It’s been two years since the alternative rock band Dommin released their first album with Roadrunner Records, Love Is Gone. Contrapuntist and I wrote a rave review of their album and, and, in our interview with lead singer Kris Dommin, we were impressed by his drive to make the band the next big thing. So we were both surprised when, after the initial buzz, there little news from the band for almost 18 months.
Then, today, Dommin posted a YouTube video of Kris performing a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” (check it out at the end of this post). I wanted to find out what had spurred the new burst of activity, so I checked out their band webpage. I was saddened to learn the reason behind their extended silence. Apparently, Roadrunner had kept the band in limbo for over two years before finally dropping them in September of 2012. Kris shared the whole messy story on his blog.
First, Roadrunner wasn’t sure if they wanted to continue with the band because they had not sold enough albums for the label to recoup their investment. The lack of sales may have been partially due to wasteful spending ($130,000 spent on two videos for the same song), publicity which targeted media unfriendly to the band’s music, and a lack of exposure on radio and TV shows.
Roadrunner finally did decide to move forward with a second album, but communication with the band was few and far between. Kris explains:
I spent about 9 months writing new songs. The problem here was, I would send the music to the label and get no feedback. Months and months would pass with no returned phone calls and no returned emails. I was in the dark, hoping the label was still on board with the direction I was moving. Finally after some time had passed, I was told in no uncertain terms that a big chunk of what I was writing that had retro influences was not something they wanted any part of. “Keep writing!” So I did. Again, I would make demos, send them in, weeks and months would pass with no response. Finally, after nearly a year, I expressed that I had enough of the B.S. and only at that point, did they say, “okay, let’s make your record.”
The final straw seems to have been a major overhaul at the label, during which the band’s two biggest supporters at the company either resigned or were laid off. Even when the band was able to break free, it took six weeks to formulate a termination deal with the label.
However, Roadrunner still owns the second album, and there is a legal restriction which prohibits Dommin from recording anything for five years. Moreover, Roadrunner would demand a huge pile of money from any other label that might potentially sign Dommin and put out their record.
Eventually, the band received some moderately good news:
Finally, after 4 more months, the label has agreed to let us release the album without upfront costs provided that their investments are paid back with the profits from selling the album. I’m grateful for this concession. However, they agreed to that in early January, and I’m still waiting on an agreement to be sent. But the songs aren’t finished. They’ve been recorded, but only 3 of them have been mixed. So we either need to find a label to help fund the finishing of the album or set up a Kickstarter to see if enough fans want to contribute so we can finish it. Or just trash what we made, wait for 5 years to re-record it and in the meantime, put out an entirely new collection of songs. Meanwhile the band has all had to find other jobs and our bank accounts have been depleted. Life must go on.
Dommin isn’t the only band which Roadrunner has kept in limbo lately (read Contrapuntist’s post about the fate of Mutiny Within). And it’s not necessarily the label’s fault. Pirating can take a significant bite out of a band’s album sales. Plus, thanks to Internet radio services and YouTube, the music world is becoming increasingly segmented. Even though services like these make it easier for artists to distribute their own products, the plethora of available music makes it that much harder to break through to a mass audience.
I’m hopeful that by posting Kris Dommin’s latest video on our blog, we will make it that much easier for the band to poke their heads above the waves in a sea of artists looking for exposure. In the meantime, please enjoy Kris’s nuanced, passionate performance below.
Photo credit: Richard “Tenspeed” Heaven via Flickr
- The Significance of Supporting the Artists You Treasure (thecontrapuntist.com)
- KVELERTAK Promise That Just Because They Signed To Roadrunner, They Will Not Turn Into NICKELBACK (metalinjection.net)
- Kvelertak sign to Roadrunner Records (hangout.altsounds.com)