Photo by Gord Hawkins

Photo by Gord Hawkins

Hugh Dillon can speak eloquently about his band’s debut album, Picture of Health.

After all, he’s had 25 years to think about it. The album itself has aged incredibly well, introducing Kingston, Ont., expats The Headstones’ as a fully formed, raucous rock ‘n’ roll band powered by old-school punk and prone to exploring dark subject matter with both a brutal honesty and gallows humour. It provided sturdy musical and aesthetic DNA for the band, helping it survive, off and on, for more than a quarter century in the Canadian music scene.

So Dillon can certainly wax poetic about the album, the band and those early days. But the word that seems to spring up the most in conversation with him about Picture of Health is “lucky.”

“That record kept us out of jail,” says the vocalist. “It was a crossroads of just bad decisions and bad lifestyles. We were so lucky to focus all our energies and our life on the band … We were so lucky to have survived it in one piece. We were so lucky to survive the drug addiction and the things that come along with playing in the band in the 1990s. And we were lucky just to have had those audiences.”

Dillon, alongside the band’s co-founders guitarist Trent Carr and bassist Tim White, may be leading the Headstones on a cross-country tour to celebrate the reissue of a 25-year-old album, but it could be argued that the band is also in the midst of enjoying its second act.

Or maybe it’s their third act.

After releasing five studio records and becoming one of the country’s most reliably exciting live acts, the Headstones did call it quits in 2003, a breakup that was at least partially due to Dillon’s relapse into heroin addiction. The charismatic frontman would go on to have a successful acting career after his breakout role in Bruce McDonald’s 1996 Hard Core Logo — he recently showed up in David Lynch’s surreal 2017 Twin Peaks reboot, for instance — and released a 2005 solo record under the name the Hugh Dillon Redemption Choir. The Headstones reunited in 2011 for a successful tour and began recording again a few years later with 2013’s Juno-nominated release Love + Fury.  In 2017, the band released Little Army, which included the No. 1 single Devil’s On Fire.

So while the most recent tour, which hits Calgary’s Grey Eagle Casino on Nov. 16 may find the now six-piece band playing its debut album from beginning to end, it’s hard to see The Headstones as a nostalgia act.

Dillon says the band is recording new material. As a songwriter, Dillon’s life may be very different from that of the angry young man who wrote about mental health issues and addiction on songs such as Heart of Darkness and It’s All Over, but he says the writing process hasn’t changed all that much in 25 years.

“It’s almost unconscious, you have to go in and find what drives you or what makes you angry,” he says. “Most people walk around saying ‘No, I’m fine. Everything is great’ and underneath it isn’t that. That’s what’s great about this band. It’s therapeutic. Even on Little Army, those songs aren’t ‘Hey baby, baby … ‘ They are talking about everything, from existential angst to you-name-it. It is a place for us to go that allows you to use your poetic license and express yourself. Because there are so many places you can’t express yourself.”

“Sometimes it’s a good exercise to quote that raw rage, or whatever it is, into an articulate piece of art that enables you to continue with your life as opposed to exploding on the street,” he adds with a laugh.

One song on Little Army that directly addresses Dillon’s past is Kingston, an ode to his hometown that was inspired by an old postcard his friends The Tragically Hip sent him when they were touring the world in the 1990s. Dillon grew up with them and was inspired to put his own band together by the Hip’s success. He credits the Tragically Hip, particularly the late Gord Downie and guitarist Paul Langlois, as being instrumental in helping build the buzz that landed the Headstones its major record deal for Picture of Health.

As with the rest of the country, Dillon is still processing Downie’s 2017 death from brain cancer.

“I shot the lyrics (of Kingston) by him before he passed away,” Dillon says. “It’s all just a matter of coping, you have to find ways to cope. For me, it’s songwriting. It’s not just coping, it’s appreciating the time. For a guy like that, he did so much for so many people, including me, on such a personal level.”

Downie was not the only loss, of course. Dillon says there are a number of people from the Headstones’ early days who have died, including the band’s original drummer and co-founder Mark Gibson.

So while the Headstones may not be a nostalgia act, Dillon admits that revisiting the songs from Picture of Health certainly reminds him of the band’s all-for-one attitude in the early days, long before the major labels came calling.

