Sumerian Records Signs Distribution Deal With Virgin Music

Independent rock label Sumerian Records has signed a long-term distribution agreement with Virgin Music Label & Artist Services (Virgin Music). The first music under the new pact — which was announced Wednesday by Sumerian founder and CEO Ash Avildsen and Virgin president Jacqueline Saturn — will come from alternative rock band Palaye Royale.

Under terms of the agreement, Virgin Music will also provide the label with a variety of services in support of its releases, supplementing Sumerian’s own in-house functions that have been built and developed since its founding in 2006.

“Sumerian has established a stellar track record for finding and breaking artists within the rock, alternative and metal genres” says Virgin Music GM Matt Sawin. “We’re honored that Ash and Sumerian are partnering with Virgin Music, and are excited to help bring their label and outstanding roster of artists to new heights.”

Avildsen commented, “Virgin Music and Capitol are two incredibly iconic brands in music. I hope to build Sumerian into that echelon and believe the teams at these companies are the best ones out there right now for me to do it with. They have shown true passion and persistence in getting this deal done as well as a full understanding that Sumerian is much more than just a record label. I am honored to call them my new partners and thrilled for the future together. I’d also like to thank Stacy Fass and John Greenberg for their help in the deal making.”

With several recent Grammy nominations, over 2.35 million YouTube subscribers and 125,000 TikTok followers, Sumerian Records is considered to be one of the leading fully independent record labels for rock music and culture.

Their latest single from Bad Omens “Like A Villain” recently was the No. 1 most listened song on Sirius XM Octane Radio and their other single “Just Pretend” was the most thumbed up rock song on Pandora. Earlier this year saw Sumerian land a No. 1 rock radio song for Nita Strauss’ “Dead Inside”. Nita is currently playing guitar for Demi Lovato and will see her solo album release later this year on Sumerian. 

Sumerian also has a film and TV department that produced the young adult scripted music drama series Paradise City that’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime. The company is also currently in development on a feature film centered around Les Garland, the pop radio giant who left the airwaves to run Atlantic Records on the West Coast and then went on to co-create MTV. 

Japan’s Uchikubigokumon-doukoukai Explores Love of Murder Mysteries, Blends Samba & Rap-Rock With Latest Singles

Uchikubigokumon-doukoukai is certain to make a bold, unique impression on all types of listeners thanks to its new digital singles, which they released over a two-week period. The theme of “Shiboufuragu wo tatenaide (Don’t get marked for death)” which means to “don’t mark yourself for death,” is the trope in works of fiction in which it’s clear that one of the characters is going to be killed off. The band’s YouTube channel, “Tengoku Hosokyoku” (a play on words that roughly translates to “Heaven/Hell Channel”), is packed with fun videos linked to the band’s music videos, making it a must-see.

On Aug. 27, they released “Jimi na seikatsu” (“Bland Life”), a bold blend of samba and nu-metal. The lyrics, expressing the emotions people feel as they struggle with life in the pandemic, combined with Uchikubigokumon-doukoukai’s unique music, provide listeners with a visceral experience of the “down-to-earth, everyday life nu-metal” sound that the band has constantly striven to create. We talked to Atsushi Ohsawa, guitarist and vocalist for the band, about the songs.

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The song “Shiboufuragu wo tatenaide (Don’t get marked for death)” is about people being “marked for death.” What led you write a song about that?

Ohsawa: I don’t even remember any more (laughs). But I do think the first stage was trying to link our YouTube show, “Tengoku Hosokyoku,” with our music videos. That led to the idea to make a music video that had a narrative, like a TV show. I’ve always loved murder mysteries, so I thought, “If we’re going to do something with a story, why not a murder mystery?”

Even in fiction other than murder mysteries, there are times when characters “mark themselves for death,” saying something that makes it clear they’re about to die, right?

Ohsawa: Right. There was a scene in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, maybe at the end of part 5, I can’t remember, where all of a sudden one of the main characters marks himself for death. It made a vivid impression on me.

