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In the past two years, Strangers Six has played over 200 U.S. cities, guesses singer Aaron Thompson.

"We've toured all over the West Coast five times already.... We had a '92 Dodge van. Once a week it would die on the freeway; it would cut out cold. The power steering would cut out, and we'd have to pull over to the shoulder and hope we wouldn't get hit by another car. We'd have to wait ten minutes, and usually it would start again."

Thompson says his band's unreleased record (produced by Sean O'Donnell of Reeve Oliver) has already helped their van situation because it attracted the attention of Orange Peal Records, a San Jose label. In spite of the dismal state of the record industry, Thompson says Orange Peal is solid enough not only to reimburse the band for studio costs, but the label helped buy a replacement van.

"They signed us up last month. We talked with them about the necessity of a van, that it was the machine to make the band work properly.... I can now call Ecology auto wrecking and tell them to pick the old piece of shit up. We just picked up our new van. It's a 2001 15-seater with 50,000 miles."

He says the Orange Peal hookup came about "after one of the guys from the label saw us at a show at House of Blues. [Orange Peal] has good national distribution."

Glen Schwartz, director of A&R for Orange Peal, says indie labels aren't feeling the sales pinch as much as major labels are.

"We haven't been as affected [by music downloading]. The only thing that hurt us was Tower Records closing. They were really starting to support indie labels. But larger chains like the Best Buys and the FYEs are starting to buy from indies."

Orange Peal releases Strangers Six's Date with Daylight on May 8.

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