Warner Bros. Records A&R executive Steve McDonald has left the company, THR has learned.
Hired a year ago, McDonald is perhaps better known as the bassist for beloved power pop band Redd Kross, which he started with his brother in 1978, and, more recently, Off!, the punk rock supergroup featuring Circle Jerks/Black Flag singer Keith Morris, Burning Brides frontman Dimitri Coats and Rocket From The Crypt drummer Mario Rubalcaba, who had one of the most buzzed about sets at this year’s Coachella.
At Warners, McDonald worked almost exclusively with rock bands. The label has a long history of signing and nurturing rock acts, going back to Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young.
But in recent years, and even more so during the last few months, Warner Bros. seems to be realigning it efforts towards a more pop and urban-leaning roster, partnering with rapper Rick Ross and soul singer Jill Scott on joint ventures, hiring Mike Elizondo (50 Cent, Eminem) as an in-house producer, and signing the likes of Jason Derulo and New Boyz (currently No. 18 and 34 on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively).
Somewhat ironically, WBR chairman Rob Cavallo, who was promoted to the label’s top job in October of last year, is one of the world’s most revered rock producers, having worked with Green Day and My Chemical Romance.
During his time at the label, McDonald signed Detroit indie rockers Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (with Kate Hyman, also no longer at WBR) and was responsible for bringing indie label Vice Records back into the Warner Music Group fold, this time via Warner Bros. (the label previously had a partnership with WMG-owned Atlantic Records, but has been independent for three years).
He is married to Anna Waronker, daughter of Lenny Waronker, the former president of Warner Bros. and Reprise Records.
Off! heads out on tour on June 16, starting at Toronto music industry conference NXNE and later opening for the likes of Henry Rollins, Dinosaur Jr. and Superchunk. The band will also play to tens of thousands at various festivals this summer including the Pitchfork Music Festival on July 16 and Europe’s Reading and Leeds festivals.