In the lyrics to the song, you cover what I’d call the big three “marked for death” lines: “I’m going back to my room,” “I’ll stop him, you go on ahead,” and “If I make it back alive, I’m going to propose to my sweetheart.”

Ohsawa: It would actually be really surprising and fresh if someone said one of those lines and then didn’t die (laughs). But there are two patterns when it comes to “I’ll stop him.” In something like the Yakuza games, someone can say that and survive. I think in the games they want the protagonist to fight on his own, so they use scenarios like that.

From watching “Tengoku Hosokyoku,” I think you really communicate to your audience how much excitement you can generate through the choreography for “Shiboufuragu wo tatenaide (Don’t get marked for death)”. That choreography is really effective now, when people in the audience can’t really shout at shows.

Ohsawa: That’s right. It’s really hard to do songs that involve call-and-response now. Right before the pandemic, we happened to write a song, “Kinniku My Friend” (“My Friend Muscles”) which involves doing squats, so now it’s one of our main songs. It’s not like we made it because of the pandemic, though. When we released a video of our audience doing squats, it made a huge impression. People were like, “wow, that’s crazy.” Before that, we wrote “Toshitsu Seigen Diet o Yatte Mita” (“I Tried a Zero-carb Diet”), and zero-carb diets tie into weight training, so that’s what led to writing “Kinniku My Friend.” Also, playing in the Budokan in 2018 put me face-to-face with my physical limits, so in 2019 I planned a bicycle trip across Hokkaido and I joined the gym, thinking “It’s about time that I start working out.” All of that culminated in “Kinniku My Friend.”

When you think of something you want to do, you get straight at it and make it a reality. You’ve got so much power. When the first state of emergency was declared during the pandemic, you started streaming the “VR Music Club” in no time flat. You were also really quick to realize that Vimeo was the best platform for streaming your material.

Ohsawa: Yeah. At the time, everything went fine, but then shortly afterward Vimeo stopped supporting iPhone’s gyroscope… You can still see the videos, but the video viewpoint no longer changes automatically based on what direction you’re facing (laughs).

The pandemic led to the creation of a lot of different songs, right?  “Shingata Coronavirus ga Nikui” (“I hate COVID-19”), “Gyunyu Suisho Gekkan” (“Milk Promotion Month”), “Ashi no Kinniku no Otoroe Yabai” (“My Legs Have Gotten Crazy Weak”), “Ninniku wa Seigi” (“Garlic Is the Way”), “Asu no Keikaku” (“Tomorrow’s Plans”), these are all songs that were written because of the pandemic, right?

Ohsawa: We play down-to-earth, everyday life nu-metal, so of course our daily lives are really reflected in our music. If the pandemic hadn’t happened, I’m sure we would have written songs that reflected our lives in that COVID-free world.

“Jimi na seikatsu (low-key life)” is a song like that, right?

Ohsawa: To be honest, that song wasn’t really written as some sort of noble song, like “I know our lives may seem bland, but let’s keep our heads up.” We wrote it because I cracked up every time I pictured shouting “Jimi, Jimi” (“lowkey, lowkey”) over a samba rhythm. I thought it was funny, like, “this sound isn’t bland!” (laughs) I think of this song as being samba rap-rock.

You used Brazilian instruments in the recording, right?

Ohsawa: Right. I was talking to Natsuko Nisshoku, a singer-songwriter in the same music agency as us, saying that her percussionist had a really good reputation, and she told me that the percussionist’s specialty was samba. The percussionist’s name is Honami Kikawa. We got in touch with her about playing on the song and she agreed right away. The recording session was a lot of fun, too.

So the “Jimi na seikatsu – SAMBA MAX EDITION” brings out the most of Kikawa’s performance?

