Commentary from guest blogger Dale Dixon of PoisenedPens.com
“Words cannot describe how excited I am to have the opportunity to work with Thursday again. Thursday is a band that people believe in. They are innovators. They are the voice of a generation..." - Victory Records head Tony Brummel
Last week, Victory Records and label head Tony Brummel announced an historic, albeit head-scratching, reunion between the embattled indie (most recently, platinum artist Hawthorne Heights has exchanged lawsuits with the label) and ex-patriot rockers Thursday, who had jumped ship in 2002 for the elysian fields and major-label dosh of Island Records.
At the time of the split, the divorce was acrimonious and well-documented by Thursday on the band's own website and message board postings. Victory Records and more often head honcho Tony Brummel were portrayed as heavy-handed opportunists who wanted sustained control of the bands they “built”. The pattern would be repeated with subsequent bands achieving a modicum of success with the Chicago-based label. Brummel's creative control would often be extended to other areas usually reserved for band management including touring and merchandising.
Now comes word that Thursday is scheduled to release a CD/DVD retrospective through Victory October 30, according to the press release it will contain three “new” tracks along with a number of demos and rarities.
Did the band even “re-sign” with Victory?
On the surface, it appears as if Brummel and Victory are looking to mend fences (acrimonious splits also occurred with label-jumping heavies Taking Back Sunday, Atreyu, and Hawthorne Heights) and indie credibility; re-signing (note the hyphen) the universally-respected Thursday would seem to fit both agendas.
“Friends!!! We have some exciting news!!! We know that everyone is wondering what is next for us (New Label? New Record? Touring? Breaking up?). We're proud to announce that we will be releasing a DVD/CD on our former label, Victory Records. Surprise! A lot of the footage from this DVD was taken during the time we spent on Victory and we thought it was appropriate to release it with them. On a more personal note, many of you know that our parting with Victory was bitter on both sides and we're taking this chance to put that behind us. That label really helped us get to where we are and we helped them to establish themselves as well... "coming full circle" and "making amends" are some of the phrases that we could throw around here but we think you get the picture already. Tony's passion for this project and his continued support of the band after all these years has helped to make this an easy decision.
We're really looking forward to this release. The DVD will be a retrospective of our band’s career so far(footage from the last nine years) with a ton of live stuff. Everyone always says we're much better live than on record-- now you can decide. The CD will have several new tracks(!) and some alternate versions and demos of older songs.” said “Thursday” in the press release.
Now, from those words, one might assume that this historic “reunion” (let's face it; not news on the scale of Pink Floyd or even the Cro-Mags burying the hatchet) might contain the foppish band and shaven-headed Brummel releasing a single of Kumbaya with an accompanying DVD video.
But one problem remains – Brummel is still speaking for everyone concerned. He wrote the press release himself, according to a label source, and engineered the “quotes” for all concerned in conjunction with the band's manager. Brummel did not even allow his own PR people to craft the release, he submitted it for distribution to them once he had completed it! thus the manager manages to get his percentage for an album that would likely have been released with or without the band's consent.
The “new” Thursday album does not contain three “new songs” as implied, but rather three older unissued tracks, along with the usual assortment of odds-and-sods and demo versions. The advantages for the band are two-fold; re-reap some indie cred lost from jumping to a major (if anyone still cares about such a thing), and move enough units on the Soundscan charts to get back on the major-label radar. Atreyu's post-coital “Best of Atreyu” CD/DVD package released by Victory in January had moved a respectable 48,000 units through the end of April and made a respectable bow on the Soundscan Indie label chart.
Did the band even “re-sign” with Victory?
Brummel's standard artist contracts reserve the right for the label to reissue, repackage and compile anything recorded and submitted to the label. As such, the repackaging was already a foregone conclusion, especially given the fact that Victory has hit a cold snap in breaking bands in the last year or so (Aiden and Silverstein being the latest examples of large advertising campaign dollars being unmatched by CD sales) and that Brummel has reportedly and repeatedly put the label on the market for an extravagant sum.
So in other words, don't believe everything you read in a press release.
Even if, and especially when, it comes from the mouth of Tony Brummel.