Death Grips Dropped By Epic

It’s starting to look like the honeymoon is over for Death Grips and Epic. After what seemed to be a rock-solid marriage full of unauthorized album leaks and the publication of privileged emails between label and band management, Epic has released a statement revealing that perhaps all was not bliss in Camelot:

Epic Records is a music first company that breaks new artists. That is our mission and our mandate. Unfortunately, when marketing and publicity stunts trump the actual music, we must remind ourselves of our core values. To that end, effective immediately, we are working to dissolve our relationship with Death Grips. We wish them well.

So that’s probably that. Death Grips will walk away with more publicity than money can buy, and Epic gets the house, the car, and the dogs. If these two cockeyed, idealistic dreamers can’t pull it off, what chance do the rest of us have?

(via P4K)

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Comments (58)
  1. I’d care more if the album didn’t suck

  2. This news is pretty

    epic

  3. Woah what a surprise.

  4. Whatever you may think of the politics of major labels, it’s hard to argue that they didn’t deserve it.

    • i dont understand this view. I could understand it, epic being mad, if DG was originally, upon their signing a choir boy, straight edge, do gooder band. They werent and never were. They graffitid the sony bathrooms on the day they signed. They use a manson excerpt to start Ex Military. They talk about dead bodies, and ankles tied to cinder blocks, and torture on TMS. Epic is the one who didnt do due dilligence. Its kind of like singing a RATM and dropping them for being politically extreme. How about the cover of TMS, did that not set off alarm bells for Epic?

      All the label had to do was listen to Ex Military, and TMS, listen to the lyrics, look at their own bathroom walls, and they;d see what DG was about and what their views on the world and what the band was all about. Evidently, bizaarely, Epic, didnt know ANYTHING about the band prior to signing.

      Additionally, this only reaffirms the clueless nature of the majors. Any band who has the cover that No Love has, and that sings about the things Stefan does, WHAT DOES ANY LABEL EXPECT? Do you expect them, knowing their content and views, to be some “regular” goodie goodie band?

      The graffiti in the bathrooms was the canary in the coalmine any label could have taken, either as a sign that the band clearly wasnt going to listen to anything the label said, or that maybe DG and Epic werent a good fit.

      Lets be clear, they werent dropped for their lyrics and their album cover wasnt objectionable from Epics point of view, because its obscene, but rather it was offensive because it made it so the album couldnt be sold in big box stores like Target.They were dropped, for releasing it free online thus the label didnt make any money. Thats why they were dropped.

      I feel no sadness for Epic, had they done even a modicum of background on the band, its clear this is the path a band like DG would take. Their (Epics) research team should be fired

      • I think it’s a bit of biting the hand that feeds.

        I’d be willing to wager that Epic new full well what they were getting. It’s not the world isn’t filled with artists and bands who are “extreme”, anti-establishment and/or political. In signing Death Grips, Epic supplied them with a way to take their style of in your face art to a much wider audience. Instead of using that platform to their own benefit, they turned against it. Why sign with them in the first place if that’s the way you’re going to react to their business practices. If anything, it’s Death Grips who didn’t practice their OWN due diligence in regards to understanding how the business side would work with an affiliate of one of the largest companies on the planet.

        That being said, fuck a major label. What Death Grips has gotten away with is kind of fun and all. Just don’t really understand why they signed with them to begin with.

        • YES. THESE ARE MY THOUGTS.

