In an age of corporate rock conglomerates dominating radio and MTV airwaves, independent labels can easily be overlooked. Instead of worrying about being number one on TRL, the artists on indie labels such as Vagrant Records and Drive-Thru Records tour non-stop in crowded vans trying to get their music to as many kids as possible.
While management and bands may not be the best of friends, their rivalry fuels the fire under some of the greatest rock bands of the last few years.
Vagrant and Drive-Thru have been labels on the rise for the last few years, and doing it side-by-side. Last year, however, an incident with the artist Dashboard Confessional drew a rift between the emo punk labels.
They have been in competition ever since. Dashboard’s Chris Carrabba had a verbal agreement with Drive-Thru to have his CD released, but instead jumped ship for Santa Monica, CA-based Vagrant.
After a lengthy battle of insults between the labels, they mutually disagreed, but the competition to become the biggest of indie label has produced the best music you’ve probably never heard.
2001 was special for both Vagrant and Drive-Thru. Each label saw new signees take flight with samplers and EP’s while one band in particular from each label have become the hottest bands in punk. Vagrant’s Saves The Day and Drive-Thru’s New Found Glory toured the country, playing sold-out venues everywhere they went.
With their July release of “Stay What You Are,” Saves The Day showed their hard-rocking side while staying true to their emotionally powerful roots. The record has proven to be one of Vagrant’s best releases, selling upwards of 100,000 copies on CD and Vinyl.
The band’s first releases were sad-voiced and uniquely punk enough still thanks to singer Chris Conley’s emotional testimonies about how much he hates girls. With the new album Conley still expresses his displeasure with the opposite sex, but does it with a more upbeat and pop-rock approach.
The first song on the disk, “At Your Funeral” has been getting heavy airplay on college radio and its video premiered on MTV2 in late November, putting a face to the New Jersey band.