Ohsawa: Right. As soon as it hits the chorus, the number of sounds shoots up. Mixing it was hard. So hard. Personally, I would have loved to put the samba instruments front-and-center, but then all of the other instruments would have been overwhelmed, so I reluctantly lowered the levels.

Speaking of unique mixtures, “Kiwami meoto kaido (The Extreme Way of the Married Couple) ”, the ending theme of Way of the Househusband, has enka music blended into it, doesn’t it?

Ohsawa: Yeah, that’s right. I love mixing up genres. That’s one of the great things about Uchikubigokumon-doukoukai. Even if we do something that’s musically a little weird, everyone recognizes it as a Uchikubigokumon-doukoukai song because of the lyrics. That makes things very easy for us as musicians. In other words, even if we play jazz or blues, we can still be Uchikubigokumon-doukoukai. This is something that presents a dilemma to a lot of musicians, but nobody’s ever told us that we’re taking things too far. We really had a blast with “Jimi na seikatsu,” and I would love it if the music video got a lot of views in Brazil. Our previous song, “Natsu no Uta” (“Summer Song”) had elements of bossa nova, so a Brazilian bossa nova metal band got in touch with us.

Previously, your song “Futon no naka kara detakunai (I Don’t Wanna Get Out of Bed)” gained sudden popularity in China, and your music started getting played in other countries, right?  I’m sure they’ll enjoy “Shiboufuragu wo tatenaide,” too.

Ohsawa: I hope so. I think they’ll understand that “marked for death” trope. They might be like, “Oh, Japanese people have the same trope?” Like, there was a scene like that in Predator. He says something like “I’ll stop him, you go ahead!”…and, of course, he gets killed.

(Laughs). We’ve just been talking about comedic aspects of the band, but Uchikubigokumon-doukoukai’s trajectory is one of keeping on creating music, pushing steadily into the future, while having fun the whole way, right?

Ohsawa: It’s nice of you to say that. Luckily, there have been several times where things have gone a lot better than we’d expected.

So moving on to another one of your activities, touring. You’ve been on your “We HATE COVID-19 Tour” since 2020, through 2021, and now into 2022, so that’s roughly three years of touring.

Ohsawa: Yes. I didn’t want the tour to last this long (laughs). We started the tour out in 2020, feeling our way as we went, and then the final show got cancelled, so we announced “We’ll pick up where we left off in 2021!” And then when we thought for sure that we’d finish in late 2021, our drummer had to take a bit of a break, so then we were working on things with kind of a low profile for about half a year, and, well, here we are.

When Kawamoto was told by her doctor that she had to avoid strenuous exercise because of the results of her physical, she took part in the shows as a singer, right? Drummers from various other bands came in to provide support. That was a really innovative approach.

Ohsawa: People in the industry really liked it. No band wants to have one of their members missing from the stage. We got a lot of praise for coming up with a way to avoid that.

Uchikubigokumon-doukoukai has a wellspring of power that lets you turn even terrible situations into positives.

Ohsawa: We want to keep going no matter what happens. However, we do want to deal with the problem we’re grappling with now. We want to be like, “Okay, now it’s time for the final show of this tour!” (laughs) I think, a few years from now, when we look back, we’re going to see this as a very unique time in our history. Our melodies, like those on “Shiboufuragu wo tatenaide” and “Jimi na seikatsu” are very cheery. Originally, we played a lot of music in minor keys, but we’ve been writing more and more songs in major keys without even intending to. So at some point, the pendulum will probably swing back. Two or three years from now we may be writing really hardcore music (laughs).

This article by Dai Tanaka first appeared on Billboard Japan.

Maren Morris Slams Social Media Bullying: ‘I Stand Up for Injustices When I See Them’

Maren Morris spoke out about the negative effects of social media in a conversation for Audacy’s annual “I’m Listening” broadcast on Wednesday night.

“I feel terrible, honestly, for kids that are growing up with social media,” she said. “We had, like, the Internet and stuff when I was in junior high and high school, but nowhere near the accessibility and just raw nature that it is now for kids. There was no TikTok, there was no Instagram. It was a lot more in-person bullying. Now it’s like, people can cowardly hide behind their phone screens.”

