Denver hip-hop act Flobots calls it a day with major label Universal Republic - Reverb

News: Flobots and Universal Republic part ways

Brer Rabbit, left, and Jonny 5 of Flobots perform on the main stage of The 10th annual UMS in July. The band recently told Reverb that it's parting ways with Universal Republic. Photo by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post.

Brer Rabbit, left, and Jonny 5 of Flobots perform on the main stage of The 10th annual UMS in July. The band recently told Reverb that it's parting ways with Universal Republic. Photo by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post.

After releasing two records on Universal Republic, Denver hip-hop act Flobots is no longer on the major label’s roster.

“We’re not on the label anymore,” said Stephen Brackett, a.k.a. Brer Rabbit, one of the group’s MCs. “I feel good about it. It was an amicable split. It was one of those situations where we know where we want to go, but they didn’t know how to get us there.”

It was a wild ride for Flobots, whose independently produced full-length, “Fight With Tools,” was picked up and released by Universal Republic without any retooling by the label. The record was the home to “Handlebars,” a single that won the band worldwide love and radio play.

The group’s second CD, “Survival Story,” was released in March, and while some critics found it to be a more cohesive effort, the rock-infused hip-hop didn’t click as much with fans, and the sales didn’t compare to those of the group’s debut.

“But it’s not the kind of time where things are catching on,” Brackett said. “If things do catch on, it’s a combination of what you’re doing and luck. Later works can help illuminate our earlier works. And so (‘Survival Story’) can be one that folks will start gravitating to when we do our next one, kinda like the ‘Paul’s Boutique’ effect.”

When Brackett talks about the next record, he’s assuring fans and friends that there will be another Flobots record.

“Being in a band is like being in a marriage, and we’re now moving onto our next house,” he said. “With the first house, we didn’t have to worry about what schools were around or what the neighborhood was like, but now that we’re moving onto this next stage of development it’s like, ‘Is this where we want the kids to be? Do we like the neighborhood?’”

Brackett is most excited about getting back to a smaller, more DIY space for the next record.

“It’s exciting to be on the frontier of doing it smaller,” he said. “We’re amped about that. When we did it before, we did it pretty well. ‘Fight With Tools’ was recorded in Kyle’s house in Five Points and was purchased by Universal Republic and published as is. Now we’re excited to apply a lot of the things that we’ve learned over the years on this next record — and to rely on our ears and our friends’ ears moreso than people whose job it is to make radio hits’ ears.”

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and co-editor of Reverb and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post.

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