Jon Pray

We Are Chaffee Community Advocacy Coordinator: Lisa Martin

We Are Chaffee Graphic and Web Design: Heather Gorby

Director of Chaffee County Public Health and Environment: Andrea Carlstrom

TRANSCRIPT

Note: Transcripts are produced using a transcription service.

Although it is largely accurate, minor errors inevitably exist.

 

[Intro music, guitar instrumental]

Adam Williams (00:15): Welcome to We Are Chaffee's Looking Upstream, a conversational podcast of humanness, community and well-being rooted in Chaffee County, Colorado. I'm Adam Williams. 

Today, I'm talking with Shane McNeil, a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and auto mechanic. Well, a jack of all trades by his own words. Shane clearly is someone who has come by his wisdom and perspectives through honest lived experience, the rough and the raw, the ups and downs. And he's come through it all with a positive mental attitude that I find to be inspiring. 

We talk about tattoos and his autobiographical song Guy with the Chevy Tattoo. We talk about the early influences in his life, including straight edge, punk rock music and the ethos behind it. 

We talk about why Shane is so restless and optimistic, and about the most valuable lesson he thinks anyone can learn. We explore being a gray area person in a world that wants so badly to box people into black and white, either/or this or that.

(00:01:17): Toss in a love story, Shane's relationship to cannabis and psilocybin, and his thoughts on regrets in life among other things. And we have a really great conversation ahead. 

The Looking Upstream podcast is supported by Chaffee County Public Health and the Chaffee Housing Authority. It's available on all podcast players and the show also airs at 1:00 PM Tuesdays at KHEN 106.9 FM Community Radio in Salida. And to look for the monthly We Are Chaffee newspaper column in the Chaffee County Times and The Mountain Mail. 

Show notes including links in a full transcript of this, and all Looking Upstream conversations are available at wearechaffee.org. You can support the podcast by following and engaging with We Are Chaffee pod on Instagram and shinning happy ratings and reviews on Apple and Spotify are very helpful too. Thanks in advance. Now, off we go with Shane McNeil.

[Transition music, guitar instrumental]

(00:02:21): Shane, let's talk about tattoos. I have several, it looks like you might have several severals.

Shane McNeil (00:02:21): Severals.

Adam Williams (00:02:27): Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I mean, I can see on your hands, your neck, everything just that's exposed right here. Even in wintertime for me, I kind of got to push up sleeves, let people know about it. Do people ask you about it?

Shane McNeil (00:02:40): Yes. It used to be much more regular getting asked about it than it is now. I just think social standards have changed quite a bit. Even in the last 10 years, I think cable TV shifted a bunch of the question. I got more questions before cable or before the tattoo shows came to cable. LA Ink, Miami Ink, things like that.

Adam Williams: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Shane McNeil (00:03:00): Kat Von D shows. I think when people started watching those, getting a little bit more understanding. And probably, coping with some fears of them. Does it hurt? Is there blood? Things like that. A lot of people have never seen a live tattoo, and when they get to see it on television and they realize it's probably not as torturous as it might seem, I think they understood them a little bit better. But I would say before that, questions a lot and just the very, very typical questions. What is that? What does it mean?

Adam Williams (00:03:30): Right. Yep.

Shane McNeil: Those.

Adam Williams: Do they ask how many you have when they see you have a lot?

Shane McNeil (00:03:34): Very rarely. Very rarely. Every once in a while, somebody will say, "Do you have an exact number?" And I don't because a lot of times you're in getting something and then you'll just get something else or a little filler piece or some filigree that somebody's doing. 

So I don't know that too many of us count. But yeah, a lot of the people who ask how many also say, "Where at?" Or also the "Can I see them?" It's usually there's a series of questions, and it's ironic and maybe a good way to start the subject. 

I don't like talking about tattoos, not because I dislike the talk of it, but because I think my introduction into it and their impact on me was much different than a lot of other people. And a lot of times when I respond with what they mean or when I got things, et cetera, people discount me as a tattoo connoisseur because they're not as important to me as they are to other people.

(00:04:28): So for a long time, I steered away from talking about tattoos with tattoo people. Non-tattoo people, it was a little different. But when we get into the nitty-gritties of who, where, why, how, I didn't put as much emphasis on those things as other people. And I think a lot of times I got kind of chastised for that.

Adam Williams (00:04:49): No, I got you. I mean, I think that happens in all kinds of lanes. And for whatever reason, the one for me, coming to mind is photography and people care about "Well, what was your shutter speed?" And "What was this and that. And what lens did you use?" Like "I don't know, and I don't care." Like "I don't get into the technical aspects of it." 

There's something more just aligned with, I think, heart, or feel, or creativity. Does that ring true for you and how you feel about having clearly made this choice many times to get tattoos or to have something filled in when you're just in the shop? There's something connecting you to this creative art form.

Shane McNeil (00:05:22): Yeah. And typically, later years now, it's something really has to spark it more. The older you get, they hurt more. I don't love getting tattooed anymore. So anymore, it's usually something sparked it. It usually is a creative or at this point, a lot of memories will inspire something. So that will be the intention going in. But earlier on in life, it was always places, people, and scenarios. 

Was it for tattoos? I don't know that I've ever looked at ideas for tattoos. I've never gone and looked at Flash, even though I've gotten traditional Flash Sailor Jerry stuff, things like that off of a wall, I never think about getting tattooed. I never look to do it. I never schedule tattoo appointments. It's when it works, traveling gets it a lot. 

Either I'll get tattooed while traveling or get inspired from traveling. I get back and I want to get tattooed due to that. And it's always something that stimulates a passion or a memory that will make me want to get tattooed.

Adam Williams (00:06:25): Gotcha. I want to ask you about a specific one.

Shane McNeil: Yes.

Adam Williams: And in part because you have a song with it in the title.

Shane McNeil: Yes.

Adam Williams (00:06:33): “Guy with the Chevy Tattoo.” And this Chevy tattoo, it's an outline of the Chevy logo and it's just below your left eye, maybe off to the side just a little bit. I'm curious about that one. Why the choice of that logo, why the choice may be under your eye, how you feel about it now? I don't think you've had it that long.

Shane McNeil (00:06:50): No. Probably, two years, maybe three years at this point. Choice, because I love Chevrolets as I pulled up to this podcast in a Ford pickup. Past that, I've just always liked the logo. I'm a logo guy, I'm a simple graphic guy. And something about that bow tie, I liked when I was a kid and ironically, you're raised on Fords. My whole family drove Fords. My first car was a Fox body Mustang. 

And Chevrolets, after the years of working on them, I just fell in love with the cars, their designs. The era of Harley Earl is very important to me and American design of classic vehicles. And due to that, that's always been a brand that resonated with me, and I genuinely believe that they're one of the best manufacturers on the planet. Outside of that, as far as the tattoo, the logo works for a small tattoo instead of a big one.

(00:07:44): Everybody's got a big bow tie tattoo [inaudible 00:07:47] some flames around it or whatever your racing buddies do. And I was like, "It'd be cool to get a smaller one somewhere as an accent." And I had always questioned getting a small face tattoo. Right under the eye area... A lot of us, I think our age, we look at guys that were a little older than us and they maybe had that. 

Maybe they were prison guys, they were pro sports guys, they were musicians. And it was just always kind of that little face charm, if you want to call it that. Just kind of gave you that little extra cherry on top. So I flirted with it for a very long time. And why then, I'm not quite sure. I was absolutely in love with an El Camino that I was driving at that time, and I was like, "This might be the height of me loving a Chevrolet, and loving a vehicle at least, that I would tattoo myself about."

(00:08:39): And I went down to Ivy League Tattoo here on South Main, talk to Mike about it. And he was like, "That's wild. But I'd be down to do it." So I thought about it for a bit. I talked to my wife about it, she was indifferent. My body, my choice. Two-way street in our household with that. 

So she really did not seem to mind. I think she shook her head, gave you the idiot under the breath a couple times, but laughed about it. But she's never had a concern with tattoos, she's tattooed herself. And then when I went and got the stencil put on, I sat there for about a solid 45 minutes. It's like, "Do I? Do I?" I've never been tattooed under the influence of anything, I don't think. Which is another question that gets asked a lot, "Were you drunk when you got-"

Adam Williams (00:09:29): I wish I could say the same. I have one that I was 19 and it was in the front room of a dude's house in Indianapolis at 11:00 at night. Not surprisingly, it's one that I'm like, "Man, that's not the way I would've done that." That's not how you would've used that canvas if I could choose this over again, right?

Shane McNeil: Right.

Adam Williams (00:09:49): I want to ask you more about the song related to that. So it's on Spotify, I'm going to make sure people have a link to that in show notes.

Shane McNeil: Awesome. Thank you.

Adam Williams (00:09:58): I listened to it just a few times, even just yesterday in preparation for this. Man, a number of the lyrics, it's storytelling. Your mom working overtime, your dad not there, 18 when you got your first hot rod. I'm just the guy with the Chevy tattoo. What does that song mean to you? It feels like there's a lot of heart, maybe pain. I don't want to put words on you.

Shane McNeil (00:10:22): No. And it's one of those songs that could have been 14 verses long. If it could have been, but that doesn't make any sense. The story with that song is very ironic. I was sound asleep taking a nap, a very rare nap on... It was a Saturday or Sunday, it was a weekend like this. Didn't have much planned to do. 

