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"We release about one-third of what most indies our size do. We definitely go for quality over quantity. We’ll put out maybe 10 albums a year, tops, but we love every band."
——Vagrant Records Co-Owner/CEO Rich Egan
VAGRANT HAWKS SOME WINNERS
Vagrant Records On the Move With High Profile Releases, Tony Hawk Videogame Soundtrack
Vagrant Records is one of this decade’s great success stories. The L.A.-based label has released some of the best-selling indie rock of the era via the Alkaline Trio, Dashboard Confessional and others, while scoring critical cache by signing old-school legends the Eels and ex-Replacements leader Paul Westerberg after both tired of the major label game.

Vagrant is now facing an exciting fourth quarter, with two new releases by high-profile bands a week apart: The Bled’s Found in the Flood on August 23 and From Autumn To AshesAbandon Your Friends on August 30. The Bled played the main stage on the recent Vans Warped tour. From Autumn To Ashes is poised to become one of metal-core’s biggest bands, with a radio track, “Inaprope,” set to impact at Modern Rock, also on 8/30.  Their last album scanned over 135k. The 10-year-old label is also excited about an upcoming soundtrack to Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland videogame, featuring new versions of punk classics by such current hitmakers as My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and others, on October 18. Historically, videogame soundtracks haven’t done well, but this one’s different, says Vagrant’s co-founder/CEO Rich Egan.

Activision said, ‘Look, we’re considering this but these things have never done well.’ But we realized the earlier ones had previously-released material on them and they weren’t cohesive. When they told us what the game was about, with skateboarding’s roots and a Dogtown theme, we started thinking old-school punk with new-school bands covering them. Kids can vest themselves in that. Before, it was ‘Why would I want to buy that, especially since I already own all these tracks on my iPod?’ But with this one, we hopefully captured the feeling that goes along with the game. And it’s also a great compilation that stands on its own. I think we’re going to ship 100,000 on it—which is pretty great for a compilation.

“All the credit goes to the bands because we literally had six weeks to put it together. Some of them were on tour and had to duck into an available studio in the middle of nowhere. It was pretty crazy—you forget these bands have 18-year-olds, some of whom don’t know what a Black Flag song sounds like! But they all stepped up and delivered. There isn’t a dud in the bunch.”

Egan—who credits partner Jon Cohen, GM Dan Gill and their relatively small staff with “running the ship over here”—claims they’ve always aimed for quality.

“We do pay attention to that. We release about one-third of what most indies our size do. We definitely go for quality over quantity. We’ll put out maybe 10 albums a year, tops, but we love every band. And I think kids are loyal to the label because of that. They know we’re not going to shove out a record a week that sounds like the one we put out last week. Unfortunately, I’ve seen that become a model now in indie rock. But we want to be a safe haven for artists because it’s becoming less and less a reality in this business. Artists are getting lost in the shuffle. So once we find a band that we love or you have a chance to sign the Eels or Paul Westerberg, it’s like we’d be idiots not to sign them.”

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