Sumerian Records, Ash Avildsen's D.C./LA-based label, is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a home for metal and prog bands with a showcase tour featuring Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, After the Burial, ERRA, and Bad Omens.
Sure, it's been a while since finding a record label became something a band absolutely had to do to achieve success. With the rise of the Internet and streaming — and the lengthy list of social media arms that exist for music promotion — labels simply aren't as vital to distribution as they once were.
While inking a record deal might not be a necessity or goal for every band, for some it is an excellent route. Lee McKinney, guitarist of Chicago-based metal band Born of Osiris is in the latter camp. He says that the nine years they've spent on the label have been better than they could have ever hoped. The band — also featuring Ronnie Canizaro (vocals), Joe Buras (clean vocals, synthesizers, keyboards), David Da Rocha (bass), and drummer Cameron Losch — formed in high school.
"I believe we were the fourth band signed to the label. Then shortly after, Veil of Maya signed and After the Burial not long after that," McKinney says. "Sumerian reached out to us during the MySpace days, and we sent them everything we had. They liked our music, but I think they wanted to see if they had a joke band on their hands."
The band's lyrics were reflective of their high school lives — songs about flunking tests and getting drunk, McKinney says.
"Through the opportunities we've had with [Sumerian], we've been able to play all over the world, giving us a lot of new experiences and opening our eyes about the world and different cultures," he says. "Our songwriting has definitely evolved."
The relationship has been a "beautiful thing," McKinney says.
"They helped us get things moving and have been with us every step of the way. You know how you hear so many stories about shady practices going on in the music industry? Well, we're lucky that we haven't had to deal with anything like that."
"It's a great partnership," he continues. "We can crash at their house, record things at the owner's home studio. It just feels like a family. If I need to, I can call them on weekends and talk to them about something personal. It's not a 'business only' situation, they really care about us. All they're doing is trying to help. They're more than a label to me; they're something special."
McKinney also says that the tour is going great.
"The first night was in Minneapolis, which is After the Burial's hometown, and we had a great crowd," he says. "Attendance, in fact, has been excellent, with quite a few shows selling out."
The band already is thinking about its next record. Of course, it will be with Sumerian.
"We are completely proud to be where we're at with them, 10 years later."