Wall Street Journal Article
January 20th, 1999

Special thanks to Rob Tomsho for writing the original article.
Excerpts from the article (in white) and comments (in purple) from Robert Kidney follow.

KENT, Ohio - Robert Kidney still gets up every morning believing that he could be a rock n roll star. "I'm not grasp- ing at straws," declares the founder of a local outfit known as The Numbers Band. The 51-year-old guitarist is, however, bucking odds that grow more astronomical by the day.
R. Kidney... "Rock star" is not a term I apply to myself. I have a great respect and understanding for the writer (who's article was edited, though well intentioned), but I wake up in the morning thinking about the remodeling job I have to do, and what materials I need, and if I can keep from screwing it up. After observing and reading about the lives of the rich and famous, I feel the desire to be rich and famous is old-fashioned, and it comes at too great a cost to the quality and richness of a life that can be obtained by focusing on things that are of a truer value. These things need not be listed. However, spending a lifetime learning and attaining ability in an art form which involves performing in front of an audience as one of its most important aspects, exposure to a larger audience, or the ability to make recordings of your work, is worth effort and sacrifice. In contradiction to the industry, I see our recordings as historical records of a musical event. The music is sold as revenue so we can record more music. It's all about the music, after all.
"Kids want to buy records of artists they perceive as their peers," says David Simone, the top creative executive at Los Angeles-based Geffen Records. "My ad- vise to them is to get a day job."
R. Kidney... "I have a day job. We all have day jobs and have for a long time. This guy is obviously suffering from RCI Syndrome (Rectal Cranial Inversion). Kids will buy what they are told to buy. They do not have choices. Television, MTV in particular, is a Sears catalog from which our children buy their personalities, their clothes and their politics. We are the first victims of this culture. I refuse to be a product of this culture. I will not allow my heart and soul to be bought and sold in the marketplace. I will remain a voice of obscurity, riling against the vast grayness created by the tellusourvision."
But there are still people like the Kidneys, who discover that there is sometimes more to a dream than simply making it come true.
R. Kidney... "There are a lot of brilliant musicians and artists in America who are never heard or seen. They may live an entire lifetime without recognition. Fame does not make an artist great, it just makes him or her profitable. I see Americans with blinders on, afraid to explore anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or emotionally challenged. People are living stressful and frantic lives so they can stay ahead of the neighbors down the street who are paying outrageous mortgages on McMansions. More and more people do not want entertainment to ask questions, they just want to be entertained. That kind of society makes for boring music on the radio, and obscure artists even more obscure."
Every move they made seemed wrong. Fired from the Numbers Band one night after wearing a chimpanzee mask on stage, bass player Gerald Casale formed a band called Devo, which almost instantly became a top recording act for Warner Brothers.
R. Kidney... "In no way could firing Gerald Casale be considered a mistake. I remember the event quite differently. Gerald became extremely difficult to work with. He was very unhappy with the music and the band. The other band members and I were fed up with his insistence of playing his bass at a deafening volume. When I asked him to turn it down, he told me to come over and turn it down myself. He told me I was a lot like Adolph Hitler. Then Gerald began suggesting that everyone wear masks on stage in order to shock the audience. I would never wear a mask on stage for any reason, I wasn't into gimmicks. I told him at the next band meeting that I tought he was an intelligent and creative person, and he should leave and form his own band. Four or five years later, Devo was signed."
More drink, darker music...
R. Kidney... "I was told at the age of 27 my kidneys were malformed at birth, and I had been suffering from progressive kidney failure for most of my life, and eventually I would have to face life threatening disease. A lurking unconscious fear of death contributed to my destructive behavior, but I drank and smoked because I like it. I liked to excess. I became a professional alcoholic. My main source of frustration concerning the band at this time was their disgruntled attitude. They wanted success. I wasn't in it for success. I just wanted to play music, and I took shit for it from everyone, constantly."

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