After two albums with Atlantic, rock quartet the Donnas have formed their own label in a joint venture with Redeye Distribution, Billboard can exclusively reveal. The group's as-yet-untitled next album is due in mid-September. Produced by Jay Ruston (Jars Of Clay, Meat Loaf, the Polyphonic Spree) the set is chock-full of big, sing-a-long choruses, fat '80s guitar licks and an upbeat pace.
One new song, "Don't Wait Up for Me," is already streaming on the group's MySpace.com site. Two others, "Wasted" and "Here for the Party," were written before the Donnas parted ways with Atlantic.
Writing-wise, "I wouldn't say we did much of anything different after leaving Atlantic, though it helped that we had more time than we've ever had before to write it. It was very liberating not to have a deadline," bassist Maya Ford tells Billboard. The final track list was whittled down from 30 songs, written in more than a year, to 13. "We've always loved bands like Cinderella and [Motley] Crue, but we also always enjoyed pop music," Ford says. "We haven't deliberately moved in any direction."
Even though the Donnas entered talks with other majors after its departure from Atlantic, the group ultimately wanted more control and profits from its records. The new Redeye deal guarantees a 50/50 split from sales, plus co-ownership of the masters and a record-to-record contract. Redeye's deal is for North America, leaving the Donnas to choose international distributors.
The band, which rose to indie stardom with early albums on Lookout, is preparing for an aggressive touring schedule this fall. "That was our original love anyway," drummer Torry Castellano says. "We may have been in a lot of magazines and we pride ourselves on putting out good records, but we win over the most hearts at our live set."
The new album is the follow-up to 2004's "Gold Medal," which debuted at No. 76 on The Billboard 200 but has sold just 87,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The Donnas' Atlantic debut, 2002's "Spend the Night," has shifted 424,000 to date.
For more on the Donnas' return to the indie world, see the June 30 issue of Billboard, on newsstands today (June 22).