OK, you’ve either heard the rumors, kept the open secret, or you’re sitting in front of your computer screen wondering if the headline you just read is real. Well, it is. They are.
Yesterday, JEFF singer-guitarist Jake Orrall and Infinity Cat co-founder Robert Ellis Orrall confirmed with the Scene that the local punk torch-bearers have — in conjunction with their literal and figurative parent label — signed a deal with Warner Music Group. The agreement will give the band global distribution through the conglomerate’s Alternative Distribution Alliance (aka the ADA) and Infinity Cat a place among WMG’s Independent Label Group (aka the ILG).
In other words, JEFF is bringing on the major leagues, as Stephen Malkmus might say. They got signed, and Infinity Cat is, at least to an extent, a major-label imprint.
“We’ve spent a really long time [on it],” Jake Orrall says of the deal. “We’re going to have the potential to reach a wider audience.”
The deal itself is essentially a joint venture between WMG, JEFF and Infinity Cat, in which the label will share ownership of the band’s masters with Warners, or one of its subsidiaries. The band will continue to self-produce their records and retain creative control over their output. “They still wanted to call the shots,” Robert Orrall says of sons Jake and Jamin (drums). “Within the structure of this deal, they can do that.”
JEFF’s forthcoming We Are the Champions LP — set for release June 21 — will still come out exclusively on Infinity cat, but with distribution via ADA, while a follow-up LP (tentatively slated for next year) will come out on Infinity Cat, but under the Warner/ILG umbrella.
So, what does this mean? According to the Orralls, it means both the band and the label are going to get to do what they’ve been doing for years: relentlessly build their brand of harum-scarum rock ’n’ roll, but on a grander scale and with greater exposure — and without compromising their methods and style. They’re still gonna do it their way; they’re just not gonna do it by themselves. “We are not changing as a label,” Robert Orrall says. “We’re just gonna have more help … We Are the Champions deserves to be heard by the world.”
As for other artists on the Infinity Cat roster, Robert Orrall says that, while the agreement they have pertains specifically to JEFF, WMG takes an overall interest in the label as a whole, saying "[They] really get what [JEFF] and the label are all about," and he's optimistic they will go on to express that interest “one band at a time.”
In related news: Having just returned from what was, by the band's account, an awesome one-off in Moscow (see photo above), JEFF hit the road today, appearing tonight at Atlanta's Drunken Unicorn with Heavy Cream before embarking on a three-week tour supporting The Greenhornes. Speaking of which, the two bands have joined forces for a split 7-inch they'll peddle exclusively at the gigs — while the limited 666-copy batch is still available, of course. JEFF will also sell pre-release tour copies of We Are the Champions on white opaque vinyl. Get the scoop on that and more over at Nashville's Dead.
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Infinity Cat honcho Robert Ellis Orrall offered the following as an official statement:
Just to be super clear, Infinity Cat is still a completely independent record label, distributed by ADA for the upcoming JEFF The Brotherhood release We Are the Champions. Future Bro-hood releases will be under the Warner/ILG umbrella. As far as the rest of the roster is concerned, we will continue to act independently, and we hope to build on that relationship, one band at a time.
We are in our 9th year as a label, and the Greenhornes/JEFF tour split 7" is our 63rd release. We are grateful for the support the Nashville community has shown us, and we couldn't be more excited about the future.