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Vision Of Disorder’s Bassist Details The Bands Soured Record Deals With Roadrunner & TVT


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Vision Of Disorder bassist Mike Fleischmann gave an enlightening interview and cautionary tale to The Movielife drummer Evan Baken for eftmega.com, rather than fluff, Fleischmann gives great detail on the bands past record deals with Roadrunner Records and TVT Records, both of which soured. You can read some excerpts below.

On first signing with Roadrunner Records:

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“Their plan was – you record an album and we put you on tour and we keep you on tour. I think the model was two years of touring per album. We went in for the first meeting and they put us in a conference room and played us a bunch of new records, showed us a handful of gold albums, threw up a couple videos, then showed us live footage of Dog Eat Dog at the Dynamo Festival. It was like here’s a band that’s relatively small in the US and they’re in front of like 100,000 people and sold like an unbelievable amount of merch in that one day.

So they were saying if you thought we were only big here, we also rule Europe. So again being 18, now you can also tour and get your music to Europe, there is nothing better. I was one year out of high school, I didn’t know anything, nobody told the band how to do anything, we got here on our own and for the first time we knew where we wanted to go next. So we had no one to go to for advice. We had no manager, no lawyer, and there was no one that we respected that gave us anything useful – everyone we talked to was some bitter dude more upset that we were getting signed and he wasn’t.”

“They gave us a deal to be on an imprint for Ray Cappo so instead of a straight Roadrunner release it was called Supersoul and Ray was somehow involved, but according to them everything on the backend was the same as every other Roadrunner release. Looking back it was kind of Roadrunner’s move to get more hardcore acts – put up a guy like Ray’s name behind it and help draw more variety to the label.

So now it gets confusing to us cause it’s a different type of release but according to them it’s exactly the same budget, distribution, and set up so we needed to get a lawyer cause shit starts to not make sense. Ray recommends a lawyer which looking back is weird because we are on that guy’s label and we should have used someone else not so involved on the other side of things, but again, we didn’t know any better. That dude had a big office in a big NYC building, and again to a kid, this seems to be the best move.

And of course, his review was, we were getting a terrible record deal. He told us he would see what he could do but that he dealt with Roadrunner before and he knew they normally didn’t budge on anything. He suggested we could wait and see if there were other offers we could consider or use as leverage to get a better Roadrunner deal. To us, we didn’t care. We just wanted to be on the label no matter what. Not even sure why we need a lawyer if we weren’t going to listen anyway, but we also didn’t think we’d get another opportunity.

You think, even as big as we were that opportunities are going to come once and if you turn them down they are never going to come back. And also as a young band your chemistry is explosive, one day you’re best friends the next day you wanna kill each other so you don’t even know how long the band is gonna last. If you turn down the deal it’s sometimes like you won’t even make it as a band much longer, and being on the label becomes the only thing you get psyched about. It becomes all you care about. The longer it takes, the worse you get – I just want to be on Roadrunner, I don’t care about the negotiations, just get the deal done so we can make a record and go on tour.”

On the terms of the deal:

“The deal ended up being 5 records plus a small advance to buy gear and an advance of $1 for our publishing, $1 for our merchandise – they got pieces of both whether you wanted them to or not. After a month of our lawyer negotiating they bumped it up to $500 for the publishing and $500 for the merch. And we had to use them to produce all our merch, we weren’t allowed to make any products without Roadrunner and they charged us a ridiculous amount like $11 a shirt. If we wanted to sell cds at shows we also paid them $11 each.

The album deal itself went up exponentially so if they put out a second record and then a third we got more money but we were getting pinched on the merch, which we were partially paying to them, and that’s the only money we would make aside from show guarantees. Basically, we were fucked. They lump everything together and it becomes impossible to understand what costs what because money given for shirts gets mixed with money given to make a record, and record sale royalties are being used to cover everything instead of just the recording costs. No one could understand it, but we had to go along with it if we wanted to be on the label.

So we sign the deal even though it’s basically horrible. Now we get to make an album. And like everything else, we didn’t work with anyone before that was significant, and we had no insight as to who should produce the first record. So we made a few demos for the album at Legends studios in Long Island, and the label suggested we record the album where we did the demos. To us that was insane – we had a major release, and they wanted it done at the same place we did demos. So they recommend a guy named Jamie Locke and we agreed.

Again, we didn’t know what kind of power we had, we didn’t know we could say no to their idea, or shop around for other producers, or recommend someone else. They mentioned one guy and we just took it. And without a manager no one is fighting this battle for us, no one has connections to other people we can use, it just becomes them dictating all this stuff, but we were willing to accept it because we were so afraid of what would happen if we disagreed. We didn’t know if they would shelve our record or shut us down, we just went along with everything.

