"We had a couple labels interested," says drummer-producer Steve "Skinny" Felton. "But this deal was right. They came to four or five shows on the last tour, and they came to Cleveland for the Halloween show. They really did their homework."
Felton says the deal includes options for up to two albums and a DVD. In the United States, the disc will be released on Mushroomhead's Filthy Hands imprint, with distribution by Megaforce, which will be the group's label for releases to the rest of the world. The band's last LP, XIII, made for Universal Records, was Mushroomhead's major-label debut. It sold more than 175,000 copies, but left both parties disappointed with the deal.
Mushroomhead's new disc will mark the group's recording debut with singer Waylon, who replaced frontman J. Mann. The as-yet-untitled album is due in late May 2006.
"It's all over the map," Felton says of the band's sixth studio record. "A lot of people who've heard it think of the first album, mixed with a little bit of XIII. It's a harsh contrast between songs. There's some brutal, brutal, sick stuff, like old-school Hatrix or Lamb of God. And with Waylon able to sing so well, there's some more melodic stuff going on. The one thing Waylon doesn't do that J. did is rap."
The disc will be mastered by Bill Korecky (Mushroomhead, Integrity) at Mars Studios. Felton says the band plans to release versions of the disc with eight different covers, one designed by each member.
· The Agora Theatre (5000 Euclid Avenue) celebrates its 40th anniversary on New Year's Eve with a reunion show by Artful Dodger, a Virginia-based band that was a Cleveland favorite in the '70s. Henry "Hank" Lo Conti founded the venue in 1966 as a college club just off the Case Western Reserve University campus, and it was a hotbed for local talent, including the Raspberries and the James Gang. During the '80s, the Agora grew into a 12-club national chain with its own television show. A series of reunion shows and special appearances are planned for 2006.
· Cleveland singer-songwriter Kate Voegele will perform the "The Star-Spangled Banner" on Friday, December 23, at a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.
· Akron and Cleveland all-stars have contributed tracks to Bandwidth 3.0: Handle With Care, a low-cost fund-raising disc for the Summit (WAPS-91.3 FM), an Akron-based, member-supported radio station recently named Scene's Best Eclectic Radio Station. Jaded Era joins Chris Allen (ex-Rosavelt), Anne E. DeChant, Colin John, and others for a CD-release party on Friday, December 30, at the Lime Spider (207 South Main Street, Akron).
· Columbus jam band (and honorary local) Ekoostik Hookah will play its final Cleveland show with frontman Ed McGee on Thursday, December 29, at House of Blues (308 Euclid Avenue). Following McGee's departure, the group goes on hiatus.