Zao Guitarist Explains Why Ferret Music Albums Haven’t Been Reissued
Zao guitarist Scott Mellinger recently joined The MetalSucks Podcast to discuss the band’s the new album, The Crimson Corridor, a look back at their 2006 classic, The Fear is What Keeps Us Here, what it was like working with legendary producer Steve Albini, and more.
At one point the discussion turned to the difficulties Zao have had in getting reissues of their old albums made, particularly with the material put out through Ferret Music (The Funeral of God , The Fear is What Keeps Us Here , and Awake? ). Mellinger also shared some thoughts on the metalcore scene during that era, and how the race to match the success of Killswitch Engage for up-and-coming bands resulted in labels going deep into debt.
“So unfortunately every record we’ve released is owned by somebody and a lot of them are owned with people we can’t even deal with. So, luckily, when Solid State was releasing Zao records, Solid State was bought out by Capitol. Capitol then I think gave some ownership over to Universal Music Group. But, Solid State and Tooth and Nail were able to work out a manufacturing deal where we were able to go back and we’re so happy that it worked out this way. But Unoriginal Vinyl and Tooth and Nail kind of work together with us. All three of us work together and they have been re-releasing some of those older Zao records, vinyl reissues.
“Now the Ferret stuff, the sad thing is even Carl [Severson], the guy, our close buddy that owned Ferret, even he is in the dark on a lot of this stuff. Ferret was kind of run as a Sony subsidiary for a little bit and then Warner bought the rights to Ferret stuff. Warner does not… care. [laughs] I don’t know what it is and I don’t understand it either ’cause its not like Zao is some thing that you’re going to make a ton of money on. To me, I’d rather see something be released and everybody makes money instead of them just sitting on records and making them so unbelievably expensive for anybody to reasonably release them.
“But luckily, we did work out a deal with Tragic Hero Records that they did do a reissue of ‘The Funeral of God’ vinyl. And it ended up being a nightmare, but we did do it. There is talk possibly of ‘Fear’ [‘The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here,’ 2008] coming out, which is the whole reason we recorded that record, was for vinyl. We’re really really hoping that will come out.
“But all these different labels, I think a lot of these more underground approach labels like Ferret or Trustkill, those guys got into the whole label scene with good intentions and really wanted to help their friends’ bands and do all this great work. And then somehow weirdly a lot of that era of when we were on Ferret and Trustkill, like all those bands — Killswitch is a good example — [with] all that stuff to really blow up, I think everybody got a bit over their heads a little bit with how that works. So, when you have a band that has the potential to sell as many records as a Killswitch or anything, and prior to them going to your major [label], as your underground wants to spend more money to get them in front of more people and make those bands explode, you get into debts. To me, its not anybody’s fault and there should be no hard feelings, but everything happens and the big guys end up swallowing the little guys because they end up owing so much money for all the stuff they tried to help the bands.
“And that’s the thing too, I think, even with Zao. We’ve complained ‘nobody makes money, blah blah blah’ but labels put their… with Ferret, I saw how much money Carl was spending on getting Zao in front of people. I saw how much Carl spent for the In Flames record he put out [‘Come Clarity,’ 2006]. The guy really, really tried to get bands to break and really work. As a band, I’m not held liable. We didn’t sell as many records as Ferret was hoping but it’s not like they’re going to come back on me like, ‘You owe me $15,000 now.’ Yeah, we’ll never make money but they have to swallow that loss. I don’t know, it’s just a nightmare. It’s a nightmare for everybody involved and it sucks and I really, really wish it would be a lot easier. I wish that as an artist, you’d have a lot more say in what happens to your product… but… it just doesn’t.”
You can listen to the entire chat with Mellinger here or below.
The Crimson Corridor came out last Friday, April 9; order it here and jam “Ship of Theseus” below.