When all this started, I was just a 20-something named Roland with a passion for the banjo. More than anything, I wanted to be a folk-musician, strumming away on the Jo with my band, Sepia Springs. After years of trying to put the Springs together, I was met with absolutely no interest from other musicians. Honestly, it’s because my songs sucked. But that didn’t stop them from being the most important thing in my world! I knew the only way I could make my dream a reality was by somehow tricking Sepia Springs into existence.
Over the course of a week, I learned how to knit cup-holders featuring characters from Mr. Robot and Game of Thrones. I met up with a couple musician friends and casually dropped the idea of starting an Etsy page. Impressed with my needlework, they agreed!
We were soon making about $3000 a week with my knick-knacks and the group had never been closer. I knew the time was right!
At our weekly meeting, I stood up and told the team I had an exciting new design for one of our cupholders. They were incredibly intrigued. With all their eyes on me, I reached beneath the table and pulled out my banjo. They were confused at first, so I began pickin’ at the strings and belting a Sepia Springs original (“Coal Miner, Shoal Shiner”) by way of explanation. Tommy, who had quit his day job to focus more on our rising business prospects, asked what was going on.
I explained that our obvious next step was to give up the useless knitting and become a folk-band called Sepia Springs. A couple people laughed. I did not. After a few moments, the laughter stopped. Tommy put his hand on my shoulder.
“Roland,” he said, “I think there’s a real future in this company. You’re incredibly good at knitting and, if you keep at it, we could all stand to make a lot of money.”
With a blaze of fury I realized THEY WERE ALL SELL-OUTS! Every single one of them - SELL OUTS!! Keeping a dignified calm, I packed away my banjo back and walked out the door (after uttering a quick “Fuck you, pieces of dick sucking shit, I quit, and go die in a cum-filled hole.”)
They yelled, asking me to come back, but Sepia Springs was calling out to me. I never knitted again.
I immediately took out a massive loan and started a restaurant. Using the skills my French grandmother had passed on to me, I put together a menu and set myself up as New Wave Chef.
Business was difficult at first - I worked day in and day out, presiding over a fast-paced kitchen yearning to prove itself. All the while, I was watching the wait-staff, trying to determine which server would be best on the mandolin and which on the honky-tonk piano.
Customers began dripping through the door, then trickling, and before long we were drowning in reservations through the next two months. A critic from The New York Times (who never responded to ANY of my requests to review a Sepia Springs EP) wrote about my Jambon persillé: “Chef Roland’s entree is almost revolutionary in its flavor. While drawing upon the classic styles of Passard and Lenotre, his use of orange is both unexpected and exclamatory. ‘The master has arrived!’ it shouts, ‘Prepare yourselves for a new paradigm in taste!’” Obviously, the time had come.
That very evening, I snuck out from the kitchen and put an order into our computer system.
“Chef Roland!” My su-chef shouted when my order came up, “We have an order here for a Sepia Springs? What is that dish?”
I emerged from my office holding a banjo.
“Only the greatest dish in American History.” I answered, launching into a full-speed banjo solo. The kitchen watched, dumbfounded, as I shredded the hell out of an original composition called “Barrel of Monkey Gin”. When I finished, there was light applause. Then, my su-chef asked:
“Chef, what is this?”
“Don’t you get it?!” I implored them, “This is our chance to rise above being just another 5-star restaurant in the West Village! Everyone who wants to seize their destiny and become a part of my folk band, put your hands in.”
No one put their hands in. Accepting this disappointment with a resigned flip of three tables, I exited my restaurant, never to look back.
Selling my restaurant left me with a pretty hefty sum of money. So much money, in fact, that, if I wanted to, I could have simply hired some musicians to play in a band with me. But that’s not what Sepia Springs is about. Sepia Springs isn’t about strangers hired to work together - it’s about friends collaborating to create a vision. It’s about business associates rising above their meager beginnings as co-workers at a high-level investment firm to pursue the Goddess Music.
I spent most of my restaurant money on an investment license, and poured the rest into some stocks that seemed interesting to me. As I hoped, each of these tripled in value over the next 4-6 months, and I found myself a very wealthy man once again. I sought out some investors (ones who seemed to have a passion for music) and set about managing their portfolios.
This was an especially exciting time for Sepia Springs - I wrote many future classics, including “The Tears of Bears”, “Set Loose”, and “Gary the Goose”. I also netted an average per-investor profit of 36 million dollars, which was nice. The better I could do for each investor, the more they’d like me, and the more willing they’d be to put their opulent lifestyles behind to come be a part of my folk band.
On the fateful day I made myself a cool 10 million, I sent this email out to my clients:
“To All Investors in S. Springs & Sons,
Thank you for your continued faith in the fine work we do here. As CEO of the firm, it is with great pride I announce that, effective immediately, all your investments have been liquidated. Your portfolios are all hereby closed and S. Springs & Sons will no longer operate as an investment firm. Instead, we are becoming a small folk band called Sepia Springs. Anyone wishing to join, please respond to this email immediately - rehearsals begin next Tuesday, and I expect touring to commence shortly thereafter.