Myself and Krista both laid down for a proper nap at like 2:00 PM. And I was out cold, I woke up in a freezing, shaking sweat from a... Don't want to know if I would call it a nightmare, but a dream that as I was dying and getting buried, I was still aware of this. And the only thing that people could say to remember me was "Yeah, the guy with the Chevy tattoo."

(00:11:04): And so I woke up from this nap with that and I immediately grabbed a guitar, ran down to my basement. And that song happened in about the length of the song itself. It was one of those one takes. Those were the things on my mind that were relevant enough after waking up from fear from this nap of being forgotten completely. 

Those were the things that stuck out that I thought, "Yeah, I've done a few of these things, done a lot more things. And what if the only thing that I'm remembered for and remembered by is being the guy with the Chevy tattoo." And obviously, that's something that depending on a season of life, I would unpack different. I don't need to be remembered. I don't need a legacy. I am satisfied with here and now.

(00:11:49): However, depending on emotions and where I'm at seasonally, yeah, I think about stuff like that. I'm like, "Yeah, that is possibly the physical and literal brand that I will be left with." I think that's why a song had to come out of it. I was like, "If I can help this potential fear, subliminal fear, I may be making it a song." 

That's how my mind works, is if there's something I'm afraid of, I try to get ahead of it with something I'm passionate about. Music helps me with that. And yeah, it could be. I mean, that is a fear. It is a very easy to remember thing about me, it is the most distinguishing thing about me. And my hope is that if people don't get an opportunity to meet me, if I'm remembered by just that type too, that's fine. If they get to meet me, hopefully they remember my character and who I am as a person. Then I also had a Chevy tattoo.

Adam Williams (00:12:37): Man, I'll tell you, I think that people who listen to your music... Honestly, genuinely, I love it. I love your voice. You're a singer-songwriter, guitar player. I don't know if that's how you describe yourself, that's what I hear and see in it. And that's right up my alley. That's something that part of me wishes and still tells myself, "Well, one of these days I'm going to work on that." 

Now, not to go and perform like you do, that might just be me in a room alone forever. But I have five or six guitars in my house that I've had for years and moved from house and city to house and city because that dream is there. And I love your voice and your sound. I hear grit, and heart, and soul in it. 

I don't know how you describe your music, and probably that's an annoying question that you might get too is, "Oh, how do you talk about this?" What kind of music is this? So I can put a label on it." But what is that music for you?

Shane McNeil (00:13:35): It is really tough. And it's a question that I've had to ask myself a lot over the past few years. What I'm writing now, what I'm recording now, what I'm performing now is a very direct reflection of everything I have written, performed, and played up until this point. And after taking a very long hiatus from music... Yeah, it would fall into, I guess, singer-songwriter, guitar player. 

It's tough 'cause that's such an open spectrum in large genre. You say singer-songwriter, the first person that comes to mind for me is John Mayer. He's a huge influence of mine. I'm a John Mayer fanboy. And his core, he's a singer-songwriter, guitar player. And so it's tough for me to even say singer-songwriter for me 'cause I'm nowhere in that lane. But just because we are popular music as an idea of what that lane is, it doesn't mean that is so to speak. Right now, is a huge rise in singer-songwriter as far as I'm concerned.

(00:14:41): You could easily put me next to something in the same category as a Zach Bryan, strumming a guitar at the core of a song and singing what he's feeling. Not to compare myself to him, he's got a phenomenal voice, incredible writer. But there is a lane right now for guys who just want to play and sing what we feel, and I'm happy that I can try to occupy that space a little bit. 

Outside of that, I think it would depend on if I'm playing solo, as a duo, or with a full band. Where it would fall? But this is the first time in my life I can say it's uncompromisingly me. It's not a genre, it's not punk rock, it's not country, it's not southern rock, it's not blues. My hope is that it is a lane that I get to pave, and somebody says, "You sound like yourself." So that's the best way to describe it.

Adam Williams (00:15:36): Absolutely. I think that would be beautiful. That's a tremendous aim to have.

Shane McNeil: Yes.

Adam Williams (00:15:40): As a creator in the world and as somebody who's trying to be themselves, show themselves, communicate who they are, and for the benefit of connecting with others, that's probably ideal. Right?

Shane McNeil: Yep.

Adam Williams (00:15:52): I want to go back to a particular lyric you have in Guy with a Chevy Tattoo. You're talking about in this storytelling song, touring around the country and three chords and a truth. Man, that's what hit me in such a succinct way of talking about what maybe you're about, what you're out there doing with music, which I know is so much at the heart of you. And I just wonder if this storytelling piece... And if that word is not always the best or appropriate, please use your own.

Shane McNeil (00:16:26): No, it's a good word. And truly as a creator, it's a very big compliment. So thank you for saying that Because it's a thing that I've struggled with most of my musical career. I took a 10-year hiatus because I point-blank decided I could not write lyrics or music anymore. Because I did not think I was good at it, I was terrible at it. 

And I lusted to be a storyteller, those storytellers we grew up on and I just couldn't do it. And for some reason, more recently, I should say, I've been able to figure out how to tell somewhat of a story. So no, it's a good thing to tell somebody that and there are people who live and die for that exact accolade. I'm a storyteller, and it's a huge compliment. So thank you for even referencing it.

Adam Williams (00:17:13): Oh, sure. And I don't want to try to peek too much behind the curtain here or to get you to reveal too much. But in this storytelling and the idea of three chords and a truth, I'm wondering how much of you is in music like that? For example, Guy with a Chevy Tattoo, and what all is said there is that... How much of that is truth in terms of fact versus truth in fiction? You know what I'm saying?

Shane McNeil: In storytelling. Correct.

Adam Williams (00:17:37): Because Johnny Cash would make up stuff, but truth in fiction. Right? It's about what are you conveying and what are you connecting with in yourself and with others.

Shane McNeil (00:17:46): Right. And that one is all fact. That is essentially an autobiography, a very short one, a few verses of one. But yeah, everything in there mentioned is accurate along with timelines and some unfortunate things as well. But that was the first song, I would say, that I've probably ever written that was that much of an introspective look into some of my past without fluffing a story in any way, shape, or form. 

Because that's a tough one too 'cause you can start to fluff too much and then you lose the three chords and a truth. The core of what you're wanting to write about. And a lot of this writing, just like for you, a lot of the things that we do as creatives is to soothe ourselves, and it's just icing on the cake if it helps someone else as well. But it's an outlet for us.

(00:18:37): And when writing that, yeah, I was a little intimidated writing some of the things. And there are things that I think I polished but didn't hold back. I could have taken some of the subject and twisted the knife a little more, or we could have not even stuck the knife in. So there was a balance with that. 

But it's funny you bring that up because that's where I'm trying to figure out now is how to write these stories that are truthful yet make them a little more universal or omnidirectional instead of just being, "This is Shane's story, and I can't relate to it." So yeah, the three chords and a truth thing seems to work, but it's a tough line that everybody has been walking for since the dawn of recording.

Adam Williams (00:19:22): I think the cliche, the personal is universal is worth keeping in mind. It's what I try to keep in mind. So that when you and I are having a specific conversation, something specific to your life or mine, that it still is relevant to anybody listening at this moment. Whether it's exactly the same as what their experience is, there's something that they can connect to. 

And it can send them down their own line of thinking about whatever their relationships or experiences have been, or the things that they've overcome, or the hopes that they have. So I think even though you're telling your story, that's why it still resonates with others.

Shane McNeil (00:19:58): Right. And that's a thing that took me a very long time to realize in music. Even when I was listening to music a lot of time, I was not listening with the intent of hearing. I was listening to listening. I was listening for the guitar riff, the cool bass line, the double kick pedal somewhere. And I'm not pressing into these stories as much. And once I started to do that, it really shifted how I was hearing music, how I was feeling about music and it's truly what reinvented me wanting to start playing music again. 

Was finally, after years of doing it professionally, slowing down and starting to hear what someone is trying to convey. And just like you said, there's certain bands, certain artists, certain songs that a few of these lines and a few of these words have absolutely grabbed me. And so you're correct in that. Yeah, sometimes somebody's very specific thing that might just be their thing, might not be their thing. And we will never know unless we get to hear that.

Adam Williams (00:21:00): Yeah. I want to talk about musical influence for your life much earlier on. Straight edge punk.

Shane McNeil: Mm-hmm.

Adam Williams (00:21:09): That was something that I was not familiar with until you mentioned it to me before this. What is that and what was its influence in whether that was in your music, in you as a person?

Shane McNeil (00:21:20): Right. It's a tough thing to describe, and I'm sure if anybody straight edge hears this, they're going to come for me with pickets and axe. But however, I would date it back to lat '70s, early '80s, birth pretty undebatably out of Washington, DC, by a band called Minor Threat. That's at least who started the term, the two words together, straight edge. And in specific, Ian MacKaye, Ian MacKaye, however you would like to pronounce it, was the lead singer and kind of the mental behind this band and this movement. 

