Iconic rock band Van Halen are set to sign with Interscope Records, says a source familiar with the negotiations. The deal is expected to be finalized next week, marking the first time in 35 years that the band will not release music through Warner Music, its longtime label home.
It had been rumored -- and reported -- that the band was joining the Columbia Records roster. In fact, an insider tells The Hollywood Reporter that the contract for the Sony deal was drawn up and approved but hadn't been signed when Universal Music stepped into the picture.
The signing was a group effort involving UMG chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge, UMG International COO Max Hole, Interscope Geffen A&M vice chairman Steve Berman and Interscope's Jimmy Iovine, who, says a source, "heard the band was available and wanted to work with them. It was decided at the 11th hour." What came next was a series of meetings that presented the band with a global plan that included extensive marketing, merchandising, touring and, of course, recordings.
So what derailed the Columbia deal? The usual rock band complications, says an insider. While the group reunited with original singer David Lee Roth in 2006, the Sony label could not come to terms with Roth, who has a separate management, legal and accounting team than the other three members, guitarist Eddie Van Halen and his son Wolfgang (who replaced bassist Michael Anthony) and drummer Alex Van Halen. The main issue for Roth? He was apparently adamant about being on a west coast label. "He was never on board [with Columbia]," says the source. "It was as complicated as anyone would imagine, when one side says black, the other says white. The label was pretty skeptical that things would work out."
It's expected that as frontman, Roth will have to carry much of the marketing burden and it seems the band members ultimately want their singer to be happy with the deal which is why they went with Universal's west coast-based Interscope.
A new album, their first studio effort since 1984, is believed to be nearly finished with the hope that it can be released in 2012. The band is expected to make a "special announcement" on Nov. 30 at the Grammy Awards nominations concert, which will air live on CBS from Los Angeles' Nokia Theater.
An Interscope rep had no comment.