Thank you for your business,
I leapt with joy as emails began pouring into my inbox, but my elation turned to sadness as I read their contents: “ARE YOU INSANE?!,” “This had better be a joke, or I will sue,” “You’ve made an enemy of the wrong man, asshole.” I was heartbroken - not a single person interested in playing music! Whatever happened to the soulful melody in America’s heart?!
Knowing an up-and-coming band like mine could never survive the heavy litigative efforts of 20+ multi-millionaires, I bought a new identity for about $100k and moved far away from Wall-Street.
California Tech Company
“Where are the dreamers? Where are the visionaries who believe in more than just business?” I wondered, as I moved away from New York. “They’ll surely be the people who are willing to give up the sedentary life to perform ‘Cat Eatin’ Beans’ with me.”
With this in mind, I relocated to Palo Alto, California, and enrolled at the University of Southern California as an aspiring programmer named Daryl Cheesus.
Computer college was fine - the four years passed quickly, and the awards when I graduated were pretty nice too. My professors were cool (they kept saying things like “you’re changing the way we think about programming on a base level” or “you’re like watching Mozart at the piano”) but the vast majority of my mental energy was dedicated to perfecting Sepia Spring’s costuming. I was looking for something simple. Something unique that said “We are Sepia Springs! Welcome to the open plains!” Maybe vests?
After graduating, I was heavily recruited by nice websites like Google, Facebook, and The US Department of Intelligence, but obviously none of those fit into my plan. I founded a start-up called “SepSpr” - a simple new app that drives your car for you.
The app really took off and, sure enough, my company began to grow. Many consumer-level cars came with SepSpr pre-installed. We expanded our business to the air, installing SepSpr in planes and helicopters. Over the course of 2-3 years, it became industry standard. The App now had a staff of over 1,000. SepSpr had touched hundreds of hundreds of millions of lives.
“Surely, within those millions of people, there must be four who want to be a part of Sepia Springs!”
On what many thought was going to be an ordinary day, I created a mandatory update to the app. Without getting too technical, it basically replaced all of SepSpr’s previous functionality with a recording of me singing 4 Sepia Springs classics, followed by an invitation to come to Palo Alto and audition for the band. With a calm click of the enter key, the update flew out across the world and I sat back in my chair, taking a calm deep breath.
After several minutes of silence, voices began growing more confused and frantic outside my office. One of my Head Designers burst through the door.
“Daryl, we’ve been hacked!”
“Hacked by music!” I exclaimed.
“You don’t understand,” he continued, “we’re received reports from all over the world. SepSpr is malfunctioning. All it will do is play some sort of awful music.”
“Well that’s a subjective opinion.” I responded with wisdom and talent, “Do we have any responses that seem to enjoy the music?”
“Daryl, countless car-crashes are occurring right now. We’ve received reports of over 20 fatalities already.”
“Daryl, the app has stopped driving cars. All it does is play this goddamn music! We need your help out here, now!”
With that, he ran out. I realized with disappointment that I had been so overcome by my dream of starting a band that I had caused a global wave of death and destruction, almost certain to create a sense of mass-hysteria and leave nearly every civilized country in state of constant emergency.
As the screaming began outside, I packed up my essentials and snuck out the back door - probably best to get a fresh start away from all this nonsense. I had learned my lesson: I didn’t really care about the tech industry!
Perhaps feeling guilty over the hundreds of deaths and injuries I had caused, I decided I should become an attorney. Obviously, I went to law school, graduated, became an intern, started my own practice, blah blah blah I know what your wondering - how many songs had I written? More than 40. My favorite so far was “Taper the Jumpin’ Cat” (I practiced it every night with the ole ‘Jo).
The next 40 years were a bit of a blur. I got married to a beautiful woman and had 5 children with the intention of bringing them into Sepia Springs (Partridge Family Style). The law firm was good - lots of cases or whatever.
Finally, I called a meeting of the Phillbin & Sons executive board (Phillbin was the last name I picked up when I ditched my old identity). At the meeting, I was surrounded by my children and grandchildren. Many of them had followed me into law and, hoping to keep them nearby for this very occasion, I had offered them jobs at the family firm.
Looking around the table, I was reminded of a similar meeting, not so many years ago, when my Etsy team made the largest mistake of their lives. After taking a moment to gather my thoughts, I began in the quavering voice of an 85-year old:
“Friends. Family. Now is the moment you’ve all been waiting for. It’s time I retire and start my folk Band Sepia Springs. Who’s coming with me?”
For a moment, everyone was silent. As was tradition, I had not told any of them about my dream, instead focusing entirely on bonding through success of the law firm. I became scared this was going to be more like my Etsy meeting than I thought.
Then, my oldest child, Dalton, took a step forward.
“Dad, I’d be honored to play with you.”
As he spoke, he pulled a harmonica out of his pocket.
“Me too.” Exclaimed a couple of my grandchildren, running to get their guitars.
“And us!” chimed in everyone else, eagerly gathering whatever they could find to make some music.
That was my happiest moment. Tears began streaming down my face - it had worked! It had finally worked! Sepia Springs would finally ride!
With this joyful thought in my mind and a smile on my face, my heart gave out and I died, surrounded by my closest family and friends. Right before I passed into the next world, finally fulfilled, I managed to whisper a last message to my son:
“I was responsible for the SepSpr massacre.”