And the intentions were for these group of teens at this point was to try to live a life that was unaffected by outside influence that they had total control over mind, body, spirit. Debatably, spirit. And so straight edge was exactly that. Straight as an edge, straight as an arrow. That's how you want to live your life, or they intentionally made this.

(00:22:21): Ironically, when this all happened, I don't think anybody knew that it would turn into a worldwide culture at this point. It's past a phenomenon, it's a culture. There's people around the globe that have dedicated their life to this movement of straight edge, heavily tattooed with it, things like that. I first heard of it through hearing Minor Threat, that was in seventh grade. 

I told this story last night, ironically, driving around four mile in my Samurai. I was on a school bus home to a buddy's house named Jeff Pollace, and he handed me a Discman, little CD player. And he goes, "Hey man, put this on." And I put it on my ears, and it had a Minor Threat CD in it. And what I heard absolutely changed me still to this day. Title track on this album was called “Filler.” And it was just a direct, energetic, fast, and very aggressive attack on organized religion, common drug, alcohol and tobacco use, and promiscuous sex.

(00:23:31): It was an attack on it. At least that's how it felt to me, and I loved it. I loved it. 'Cause as a kid, I didn't identify with a lot of norms... As a lot of us, my friend group was small. I didn't play a lot of sports. Outside of here, there for certain seasons. Skateboards and music things like that. So our friend group was small, so there were a lot of things that I wasn't partaking in. Even at an early age, you're aware of these things. At that time, I lived in a town in Missouri called Warrenton, somewhat rural farm town. 

And there's kids at that time, seventh, eighth grade, that were already drinking 30 packs of beer. On Friday nights, it's insane but sometimes that's all you have to do in those towns and I just could not align with it, didn't like it. And I hated that I saw what it was doing to people's families, their homes. And once I heard that there were other people that had that same frustration, and I heard it as a youth from an aggressive standpoint in the eighties where there was no production value here, there was no money, there was nothing. 

It was just raw. And it grabbed me. And when hearing that level of music at the same time as a message that I agreed with, it just engulfed me and it made me dive deep into that world of everything that it involved.

Adam Williams (00:24:52): I think it's interesting the correlation of skateboarding in punk. I've heard that from so many people that I've talked with. I did not grow up... Well, actually, let's point this out. You and I both grew up in Missouri in rural towns, and so we have some common familiarity with these geographic spaces we're talking about. And we can go further into that in a little bit maybe. But for me, there was no skate park. Maybe it was partly the time. It wasn't as cool of a thing then. It wasn't as broad mainstream of a thing then, but we had nothing like that.

(00:25:26): You might find this funny, my only skateboard as a kid, I knew I wanted one. I don't remember what the influence was. I did not know that you could loosen the trucks on it to actually be able to turn. So I thought, "This is the worst. Every time I hit a rock, I go flying." It gets stuck under the wheel. I had no idea that I could actually loosen the trucks on it. My parents didn't know. We didn't have an internet. I couldn't watch a YouTube video and I had no friends who skated.

(00:25:52): But the correlation between punk and skateboarding and what your experience is and what you're talking about, and it's such a hardcore line too, when you think of saying this straight edge. If you're going to be part of what this is, this at the time maybe phenomenon or idea and then a movement of, or a culture as you said, you have to be anti, if that's not too strong of a word, you're opposed to the systems if you're relating to punk. But here we're going to take it another step and say you also have to be super clean about it. Which I would not really think of with punk necessarily in general.

Shane McNeil (00:26:31): And I guess for clarity of listeners that dive in, there is a divide between specific genres being punk and even past that you can go into 30 different genres. And then a genre called hardcore. And the term hardcore has moved so much through the years, but in the early days there was, at least in a lot of our opinions at my age, a difference in sound between punk and hardcore. 

And that really helped straight edge take flight. It was much more relevant in the hardcore scene than it was in the punk scene because so much punk rock was abuse in a lot of forms, whether you abusing yourself, you abusing someone else, someone abusing you, it was if you will, a halfway house for that.

(00:27:21): And hardcore was much more militant with just energy activism. And not to go off topic and say activism for rights, anything like that, just being passionate and standing for what you believe in. There was a level of that in hardcore, that era that was not in punk rock. 

And that is what helped I believe the straight edge movement take such root. I mean there are still guys today our age that are straight edge, that have never drank, have never smoked, have never done any of these things in their life due to hearing the same song that I heard when I was in seventh grade. It's crazy.

(00:27:59): And because of that, there was a lot of punk rock and hardcore clash for a while. And there's a lot of punk rock guys that do not enjoy straight edge whatsoever. I think I clung onto it for as long as I could because it kept me out of the bad aspects of punk rock. When certain things were going one way, there was the clean guys over here and it was very ironic. There was groups of us and there was a lot of guys, there's guys in this town that were straight edge kids.

(00:28:25): And a lot of times it's because when you go to these punk rock shows or you go to these houses or these parties, you want go to hear music, you want to go see what goes on, but you don't want to partake in the stuff. You don't want to do drugs, you don't want to drink for whatever reason. 

So then when you find a group of these other kinds of clean kids, it really can unify you and then you guys can do your clean thing on your own. Because doing it individually just as it is now for us older, being sober individually is very difficult. Not having a support system. So the same thing it was, it's tough to be clean when you're surrounded in a musical world at least of not the most clean folks.

Adam Williams (00:29:08): You also are from St. Charles which is not too far away from Warrenton and it's in the St. Louis area. I lived in St. Louis and in the surrounding area for a dozen or so years as an adult. That's part of that commonality that we have geographically. I want to ask you about your time there and growing up, again, in that song you mentioned, it sounds like your mom was working hard to make things happen. Your dad wasn't there. What was going on in your life at that time that also as I like to ask about, are shaping factors or influences in somebody's life?

Shane McNeil (00:29:42): I think a big one that has become more prevalent for me the past few years as it's been pointed out over the past few years by loved ones in my life at that era, St. Charles, at that time when my mom was working a ton, I was young, this was elementary school time. That era has created an extremely well-versed survivalist out of me. 

And what I mean by that is that when you're young, you don't realize that you are in survival mode in a lot of areas. You don't realize that you are just maintaining when you're a kid because you're a kid and you love it no matter what and what sad is fleeting. And in that time, I think that is what I would take out of that the most is just understanding the world from a pretty solo standpoint point of view. Like I mentioned, mom worked a lot and even when she was home, I'm an only child, so a lot of it was I wanted her to have her space.

(00:30:43): We had very meek and humble beginnings, still do. We had a room for the longest time that was very relevant in that song, in that era that we shared a bedroom, myself and her. So I couldn't be in there past 9:00 being loud because she would be needing to sleep. Same thing the next morning. She has to be super quiet up early. 

So both, even though we were there for each other, focused on taking care of ourselves much more than I think that we were aware of at that time. Now looking back, that was a shaping factor. However, at that time it was just pure love of the late eighties and early nineties before we had all of the things that we had.

(00:31:27): Now when I look back at memories at that time, they're pure because they were unadultered with the internet, a phone, anything else. It was a memory of me on a BMX bike jumping over three friends laying on a curb. Not me having drama in a high school hall with an ex-girlfriend over a phone. My memories from that time are pure based on the era. So due to that, I didn't realize how much I was actually learning because I was just enjoying things at that time.

Adam Williams (00:31:57): Were you a kid that got into trouble since you had so much independence, which I mean I did to whatever extent as well. But I wonder if under those circumstances if you, with all that freedom, did you find yourself getting into trouble with friends or whatever?

Shane McNeil (00:32:13): Not a ton, man. I'm very fortunate. I'm actually very fortunate in that regard. And maybe I'll just chalk it up to a little bit of quick wit when it's very necessary as well. But no, young, the most trouble was trespassing. As any kid is whether I'm hopping a fence to go look in somebody's shed and see if there's a car in there or skateboarding on somebody's property. Nothing big, nothing major. 

And I think a lot of that is because the area that we lived in was fairly loose. We lived on the north side of St. Charles. At that time it was called Frenchtown, goes by Frogtown, whatever you want to call it. St Charles is a great place. There's not really a bad area in it, but I guess you would call it a little lower income, lower to progress area than the rest of the town.

(00:33:03): And due to that, yeah, you can be out a little later. You can run the streets with your friends and nobody really says anything. Everybody knew who everybody was. We didn't really have many streetlight policies. Most kids that we'd play with, they'd be like, "I got to get home. Streetlights are on." Or they had to check a clock. 

And I never really had to do that. My mom knew where I would go. And I think I realized early on that freedom was a huge gift and so I should not take advantage of it. And granted that probably planted this insanely terrible nomadic seed in my body that I cannot get rid of now because I loved the ability as a kid to just be able to come and go as I pleased.

Adam Williams (00:33:43): You have lived that way with what traveling the country. I don't know if it's even beyond our borders, but I think you have traveled quite a bit. You have lived in a number of places.

Shane McNeil: Yeah, quite a few.

Adam Williams (00:33:53): Was there anything about the fire for that as I want to get out of St. Charles, I want to get out of Missouri, or was it more just, well, are you a free soul free spirit? I've restless spirit maybe?

Shane McNeil (00:34:08): The back of my head says restless. And that is the most accurate thing that you could describe me as is restless. When they bury me, it's going to have to be 12 feet deep. There's going to have to be screws, not nails. I'm never done. And I've joked about this a lot. I'm an expert leaver and I've learned how to not leave anymore. But yes, I'm very restless. 

