Wilco have become the latest band to ditch a major label to explore their own independent options: A rep for Jeff Tweedy and Co. has confirmed to Rolling Stone that “Wilco’s deal is indeed up with Nonesuch Records,” a Warner Music Group subsidiary that was the band’s label home for nearly a decade. Should Wilco opt to independently release their next album, they’ll join an ever-growing list of marquee artists — including Jack White (Third Man Records), Pearl Jam (Monkeywrench), Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead — who have abandoned the struggling major-label system in the last few years as touring and merchandise have replaced album sales as rockers’ primary means of earning cash.
News of Wilco’s departure from Nonesuch was first revealed in an Express Night Out interview with guitarist Nils Cline. “Jeff [Tweedy] was basically not wanting to be on a record label for a while — he didn’t renew his contract with Nonesuch — so we’re striking out on our own, our own label,” Cline said. While Cline added that Wilco might first release a “souvenir” 7″ single through their nascent label to coincide with the Wilco-curated Solid Sound Festival, a rep tells RS, “It has not yet been determined who will release the next Wilco record, but forming their own label and releasing future albums through it is definitely a potential scenario.”
Wilco will start work on the follow-up to 2009’s Wilco (The Album) later this month before pausing for the Solid Sound Fest (August 13-15th in North Adams, Massachusetts) and other U.S. and European touring obligations. They’ll hit the studio in the fall to finish work on their eighth album, which the band’s rep says should be released in the first half of 2011. “The process of making the next Wilco record is going to be long in terms of the writing and arranging and demoing phase,” Cline told Express Night Out. “I think we’d love to make a really uptempo alienating record — I think everyone agrees that would be enjoyable — but the natural course of music-making kind of precludes that.”
Nonesuch Records had been Wilco’s home since the release of 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. As depicted in the behind-the-recording documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Nonesuch swooped in to release Foxtrot after Wilco and their then-label Reprise Records (another Warner label) disagreed over the commercial viability of the now-landmark album; Reprise ultimately rejected Foxtrot and bought Wilco out of their contract. Nonesuch also released A Ghost Is Born, Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (The Album).