Morris also made a personal connection to her life as a country artist, saying, “I totally feel for the kids that are dealing with that because…I still deal with that. It never really ends, and it’s not whether you’re bullied as a public figure or a kid, you’re just always gonna face some sort of adversity or someone that’s trying to puncture your balloon of happiness.”

Her comments come after she publicly called out Jason Aldean’s wife, Brittany Aldean, for making transphobic comments in a series of posts on Instagram. Since then, the Humble Quest singer has fired back at Tucker Carlson labeling her a “lunatic country music person” on his Fox News show and even raised more than $100,000 for GLAAD by selling merch emblazoned with the phrase and the number for the Peer Support and Crisis Hotline for trans youth.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I’m always trying to be a better person,” Morris concluded on Audacy. “I stand up for injustices when I see them, and then sometimes I know that it’s totally OK to not insert yourself into the fight. Sometimes you can silently support something as well. And that’s something you have to do for your own mental health.”

Other famous faces who took part in Audacy’s “I’m Listening” program include Carrie Underwood, Ed Sheeran, Lizzo, Adele and more.

Listen to Morris’ full interview about cyberbullying and social media below.

Travis Barker Shares What Wellness Means to Him: ‘Living a Healthy Lifestyle Is My Only Option’

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Travis Barker is no stranger to taking care of his body and mind. He’s been eating a vegan diet for 16 years and is committed to a regular workout routine.

That’s why his Barker Wellness company has added a wide-ranging skincare line to its collection of CBD tinctures, balms, gummies and bath products — commemorated with a star-studded launch party in collaboration with Revolve on Tuesday (Sept. 20). The Malibu event had Barker’s celebrity friends like Avril Lavigne and the D’Amelio family as well as his son Landon and wife Kourtney Kardashian in attendance, trying out the new line. “Wellness is about nurturing the health of your whole body – your mental health and physical health,” the Blink-182 rocker tells Billboard after the event. “Being ‘well’ and living a healthy lifestyle is my only option. I couldn’t do what I do without taking care of myself and giving what my body needs to keep going.”

The new skincare collection aims to “support all aspects of your daily skin routine with all-natural, vegan, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic” products, which include a 2-in-1 face mask and cleanser, eye serum, face serum, renewal balm and Barker’s favorite, the daily moisturizer. “It’s a staple in my routine now. It’s lightweight but extremely hydrating,” he explains to Billboard.

travis barker
Barker Wellness Skincare Collection Launch Event with REVOLVE

Of course, self care goes deeper than skin, so the drummer also shared some of his favorite wellness practices that he incorporates into his day-to-day routine. “I really enjoy boxing and training Muay Thai. Playing drums is definitely one of my favorite self care practices too, of course,” he reveals.

The main message Barker wants to send to fans, however, is that self-care is universal and accessible. His advice for those looking to start a wellness routine is simple: “Form a routine that works for you. Find something you enjoy doing and find a way to do it consistently.”

Shop Barker Wellness’ full new line of skincare on Revolve’s website here or at Barker Wellness’ site here.

Questlove Is Executive Producing a Documentary on Music Producer J Dilla

Academy Award-winning director and Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is back with another documentary. With critically acclaimed Summer of Soul under his belt, Questlove will executive produce Dilla Time, about the life and influence of the late music producer, James Dewitt Yancey, aka J Dilla.

“Explaining musical genius is my mission. To be able to tell the world about the musician that had the most influence on me is a dream come true,” Questlove said in a statement. “Not just on me, but on an entire generation of musicians that everyone knows and loves. J Dilla was our teacher. And what he taught us was how to feel rhythm in a way we had ever felt before. I’m so honored to be a part of bringing his story to the world through this documentary.”