        • i dont agree with this at all. We know what DG got out of their deal, money and the backing of a major. The relationship between Epic and DG, flowing that way, makes little to no sense. Epic has signed strange bands in the past, but I dont know of any as bizaare as DG. My example of RATM holds. But RATM was on the radio and MTV. DG will never be on the radio, nor on any mainstream magazine. They just wont. Stefan and Zach were never going to tow the company line. Thats been blindingly obvious since day 1. WHich is why I still cant understand Epic’s decision to sign them in the first place. Im not a label head, but I would assume, research, background on artists, lyrical content, the marketability of a band, and of course maybe MOST important is the band and label work well together. I cant see Zach and Stefan bending one iota to a demand Epic had, on any level of the music. From cover, to content, to sound. This had to have been crystal clear. The role of DG is radically different than a major. They create art. Offensive art. And usually artists who do that arent going to be willing to listen to any outside entity telling them how to create. The role of any artist is to expose your art to as many people as you can. For Epic, the role of a major is to make shareholders and CEO’s money. Those are obviously radically different ideals. I dont think DG went into it with any genuine happy feelings for Epic and the heads. I do think Epic, on the other hand, went into it ignorantly and naively, thinking they could control the band, its image and content, and how it releases albums. Thats why this album shouldnt have come as a shock, nor should it have gotten them dropped. They arent doing anything image wise, content wise, or release wise differently than Exmilitary. They didnt suddenly change after they signed. Theyve always been like this, which makes the dropping of them from Epic ridiculous. From Day 1 of Epic and DG’s relationship, its been made clear DG are indeed as you say antiestablishment and radical What on earth made Epic think they would be able to control the band?

          • Short and to the point; I don’t see where Epic was trying to control them in any way. They didn’t tell them what to say, what to record, how to sound, etc. In fact, those are the reasons they signed them. What DG did makes ZERO sense from even the most BASIC of business standpoints. Epic Records is part of MASSIVE multi-national corporation (a business). Death Grips agreed to work them – signed a contract, even – and then publicly shit on that part of the deal. That’s not art, it’s some bass ackwards rebellion.

          • Listen man, your viewpoint is a little fanboy and it’s fucking ridiculous. I’m a large supporter of the group, even though they canceled their tour and disappeared off the face of the Earth the same week that I was supposed to interview them for a print publication. I have a friend who’s spoken with Zach in the past–he told me about Death Grips before anything was released–and was even supposed to release some shit for him, but he bounced on that. They signed to EPIC and you’re on here talking about how they will never sell out or be in a major magazine? What the fuck are you talking about. From an industry standpoint, it’s my understanding that it’s technically near impossible to release a physical album before year’s end, when they didn’t finish the fucking thing until October. They canceled their tour, apparently, to finish this thing, so they are the ones that are actually fucking up the release date and were way behind on everything. Simply from a quality control perspective, you have to make sure that all of the physical copies aren’t defective and that everything’s straight before selling them. If they’re talking about vinyl, I’ve had it explained that there’s easily a 3 month wait with a lot of plants because there’s a huge Beatles reissue campaign going on, pushing pressing plants back even further. When I was sent my Money Store promo, it had a No Love sticker in it, but they hadn’t even gotten anywhere with the album yet and a week later had to cancel a tour that they just announced? They played Coachella and Moog Fest. They’ve done tons of shit for Pitchfork. The shows that they canceled were the small shows and the publications that they’ve blown off were the small ones. I’m not sure what you think constitutes underground or mainstream, but your points are weak at best and slightly blind.

            Keep in mind, this is coming from someone that championed them early on with Ex Military and continue to be a fan of theirs, but it doesn’t add up. Maybe they felt shitty about feeling like they’ve sold out, or whatever, and I want to believe in fucking up the majors for good cause, but I really don’t see EPIC at fault in this scenario whatsoever. Zach Hill was in Wavves for chrissakes. Right now as I type this, Bethany Constantino is drinking Bushmills on the side of this page, probably thinking about her Urban Outfitters clothing line.

      • Seriously? You could say Epic didn’t know what they were getting, but they showed no signs of actually wanting Death Grips to change, simply to honour the contract they signed. I doubt Epic ever thought DG would sell at supermarkets, however if you get signed by a major label and given the money to do basically whatever the fuck you want, the very least you would do is not turn around and shit on them for wanting you to delay the release of your controversial, confrontational album (that, once again, they’ve given you the money to make) for a couple of months. If you’re going to sign to a major label you need to play by the rules, and I really don’t see Epic having done anything wrong, they’ve acted in a dignified manner towards a band who then literally told them to fuck off. If I owned Epic I wouldn’t be being so polite.

