LOS ANGELES — Well, that sure didn't take long, did it?
Only weeks after being released from a lengthy impasse with Polygram records, longtime area favorites the Badlees are already set to sign a new national recording contact with Ark 21 Records.
The Los Angeles-based label is owned by Miles Copeland, manager of Sting and one of the most respected names in the music business. Copeland's previous label, I.R.S. Records, was the original home of R.E.M and The Police.
The Badlees' new deal will allow for the release of the group's long-awaited "Up There Down Here" album. The album — recorded in Bearsville, N.Y., and Los Angeles in 1997 and 1998 — has been in corporate limbo since early last year when the Badlees' former label, Polygram Records, was sold to the Seagrams company. A new label, The Universal Music Group, was then formed and quickly dropped hundreds of bands from its roster — including the Badlees.
Now — with Ark 21 set to acquire the "Up There Down Here" masters from Universal — a release date for August is already being planned.
"The music on this record is fantastic," says John Rotella, general manager of Ark 21. "The recording on this album is tremendous. The arrangements, the engineering, the songwriting, the structure — it's an incredibly deep album."
Badlees co-manager Terry Selders says the band is glad to be free of the corporate tangling of Polygram and to be with a label that appreciates its talents.
"They all just totally fell in love with the album," says Selders. "For them, it was a no-brainer. They said 'We have to have this band.'"
Rotella says he worked with the Badlees before while he and the band were at Polygram and that he was heavily involved in the promotion of the group's "River Songs" album. That album — released on Atlas/A&M in 1995 — sold more than 200,000 units and produced two national hit singles.
Ironically, Ark 21 is distributed through Universal. Thus, says Rotella, some of the people who will be involved in the marketing of "Up There Down Here" are already familiar with the Badlees and are already fans of the band.
"The (radio) world, the rock world — both have accepted this band with open arms," says Rotella. "They've played countless radio shows, they're probably one of the best touring bands I've ever seen, and they're the best when it comes to working their fan base ...
"As a band itself, they are truly passionate about the music, about the writing and about what it takes to get the job done. There is no prima donna posturing that exists within the band. It's a refreshing group to work with."
Selders says that "Amazing Grace" — the new album the band released independently last month — will still be in stores on May 11, but because of the new deal with Ark 21, it will be limited in number. He adds that although several labels were interested in signing the Badlees and acquiring the "Up There Down Here" masters, Ark 21 was the only one that could guarantee the album would be released this year. The first single, "Don't Let Me Hide," could be shipped to radio as early as June.
"We're truly excited," says Selders. "This label is so in love with the record, and they want it out immediately. There's no waffling back and forth. ... It's exciting to have this situation, as opposed to what we had to deal with over the past year."
"It's all about the music and getting it out to the people," says Rotella. "As Miles Copeland says, 'The music and the melody is the message. Period.'"
"The Badlees get that."