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Dilla Time is based on the The New York Times bestseller Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, The Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm, by Dan Charnas. The book illustrates the life of the Detroit native, who died at 32 years old from a rare blood disease. The doc will be part biography, part musicology, and part musical meditation, with insight from influential and creative voices of modern music.

Questlove’s Two One Five Entertainment is teaming up with Summer of Soul producer Joseph Patel, Charnas, Cinetic Media, J Dilla’s estate, and Scenario Media to create the documentary. The film will be directed by Patel and Darby Wheeler.

“The estate of James Dewitt Yancey, and its wholly owned production entity, Pay Jay Productions, Inc. — which benefits J Dilla’s two children, his younger brother, and his mother — is proud to give its blessing to an amazing project created by discerning and talented filmmakers who knew J Dilla,” a statement from the estate said. “We trust the judgment of Ahmir, Joseph, Dan, and Scenario to elevate Dilla’s life, music, and legacy to their rightful place in the canon of music’s great innovators; and their film is the only documentary project we have endorsed.”

This story is written by Sierra Porter

Thursday Night Football: How to Watch Games on Prime Video for Free

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This post is sponsored content.

Thursday Night Football is officially back! Amazon secured exclusive rights to stream NFL games on Prime Video, marking a new era for sports fans.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Cleveland Browns on Thursday (Sept. 22) at 8:15 p.m. ET., while TNF Tonight pregame coverage kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.

Prime Video subscribers can log in to the platform to begin streaming Thursday’s game. Not familiar with Prime? Read on for the 2022 Thursday Night Football schedule and a step-by-step guide on how to join Amazon Prime for free.

What Is Prime Video?

Prime Video is Amazon’s streaming platform where subscribers can watch Thursday Night Football and other sports, including NBA, MLB, WNBA, One Championship and soccer.

Additionally, Prime Video has a mega-library of movies and countless TV episodes, plus Prime Originals and a ton of sports documentaries and docuseries such as Prime’s All or Nothing featuring the Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles and other football, soccer and hockey teams.

How Much Does Prime Video Cost?

Prime Video is included with Amazon Prime memberships, but there’s also an option to join Prime Video by itself under a free, 30-day trial.

Not a Prime member? Subscribe now and get the first month free. The membership, which is $14.99 a month after the free trial, unlocks instant access to Prime Video and Amazon Music, along with free shipping on millions of products, members-only discounts and a year free membership to GrubHub+, so you can order food while you enjoy Thursday Night Football.

How to Save on Your Prime Membership

Amazon Prime’s annual membership ($139.99 a year) saves you around $40 a year. Prime also provides a 50% discount for eligible college students and EBT and Medicaid recipients.

How to Watch Thursday Night Football Games on Prime Video

Prime Video is the exclusive streaming destination for Thursday Night Football. All games will begin streaming live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Pre-game coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.  

How to Stream Prime Video on Your TV & Other Devices

To stream Thursday Night Football games, download the Prime Video app (or sign in online via Amazon.com) from a smart TV, laptop or another compatible streaming device to log into the platform. You can also save programs to your watchlist and view them later.

Thursday Night Football recordings are free on Prime Video, which means that you can pause, rewind and replay any TNF games or related programming this season.

See the full schedule of Thursday Night Football games below.

Prime Video Thursday Night Football Schedule:

Steelers vs. Browns – Sept. 22
Dolphins vs. Bengals – Sept. 29
Colts vs. Brancos – Oct. 6
Commanders vs. Bears – Oct. 13
Saints vs. Cardinals – Oct. 20
Ravens vs. Buccaneers – Oct. 27
Eagles vs. Texans – Nov. 3
Falcons vs. Panthers – Nov. 10
Titans vs. Packers – Nov. 17
Bills vs. Patriots – Dec. 1
Raiders vs. Rams – Dec. 8
49ers vs. Seahawks – Dec. 15
Panthers vs. Jets – Dec. 22
Cowboys vs. Titans – Dec. 29