Back where they started4/22/2015
In many ways, a band’s relationship with a major label can be like a marriage. There is the trust involved; the hope that the artist and the label will both go further together than either could alone. Unfortunately, just like a marriage, when the relationship goes wrong, it has the potential to be disastrous. Few bands know this as well as Seasons After.
When the Wichita-based five-piece signed with Warner Music in 2009, it seemed like the next step in an upward trending career. However, the lone top 40 single off its debut album would prove to be the band’s high water mark under Warner’s banner, as front man Chris Schlichting left the band in 2010, and a series of increasingly bitter legal disputes between Warner and the band caused Seasons After to go virtually silent for three years.
Finally, in early 2014, Seasons After emerged from its forced slumber and announced plans to release its next album on its own label.
“We weren’t sure how it was going to go,” guitarist Chris Dawson admitted in a phone interview. “We did the soft release in September, then we did the national release in February.”
Coming out of three years of silence with a new lead singer (Schlichting was replaced by Tony Housh) and as an independent band is a daunting task for band. Internally, Seasons After had to address questions of how much of their original fan base would return, and question whether or not time and trends passed them by.
“Obviously we have a fan base that was there, but we have to kind of reintroduce people to what we’re doing,” Dawson said. “It’s not completely from scratch, but it’s close. After the break we needed to take, we didn’t know what we were going to do.”
Eventually, the band committed to moving forward with its next album, “Calamity Scars & Memoirs.” This time, however, the band had nobody to answer to but itself.
“So we spent some time and did the whole record,” Dawson said. “I produced all the album, I shot the video, I did the artwork.”
“Trying to drive the ship on our own, we split everything up among the band,” he continued. “One handles merch, one handles touring, and so on. Sometimes you might run into something that you’re not familiar with, and you have to work out, but that’s fine. We know what we’re capable of doing, so why not see what we can do on our own?”
Going the independent route is certainly viable, and many bands have done it. But most all of them admit that it is the more difficult path to success. That does not scare off Dawson and his bandmates, though. This is a path they have all walked down in the past, before Warner came calling in the first place.
And while the years may have rolled by, Seasons After continues to be the same talented act that attracted major label attention in the first place, booking its own tours and working to reclaim their fans may feel like a world apart from the years of playing Warped Tour in front of thousands of people. But Seasons After is on its own, fired up and in it for the long haul.
“We’re just getting going with the record getting out to people,” Dawson said. “We’re just building this now. We’ve got a single that just hit the radio, and when it comes to those bigger shows, they want to see more traction. But we’ll be back.” CV