Yesterday, Ricardo Baca from the Denver Post reported that Flobots' relationship with Universal Records has ended. Stephen Brackett, aka Brer Rabbit, confirmed the split and went on to say that the separation was amicable.
"It was one of those situations where we know where we want to go," Bracket told Baca, "but they didn't know how to get us there." From the sounds of it, though, Universal has never quite known what to do with Flobots from the beginning.
Earlier this year, just prior to the release of Survival Story, the band's second album, we had an extensive chat with Jamie Laurie, Brackett's co-frontman, and he acknowledged that while even Universal's president Monte Lipman realized they were a "square peg," as he put it, that the label was still quite accommodating.
The fact that the imprint opted to issue the outfit's debut, Fight with Tools, pretty much as is shortly after signing the group to the fact that it took a very hands-off approach during the recording of its follow-up -- allowing Flobots what appeared to be artistic autonomy, from song selection to overseeing art direction on the new record -- seems to substantiate this notion.
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At the same time, according to Laurie, the group seemed to have a greater understanding that symbiosis would be key to their mutual success, and as such, the members were proactive in anticipating the label's marketing needs from offering up b-sides and radio edits to considering potential remix and licensing opportunities.
Given the label's early and ongoing support and enthusiasm and the group's pliability, you have to wonder how much of this really just comes down to numbers. Perhaps Survival Story, a stronger album by all accounts, just didn't make as big of an impact commercially as Fight with Tools.
In this continually crumbling industry, labels have marginal interest when it comes to development and even less patience seeing things through in leaner times, especially when they do not see an immediate return on their investment.
At least that's the impression you get from observing recent major label departures of Mile High acts like Meese, Single File, Tickle Me Pink and Drop Dead Gorgeous -- who appears to have parted ways with Interscope/SureTone. Undeterred, however, most every act is optimistically forging ahead with new music, or, in the case of the Meese brothers, new music and a new band, The Centennial.