I've understood the flaws in it over the past few years and I've tried to wield them, but it's never been due to wanting to leave somewhere. I have never met a town or a location that I thought was a bad place. I believe that there's bad people in average to good places and that is it. And we can't hold the area at fault for that.

(00:34:51): So personally, no. I had no desire to flee from St. Charles. I had every desire to explore from St. Charles, and a lot of that I attribute to my mother. As hard as she worked, she made very, very good use of her downtime. And most of our time was spent traveling, whether it was close or far. She also instilled my love of driving. I don't fly. I will, I have no problems with it, but a lot of us from the Midwest, we drive and she instilled that in me. 

So from a kid, a lot of times if she had a free weekend, we would just drive, go on a road trip and I loved that and yeah, I couldn't wait for the car. I just wanted to go. I just wanted to drive to go see new things. It blew my mind. When I was young knowing you could start something and then go experience something completely different and then come back to what you know. And once you start realizing how cool travel is as a kid, it'll get you for the rest of your life.

Adam Williams (00:35:50): Absolutely. I wonder at what age you started feeling that free spirit thing. Now obviously you just said that your mom would take you out, but when did you start feeling it for yourself to be like, what's out there and then go, I don't know, was it a weekend at a time, a month at a time and then come back and have to find a job or whatever? 

Or was it, "You know what, I think it'd be cool to live in blank city and let me just figure out how to make ends meet when I get there." And then, I don't know, six months, a year, two years later. Describe that for me how you would bounce around and when that really started.

Shane McNeil (00:36:26): I would say the spawn for it started, my dad moved to Prescott, Arizona after he and my mom got divorced and the first time I visited Prescott, that's the first time I was really like, "Wow. There is a lot more out in the world." There's so many differences, not just geologically. And shortly after that I started thinking when I was younger, "I wonder how you move to other places. How do you get to experience that?" 

Like what you just asked. And I don't know that anybody has the answer to that. My hope when I was young was to be able to do it by playing music was to tour. I think a lot of us as musicians when we're young, that is the ultimate way out. At least you think and it is fun, but it is daunting at the same time.

(00:37:14): And people would try that, but it's very tough. For me, I realized that if I wanted to go anywhere, I either needed to figure out how to make enough money short term before to have enough money to supply that leave. Not really a trip. I don't know that I've ever been fortunate enough to take trips so to speak, or vacations. We try to now, but sometimes it's just get in a car, get as much stuff and as you can and see how long you can last on 200 bucks. And that's what started. 

That exact thing was, let's see how cheap I can do an out of town trip. Let's see what I can pack in. And once I realize it can be done for much cheaper than it's always glorified as you start to do it. And then you start to do exactly what you asked is can you find work on the road?

(00:38:02): I have always tried to make myself handy in every way, shape or form. I knew from an early age I didn't want to go to college because I didn't know what I wanted to do and I didn't want to pay someone else to help me figure that out. I wanted to get paid to figure that out. So I went to work, I didn't go to school. And due to that, it's enabled me to be able to travel and set up shop just about anywhere and figure out certain things. 

Jack of all trades, master of none. I think that is the most valuable lesson anybody can be taught. And if you can find communities and Buena Vista is very similar to a lot of these other towns that we've been able to do this in and other people have too. Communities like this sometimes need things that they just need an extra set of hands for.

(00:38:47): And that was our intention. When I say are, myself and my wife, when we really started traveling together, how can we help ourselves while helping a community or a place that we would like to visit? I've lived in tourist traps. I lived in Key West for quite a while and that's what really started to travel bug as well because it was so isolated down there and you meet people from all over the world and I'm thinking, "I haven't even left my state. And then there's people who have been in more countries than I've been in towns."

(00:39:23): So I've never been a huge fan of how truest traps I'm going to say are driven. So whenever we would look at towns that you want to go to or I would go to these areas, I never wanted to visit them as a tourist. I wanted to visit them as a visitor and honestly as a potential resident. And that is how we ended up here. If I vacation anywhere, it needs to be for two days or it needs to be for about a month so I can feel it because you never know. 

The way I'm wired, I might love it so much that I've just got to go and try to live there. So my, I guess recommendation. Anybody who wants to try to travel, if you can do it cheap, great. If you can figure out how to maybe pay for even your fuel along the way, you are a step ahead and it's scary to do it. You just got to leave. You just got to leave sometimes and try it.

Adam Williams (00:40:17): Have you ever busked like set up your guitar case, open it up, play music on the corner and collect what you get?

Shane McNeil (00:40:24): Yes. I love it. I love busking. I love street performing. I've been fortunate enough to see a lot of incredible street performers. We don't have a ton of it in the states. We do in huge metropolises, but I've done it a couple of times here in BV this summer. I will do it a lot more. 

I think it brings an excitement and an energy that everybody enjoys. I enjoy it. Folks walking by, enjoy it, and depending on where you're at, it's a great source of income. That is how we financed our travels before we landed in Buena Vista was busking. Truly. There's times where you can go out and bus and just have a great time, meet people, shake hands and leave with three bucks.

(00:41:08): There's times where you play because people are standing and they're giving you requests and they're on vacation and they're throwing tips in that jar and you leave with $500 in two hours. There's no way of knowing it. But it's a very cool thing. And I encourage everybody who is an attempting performing musician, if you're flirting with doing something, go do open mics, do that first. But if you can get out and busk, it is the absolute most vulnerable raw human experience you can have. And it's very, very fun. And it can be lucrative depending.

Adam Williams (00:41:43): Yeah, it sounds like. I mean it's a roll of the dice maybe, but an interesting experience nonetheless.

Shane McNeil: Very.

Adam Williams (00:41:51): So you've had a number of jobs. I'm going to note just a few here that I mean, I know you've been in telemarketing, you've been a wedding DJ, landscaper. You currently own an auto mechanic shop and your wife shares that space with her auto detailing shop.

Shane McNeil: Correct.

Adam Williams (00:42:08): So I'm curious how you learned mechanics and if that was simply by, I don't know, necessity when you were a kid and you're working on your own car as a teenager, or if you had a class, if somebody taught you, if you apprenticed? How do you get to this place where you can come to a town, you think we like it here, let's set up that shop that is of use to us for a living and use to the community. How did this come to be?

Shane McNeil (00:42:35): Purely coincidental as far as it here in this town, and I think it happened organically the same way I got into it. My grandpa was a salesman for a while and a rancher for a while and a farmer. He had a great farm in Mineola, Missouri. I have a song about that as well. It's going to release this year called Mineola Hill, talks about that farm. 

And on that farm there was implements, tools, equipment, tractors, trucks. So he always worked on stuff and I always thought that was really cool. But most of the time at that farm, I didn't spend time tinkering because I was young at that point. I wanted to go help with the horses, just go down in the trails, go play in the woods. But I always liked watching the older guys work on stuff. My uncle would work on stuff, my cousins would work on stuff.

(00:43:20): And some of them men, some of them were just cousins that were older. They all liked wrenching on things. I had a bunch of cousins that were into dirt bikes, a bunch of cousins that were into cars. No matter where I went, everybody was doing something with cars. My first car was in 87 Mustang, like I said, a four cylinder car, which was very ironic. 

My mom, long story, but neat. I'd been saving some money for a car. I was out of town visiting my dad in Arizona. Came back and she had found a good deal on this little four cylinder Mustang and bought it using some of my money and some of hers. And I was very unsure how to feel about the whole process when I got back because I didn't get to buy the car.

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(00:44:08): And she bought it for me and I was mad. It was a four cylinder, of course as a kid. And within a few days that car's radiator went. And I remember thinking, "I can't afford to have this fixed. I don't have somebody here that can help me with this. How do I fix a radiator?" And that was that. That is when it all started, started. I approach mechanics very simplistically, nuts, bolts, common sense. 

It seemed to work for me over the years. I know my limits due to that. I don't work outside of my limits. And also due to that, we at least at our shop here and where we had our in St. Charles, we are able to provide fairly quick repairs because we do not get in over our heads. I do not like to do anything that I don't have confidence in across the board, whether it's that industry or anything else.

(00:44:58): I'm at the point where if I cannot put my name on it with confidence, I don't want to touch it at all. And it's really helped us streamline a lot of our workflow at this shop, at our shop in Missouri by not head scratching. Doing things that we are confident in, that makes sense. And it was necessity. 

When I first started learning how to work on cars, there was no internet. The internet has changed everything for every industry and it was self-taught. You could sometimes go by a manual, get in a magazine and try to look for stuff, but you just had to figure it out if you didn't have somebody in your life or you didn't have schooling.

(00:45:35): And I didn't know if I wanted to be a mechanic, so I didn't want to go to tech school and I'm very glad I didn't because most mechanics that I know that went to tech school, got right out of school, went into a job that they absolutely did not like performing repairs on cars they did not like doing. 

And they were still mechanics and they despise their industry or they got out of it so early because they got a bad experience between education and a bad shop. The few shops I worked in early on, I had bad experiences too, and I deemed it that I would never work in a shop again unless I worked for myself or for someone that I knew their heart.

