Today we are sad to report that one of our seminal bands, Sebadoh, has left the label.
This news came as a shock to us, and it has left us feeling disheartened, and a little betrayed. I have been talking with the band about they’re new album for over a year, and the release was already well underway with JNR (audio was delivered, mastering was scheduled, we assigned a catalog number, we worked with the band to adjust sequencing for vinyl side-splits, artwork was delivered, we scheduled the release with our distributor, and we had confirmed the final draft of the contract with their attorney) when rather abruptly, the rug was pulled out from under us.
Without our knowledge, the band and their management were shopping for a better advance behind our backs… I was informed about this only after it was a done deal. After their manager repeatedly avoided our calls and emails, Lou took it upon himself to call me and explain that the band had accepted another label offer for an advance amount that was more than double what we had offered, and that their deal with this new label was already completed (even though just days before the band’s lawyer had confirmed the final changes to the JNR contract). So instead of this being a release with JNR (in North America) and Domino (rest of world), the new Sebadoh album will be released by Dangerbird (North America) and Fire Records (world).
This situation cuts us deep… Sebadoh is a band that helped establish Joyful Noise as a legit label, and over the past 7+ years we have worked with these guys on countless projects (solo albums and side-projects from every member, tons of limited singles, etc.). Sebadoh feels like part of the DNA of the label… My desk is even made out of the pallets that delivered the first pressing of ‘Defend Yourself’ vinyl.
I understand that in this situation a lot of people might be thinking “it’s just business - they have a right to go where the money is”, and I definitely get that. I don't fault the band for taking a payday. I know what it’s like to struggle financially, and a huge up-front advance is obviously more of a financial guarantee than our profit share model can provide. But I am hurt that they didn't extend JNR the courtesy of transparency. Given all the care / creativity / energy we have put into the band over the years, I had hoped that our relationship would have transcended money just a little bit... It feels like a betrayal to cut us out in the 11th hour, without even allowing us the opportunity to counter-offer.
I don't wish the band any ill-will. We remain fans and advocates of Sebadoh, and their new album is really fantastic. I hope I can listen to it again someday without any negative connotations.