“We set up our own shows because we believed in it,” he says. “We postered the streets ourselves. This became our life, and our social life. Every weekend we dumped our money into a rehearsal space and buying a few cases of beer and some weed. And we stayed in that place and wrote songs. At the end of the weekend, to get us through our sh-t jobs, we now had this obsession.”


Yellowstone graphic

Hugh Dillon is Sheriff Haskell in American writer & director Taylor Sheridan’s  (Sicario, Hell or High WaterWind River) new TV series YELLOWSTONE, on Paramount Network. Currently filming Season 2.

Yellowstone is a drama series that follows the Dutton family, led by patriarch John Dutton. The Duttons control the largest contiguous ranch in the U.S. and must contend with constant attacks by land developers, clashes with an Indian reservation and conflict with America’s first national park. Medical issues and family secrets put strain on the Duttons, and political aspirations and outside partnerships threaten their future.

Starring Kevin Costner, Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Cole Hauser and Danny Huston.





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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Headstones’ critically-acclaimed debut album Picture of Health and to celebrate, they will be re-issuing the album on October 26 via Cadence Recordings.

Headstones will also be heading on the road this fall for the official Picture of Health Tour, playing this seminal album from front to back live, as well as your favourite hits! They will be bringing along The Matchstick Skeletons to open each show. Fans will also have access to the VIP Fan Experience Upgrade Package at each show – learn more here. See below for full list of tour dates.

Picture of Health was Headstones breakthrough debut album that went Certified Platinum in Canada. Originally released on June 1, 1993, the re-issue package will include remastered versions of the 13 original tracks plus four bonus tracks – demos of “Sweet Pea”,”When Something Stands For Nothing,” “Cemetery” and the newly re-recorded “Skin Me Alive,” all originally featured on their Demo Gods cassette, which ignited their career. Leading up to the release on October 26th, follow the band on their social channels to see some rare footage and photos from the Picture of Health era, including this video of the band performing “Judy” on MuchMusic in 1993. The album will be available for pre-order on all digital retailers and through the band’s website, as of September 21st.

Picture of Health follows the Headstones release of their critically-acclaimed album Little Army (2017 Cadence Recordings). The album was their highest debuting full-length in over a decade, hitting #3 on the Alternative Album Chart and #13 on the Current Album Chart. The lead single “Devil’s on Fire”  was the #6 most played track at Active Rock radio in 2017, spending 20 weeks on the chart and reaching #1 for three weeks. On the album, Noisey raves, “Little Army still retains that piss and vinegar Headstones built their reputation on, but it also sounds as if they’re doing it more out of love than anything.”



Tickets and VIP Upgrades for all shows are NOW AVAILABLE

Nov 01 – Hamilton, ON – FirstOntario Concert Hall
Nov 02 – Thorold, ON – Moose & Goose
Nov 03 – Oshawa, ON – Oshawa Music Hall
Nov 08 – Winnipeg, MB – Club Regent
Nov 09 – Winnipeg, MB – Clubg Regent
Nov 10 – Brandon, MB – Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium
Nov 12 – Medicine Hat, AB – Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre
Nov 13 – Regina, SK – Casino Regina
Nov 15 – Grand Prairie, AB – Better Than Fred’s
Nov 16 – Calgary, AB – Grey Eagle Casino
Nov 17 – Edmonton, AB – The Starlite
Nov 19 – Edmonton, AB – The Starlite
Nov 20 – Kamloops, BC – CJ’s Nightclub
Nov 21 – Victoria, BC – Capital Ballroom
Nov 22 – Nanaimo, BC – Port Theatre
Nov 24 – Vancouver, BC – The Commodore
Nov 25 – Vancouver, BC – The Commodore
Nov 26 – Kelowna, BC – Kelowna Community Theatre
Nov 28 – North Battleford, SK – Gold Eagle Casino
Dec 04 – Waterloo, ON – Maxwell’s Concerts & Events
Dec 06 – London, ON – London Music Hall
Dec 08 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
Dec 14 – Ottawa, ON – Bronson Centre
Dec 22 – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall

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Hugh co-stars alongside Nicolas Cage, in the 2018 release The Humanity Bureau. In theatres and OnDemand Friday, April 6. Special soundtrack appearance by Headstones’ ‘Done The Math’, off of their 2017 album Little Army. 