(00:46:12): And due to that I didn't do it, I would come on and off from it. I did a lot of the work on my own vehicles. I loved in the Midwest, like you've seen a million times getting to drive down a back road and there's a car in a field that is probably not going to get touched. And you are able to score that car for cheap and you get to take it home, "rebuild it," and get it running, get it driving. And the things you get to learn by doing that are much different than studying diagnostic pen outs for electrical stuff on brand new Chryslers. I hate to say that because I can't do that because I hate it.

(00:46:49): There's a lot of different eras and areas of teching on cars. I just like to do the things that make the cars run. I'm not a computer guy and it slows us down. As far as scaling a business. It would be very beneficial to do continual learning and training. But at the same time, what we found that most people need and the majority of the people that we try to service at a speedy manner, they are not the repairs that I am worried about us getting into learning to do. 

It's the repairs of we've lost our brakes coming down Trout Creek Pass, we need to get this fixed. I wanted to focus on what kept a farm running. In the late eighties, early nineties. I think if we still had that same approach with a lot of cars, people would drive further for cheaper. So that's what we're trying to do is the basics. I'm happy with doing that and people are happy with us doing that.

Adam Williams (00:47:43):Something I hear in all of this is a willingness to leap, to be bold, to try new things, to apply yourself in way. I mean, because there is a leap from, well, I've learned this stuff at the side of my grandfather. I've learned that on my own. 

Just figuring out what needed to be done on my own car and then starting a business, which then comes with, "Well now I need a space. I need rent. I need to pay taxes. I need to do all the proper things with government. I need customer service skills." All the things.

(00:48:13): There's a leap there. It's not just me working on a vehicle in my own garage. And I think that's just one example, and maybe people have heard it here in a number of things we've talked about--a willingness to be bold. And I wonder, are you a guy who has that optimism and self- belief that whatever you put your mind to and you want to try, success is there?

Shane McNeil (00:48:35): 100% it’s positivity; PMA, positive mental attitude. That was ingrained into me when I first learned about punk rock and hardcore at the same time. And it is absolutely my strongest core value and it's probably if somebody said, "What could you describe?" I would say optimism.

(00:48:55): And it's because most of us have probably failed and fallen and faltered so many times that we're not even aware of it and we don't like to acknowledge it. And the faster that we can acknowledge it and realize, "Hey, that wasn't that bad. It was the absolute worst while I was going through it, but it wasn't that bad. And I did it once, I bet I could handle it again." I don't think there's a single scenario that you could not apply that to.

(00:49:20): But in starting a business, it's the same way. In starting new music, it's the same way. I have an undying faith in the process. You hear folks say that term: trust the process. Trust the process.

(00:49:33): We should all ask, "What's the process?" And I think for me, it's a pretty simple answer; it's self-reliance. Trust in self, and if you can do that, we're going to be good. There's not a single scenario that we're going to come up that's a hurdle that we can approach and process the same way that we've hit every other hurdle, whether it's slowing down, listening, being more compassionate, whatever it could be.

(00:49:58): I think if we approached them all the same, knowing that we can get through them with confidence, we're going to. And that's a reminder I give myself every day. It's the reason I choose certain music to listen to first thing in the morning. It's the reason that before I make any moves, I think, but I'm still extremely impulsive with my maneuvers because I think we have to be as business owners, as someone who is optimistic and ready to take a leap.

(00:50:26): I think if I was not impulsive, I would be taking for granted what might be a gift of mine, which is the willingness to just go ahead and do it. "Let's try, let's go. If we fail, who cares? We're right back to where we started." And that's the thing that I've never let go of.

(00:50:44): If all fails, when the bottom falls out of this, when we can no longer afford to live in our beautiful town, when we cannot keep whatever it is, I am no worse off than where I started.

(00:50:55): The goal is: when you jump into these things, as long as you can retain what you have when you start, you will lose nothing and you will only gain experience. And I've been using that same approach to everything and it's why I have done so many industries and owning business has finally made sense.

(00:51:13): After working in so many different ones, I thought, "Well, everybody else has figured this out." And ironically, most of the people that have studied more than doing don't last as long as the doers. I think it's just the switch in brain.

 

(00:51:27): So optimism is a must. There is absolutely, for me, no time for negativity. It's real. I'm not going to be one of these people that pretend bad things don't happen. We all go through these things. I go through them as much as the next guy.

(00:51:41): We do not have control over the circumstances. We have control over our reaction, and that's the only thing we should be focused on is controlling self. It's our only responsibility, is this body that we're in right now. Nothing else, unless you take something else on as your responsibility, but this is us. So that's where I put my faith.

Adam Williams (00:52:02): Oh, faith.

Shane McNeil: Faith.

Adam Williams (00:52:03): I'm going to tell you what was just on my mind with that is: every now and then I encounter a person who has these pieces of wisdom that come from experience. They come from life. It is hard-earned and sometimes it echoes with what people from spiritual practices or faith practices will also say.

(00:52:22): And so I was going to ask you... And I love that you ended on the word faith. For you, does some of this wisdom come from a spiritual sort of place in your mind? Or is it simply this thing of, "Man, I've lived and paid attention and I've figured out some answers for the moment"?

Shane McNeil (00:52:43): The way you posed that question was fantastic because you saying lived and paid attention is where it throws me because most of my life I didn't pay attention. It's a huge focus of mine now is pay attention. I have, "Pay attention," written down on numerous items that I own. That's tough.

(00:53:01): I think some of the wisdom, if it came from a spiritual place, it came at a time that I had no idea what it was, no idea what it was, but it was a feeling that I couldn't describe; feelings that I wouldn't even try to explain to somebody. "Hey, I just felt this."

(00:53:17): And some of that wisdom definitely comes from some of those feelings because they are feelings that I've never been able to feel or describe before or after. However, most of it is life experience and listening. Even if I didn't pick it up right away, there's a lot of things that I tell myself now that I heard people tell me years ago.

(00:53:43): And I've not thought about them for years and I would never in a million years think that I would've the right to tell somebody else it. But I think of it now, as an adult, what I heard when I was young and I'm like, "Huh, he was right. My grandpa was right. My boss was right. My ex-girlfriend was right." Whatever it was...

(00:54:05): Those ideals are coming from a position of either being taught the lesson through humanly form or through emotion form when I'm on my own, and that's where I could equate the spirituality to it. When things visit us, when memories visit us, when premonitions visit us, things like that. Yeah, that's out of our control regardless of your belief system; that is a spiritual nature, or it's at least a energy nature that we don't have control of.

(00:54:34): And being able to recognize that definitely helps me in a lot of lessons and life advice because I try to think back, "All right, why did I get hit like that right then? What about it... Was the universe's or the powerful's way of knowing that, 'Hey, man, pay attention'"?

(00:54:53): Like you just said, sometimes I need that wake up call. When I can't force myself to pay attention or I'm not learning the lessons, yeah, that's when it is time for a force far stronger than me to step in. I'll never know what that is and I don't need to. I'm grateful that it is there.

Adam Williams (00:55:08): The lessons tend to come around again and again until we have paid enough attention.

 

Shane McNeil: How about that?

Adam Williams (00:55:14): Yeah. Yeah.

Shane McNeil: You will learn, yes, you will learn.

Adam Williams: You're forced to.

Shane McNeil: Yes.

Adam Williams (00:55:18): Or you're going to take it to the grave never having learned that particular thing that just kept coming at you and kept giving you obstacles that you were frustrated with, challenged by, whatever. Are you an emotional guy? Do you see yourself that way?

Shane McNeil (00:55:32): I'm becoming more emotional. Again, I was a very emotional kid. Probably. Just solo kid, no brothers, sisters, none of that. So I would just work through everything. I remember insane emotional bits when I was young. I have a vivid memory, core memory.

(00:55:47): When I was young, I was watching a show of a shark, a nurse shark trapped under a net, I guess trapped, and they were trying to catch this nurse shark to kill it, whatever it was. They had a net over it, and I remember watching this as a young kid sobbing, dude, I was crying for that shark. I could feel that shark.

(00:56:07): And I kept that up for quite a while. I was that emotional until probably about middle school, and then they just left. They left the chat, man, to the tune where I became a counselor for a lot of people, because people knew that I just had nothing. I had nothing. I was emotionless.

"Oh, we could talk to Shane about anything, because he's just going to give us outlook, not opinion because he doesn't feel this." There are years of my life, over 20 years collectively that I never felt love, I don't think. I never felt sadness. I never felt hate. I never felt anger. I was just existing. Very purposeless, it seemed.

(00:56:53): And due to that, the easiest way to deal with knowing that that's how you're existing is to lose your emotion even more. The problem is, with not emoting is that all you do is think. So there's still emotions going on. You're just saying no to them. You're not showing them and you're not realizing it when you're doing it.

(00:57:11): Now, I am about the most emotional I've ever been. A lot of this is thanks to my wife. A lot of this is thanks to not consuming alcohol as much, a ton of this is thanks to marijuana. A lot of this is just unpacking stuff that I didn't realize I probably should have unpacked a long time ago. And due to that, I can't do that without opening up these emotions at the same time.

