White Collar Criminals

WHAT IN THE F IS GOING ON AT ROADRUNNER RECORDS THIS WEEK?

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roadrunnerEarlier this week Earache Records was the subject of an extremely long-winded rant about the state of the metal industry. Now it’s Roadrunner’s turn.

First we get a press release announcing that Roadrunner has signed heavy rock band Hail the Villain. MS reader “Shit Sandwich” alerted us that the label also recently signed indie rockers The Jakes. Then comes the latest fracas involving Rob Zombie suddenly pushing back the release of Hellbilly Deluxe 2 saying “everything was turning into a chaotic mess” which was actually code for “I’m jumping ship to Roadrunner.” Methods of Mayhem… let’s not even go there. And the label is touting Ratt’s new record as one of its flagship releases for early 2010. I mean, I LOVES me some Ratt, but seriously?

All this following the dismissal of long-tenured A&R man Mike Gitter a few months back. Gitter brought Killswitch Engage, Opeth, Megadeth and many others onto the Roadrunner roster.

What the?!?

Times are a changin’ at Roadrunner. Rumors have been swirling for months that Roadrunner is no longer signing metal bands… and it seems like this is true. Zombie’s got legitimate metal cred, but I don’t think anyone including the label really considers him a metal act in 2009; it’ll be all about radio and MTV for that record. It seems like Roadrunner is rolling with the times and just trying to sign whatever they think will sell records, an understandable move from a business perspective but sad news to fans of a label that’s signed (and broke!) so many great metal bands.

What of all the Roadrunner employees who signed on to work at ROADFUCKINGRUNNER RECORDS and are now forced to work shlock like The Jakes? I’d imagine there’s some bizarre sentiment and hushed whispers of disapproval going around the lower ranks of foot soldiers at the Roadrunner office. I feel bad for those good folks. Like, is there anyone at the company that honestly truly 100% legitimately LIKES Methods of Mayhem and thinks they’re a great band? Come on. Having worked at a major label before I can say from experience that it is really hard to get behind a band you don’t believe in, even if your paycheck relies on it. I can just hear the radio guy pitching Methods of Mayhem to his stations and it’s making me giggle.

And what about poor Mutiny Within? They’re a super-talented band and a great group of guys who suddenly find themselves the odd band out on a label that’s way more interested in creating the next Nickelback than the next Opeth. Are they gonna get the shaft? Will the label try and stuff them down the throats of the mass populace instead of looking long-term and building a career band the way a new metal band needs? I hate to say it, but it’s hard to see that partnership working out especially now that Gitter’s out of the fold; even if he’s still managing the project, having a champion inside the building is key. It’s too bad, because the band made an awesome album that deserves a full shot.

Times change, businesses evolve, the industry is transforming… I get it. Ultimately, I can’t hold it against the top brass who are just trying to make their company profitable. It’s just always sad to see such a radical transformation in something you loved so much. I feel like I’m saying goodbye to an old friend.

As always, I’d like to hear the thoughts of our readers (but please spare us tripe garbage like “Fuck Roadrunner they’ve always sucked!!!”). Especially any RR employees out there… I’d love to know what you think, and I’d like to offer to post your thoughts on MetalSucks as a blog (anonymously, if you wish). If you’re uncomfortable commenting publicly you can always email in your thoughts too.

-VN

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