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South Beach alt-rock quartet Muse recently signed a multialbum recording deal with Lava, a subsidiary of industry behemoth Atlantic Records. The group, which released its own CD in May, will travel to Los Angeles in January to record its debut for the label.
"We could not be more pleased with the fact that we got a deal so quickly," says Peter Freedman, president of Peter Freedman Entertainment in New York City and co-manager of Muse since July. "For some bands it takes over a year to get signed. But out of 30 Muse CDs I sent out, fifteen labels liked them, six came to see the band, and four made offers. It's one of the best new-artist deals I've ever done." (Freedman's clients also include Live and the Ocean Blue.)
Muse formed in early 1992 and gained a following through performances at local alternative dance clubs that seldom featured live bands. After opening shows for New Orleans singer-songwriter/goth-guy James Hall and Australia's poppy Frente! Muse recorded its self-released debut with producer Eric "E.T." Thorngren (Squeeze, Talking Heads, Eurythmics) and engineer Rob Seifert (Porno for Pyros, Jane's Addiction). The disc attracted the interest of several companies; a pair of showcases followed, one of which led to the deal with Lava.
"We didn't play any numbers game," explains Freedman. "It was a matter of finding the right home, so we targeted some specific labels." He says Muse decided to go with Lava, which is run by Atlantic senior vice president Jason Flom, because "all the bands on that label have been able to breathe, and Flom has carved out a nice place for himself, making his records a priority at Atlantic."
Jose Pulido, Muse's manager since 1992, agrees that Flom's reputation made Lava attractive. "I've been following his career for a long time, and he has a good track record at Atlantic," notes Pulido. "It's not just important to get a deal, but also who you're involved with. The top Lava and Atlantic people came down and they were very enthused. There were other labels interested, too, but [Lava] was so into the band."
"We felt that we wouldn't get lost at a small label like this," adds Gerson, Muse's one-name guitarist and songwriter. "Jason really gets behind a band when he likes them."
Before January's preproduction sessions with Thorngren, Muse -- which also includes vocalist-guitarist Paul Isaac, bassist Ari Eisenstein, and drummer Brett Thorngren (the producer's son) -- intends to write new material. "The songs have gotten a little harder, but some have a softer feel," explains Gerson of the band's ever-evolving sound. "We don't plan things out. We just go with whatever comes naturally. We hope to have about 20 to 22 songs to go into the studio with, and record a beautiful album.