(00:57:38): So anymore, I'm much more emotional than I once was, and I'm very proud of it. I'm happy to wear a heart on my sleeve. I'm happy to talk about my issues at any point in time because it is extremely healthy. I hope people want to talk to me about their issues because I'm better at now applying myself into their shoes, and empath is something I would've never described myself as. 

I don't even know that I've had sympathy for most of my life, and it's something that I've learned. It doesn't just come. I don't think most people have that. I learned it and probably watching certain people have enough pain that I started to feel it.

(00:58:16): And now, that's my move. Any decision I make, I try to think about someone else's emotions because I realize that we are all very emotional and we don't know how to articulate these things. So if I can try to do my part by putting myself in someone else's shoes before they ask me to, maybe that helps because I'm trying to feel my emotions a bit better lately.

Adam Williams (00:58:40): Having someone you can feel safe with and starting to tap into those things and developing that sounds like Krista, your wife. Is that for you now? Actually, you have described her as a catalyst.

Shane McNeil: Yes.

Adam Williams: In fact, let's talk about that. What do you mean? What is her place in your life as a catalyst?

Shane McNeil (00:58:57): It was probably the start of a second life for me, if that makes sense to say it. She came into my life at a time where I just needed clarity and also less of everything, and she is quite literally the polar opposite of me in every single way.

(00:59:20): And when you get the privilege to meet her, you're going to meet her and say, "No way, man. You guys are not married." She is one word for my 300. She is a week long of thinking about a decision that is my, "1:00 AM, I will buy that on Facebook marketplace."

(00:59:40): The ying to my yang, whatever you want to call it. You hear these stories, but until you have met that person for yourself, it'll never grasp. And that's exactly... I mean, within the first few times of hanging out with her and I was like, "Oh dude, my counterpart."

(00:59:57): It was scary. It was scary. I was terrified of my wife. I actually looked at my wife for a year, year and a half. She was a manager at a gas station close to my then house. I talked to everybody else in the gas station other than Krista. There's times where I would stop by her gas station just to see if she's there. Then there's times that I'm like, "I don't want to go in there, man. I just can't talk to that girl."

Adam Williams (01:00:27): Why was that? What were you terrified of?

Shane McNeil (01:00:31): There was just something about her. I have no problem talking to anybody. There was something about her look, her demeanor, probably her demeanor. I'm bubbly and I'm outgoing and she looks like she should be, but she's not. And that's not a bad thing because my outgoingness, it's a fault sometimes. And so I didn't know.

(01:00:57): I come on strong for certain people and I was like, "I just don't know. I don't know how to approach her." And ironically, she finally messaged me she needed some car work done.

(01:01:08): Here we are again, cars. It's funny these core things that I love always play a role in the most important people and things in my life. So she needed some car work, and so that's how we finally started small communication.

Adam Williams (01:01:23): Let me ask, did she really... Have you tapped into that story to find out maybe that was the way she was trying to get you to talk to her?

Shane McNeil (01:01:29): Here's the thing, if the car that I saw wasn't such a big POS, I would've had some concern that she was just baiting. However, there was... My hope is that it was two-sided. I was attracted to her, she was attracted to me.

(01:01:45): Because my shop was a little bit of drive from where she lived, and so I was like, "Well, she's committing to driving here," which is a good sign. And I also said, "Well, yeah, come on down. We're all neighbors." We live fairly far from my shop. I said, "It is a little bit of a drive. We'll take good care of it for you, save you a couple bucks if we can."

(01:02:06): And man, this is wild. And I think it's very important to start the basis of my wife and I's relationship with this. The day she came down to get her car worked on, we got done a little bit late. It was probably 5:30. I wanted to go buy a 1963 Ford Fairlane potentially in a little town in Illinois.

(01:02:24): I got done doing an oil change on her car. I think we looked at her AC compressor and we ordered her some front tires, and the other guy that was working at our shop at that time had already left. So I was solo there and I was like, "I'm going to go look at this car. I'll probably have to go back and get it."

(01:02:37): And for some reason I looked right at her. I said, "Hey, you know if you want, I'll clear the charges out for this. Oil change, the work can be on the house if you wouldn't mind taking me to go look at this car."

(01:02:48): And I remember saying, "I know that we just met," and I probably even made a joke like, "I'm not going to kill you in the middle of a cornfield. I just want to go see this card. You're the only first in here."

(01:02:58): And this absolute lunatic of a girl does it, dude. She goes, "Yeah, that's okay." She said, "Would you mind driving? I don't really know that area good." So we go. She's got a little Hyundai Veloster and we drive up to get this car, and completely pure intentions.

(01:03:16): At this point, I was much more excited about the car than I was about her. I never ever will be again. But she'll tell you, I love the things I'm passionate about and God bless her. Thank you baby, for allowing me to be passionate about things outside of you. She knows she's my number one.

(01:03:35): But we get up there and I'm driving the car around. I'm like, "Do you like it?" And she was like, "I don't know." She's like, "Do you like it?"

And I was like, "Well, here's the thing. If a guy buys a car like this, the hope is that a pretty girl sees him drive in the car."

 

And she was like, "No, it's a cool car. I think you should get it."

(01:03:53): So she also knew the impulsive behaviors that I was partaking in literally the first day we met. So we get the car, we drive it back, and that night got some food and just talked. Had a great conversation.

(01:04:11): And I immediately realized, "Yeah, this is my counterpart." Everything she's saying are things that I have never said, have never done, would never say, would never do. And it was so intriguing to me. And all I could think of at the end of it all outside of how gorgeous she was, was she's never going to want to talk to me again. This is like the polar opposite. I probably jored her ear off, scared her everything.

(01:04:39): On the way back, we had to stop for fuel in this old car in the middle of North St. Louis off of Highway 70. And she was like, "Is this a great place to stop?" I was like, "This is the option. This is where we are stopping."

(01:04:52): She gets out of her car standing at the gas pumps, cleaning her window, no concerns. And I loved that. I loved it. Had no idea where she was and was a little unsettled by neighborhood, but was good. And it's been that same thing. Me being surprised by her, me being impressed by her has never stopped. And due to that, I get motivated by her. And so that is what helps me in turn, stay motivated.

(01:05:24): She supports me when she doesn't realize she's doing it. She's done more for me than she will ever know, and she knows that I feel this way, but I don't need to point it out every time because my hope is that she sees the changes that she has incited in me as a human being. And she realizes that, "Man, he has gotten better in these realms since I've been in his life."

(01:05:46): And that's my pursuit with her and with us, is both of us constantly bettering because that just enables us to continue doing the things that we've been doing before, but just with the support and love of someone else that is actually involved.

(01:06:05): Instead of just being your spouse, your partner, whatever it may be, we have a very different hands-on because we work together. And it's a very different way of us inspiring each other because we get to see it day in, day out.

Adam Williams (01:06:21): It's amazing the way relationships can help us to level up or I suppose down. I suppose that's possible too–

Shane McNeil: Oh, big time.

Adam Williams: ... from bad relationships. But in this case, we're talking about the good.

Shane McNeil: The good.

Adam Williams: Right?

Shane McNeil (01:06:32): Yeah.

Adam Williams: And I feel that my wife has certainly brought a lot of that out for me and also provided some similar opportunities to be who I am. So that's really cool to hear about. You've described yourself as a gray area guy, and I'm curious what you mean by that.

Shane McNeil (01:06:49): It means in a world where everything pretty much is black and white, and I do believe that there is this, that good, evil, light, dark, whatever you want to call it, I exist in the gray area because I want to see both of those colors. I want to see both sides of that fence.

(01:07:06): I believe in fairness and I believe that is why I need to stay in a gray area. Once I start to heavily side or believe, I'll use the term belief instead aside because... beliefs or beliefs, once I do that too heavily, I can get inundated with too many opinions, too much emotion, if you will, from one side of a subject or another.

(01:07:31): If I play the middleman, if I sit on the fence... And that does not mean I won't stand for something I believe in, I absolutely will. But when we approach scenarios, when I meet people, when I hear a story, when I am forming an opinion, I've got to know.

(01:07:50): When people ask me for example about cars... It's my most frequently asked question, is cars. All I can give you there is things that I believe are statistic-based based on what I've worked on. I would never speak on how reliable a Ferrari would be owned. I've never worked on one. I've never owned one. I can tell you what I statistically would and wouldn't own, because that's something that I know.

(01:08:15): Outside of things that I know and that I haven't physically put my hands on, I will not weigh in on them. And unfortunately, due to the age that we live in now, I don't know that I have a safe way to research these things, to form an opinion, man. So until my hands are dirty and my toes are chafed with snow or the ground that I'm working on learning these things, I will not weigh in because it is unfair to anyone else who would listen to what I have to say.

(01:08:45): So it's very smart for me to stay in this gray area because I believe that I can collect from both sides. I don't believe anybody is a hundred percent right or wrong. I think we all have traits of what we should collect from each other in there. So I try to stay somewhere neutral, and that is my gray area, so to speak.

Adam Williams (01:09:03): I think we need more of this. I think we need more of us to be there with you. And on my better days, that's where I want to be. And I think that's where I am.

(01:09:15): I think it's strange that if we talk about politics, for an example, because there actually are two sides to identified, cemented perspectives supposedly, that as soon as we identify with one side or another, whether it is in that subject or you're talking about your sports teams, whatever it is, as soon as you identify with anything in the world, you are equally at least identified with what you are not, who you are not–

Shane McNeil: 100%.

