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The Making of Red Sedan


On April 1st 2000 DPRP had it's first ever April Fools joke on their web site. It included a long special about an imaginary artist Red Sedan and his friend Steve McGregor who had released an album called Rock's Colliding together. Regular DPRP visitors could read the special and by answering a couple of questions, they could win a copy of the new album, which was described as one of the best albums of the past years.
For those of you who might be interested in the background and development of this scam, we now present 'The Making of Red Sedan'. Hope you enjoy it ...

The whole thing started on October 7th 1999 when I sent one of the team members, Jan-Jaap, an MP3 file with a little bass riff I had recorded via my sound card. The file contained sort of a reggea version of Pink Floyd's In The Flesh. I asked JJ if he could guess what it was, which he could.

Around this time I was also helping out a DPRP-related band to track down someone who was selling counterfeit copies of their albums. For that purpose I used a hotmail e-mail acount with an anagram of my own name; Red Sedan.
The third ingredient that gave birth to the idea was the fact that DPRP had just started brainstorming about the possible release of a compilation album with rare and unreleased tracks by DPRP-related bands.

I think it was JJ (Jan-Jaap) that started the joke by telling the rest of the team that he had already received a possibile contribution for the CD; a special version of In The Flesh by a friend of IQ's John Jowitt. JJ added that this might be one of the biggest discoveries of 1999 and that we should give the guy his own homepage at DPRP. I immediately replied that I had met the concerned person, called Red Sedan, at last year's Planet Pul festival. I added that I didn't like the track but that others might love it.
A couple of days later I sent the team an e-mail from my Red Sedan hotmail account in which 'Red' introduced himself and told them that John Jowitt had mentioned our plans for a CD to him. He would be more than happy to contribute a track. Red also informed them about a new project: "More original would be a sample from a project I'm working on with a guy called Steve McGregor, who used to play in a band called Bitten By Bats. It's going to be a cool concept album about the destruction of planet Earth by a comet". I don't know where the name McGregor came from, it was probably inspired by the Highlander movie. 'Bitten by Bats' was the working title of one of the IQ albums. I had already informed John Jowitt about the scam in case any of the team members would contact him to verify the story.

The team believed every single word, and until April 1st they have always thought that Red existed. JJ and myself started sending loads of e-mails to Red Sedan (my hotmail account), which I myself would then answer. The team was always CC-ed on the messages, so they saw the whole communication about copyrights, etc. One or two times JJ and I even faked a big argument about Red's music. I had said that I didn't think it was good enough while JJ called it 'brilliant'.

JJ made up the track 'Blinded by the Moon' by McGregor, about which Red said: "Blimey ! You actually know their music!!?? You're the first person from Holland who ever said that he has heard Bitten by Bats! 'Blinded by the Moon' is quite good, but not as good as the 'Music from the Spheres' track from the same album. That's probably the best track they ever did! I asked Steve to keep that style in mind for our album."
Red thought about calling the project's album Nemesis but JJ advised him to go for a more original name.
By this time others of the team started to join the discussion about Red's music and I promised to ask for some demo material first before we would make any promises. Red promised to send a copy of his debut album Sandstone for the review page. Red also mentioned the new project again: "Some of the songs on 'Sandstone' will appear on the McGregor/Sedan album in a different form." He also decided to change the album's name to Rock's Colliding.

All of this had happened over the course of just one week. Red sent the team an e-mail promising to send me a copy of Sandstone and attached a picture of the album cover. The cover was actually a picture of myself from 1990 which I had altered with MS Paint and blurred with Photo Editor.

A month passed and Red sent an e-mail to the team asking why it took so long to review the CD. JJ reacted with an 'angry' e-mail to the me (with the team CC-ed) and another faked argument started. In the days that followed I wrote the review of Sandstone including the background history of Red ans Steve.
To explain his name I made up a story of his parents being prog fans and naming him after the 1974 King Crimson album. This made Red quite young, so I had to make him some kind of musical genius child to give him enough 'experience'. The review - which was later incorporated in the Red Sedan special - included various weird bands like Death Do Us Part, The Grasshoppers, etc. The name Music from the Spheres came from a Call of Cthulhu roleplaying scenario based on Ramsey Campbell's tale The Tugging. The review contained several clues that I was the one behind Red Sedan: the track Raining Cats and Dogs ( I work for a pet food company), the track Crawling Chaos (named after a story by one of my favourite writers, H.P. Lovecraft) and the first four letters of the album title. I was amazed that none of the team members recognised the anagram of my name and the other clues and that everybody believed the hilarious background story ! In one of the e-mail by Red I had even signed off with Ed, but nobody had noticed !

This fact, combined with a discussion I had with a prog artist about the lack of humour that some prog fans seem to have and a remark by Martijn that DPRP had become a bit too serious made me decide to turn the whole thing into an April Fools joke. Remembering the marvellous April Fools jokes that Floyd magazine The Amazing Pudding used to do, it seemed like a great idea to try one myself. Unfortunately it was only December at that time. I explained the team that I would not publish the Sandstone review because it was just a demo and was not sold by Red at the time. Since it would therefore not be available to the public, it didn't seem to make sense to include it in our reviews column.

In the months that followed Red kept the team up to date about the developments of his new project with Steve. Things went quiet for a while until Red got back in contact at the end of February. "Anyway, Steve and I are progressing extremely well with the Rock's Colliding album. We haven't quite figured out a name for the band yet, but we're thinking about 'Red Alert'. What do you guys think ? If you're interested I could send you a CDR with some of the songs once we're finished recording, which will be sometime mid March." Red also promised to write an article for The Vision Pit when the album was finished.

