Label Profile: Razor & Tie
Mon, 10 Sep 2012 09:43:40
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Razor & Tie has quickly become one of the world's premier labels for hard rock and heavy metal.
With a roster boasting acts as dynamic as All That Remains, The Sword, Nonpoint, I Am War, P.O.D., Chelsea Grin, and more, they've got their finger firmly on the pulse of the genre. Instead of sticking to one specialized sub-genre, they eclipse the entire scope of heavy music, providing a platform for established bands to become even bigger and for young acts to launch careers. That's the best thing any entity in the record biz can do…
They offer all of the requisite services to "break a band" in the 21st century, and they do so with fresh perspectives and phenomenal PR and marketing strategies. As far as music and its promotion go, Razor & Tie are setting trends, while keeping the scene alive.
In this exclusive interview, John Franck, Senior Vice President Marketing Razor & Tie talks about the label, heavy music, the future, and so much more.
What separates Razor & Tie as a rock and metal hub?
Razor & Tie is truly a "vertically integrated" operation, which essentially means that in addition to being a traditional music label, we also have an in-house publishing company, a media buying company, a merch business, a bi-coastal licensing team, and we also work closely with two distributors (Sony and RED). Whenever possible, we try to make sure that each aspect of our business is connecting on multiple levels to better serve our artists. For me, one of the key ingredients that makes the label a standout is our staff. We have a terrific in-house team which includes A&R, Marketing, Radio Promotion, Video Production, Press, Digital Marketing, Retail (digital and physical) and more. Our crew is comprised of some of the brightest, most forward-thinking professionals I’ve ever come across. When you go to war for your artists, it’s great to know that you’ve got an A-list army by your side.
Is diversity key in selecting a heavy music lineup?
Very much so—we like having a balance of artists that come in all shapes and sizes—baby and developing acts, semi-established acts along with well-established bands. A band like P.O.D. exemplifies what we’re looking for on the established side. A band that can make a record that can go three singles deep and tour for 18 months and be absolutely lightning focused on the task at hand. We also love having a band like The Sword on the roster. While the band has sold 200,000 albums, we still very much view them as an act with significant long-term potential to grow into something bigger. As far as our developing roster goes, we’re looking for bands that have the ability to create opportunities for themselves and grow over time as well as bands that have the potential to write great songs. While this all may sound simple and obvious, a lot of times it isn't. A band like Chelsea Grin or Such Gold—who are a developing pop/punk/hardcore act—are great examples of acts that we feel can continue to grow over time. Both come with super pro artist management teams behind them that add a lot of value to our long-term planning. The marketing needs and marketing strategies for each of the acts I just mentioned are very different from one another, but ultimately, each band will be judged on their own merits.
What do you look for in the heavy bands that you sign? There's a wide spectrum from The Sword to P.O.D.
As far as veteran, established artists go, we look at each one on a case-by-case basis. Without over stating the obvious, it comes down to the type of record the band is able to make and how healthy the band’s fan base is and where that fan base sits. Without question, the material needs to be there, or it needs to be able to get there. For the established acts, the most obvious question is, can the band still make a great record? Are the songs there or can they get there? Is the band open to working with our A&R department, and/or working with a suggested producer/mixer/outside song writer(s) as opposed to just "delivering" a record? We would rather be available to help rather than simply accept an album "as is" if we feel a band hasn't reached its fullest potential during the record making process. Without naming specific acts, I can tell you that this has already happened on several occasions since I joined R&T and while it's never easy telling a band to "go back" (and write/record more material), I wouldn’t feel that were doing our jobs if we didn't engage in this process.
In your opinion, why does heavy metal continue to thrive in the face of so many changes to the business's landscape and what's currently popular?
It’s lifestyle music. Whether it's metal, hardcore, deathcore, metalcore, grindcore, black metal, "you name it core", as an overall genre, it's mostly immune to changing trends. Every sub-genre eventually runs its course and the genre is left with the best few bands standing but at the end of the day, metal fans are fiercely loyal, especially in places like Europe and South America where radio doesn't have the same type of impact that it does in the States. It's incredible to see bands I grew up with like Slayer, Iron Maiden, Testament and countless others continue to have 30-plus year careers, release incredible records, and tour the world like they're in their '20s. It's beyond inspiring.
What are some of the releases on the horizon you're most excited about?
We recently released For Today's new album Immortal and also a new Chelsea Grin EP, Evolve. Our new P.O.D. album, Murdered Love, is out and the band is currently killing it on the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival. P.O.D.'s first single "Lost In Forever" is Top 2 at Radio and still gaining ground. We're setting up the band's next single "Higher", which is a more traditional anthemic/hooky type song in the vein of "Alive" or "Youth Of The Nation".
We’ve just released three new albums from Artery Recordings (For The Fallen Dreams, A Bullet For Pretty Boy and Close To Home), the debut album from Such Gold and also the debut from I AM WAR (a brutally heavy collaborative effort between Alex Varkatzas from Atreyu and Brendan Schieppati from Bleeding Through). On September 25th, we'll release the new album from In Dying Arms (who are also signed to Artery) and going into October we'll have more releases from Artery, one from the Australian band Buried in Verona (10/16) and another EP from a band to be announced. October will also have more Razor & Tie with new studio albums from Nonpoint (10/9), the debut album from Defiler (10/9), and Apocryphon from The Sword (10/22). We’ll end our year with a new band The Seeking's debut (11/6) and All That Remains' new album, A War You Cannot Win that comes out on Election Day (November 6th). As far as 2013 goes, we're scheduling albums into next summer and we’ll have a bunch of bands in the studio this winter including Norma Jean who’ll be starting their second album for Razor & Tie. We also have some additional signings to be announced shortly from both developing acts and established acts.
What are some of your favorite releases thus far?
It’s always tough to pick favorites but I very much feel like we’re getting into a rhythm, where as a company we're starting to release really good records. The new album from The Sword has pillaging riffs that will rattle people's senses. The band has a terrific new drummer who's made them sound more potent than ever. They swing more on this new album than they ever have. Our new All That Remains album has all the classic makings of an album that could go four singles deep; and while diehards will love the bangers on the album, the singles themselves are among the strongest of the band's career and those will surprise people as well especially as they go deeper into the album. Other albums worth mentioning, the current Shadows Fall album, which I feel fans are going to continue to discover for months to come. It has a lot of depth. The reviews for it have been great. Lastly, Such Gold, who I previously mentioned, is a band we're all excited about. They’re young kids with a throwback sound (I love the fact that Alternative Press mentioned Revelation Records in its review of the album), and yet, Misadventures is completely modern in its aesthetic.
A&R wise, Rock/hard rock/metal is all part of a long-term strategy for Razor & Tie. Our goal is to continue to expand into this niche and focus on being a label that releases quality albums and continues to be a marketing- and artist development-based company. We'll be making a series of announcements shortly that will continue to reveal a little bit more about the direction we're heading in. Our feeling is we're just getting started.
Who's your favorite Razor & Tie act?