Says VARIETY‘s Dennis Harvey, “… Dillon not only makes a good villain, but contributes an excellent closing-credits song (“Done the Math”) performed by his long-running rock band Headstones.”


[click HERE to read the full film review]


Headstones hit single ‘Devil’s On Fire’ from the new album Little Army enjoyed 2 straight weeks at #1, on the Canadian Active Rock Radio Charts; reporting the weeks of June 24 and July 1, 2017.

Purchase the album here, at your favourite retailer, or your favourite online service.

Hugh Dillon appears in the new installment of David Lynch’s groundbreaking 1990 supernatural mystery series Twin Peaksalongside such names as Ashley Judd, Laura Dern, Tom Sizemore and Kyle MacLachlan.


March 18, 2016 by Nellie Andreeva

I have learned that Ana de la Reguera (Narcos) and Hugh Dillon (The Killing) are among the latest actors to quietly book arcs on the upcoming new installment of David Lynch’s groundbreaking 1990 supernatural mystery series Twin Peaks.

They join returning star Kyle MacLachlan, who is reprising his role as Special Agent Dale Cooper from the original series. New cast additions for the new season, set for an early 2017 premiere, are also believed to include Naomi Watts, Laura Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Amanda Seyfried, Ashley Judd, Tom Sizemore, Balthazar Getty, Patrick Fischler, David Dastmalchian, Grant Goodeve, Larry Clarke and Caleb Landry Jones.

Lynch is directing the new installment from a script he co-wrote with fellow Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost.

Dillon also recently booked a supporting role in Taylor Sheridan-directed Wind River opposite Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. He’s repped by Gersh, LINK, and Bernie Breen Management in Toronto. De la Reguera has recurred as Elisa Alvaro on Narcos and Paola on Jane The Virgin. She is repped by Paradigm, ROAR and Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown.


June 19, 2017 by Noel Murray

I don’t think we’re supposed to attach any significance (yet) to the wheelchair-bound, tube-laden man named Tom Paige whom Ben’s secretary Beverly comes home to toward the end of the episode. I don’t think we’ve seen him before, nor has he even been alluded to, to the best of my recollection. He is, however, played by Hugh Dillon, who was amazing as a burned-out punk rocker in the Canadian cult film “Hard Core Logo,” so he’s welcome to stick around.



The Canadian punk rock icon talks about overcoming his heroin addiction, finding a work ethic in acting, and how Toronto bands have a bad attitude.

No one, perhaps ever, has been able to flick a cigarette with the accuracy of Hugh Dillon. What separated him from all of the other butt flingers of the world is that Dillon did his share from stage, which he commanded as the frontman for Canadian hard rock heroes Headstones. “The cigarette flicking was early, early on. It just became a lifestyle,” Dillon says with nonchalance. “I didn’t give a shit. Lots of bands smoked and drank on stage like we did. And with flicking, I had a pretty good aim. So it’s not like I randomly flicked it. I could do it the way ninjas throw those stars. I could hit things with them, so it became a trick. And I could hit someone in the forehead or in the body so that I didn’t hurt them [laughs].”

Dillon invited Noisey to chat in the East Toronto studio where Headstones recorded and mixed their seventh full-length, Little Army. It’s tough not to bring up the band’s glory days in the 1990s though, when Headstones were the bad boys of CanRock. They stuck out like a gnarly, dislocated thumb, thanks to their hard living ways and Dillon’s biting, misanthropic persona. A lot of their peers viewed them as “obnoxious, loutish and generally annoying.”

Of course, being loutish and obnoxious was part of the band’s allure for the fans. Dillon feels that at its core, “the band has always been exciting and fun, and that’s what draws people back.” But yeah, they knew how to rub other bands the wrong way. “It’s true. Except for the Hip,” Dillon says of his fellow Kingstonians. “I grew up with those guys and they were sweethearts. But Toronto bands were notorious for having an attitude. I could name names but it’s too fucking late for that. I loved music, so whenever somebody tried to stand in my way I looked at it as, ‘That’s not gonna stop me. I’ll just go around it.’ And people don’t like that. We were a different kind of band. You can’t abide by other people’s faux civility. I don’t want to fucking dance around. I hate the passive-aggressive game. I just wanna be honest and people have a problem with that.”