Mid March Red informed the team that the album was finsihed and they were putting the finishing touches to the artwork and album mix. He said he would send me a copy of the album on CDR and that he would make 50 copies of the album, plus 25 copies of Sandstone available for a competition.
In the last week of March I took the Sandstone review and expanded it into the Special as it appeared on DPRP, including an interview and the review of Rock's Colling. 'Red' had promised all of the team members a copy as well if they participated in the competition. That would be the first time they would learn the truth behind all of this.

In the beginning of the article I described Red and the album as "new talent that might well gain the same status as Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis or Marillion. Rock's Colliding is a masterpiece (...)" to ensure that people would be interested enough to read the whole article.
While I progressed with the special I made the whole story more and more unbelievable, expecting people to recognise it as an April Fools joke by the end.
The cover of Rock's Colliding shows a fragment of the Call of Cthulhu scenario book The Stars are Right, which includes the Music from the Spheres scenario. The drawing was indeed made by artist John T. Snyder.
Since April 1st was a Saturday, which is normally one of the relatively quiet days for DPRP, I send out a pre-announcement on Friday, to make sure more people would visit the site the next day. This, plus the announcement I sent out at midnight seemed to help; we had 25% more visitors than we normally have on Saturday.

On that day some 250 people (20% of all visitors) visited the page with the Red Sedan special and more than 120 people actually participated in the competition. If they did so, the following message would appear on the screen: GOTCHA ! You've just fallen for DPRP's April Fools joke ! You didn't really believe that hilarious story, did you ?
Red Sedan and Steve McGregor as well as all of the other background information were spawned by the twisted mind of one of the DPRP editors (see if you can figure out who). The musician has never existed and the CDs are imaginary !
Come on ! Smile ! Don't confirm that old prejudice that prog fans don't have as sense of humour ! ;-)

The responses to the joke we got were mainly very positive. Here's a couple of quotes from e-mails (some in Dutch) we received:

  • "Very funny you bastards! No really, I had a good laugh!"
  • "You almost got me there took me a few minutes to realise that its already April the first in Holland!! NICE ONE. PS - Beware of the sheep coz their gonna get you yeh!"
  • "You bast... Any way, I enjoy it a lot!"
  • "You git! I spent about 30 mins doing your April fool! I live in Scotland and we have no bands left that play gigs of prog sort (Pallas hardly ever play) and I was getting enthusiatic! :("
  • "Nice one! I was totally taken in. It must have taken ages to concoct the story."
  • "Ik sloeg jullie altijd al hoog aan als het ging om informatie omtrent progressieve rock (helemaal als je een progressieve rockshow op de radio doet, zoals ik!), maar nu zijn jullie nog meer in achting gestegen. En dat ik erin trapte, is niet zo verwonderlijk, als je bedenkt dat een nieuwe CD om te draaien in je programma altijd welkom is, Daar doe je alles voor, nietwaar. Zelfs in deze gigantische valkuil trappen. Trappen? Donderen beschrijft het gevoel meer. Morgenavond heb ik uitzending. Ik zal er melding van maken. En vergeet niet om een keer te plaatsen hoeveel mensen erin zijn getuind."
  • "Ik ben één van diegenen die er met open ogen ingetuind is. Meesterlijk. Geen moment gedacht aan het 1 april-gebeuren. Ik weet niet wie van jullie deze ongelofelijk knappe grap heeft bedacht, maar hij/zij verdient zelf een prijs!"
  • "Hey, I had a good laugh on that. I finally won something."
  • "Vuile vieze gore rothond. Nee hoor hardstikke leuk, met boter en suiker ging ik erin. Ik dacht die cd moet ik hebben (Rock's Colliding), ik heb zelf een cdpostorder en daar stond hij "nog" niet in de database en dacht dan ga ik hem maar winnen."
  • "Thank you very much. I never before felt myself so much THE April fool. The review of "Rock's Colliding" made my heart beat faster and just imagining the music sent shivers over my spine. Great joke, I'm a very, very warned person for the next April fools day."
  • "Hi there dprp, excellent you've got the spirit."
  • "You really fooled my with your Rock's Colliding review because I thought DPRP was a serious site and you did something like this before (the polls). It was very well done. You proved to have a great sense of humor, but don't do it again!! Great!"
  • "Don't want to check out that site just send me the CD because I have see a live gig of them and they are marvelous."
  • "This is really not a professional humor. How can a reputable website like DPRP cheated people?? I mean it. You call it humor?? Non sense. This is really bad / terrible humor. You cheated people like me who really like prog music and struggling to get a good album of international group.
    You know what a price of CD means to me?? A lot!! May be in your country, a price of CD is the same as one time fast food cost like McDonald's french fries. In my country (with currently weak currency) it costs me 25 - 30 lunches!!! (average price of prog CD is GBP 13.5). Can you imagine? In order to get "Subterranea" CD I have to delay my 40 lunches and work very very hard to save money to buy the CD!!
    Too much your joke. You just use the vehicle of April's Fool to do yr. unpopular joke. I hate your unprofessional behaviour. I vist yr. site cause I thought you're professional."

Good to see that most prog fans do seem to have a sense of humour. ;-)

There's a couple of other things I found very amuzing. First of all, two prog rock shows and one prog magazine sent requests to Red's e-mail account asking for promo copies to play in their show or review. The other thing is that 20 people have filled in the competition after April 2nd, when we had already mentioned on the main page that it was a joke !

Better watch out next year, because we might do it again.

(R)Ed

Click here for the Red Sedan Special.
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