  5. Waiting for a response from the band…

  6. It’s about time really. Gotta play by the rules. Maybe they’ll learn their lesson.

  7. “So here’s the plan. Do what nobody would ever expect us to do: sign up with a major label, even though it goes completely against our ethos. Then, act entirely against the terms of the contract we chose to sign (that went completely against out ethos). Finally, we act surprised/kick up an internet shitstorm when the label inevitably drops us (for acting entirely against the terms of the contract we chose to sign that went completely against our ethos.”

    “That’s a cool plan, MC Ride, but why?”

    “…”

  8. but… but…… they were just sticking it those fat cat corporate suits, man!

  9. Death Grips is a group that has absolutely, positively zero commercial/pop prospects, so it’s not as though this was a band that was “finding its voice”, with MC Ride showing up as a judge on The Voice a few years from now. They were never going to soundtrack an iPad commercial, they were never going to perform on Fallon, they were never going to do anything more than be a niche group that some people loved to death for their uncompromising punk/noise/pseudo-anarchic nature, and other people just found shrill and obnoxious.

    Now, though, they’ve afforded themselves a huge dollop of anti-establishment “cred”, and will spend the next year making decent money traveling the world and playing alternative shows/festivals, further shoring up that diehard fanbase that they’re going to need if they have any hopes of making this project a long-term career choice. This literally couldn’t have worked out better for Death Grips.

    Also, a major label tut-tutting “marketing and publicity stunts” is 1) epic LOLZ, and 2) a great example of why major labels are dying/dead. We’re in a weird era where artists have become more ruthless/savvy at knowing how to market and exploit their image than the labels are. The idea that you’re going to take a 17 year old and groom them into a pop star is so painfully antiquated, when that 17 year old has been studying Grimes and Lil B and The Weeknd and has already crafted their own dense mythology and attracted a substantial social media following. To be an effective “music first” company, you need an ecosystem of “music first” musicians to seek out and develop, of which there are none in 2012.

    • Absolutely none?

    • i agree completely. I dont know how hard it is to actually listen to what Stefan is saying. Watch some of their videos. How was Epic not clued into what DG was talking about in the songs. I agree this is a niche band. They are never going to be number 1 on billboard. But TMS is one of the most critically beloved albums of 2012, and no question if you go to a DG show now, they are building momentum and steam. They are becoming a band to reckon with. Epic is too stupid to understand any of this, and views things in black and white terms. Either the band is making them money, or they arent.

      Anyone who thinks majors are concerned in anyway with art, morality, and ethics is sorely mistaken.

    • This is near the point I was making in the last Death Grips article. To use Ben Cornell’s analogy (and thank you Ben for participating in the conversation) giving Death Grips a major label deal is like a bank giving a homeless guy a $500,000 home loan. Epic grasped at a straw and lost. I’m sure they are not out much but it all contributes to the very colorful history of music and “the biz” as we know it. I’m glad that band like Death Grips comse along once in a while and pushes peoples buttons.

    • Sargent House is pretty damn close.

  10. um. so yeah… i guess those who questioned the legitimacy of the original release of the album were wrong. Why would epic have been pleased with the album cover and the free album release.

    sometimes people are too cynical for their own good.

    • I still feel that Epic could and probably should have capitalized on that controversy rather than getting offended and hurt-prideful about it. Malcontents move units. Did Rolling Stone go off in a huff when Kurt Cobain wore a T-shirt saying “Corporate Magazines Still Suck” during their 1992 photo shoot? Nah, they put that shit on the cover! And both band and publication prospered. It seems like Death Grips would be a nightmare to work with, but a savvier label would have recognized that, like, the band was generating more publicity for themselves than any label could have possibly managed. Epic … failed.

      • I think the term epic fail is insanely obnoxious, but you did the impossible with they ending there.

      • no question this is true, and epic is clueless, but none of the other major labels would have acted differently. This is pretty much standard in that way of thinking. Its clear to anyone who has any working knowledge in music in the last 10 years and the internet, that hype and buzz online, even albums released free, generate a ton of hype, and publicity and can lead to merch sales and ticket sales. A label, especially a major label is unable to see that, because a labels ONLY way of making money is via CD sales. So DG releasing an album free online is inexcusable, because thats the only way Epic is making money off them. Ticket sales and merch dont translate to Epic getting money.