Adam Williams: ... who you are not with. It's just inflammatory to plain attach ourselves–

Shane McNeil: It is.

Adam Williams: ... to things, and it's counterproductive, I think, to the humanity that we all share.

Shane McNeil: Yes.

Adam Williams (01:09:55): So it's like I think people don't want to be judged by the cover of their book. Yet, we'll put bumper stickers on our car. A lot of those are innocuous. They're just fun.

(01:10:06): But when you get to things like politics or certain value stances in life, it's like, "Wow, here, judge me by this." It's a two or three word thing. And I think it is very interesting to sit back, try to be in that gray area and observe people's behavior. It's just human behavior. It's fascinating. It's like going to a mall or somewhere where there's a lot of people and just people watch.

Shane McNeil (01:10:26): Yeah. Yeah, and I think that it's strange that we don't do that as much anymore. Not only literally, but figuratively. Just slowly collecting information, if you will, from who is doing what.

(01:10:40): And it's funny that you say that because yeah, aligning with anything is very, very risky. It's very risky. And not just in the terms of socially popularity, a friend group politics, but it is. You're number one, you're flying a flag. And I think it's very strange, and we don't need to talk politics because it is genuinely in a format like this, a waste of time.

(01:11:02): But I have stood by and screamed for most of my life, politics are not a personality. And until these political radicals anywhere, on either side, anywhere can understand that, man, we're not going to get anywhere as far as that goes. And it's the same way that I say that your religion, at least in my opinion, is not ideal to be your personality. It should be yours, it should be it. And I guess that it's no different than me wearing a T-shirt in my favorite band because I want to show off what I'm into.

(01:11:37): However, when there are such dividing lines that people have and still will kill over, these are things that we need to become more open-minded in, not only for our own sanity, security, protection, whatever it may be, but for understanding. The easiest thing to talk about anymore is everybody fears what they don't know. And I'm glad that as a world we're all acknowledging that more. 

And I've seen people that I would never thought would admit this, admitting this recently in the past 5, 10 years. And if we can keep going with that, we can get somewhere. But we also don't need to wait for some huge revelation or, "Oh, we finally all figured we're not going to get along." Nobody's ever going to get along, but we need to start identifying as humans instead of humans with opposing views. Yeah. We're in this thing together.

Adam Williams (01:12:30): Yeah. Humans wearing bumper stickers.

Shane McNeil: That's it. Yes.

Adam Williams (01:12:33): Yeah. Yeah. I think that one of the most important steps we can take is first to start with saying, "I don't know." And then not feel that as some massive ego hit, right? It's like, "It's okay to not know. So how about I step into that gray area and just acknowledge, ‘I don't actually know.’” 

And in light of the internet issues of what you're talking about, I've been trying to see as a positive, again, when I'm in a better, calmer frame of mind, less emotional maybe, about what's going on to say yes, the internet, it's full of all kinds of distraction, disinformation, confusion, everything that you can look up on the internet, and it might or might not be the factual side, you can find the opposite.

(01:13:15): And the other day, I was looking for simple nutrition information. I'm trying to get a little healthier with what I'm eating, and I looked up something related to just packaged frozen food versus natural whole food type stuff. 

And I found an example of that exact thing, a headline saying how wonderfully healthy and convenient and positive the frozen, less healthy options are. And it's like everything we would look up, we can find the opposite. And so the silver lining I'm trying to find in that when I'm in my better state of mind and emotion is let's let go and embrace that we don't know. It's okay to not have the perfect answers, right?

Shane McNeil (01:13:55): 100%. And to speak further onto what you just said with these opposing facts, you can find this day and age, I believe that a lot of the population, at least in this country, creates their own truth. And I don't know that that's necessarily a terrible thing, but it is if there is no identifiable information to back these things up. 

But if someone wants that unhealthy frozen food to be healthy, they are going to find that truth and they are going to stand by it and die on that hill. And that is the problem is that not only can you find whatever information you want, you can find enough of either one of those pieces of information to make it a truth to you.

Adam Williams (01:14:42): Yeah. Confirms bias.

Shane McNeil (01:14:44): That is it. Exactly. It's a huge issue.

Adam Williams (01:14:46): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You said to me before that your memory has unlocked a lot in the past, I think, a year and a half, two years. And I'm curious about that, what that mean and how did that come to be? Because honestly, when you said that to me, and we did not carry it out further, but I want to now, I wondered if you were working with psychedelics or ayahuasca or any of those sorts of experiences that I'm curious about and have not tried myself.

Shane McNeil (01:15:12): Right. Not initially. No, not initially. I think a lot of memories have come unlocked lately because I'm getting older. I'm scared if I'm being transparent. The older you get, your body feels different, your brain feels different. And sometimes, in me being mentally weak, just concern more worry than I was years ago, it taps into some of these emotions. And with those emotions comes memories because I'm remembering things that gave me that memory from early on. 

The thing that is initially triggered, this was really cutting back on drinking alcohol. I've had a very bad relationship with alcohol for, I would say, let's go half of my life because I was straight edge for such a long time. I don't think I had my first drink. I was well over 21, maybe 23, 24. By the time that happened, I still wasn't into it for a while. And then when I finally did get into it, I got into it all the way to the bottom of the bottom, I lived there.

(01:16:17): And moving up here, unfortunately were met with COVID, which was a tough time for everybody. I don't want to say tougher, I think it was different for us in a community like this than it wasn't a city. 

Yeah. We had access to all the things that we wanted to come up here and do, getting the hike on trails by myself. Unbelievable. However, you also turned to things as well. I developed, I think, more toxic relationship with alcohol as soon as I moved to Buena Vista, Colorado because I was drinking a bunch due to COVID, due to us not knowing what we were going to do. And it put me in some real tough mental situations.

(01:16:56): So once I stopped drinking to that degree, it started to slow me down. And then from there, what really got me in was finally listening to the advice of most of my peers who I've seen in front of me progressing, doing better, was finally giving cannabis a try. I was very anti-weed most of my life. 

I had a mother who had a relationship with weed that was very different than some other people's relationship with weed. I have memories of her going through the trash to find seeds to maybe try to grow, to find nuggets of weed that might've gotten thrown away. So I wanted nothing to do with it. I thought it was the equivalent of a heavy controlled substance. I was very afraid of it and I didn't equate to most of the people that did it. It was a burnout drug for me when I was young. Especially when I was filled with angst and aggression, it was slow, lethargic. 

Turns out when you got a brain like mine, it needs to learn how to be slow and lethargic sometimes. So after some trial and error with marijuana in different ways, I was finally able to successfully stop drinking to a point where now I could go the rest of my life without drinking. No concern at this point forward, I will probably have a drink again at some point because a margarita on a beach sounds like my American dream. 

But past that, it's not from a point of I want to or I need to, it's merely an enhancer. I'd never felt that before the past few years. And due to that, I don't think I realized how much alcohol was impacting what I would call a brain fog and also directly my body 100%. So I have clarity from stopping drinking alcohol physically, number one. My body feels better, I sleep better. Everything about me is happier.

(01:18:53): Number two, because I'm not muddying as much, I'm not tying one on at night and having a two-day hangover anymore, I do remember things more. I remember what's going on. Now, once I started using marijuana, I was able to slow down my thought process enough to sit in a chair and just think. And I've never been able to do that before in my life. 

Moving past that, I did have my first psilocybin experience probably two years ago, maybe not quite, maybe a year and a half. I was always very interested, this comes back to some core straight edge truths here. I don't like not being in control of my body. And it's funny, I always thought I was good at being drunk, but then now I look back, I wasn't, I like being drunk. I thought I could still control myself.

Adam Williams: I think it's the vulnerability too, that if you are–

Shane McNeil: That's what it is.

Adam Williams (01:19:45): ... diminishing your clarity and even physical capabilities, mental sharpness for sure, right? Who's around you and what's going on? And when we're young, I was just joining in as part of that, right?

Shane McNeil: Right.

Adam Williams: It's like everybody's getting stupid and weird and we didn't think about consequences, right?

Shane McNeil: Yeah.

Adam Williams (01:20:01): But now as I get older and older, and that's where I come back to psychedelics or something like that, I would want that to be in a controlled environment-

Shane McNeil: 100%.

Adam Williams (01:20:09): ... and still, I have a hard time picturing. I have a number of fears around it because of the vulnerability if nothing else.

Shane McNeil (01:20:16): And people warn me quite a bit, and when I say psychedelics, all I've done is mushrooms, very straightforward mushrooms. I don't even know what kind they are. I'm not that type of guy. Anything else past that seems, maybe I'm becoming a little more holistic the older I get. 

That mushroom comes from the earth, the weed for the sake of four syllables, weed comes for the earth. That seems a little better than LSD acid. I don't know. And I don't want to say anything derogatory about those things because I've heard a lot of people extremely beneficial by those things. So all my experience has been specifically with mushrooms and everybody said, "Just be in a good head space and be in somewhere that you're comfortable in, know your surroundings." 

