Arista and Rustic part ways
By Sam Pfeifle
For Bill Beasley, Ripchord Records head and manager of Rustic Overtones, “it’s been a couple of crazy
weeks.” He was busy watching record sales for new albums by J Mascis and 6gig, and booking gigs for
Jeremiah Freed, Heidi, and Loud Neighbor. Then, of course, he had to go about severing ties with
You read correctly. Rustic Overtones are Arista recording artists no more.
Through the much-publicized ousting of founder and former President Clive Davis, and the new regime
put in by LA Reid, the Overtones were forced to sit on their hands while their album sat on the shelf.
When Reid came in, they were assured that priority would be given to their project.
But “things just didn’t move forward quickly enough,” says Beasley. When the band heard that Arista
was going to be delaying the release of the album, still tentatively titled This is Rock and
Roll, once again, they asked Beasley to get them out of the contract.
He spoke with A&R men Josh Sarubin and Pete Ganbarg, who have always been Rustic supporters,
and said, “Guys, you don’t have much time,” asking them to go to the label with what amounted to a
release-the-album-or-release-the-band mandate. Unfortunately, the culture of the company had changed
to the point where the Overtones were no longer a fit for them, too unlike pop-acts Whitney Houston
and LFO, and not quite as hippy as the Grateful Dead, apparently.
The good news is that Rustic Overtones retained the album, which is a minor miracle when you consider
the cost of recording roughly 40 songs and bringing in uber-producer Tony Visconti, David Bowie, and
Funkmaster Flex. As for their plans for the album, that’s far from decided. Beasley can only say that
there are “limitless options,” and that they are “still signed to EMI publishing, still have an agent,
so the machinery is all there,” for another deal with another label, be they major or indie. “We
could release a quadruple album if we wanted to,” Beasley adds with a laugh.
The band members, far from disappointed by the turn of events, are bordering on ecstatic. “I feel
fantastic. We’ve got our album back,” says ebullient keyboardist Spencer Albee. “It’s unreal. The
band is completely energized.”