One of the larger metal and hardcore management companies teaming up with a label whose biggest commercial success is the Kidz Bop series of compilations might be a bit of a head scratcher at first. But the union of Razor & Tie and the Artery Foundation for Artery Recordings makes a lot more sense upon further inspection. Razor & Tie has already made inroads at metal via their partnership with Prosthetic, and the for a hands-on company like Artery, a label is the next logical step for a company that does booking and management. With a relatively small five-band roster (Atilla, Bury Tomorrow, A Bullet For Pretty Boy, Chelsea Grin and I Declare War), the label has been able to flourish under Razor & Tie’s marketing thus far. We caught up with Artery Recordings label manager Mike Milford and marketing manager at Razor & Tie for Artery Recordings Sean Lynam to talk about the partnership and the future of the label.
Tell me how this all came together.
Mike Milford: For the last good five to seven years the Artery Foundation has always done management and what now. We’ve managed bands along the lines of A Day To Remember, The Devil Wears Prada, etc., and over the last, it’s been about a year hasn’t it Sean?
Sean Lynam: It’s getting close to it. Yeah definitely.
Mike: Yeah we’re getting close to a year. Eric [Rushing, Artery Foundation Owner/CEO] met with Razor & Tie originally about working a couple of other things, and talked to him about the label and kind of just out of nowhere the label started up. I don’t have a long story for you on that one. Everything seemed right. Everything worked out. The partnership worked out really great, and now almost five or six months later we have four releases out now. The first one was Chelsea Grin, and things have just continued to be doing well. We should be doing some more in the near future.
How did the idea of a label come about?
Mike: Eric did a label in the past called 720 records. He did a lot of the Sacramento releases. He’s always had that in his blood, doing record labels and he’s always done national shows as well. It just kind of went along with our company. We know exactly what most artists today want from their record labels and it just kind of makes it easy because we know exactly firsthand what they want. So we decided that it would be better for us to step in there and start doing it as well, and we have really close relationships with all our bands on label. We’re a close family. We treat it that way. We’re always there for our bands, and it just made sense. It wasn’t one of those things we’re like ‘Hey let’s go out, do this record label because we can make tons of money on it.’ We just wanted to give bands what they wanted and what they deserved and the tools that they needed to be able to become successful like touring musicians and what not.
Sean: Yeah I wasn’t personally too much involved in the forming of the label. I kind of jumped on board after I heard about it and said ‘Hey we got this Chelsea Grin record coming out in a couple of months. We’ve got to start working on it.’ But it’s a community type of thing. They have a definite sound to the bands and all the management really takes care of them whenever they come through New York and they say really great things about the management side, and extending into a label is the next step as far as creating the whole community.
I’m assuming all the bands on Artery are managed by Artery?
Mike: Today, yes.
Would you consider picking up a band that already has established management?
Mike: Yeah, we’re definitely into it. I mean we might be in the process of doing something like that right now. But yeah, we’re definitely open to it. It’s just so far, a lot of the bands we manage are just like “Hey, let’s do this deal. Everything will be really close, in house.”
Sean: One stop shop.
Mike: Yeah, one stop. Go ask a question, you’ll get an answer right away. You don’t have to go up the ladder and it doesn’t take nearly as long to get answers, and ideas just flow around a lot quicker and come to life a lot faster this way. I mean, we’re open to working with other management companies. It’s just hasn’t happened yet.
Mike, what made you choose Razor & Tie as opposed to just getting your own deal through a distributor or partnering with another label?
Mike: Eric, whose the owner of our side of the company, has dealt with many different companies across the states and worldwide. He just felt really strong about the relationship that was made after the meetings and with the talks and seeing how Razor & Tie does things. It’s really awesome. We’ve definitely had no complaints to date. They work at such a great pace and they have so many assets on their side that are able to bring things to our bands which they currently might not have had before with previous labels they worked with. And Eric, when he gets a good feeling right away, he pretty much is always right. He just had a really good vibe. So he wanted to go with it, and it’s worked out totally the way thought it would so far.
Is there going to be any kind of like up-streaming component, like Razor & Tie taking over?
Sean: That hasn’t been discussed, and I don’t think that would be any goal at this point. I think Chelsea Grin is the standout band so far. They’ve been doing well. That also might just be because their album came out first. They’ve had more time to sell. But I think keeping these bands on this label is definitely the ultimate goal, to raise the profile of the label itself.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard a little bit of people talking about Razor & Tie’s semi-reputation as like Monster Ballads and the Kidz Bop label. Have you ever had to deal with any questions or stuff like that?
Sean: Like my own dad tells people where I work and that we do Kidz Bop, and I tell him constantly “No, I actually work with cool bands that are young and cool!” Companies do a lot of different things, and I think Razor & Tie is interesting in that it’s had a lot of success in different genres. Anywhere from world music artists winning Grammies to a hard rock band going top 5 at active rock radio, and that’s really cool that we get to do all these different things. Personally, I love that I get to work on these young bands in the exact genre I listened to when I’m just listening to for fun. Yeah it’s kind of annoying to deal with all these people saying, like say that Artery Recordings signed a new band and some internet comment would be about them going on tour with Kidz Bop or Neil Sedaka. Those haters!
Haters gon’ hate. (laughing) Are there people within Razor & Tie that are like “I don’t get this kind of music! Explain it! Talk to me. What is going on with this?”
Sean: Yeah, there definitely are, but more and more people are coming around. Like “Oh man, alright I finally checked them out! I dig this band now! Can you get me some T-shirts?” (laughing) So we’ve been hitting up Mike and Eric a lot for a lot of t shirts recently actually. More and more are getting into them. Some of them still might not get it and might not ever get it, but no one is like “Ugh, I can’t believe we’re doing this.” So that’s good.
Where do you see Artery going? I mean your management company is obviously a successful one, and now you have a label. What’s next? Do you have a five year plan or anything further where you can expand?
Mike: Right now, we do our branded Summer tours. This Summer, it’s the annual Pyknic pArtery tour which features one of our label bands, Attila, on it. They’re doing really well on that. We’ve always done the branded touring with the label. Right now, we’re going to really focus hard on the label. We’ve already gotten a really good response from it. We feel really good about it, and our bands are definitely excited to be working with us and they’re saying good things about us. So we want to make sure we focus on it and continue the reputation. That’s our main focus right now, is definitely the label. We haven’t really thought about anywhere else we’d want to expand the brand to yet, but it will definitely probably happen.
Are there any Artery bands that you’re managing that want to be on the label?
Mike: I’ve actually had about an hour long conversation with one today, which I can’t disclose their name but…yeah we’ve got a conversation later Sean (laughing). What’s happening is that they see how we run so far. Even as a young label we’ve been able to accomplish so much, and the Razor & Tie team has gotten so many cool features for our bands, and it’s just kind of making some other bands particularly that I manage a little bit jealous, and they’re like “Hey! We want that!” So it’s a good feeling because we must be doing something right. We’ll see what happens.
Lastly, there’s only five bands signed right now, is that correct?
Sean: There’s five yeah.
Is there a limit to as how many you want to have on the roaster?
Mike: Originally we kind of had a limit of what we were going to do per year. We’re happy where we’re at right now. We’re going to continue. If something good and something right comes up, we’re going to go for it. We don’t want to overdo it as well though. Having a smaller number of bands you can just focus a lot of time on, it feels good to be able to wrap my head around every single band and know exactly what’s going on with every single band.