Headstones formed in Kingston, Ontario in 1987, after Dillon spent some time in London, England busking, squatting and living life as a true gutter punk. Although they worked odd jobs to pay the bills as well as demos and other band expenses, the band was originally an outlet for what Dillon calls “fucking rage and energy.”

“I’m from Kingston and I likely would have gone to jail without this band,” he explains. “I was interested in three things: crime, hockey, and rock’n’roll. Thank God rock’n’roll prevailed. It was such a fucking godsend. I had the chops to write and do what I needed to do.” The band moved to Toronto not long after and began building a name for themselves playing local venues like Lee’s Palace, Sneaky Dee’s and the Ultrasound, where they were offered a record deal by major MCA.

“We wrote these songs and knew they were good. We also knew that the other bands in Toronto didn’t like us, and we didn’t give a fuck,” he says. “We were all fucking blue collar guys and Friday nights had become renting a space, getting a two-four and writing songs and getting drunk. That was the way out for us. Nothing glamorous. It was just a necessity. As opposed to talking about it and not doing it, we focused on writing and were driven to do it. We did it like motherfuckers. We were bizarrely focused.”

Headstones filled a hole in Canada’s fertile alternative rock harvest, infusing their gritty hard rock with a punkish attitude and nihilistic lyrics, heard on albums like 1993’s Picture of Health and the following Teeth and Tissue. Unlike some of their contemporaries, Dillon feels Headstones had to work even harder to create buzz. “We didn’t get a lot of video play or radio play in the beginning,” he says. “It was our live show that made us. We were on the road constantly and eventually we got some love from MuchMusic, but we were never overplayed. I think it’s hard for any artist to cut through the apathy and the noise out there, no matter any time or decade. The secret to any success is talent and perseverance. You might not be successful commercially or critically but you will create the art you want to. When it’s all said and done that’s what matters most.”

Their debut album, Picture of Health, went platinum, and was followed up by a couple of gold records— Teeth and Tissue and 1997’s Smile and Wave, respectively. However, with this success came an appetite for self-destruction. “We had to really work for it,” he says, “but the alcoholic and drug addict tendencies tend to go through the roof once you’re allowed free rein. So that didn’t help. It gets in the way of what you really wanna do, which is write and record songs.”

By the time Headstones released their fifth album, The Oracle Of Hi-Fi, Dillon was using heroin again after getting clean in 2000. Although he was an occasional user throughout his time in the band, his addiction began spiralling out of control. Fearing things wouldn’t get better on the road, he ended Headstones and headed to Northern Ontario, where he took a job as a lumberjack in a bid to get clean, which is what he’s been doing for the last 14 years.

“There was no way out. I lost everything,” he says stonefaced. “I was in detoxes and rehabs. It was just so brutal. There is a romantic component to rock’n’roll, but if I was still loading trucks at Canpar and had a drug addiction that would be tragic, whereas if you’re in a rock band it can seem glamorous. And it isn’t, because your family suffers horribly. It was so hard for my family. I think that’s the big takeaway from this story. If you can recognize the pain you’re inflicting on others you have a chance to get out, if you’re willing to accept help. If you’re gonna change your habits or your life you’re kidding yourself if you think you can just dabble in anything.”

Up until 2003, Dillon had also been dabbling in acting. But once he cleaned up, that became his primary vocation. (A side-project called the Hugh Dillon Redemption Choir did produce an album in 2005.) During the Headstones’ original run, Dillon had scored roles in a handful of independent films, as well as TV guest appearances, including Degrassi: The Next Generation , for which he portrayed an abusive father. “I do get recognized for it,” he says. “I remember going to see a movie and the ticket girl lost her shit. I knew she couldn’t be a Headstones fan, and it turned out she just loved Degrassi.”

He was cast in films—both indies (i.e. Down To The Bone) and big budget films ( Assault On Precinct 13) but it was the lead role in Canadian drama Durham County as a homicide detective struggling to face his demons that was his breakout. This led to roles in AMC’s The Killing, CBC’s X Company, and most notably, a lead in CTV’s internationally syndicated cop drama, Flashpoint, which he compares to “winning the Stanley Cup or Super Bowl.”