        And lets be clear, since the band was dropped for giving their album away for free, did Epic not study what DG had done with Ex Military and how they released that. It seems like had Epic done just basic research, they could have seen all this coming.

        We can all list out the numerous bands who have benefitted from online controversy and hype as well as albums given away free online. But, until Sony and the other majors, are run by 23 year old filesharing CEO’s who torrent and use mediafire, they wont understand any of this.

      • This is a good point that I hadn’t thought about.

        Oh well. Death Grips are whiny bitches and Epic missed a business opportunity because they are dinosaurs on their way out.

  11. Did Death Grips ever explain their rationale for releasing that album for free? Was it because they thought Epic wouldn’t release it fast enough or something?

    • Yeah, Epic didn’t want to release it until next year. Honestly, I think they messed up on this one if they decided to go out and offer a contract to Death Grips, without expecting some ridiculous form of rebellion if Epic started meddling with their music.

  12. Ha ha, all the cockeyed, idealistic dreamers I ever knew, they fucked up everything they touched, then they called me to borrow money after I told them I was done with their shit. And that’s OK. Without useless annoying assholes like that, rock and roll is just another bootlicking bullshit entertainment industry career path, which, fuck that bullshit. I’ll take the honest useless assholes over the careerist useless assholes, thanks.

    Signing a contract with a record company isn’t like signing a contract with human beings, or even a halfway normal soulless corporation. Fuck Epic any way you can, boys, that’s the business they chose to be in, and the only way you can stop ‘em from fucking you before you fuck them is to fuck them really, really fast.

  13. Death Grips – so shallow. Look at that press pic. So contrived, so fucking lame. What your typically facebook doucher would post to show how real he is – “fuck the world everybody, smoke ma cig and fuck all y’all YYYYYEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHH”. the erect dick on the cover? really? REALLY? how shitty does your music have to be that you have to stoop to the level of a boner to get people to care. no thanks. meaningless, pathetic attempt at relevance. attention whores. sorry.

    “Give me a [fucking] break” – Jon “FuckNuts” Stossel

    • In fairness, using a boner to draw attention IS a lot edgier than going the traditional route of tits, ass, or a potent amalgam of the two.

      But seriously, I don’t think the Death Grips ethos is “Shock/Disgust With Meaning”, it’s just “Shock/Disgust”. That’s not even a critique, but just saying that they exist (at least in their minds) as some sort of flailing dervish of “fuck you” energy meant to strike at anything smooth and shiny.

      I actually kind of appreciate their willingness to just be antagonistic for the sake of being antagonistic. They aren’t “clever”, and I think there’s some value to acts that just rage to rage, and demand that you pick a side in the eternal struggle between order and chaos. The fact that most of us are going to fall on the side of order doesn’t mean that being forced to make the choice wasn’t valuable as a form of self-accounting.

    • i don’t know if i did any self accounting as a result of that kind of binary “us vs. them” mentality, it’s been done several times by bands that DID have meaning in their music. i guess this leads me to two questions:

      1. does anybody like death grips for their MUSIC?
      2. does a band whose modus operandi is shock and disgust (with no meaning) deserve to be famous?

      i’m gonna go listen to some dead kennedys

    • I kinda like the censored version. ’cause you know what it is.

  14. Yes. Yes. And yes.

  15. not a fan of Death Grips but Zach Hill is a killer drummer

  16. Jeff Buckley is better

  17. It will be funny when one becomes an A&R man in 5yrs

  18. I hope Taylor Swift eventually sums up enough courage to do the same.

    Her standing on top of a roof saying “fuck the world, y’all” while singing We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together would be a nice moment in music history.

  19. ….and the world could hear a pin drop.

  20. Well the bright side is that Best Coast is having so much fun drinking smooth and mellow triple distilled Bushmills Irish Whiskey!

  21. Elijah Wood was dropped by Bushmills, guys. Sad week in blog history.

  22. I don’t think Death Grips will learn a lesson from this. They just don’t give a fuck.

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