So they pick this guy and it went really bad. We hated the process, we hated the sound, we didn’t enjoy making it, it didn’t capture who we were or the energy we had. The studio was in Boston so we weren’t home, it cost a bunch of money to be there and when you can’t go anywhere it’s terribly boring and it becomes real expensive. So we have this opportunity – our chance to finally make a big time record, and we don’t do it with someone we are excited about, we don’t enjoy the process of making the record, we don’t like the results – this is everything you don’t want on your first and potentially only album.”

On touring ‘Ozzfest‘ and becoming jealous of their labelmates Coal Chamber:

“So now we go on tour to support the record and we aren’t making enough money to cover all our costs. At least $5 per shirt normally going to us is now going to the label so we don’t have enough income to make some tours work. We get Ozzfest, and in some way Roadrunner has to pay to get us on the tour, I think indirectly through the tour sampler – so that becomes a recoupable expense, and we couldn’t do the drives so we needed a bus and that becomes a recoupable expense. We started Ozzfest in a van, we were late to our first show, we kept breaking down, and finally the label gets us the bus halfway through the tour after we killed ourselves keeping up with everyone for the first month.

It was also around Ozzfest that Roadrunner had signed Coal Chamber and we felt like they were getting the attention we should have been getting. They had a bus right away, we didn’t. They had a tour manager and a sound guy, we had nothing and were using our friend to do sound who had basically no recording experience except making four track demos in his basement. We were slated to go out with Pantera following Ozzfest, and they ended up getting it.

We were already confirmed for the tour and then lost it and then started resenting those guys. I mean it’s a shame because they were actually all awesome. They didn’t do anything wrong, they just had the opportunities we wanted and instead of looking at it like – it was good that our type of music was getting out to more people and that good things for them would lead to good things for us, we just got mad and resentful.”

On Roadrunner losing faith in “Imprint“:

“So we do the album cycle, didn’t make a video, toured for about a year and started the talk of making the second record. So far nothing has really panned out the way we wanted. Our record was decently received, it certainly wasn’t huge, certainly not as big as any of those other bands on Roadrunner. We thought we made a bunch of mistakes, knew better this time and wanted another shot. So we go back to the label and they had a bigger budget for us and we had a handful of producers to pick from.

We pick Dave Sardi and before we even make the record it already feels better than the first. We dig Dave, he likes the material, we like his vibe, he’s in NY so we are set to do everything better this time around. We make the record “Imprint”, we love it; think it’s better sonically and material-wise, and we had a good budget to work it. Roadrunner starts to promote it, we do a couple tours, and after about four months the label asks us to record another record.

We were like – what are you talking about – this literally just came out. This was our chance to get it right. Now we take it as they hate the record, the first didn’t meet their expectations, and although they want us to make a new record – in our minds, they hated us and we wanted to get off the label.”

On signing with TVT

“Now TVT is gonna pay us some good advance money. We fire our manager and get a new one. We were still worth between 500 and 1,000 people in most markets so we thought it was a no brainer to get us a deal. She couldn’t do it so we found someone who could. This new manager right off the bat was way more savvy – he got us on a Twisted Sister tribute album and used the session to also record three new demos. We used those demos to secure the TVT deal.

So at the time, remember all bands on the heavier side were getting played on K-Rock in NY so we were psyched to be on track to get decent airplay and have another chance. Now TVT owns a lot of publishing – we’ve all read about the Nine Inch Nails shit that went down with Trent and they make us an offer for our publishing, and it’s again for a decent amount of money. Our manager turns it down cause he felt the record would sell and the publishing would be way more valuable once it came out.

So we decided to wait, BUT it turns out if TVT doesn’t own your publishing they’ve got almost no skin in the game, so they put out our album and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. They screwed us on purpose cause we didn’t take the publishing deal. Here we are thinking we’ve learned our lessons before, we’re working with better people, we sign a better deal, put out a new record, and it fucking bombs, and we are nowhere once again.

And of course before TVT decides to ignore us, they’re pushing us to be more mainstream – they wanted a 180 from “Imprint” which was really raw and loud. They kept telling us we needed to reach a broader audience, then disappeared intentionally when we gave them the album they wanted.

There’s always this hump right that a band is fighting to get over – you can either stay in this one area where you’ll probably have to get a job and tour when you can, or you get over it and can support yourself with the band. We were never able to really get over that hump.”

There’s a lot more to be read over at eftmega.com, including how the band got released from their Roadrunner contract, the lean years in-between labels that birthed “For The Bleeders” and some hard numbers to consider if you’re in a band. Currently Vision Of Disorder are signed to Candlelight Records and will release their new album “Razed To The Ground” on November 13th.

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