Most recently Dillon can be seen in an episode of the newly revived Twin Peaks. It’s not a major role in terms of the storyline, but it no doubt left a huge impression on him. “It was awesome,” he says with glee. “I can’t tell you much, but I’m in a single episode. It’s so minor. But finally to be on set with a master like David Lynch was such a beautiful fucking experience. To have David Lynch put the make up on you himself is just surreal. It all just lasted for a second, but it was such a career high. I got to work with a guy who was one of the reasons why I’m an actor. What a great experience.”

Ask any long-time fan of Headstones though, and Dillon’s greatest piece of acting was in Bruce McDonald’s 1996 mockumentary, Hard Core Logo. After portraying a killer in the director’s 1994 film, Dance Me Outside, McDonald cast Dillon as Joe Dick, the loudmouthed vocalist of the titular has-been punk band. The film became an instant cult classic, inspiring Canadian rockers Pez to eventually change their name to Billy Talent, and impressing Quentin Tarantino so much he bought the rights to distribute it in the U.S. and even auditioned Dillon for the role in Jackie Brown (it eventually went to Michael Keaton.)

“I love it. That film changed my life,” he says with adoration in his voice. “It showed me a new direction I could take. And I did it totally clean. I signed a deal with Bruce to stay clean. They allowed me to sing and they used my ideas. I wrote the ending and got involved. So the least I could do was sign a deal that said I wouldn’t drink or do drugs on the shoot. That was the best deal I ever made because I got a glimpse of what it was like to work completely clean and sober.”

Dillon feels the experience he’s gained from acting has also impacted his work as a musician. “The thing I got from acting that I applied to the band is my fucking work ethic,” he exclaims. “Because when I came back to the Headstones, after doing some acting, it was much easier. I wanted to rehearse, I wanted to be prepared, and I wanted to be organized.”

When Headstones reunited in 2011 it wasn’t some nostalgia trip. Dillon doesn’t do nostalgia when it comes to his band. “Fuck no. Life’s too good now,” he admits. Instead, it was the death of the band’s lifelong friend and influencer Randy Kwan that got them back together. Before they knew it, they’d written and recorded a new album, 2013’s Love + Fury and come full circle.

“I didn’t come back to the band for any other reason but to be creative,” Dillon says.
“I rebuilt my life and moved to California and got into acting. I learned to refocus. I was very lucky. And I was lucky that Trent and Tim were such killer creative forces that going back to rock’n’roll became better. You learn things from working with people like that.”

With a new label Cadence Music Group behind them, Headstones find themselves in a perfect position at this stage in their life. Despite reaching his 50s and finding stability in a dual career, Dillon doesn’t seem to have lost his edge as a songwriter and vocalist. Little Army still retains that piss and vinegar Headstones built their reputation on, but it also sounds as if they’re doing it more out of love than anything.

“We get to make these records and hang out and when we play there is a magic to it,” Dillon says. “I think each record we’ve gotten better and better and it’s because we don’t give a fuck. We don’t have to do it.”



From leading a rock ‘n’ roll band to acting, and now back in music, Hugh Dillon’s career has been a roller-coaster ride filled with exciting ups and downs. When Dillon’s not busy starring in CBC’s TV series X Company, he’s busy recording with his old band, the Headstones. Today, they release their latest record, Little Army. Dillon joins guest host Gill Deacon to discuss his return to music and balancing that and acting now.

Friday June 02, 2017; hosted by Gill Deacon.




Hugh Dillon doesn’t pay attention to that old saying: Keep your day job.

The frontman of Canadian punk/hard rock outfit Headstones for the last three decades – minus a 10-year group hiatus that began in 2003 – has also forged a successful acting career in films like Hardcore Logo and TV series’like Durham County and Flashpoint. So why does the 53-yearold, who’s been sober for “about 13 years” after well-documented struggles with heroin and booze, continue to make music? “What makes me really tick is the cathartic nature of being able to write because those are my words,” said Dillon – who last year alone shot the films The Humanity Bureau with Nicholas Cage in Osoyoos, B.C., and Wind River with noted screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Hell or Highwater, Sicario). “Everything else is somebody has written what I’m saying. I do like rock n’roll for that because it is your own vision, it is your own voice, it is your own self-expression.”