And the first time I did them, it was very nice. It was very nice to start. I have zero complaint about the psychedelics that I have taken so far. None. I actually don't think I would change anything about any of it, which is impressive, other than it can't hurt your tummy a little bit depending on eating before or after.

(01:21:27): Outside of that, obviously it comes down to what you take, how much you take, and probably your mental. Everybody recommended them for me for years because of knowing my personality. They said, "I think it's just going to give you a shift." And to me, yeah, it's terrifying. I don't want to hear that. I'm safe in my own head. I built this head and the first time that one of them affected me and I was like, "Oh my gosh, I just unlocked some things here." 

I was sitting in my backyard music a beautiful day, late summer year before last, and I was staring at Midland Hill and all the greens on Midland Hill just started sparkling.

(01:22:03): There's some really happy, perfect times where you don't really trip, for lack of a better word. I'm not super into that. Euphoria can be reached very, very simple on very small doses of psychedelics. And as I was staring at Midland Hill, it looked great. Visually, it was pleasing. 

And I heard a Steve Winwood song in the back of my head, and that was a core memory to my mom and a car in one era, Living The High Life Again, Steve Winwood remind me of that later. I'm going to learn that song. And man, that song just started playing in my head. 

And then here comes the gates open in my brain and I'm like, "Okay, man. Now you're thinking about mom. Now you're thinking about mom stuff. You're thinking about that time for me, because I've lived with a very anxious ADD filled brain most of my life." I've been able to move this thing fairly well. It's a proponent of myself that I think I'm very good at. I can keep myself in line if I need to.

(01:23:09): Due to that, yeah, you can tell when things could shift on psychedelics. And I think as long as you're cognitive of that and you can come back, it can give you absolute access to things that you never thought you would have access to. And for me, it's all been positive. There was times that I've been afraid to do it again because I'm like, "Man, I know what happens if I start thinking about these things or I go down that road and I've had such a great experience with it." 

Each time I go in telling myself, "You're going to have a great time." I've only done a psychedelic maybe seven times now. For me, when I do do them, it's usually when I am weak on the alcohol level, if that makes any sense.

(01:23:54): If I'm like, "Man, today's the day I could have a drink, because they give you a little energy boost, little excitement here and there the same way it is that the first shot you take at 7:30 PM before a long night." Sometimes stuff like that about alcohol will make you reminisce on it that, "Ah. All right, let's go." 

I can get that with eating a stem of a mushroom now. And it's much, much better for me. Outside of that, no, I don't really do it too much. I have been interested in doing it over maybe a 30-day period, a very small amount. I hear absolute miracle stories of people that microdose psilocybin in capsule form, life-changing stuff. 

And maybe at some point in time when I slow down enough, I'd like to explore that. I'm not a fan of doing anything like that. When I am working, having a conversation, even playing music, I try to, now I've realized how much I've used things in the past as a crutch and it has tarnished my passion, my appearance, my approach.

(01:25:01): And so now my things that I'm passionate about and things that I take pride in, I try to take after them as straight and narrow as I can. Now, that's not to say I won't go home and smoke a joint and play some guitar, of course, but I'm not going to do that before I go on a stage. I'm not going to do that if I go busk. 

And it's ironic because I would've done that before when drinking. I would drink anytime, anywhere around anybody. But I've realized how much better we can be if we can apply 100% of ourselves to the thing that we're passionate about.

Adam Williams (01:25:32): I think we both have experiences and understand there's a difference between using those things as numbing distractions. And what you're describing with psilocybin and the potential for something positive in your life, something to open up in your life in what could be if I use the word spiritual again or a consciousness approach, it's very different than when we're trying to bury ourselves in some way.

Shane McNeil (01:25:56): Yes. Correct. And I think that's why I stayed away from everything for as long as I did because I've watched the abusive side of a lot of those things and some of the people that are still in my life that I care about the most struggled with that. And it's always a fine line. I try to be cognitive because I come from a background that I don't want to say drugs. That's such an ugly word to say. Let's just say substances we're just looked at as exactly that drugs. It's bad, they're coping with stuff, they're trying to escape. 

And a big thing, once I started traveling, I realized that that is not the way of a lot of the world, let alone our country. You and I, coming from a Midwest background, the amount of people that you lose from ODs, from meth and heroin and things like that in the Midwest, because it is so daunting and such a tireless way of living for some people, it's unbelievable. It's statistics that a lot of folks probably don't know outside of the Midwest.

(01:26:55): So that's how we are exposed to a lot of these things. So if somebody would be like acid, I'd be like, "Oh, no, man, I don't want to die." When in fact, a lot of folks knew about these things different than I did when I was exposed to them. And once again, gray area, I've got to keep an open mind. I can't be militant that drugs are bad, okay? For the rest of my life. 

There are people who are thriving due to substances, and I need to know about that just as much as I need to know about the substances that are taking lives, man. It's equally as important. It's a tough one. Yeah. I never want to rely on any of these things. I don't. And I did that with alcohol and I've watched other people do it with drugs, for lack of a better word. And no, I will never do that.

(01:27:44): And it also then I think takes away the benefits for me with that. I don't know that I would want to be able to trip all the time, or I don't want to trip because I want to leave the world. No, I want to enhance. And I remember the first time somebody told me that too. I had a gal that I used to date and moved to Colorado for college. She went to, there's a Catholic school in North Denver, a big one, Regis University. 

And I remember the first time that I found out that she got high because it hurt me. Man, it hurt my feelings because I was super straight edge at that time. And I was like, "Why would you just want to go? Went to Colorado. You're just getting high." She goes, "No, go to Colorado. I'm going to learn. I'm going to experience. And when I go on hikes, that's when I want to get high because I want to connect to the forest." And I'm just like, "Oh, you sound like such a burnout hippie."

(01:28:39): And now I can tell you with confidence, one of the greatest perks of life is going into the forest, getting a little high and walking around and listening and feeling. So it's what we're exposed to early on that I think we carry with us. And it's just taken me a very long time to break free of that and understand that not all these things are bad, and adversely, not all these things are good.

Adam Williams (01:29:02): Well, we could be talking about religion there. We could be talking about politics.

Shane McNeil: Yes, anything.

Adam Williams (01:29:06): Anything. Right? It's whatever we were handed as. This is the knowledge. This is how you look at life. This is how you live life. This is conformity to what is right.

Shane McNeil: Yes. Well, yeah.

Adam Williams (01:29:16): So that's a version of right. And so again, for us to step into the gray area and say, "I don't know. How about I go be curious and explore about what these other possibilities are?" And it doesn't have to mean taking any substances. It can mean like we're saying anything, just being open. I want to ask, do you have any regrets in life?

Shane McNeil (01:29:35): That's a tough question. It's one that I never know the answer to. If I said yes, I would feel bad because I have learned from a few of these specific ones. If I said no, I feel like I would be taking away the importance of how I have made other people our situations feel. And I don't have the right to do that. For me to say that I have no regrets, I believe it discounts some of the negative feelings that I have placed on other people in my past. 

And that is unfair for me to say I have no regrets when I know I have hurt some people that I have loved deeply. So yes, I have regrets. However, none of them are things that I could say I wish I didn't do. None of them. There are things that I wish I would do differently, I mean, 10 this week. But at the core, I am satisfied, aware, and a full owner of every decision and every move I have ever made. So I'm once again in the gray area on do I have any regrets. Man, that is-

 

Adam Williams: Fair enough.

Shane McNeil: Yeah, it doesn't mean I don't stand for anything. I can't say no regrets because I don't think I have the right to discount what I've made other people feel in my time.

Adam Williams (01:31:02): I think that's an amazing way to answer that. So I appreciate that and it's fair.

Shane McNeil: That's the goal, man. It's fair.

Adam Williams: This has been great talking with you, Shane.

Shane McNeil: Likewise.

Adam Williams: I appreciate you coming in, spending the time. And man, it's just been so good.

Shane McNeil: Man, likewise. Good way to do a Saturday morning.

[Transition music, guitar instrumental]

Adam Williams (01:31:29): Thanks for listening to the We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast. If our conversation here today sparks curiosity for you, you can learn more about this episode in the show notes at wearechaffee.org. 

If you have comments or know someone in Chaffee County, Colorado, who I should consider talking with on the podcast, you can email us at info@wearechaffee.org. We invite you to rate and review the We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or whatever platform you use with that functionality. We also invite you to tell others about the Looking Upstream podcast. Help us to keep growing community and connection through conversation.

(01:32:05): Once again, I'm Adam Williams, host, producer, and photographer. Jon Pray is engineer and producer. Thank you to KHEN 106.9 FM, our community radio partner in Salida, Colorado. To Heather Gorby for graphic and web design. To Andrea Carlstrom, director of Chaffee County Public Health and Environment. And Lisa Martin, community advocacy coordinator for the We Are Chaffee Storytelling Initiative.

(01:32:28): The We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast is a collaboration with the Chaffee County Department of Public Health and the Chaffee Housing Authority, and it's supported by the Colorado Public Health and Environment Office of Health Disparities. 

You can learn more about the Looking Upstream podcast and related storytelling initiatives at wearechaffee.org and on Instagram and Facebook, @wearechaffee. Lastly, until the next episode, as we say here at We Are Chaffee, “share stories, make change.”

[Outro music, horns and guitar instrumental]

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