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The split comes at a strange time, though: After years struggling to get a record deal--releasing three records, making appearances on Garrison Keillor's radio show, garnering all sorts of endorsement deals, taking the routine trips to Nashville and always coming home disappointed--the Chicks band had finalized a developmental deal with Sony Music over the summer. Which doesn't mean much of anything, of course--the label merely gives the band some money to record, and if they like the demos Sony might sign the Chicks to a real deal--but it's better than nothing.
Seidel explains that the Sony deal was actually part of the reason for Lynch's departure, something the singer had been contemplating for almost a year because she had grown tired of being on the road. Seidel tells Street Beat that Lynch had said she would leave the band after the first tracks were recorded for Sony, but Emily and Martie thought it would send the label a mixed message if Lynch were to leave at that point.
"Emily and I just felt like we needed to prepare ourselves for that, and forced the change a little sooner because we felt it was good timing," Martie says. "Laura agreed that it wouldn't be right for the Dixie Chicks' future to wait and then end abruptly. And she was sad she wouldn't be part of the Sony deal because, of course, she helped us get it, but she's in there 100 percent helping us."
Martie says the band isn't scheduled to begin recording for Sony till February--after the label sends its A&R people to hear the band debut the new lineup January 19 at the Caravan of Dreams in Fort Worth.
Lynch is the second of the original four Chicks to leave the band. Robin Macy split about two years ago over artistic disagreements concerning direction: She wanted to keep the old-school bluegrass sound, while her bandmates were leaning toward a more contemporary country sound. Macy eventually joined Sara Hickman in the Domestic Science Club, which is working on its second album.
"We hated to see Laura go," Martie says, "but we feel like Sony's not the end-all, be-all for Emily and me. We don't think you ever reach that point. We want to play for as long as we can play, so the Sony deal is just the beginning. But to Laura, that seemed like it was her last hurrah, and she wanted to be with her daughter and spend more time at home...What we all envision, including Laura, is to carry on the Dixie Chicks no matter what--no matter who decides it isn't for them. Emily and I want to continue and have a DC reunion every few years like the Texas Playboys. We want it to be a name that spans a couple of generations."
At the beginning of the year, UFOFU inked a representation deal with the Los Angeles-based Twist Management, and it's about to pay off. The company, which also handles business affairs for the likes of Hagfish and The Paladins, had landed the band a deal with "indie" label Time Bomb (which is owned by the mammoth BMG distribution company and run by Jim Guerinot, who manages Rancid and The Offspring) to release a seven-inch single by the end of the year.
Following that, the band will also record a single for the Seattle-based Square Target label, which will also release a compilation CD early next year featuring UFOFU, Hagfish, Pansy Division, the Fastbacks, and Cub among others. In addition, the band is going into an L.A. studio to record with Porno for Pyros bassist Matt Hyde, who produced and mixed the forthcoming Mercury Records debt from Tablet; the sessions might lead to UFOFU's full-length debut on Diablo Music, the label responsible for Extra Fancy.
Laurel Stearns, who co-owns and runs Twist with partner David Lumien, says the plan is to have UFOFU release several indie projects before trying to sign with a major label. "To establish some credibility," she says.
Kiss the frog
More than a year after its release, and only several months after Interscope was about ready to give up on the band, The Toadies' Rubberneck has gone gold--meaning it has sold at least 500,000 copies in the United States, thanks in large part to non-stop play of "Possum Kingdom" on MTV. And they said it couldn't be done.
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