‘Weathermaker Music is the developing music company/ record label owned by the American rock band Clutch and their manager Jack Flanagan. Label management is handled by Jon Nardachone, the former Atlantic Records/Warner Music and DRT executive who also managed Kid Rock’s long standing label, Top Dog Records. Weathermaker was formed in June of 2008 after Clutch experienced repeated issues with various major and independent record labels, resulting in band members Neil Fallon, Tim Sult, Dan Maines, & Jean-Paul Gaster deciding that the band would benefit more from creating their own record label rather than continuing to take risks with other labels.
Currently, Weathermaker Music is only known to work with Clutch and their side projects, mainly psychedelic jazz-rock alter ego The Bakerton Group.
The label’s first release was Clutch’s live CD ‘Full Fathom Five, Audio Field Recordings’ and the companion DVD ‘Video Field Recordings’ (2008). In it’s beginning stages, Weathermaker sold this product out of the label’s Weehawken, NJ office but eventually struck a deal with MVD to distribute the set in North America. In early 2009, Weathermaker signed a longer term distribution agreement with Sony/Red in North America, as well as international partnerships with Soulfood Music, Shock Entertainment and Essential Music.’
Interestingly, Weathermaker Records is not the first label the members of Clutch have created. Soon after releasing ‘Elephant Riders’ (1998) and extensively touring, the band wanted to get on creating a new record but were frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm and support from their label, which at the time was Columbia. Bored of being asked to jump through hoops all the time, they recorded and released ‘Jam Room’ (1999) under their own steam, calling the company River Road Records. In true Clutch style, they were completely open about what they were doing, and it took just a few months for the band to negotiate their way off the label and they returned to Atlantic.
There have been a total of four releases on River Road Records, ‘Jam Room’, live albums ‘Live At The Googolplex’ (2002), ‘Live In Flint’ (2004) and compilation album ‘Slow Hole To China: Rare and Unreleased’ (2003). All of these were recorded and produced by the band, sold on the internet and at shows only.
By the time their contract with Atlantic was over in 2001 the band was completely fed up with labels, and decided to go it alone again. Unfortunately for River Road, finding proper distribution channels as a band at the time was impossible. Distributors were unwilling to deal directly with bands, preferring instead to deal with labels where the work of several artists would come under one deal, saving time and generating less risk.
Wanting to ensure that their fans everywhere could have access to their music, Clutch signed a 50/50 deal with DRT records. Having fulfilled it without too much incident a few years later they went back to the distributors, who by this time had realized that Clutch could sell many more records as a band than a small independent label could with their entire catalog, and Weathermaker records was in business.
The bulk of this information comes from an interview with drummer Jean-Paul “JP” Gaster: http://www.noisecreep.com/2009/07/14/clutch-are-done-with-labels-they-dont-run/
With Clutch and their two side projects The Company Band and The Bakerton Group on its roster, Weathermaker Records has 14 releases available through their website, 9 of which are available in physical form from retailers across the globe, as well as a solid range of rad merch, Weathermaker records is an institution certainly deserving of a tip o’ the cap.
Continuing this weeks focus on Weathermaker, click back on Wednesday for a post on The Company Band and Friday for The Bakerton Group.