The Kingston-formed, Toronto-based Headstones latest disc, Little Army, arrives Friday (June 2) with two shows that night at T.O’s Velvet Underground before a fall tour.

We caught up with Dillon, who’s also got two TV projects in development – one with Sheridan in the U.S. and one in Canada – in T.O. recently.


“I loved his voice, but I really loved the songwriting. That’s what it all comes down to is the songs [like] Jesus Christ Pose. There are certain songs that when I hear them, it’s a time and a place that was defining. My mental visual is sitting behind the driver in a s–y van with the radio stations in Canada and [Soundgarden] would come on and that was the soundtrack of us driving across this country. It was them and Nirvana and The Tragically Hip … nothing else mattered.”


“So much of it, with our history, is linked to alcohol and drugs and underneath that is depression and whatever else is there. What you’re always trying to do is be honest and be upfront. And what’s great about our relationship as a band, we’ve known each other so long, you can see any little warning signs so it helps all of us. I do know enough that you have to be vigilant, you have to know yourself because if you slip in that downward spiral of isolating yourself … you can isolate to a place where it seems to be pointless. And it isn’t. I mean I’ve been there.” SOBRIETY “I played all the, ‘Let me see if this combination works. If I just have half a Valium and one shot of whisky, yeah good.’And it comes back to the concept of fooling yourself. You’ve got to know yourself. You can’t fool yourself. I have done it so much. And that’s what our band is like because we know each other so well. Any misstep or anything that’s bulls–, everyone is lasered on it. And so it kind of makes you accountable. Because it isn’t just you, your actions affect everybody. And if you want to f–ing be part of [a band] – be honest.”


“[Nic] was just an awesome professional. You know I like working hard and it’s just you have to be on your game. He had such a grounded, hard work ethic and for me that guy’s been married to Elvis’daughter [Lisa Marie Presley], his uncle is Francis Ford Coppola, he was in [the 1983 film] Rumble Fish, and yet it’s all about the work. And I like it to be about the work … It’s gratifying to see somebody through life’s maze bulls–is on the ground bringing his A game.”


“My grandfather’s a writer. It’s storytelling. I’m Irish. It runs in the blood. I’m black Irish so I’ve got to deal with the temper and the nonsense. You’ve got to know yourself. You’ve got to not let your thoughts take you into some dark alley. It’s like being able to put it somewhere. And even when I didn’t have the band [during the hiatus] and I was trying to find my way and doing Flashpoint, I had a solo band, I was always write. It stops me from acting in ways that I used to act. That’s why I love writing because it calms you and it puts everything down on paper.”


“I ran some of the lyrics by Gord Downie, we go back so far to us being 17 and in high school together [in Kingston]. We just loved music. We talked about [Bob] Dylan and Jim Morrison and it was all about writers and songwriters. We were friends. There was such a musicality about that period of time – about two years. And in this bar that I referrence [in the song], the Prince George, e, we would go down there. And Gord and I loved music and it was Dillon and Downie, we were in a lot of the same classes. We were in a dramatic arts class together, we were in home room. All of it goes back to him. It’s not just the singer and The Tragically Hip, and this band that I love. It goes back to I would not be here, literally, without him.”


“I feel that guy’s going to live forever. I can say that. It’s like I want to think positively every day and every moment like, ‘You f–ing kidding me, I just saw him with Bobby Orr.’ ‘It was a hockey game and I think it was the Senators against Boston. I know it’s naive but I feel he’ll live forever.”


“I thought for sure we were going to buy it in some ridiculously stupid way. It was so lawless. It is weird. It is the chemistry. It is the writing. It is the ability to recognize each other so honestly. It’s like [guitarist] Trent [Carr] and [bassist] Tim White have been friends since 1972, lately it’s a big numbers game. [Trent's brother] Steve [Carr] has been in the band as well but nobody talks about it – he’s on the cover of the new record – he plays keys, he’s been our road manager, so this record he’s on the cover and in the promo shots.”

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