Machine Head and Roadrunner Records split after the band's tour for their 2001 album Supercharger came to an end. The common myth is that Machine Head was dropped, but Robb Flynn said in an interview with Metal Injection that Machine Head actually negotiated off Roadrunner after the label "had breached contract." Flynn said Machine Head was approached by a number of labels prior to leaving Roadrunner, but noted that none of 'em came through for the band after they were unsigned.
"Contrary to popular mythology, Machine Head negotiated off Roadrunner Records because they had breached contract. We didn't get dropped, which is kind of 'the story' but we negotiated off because they had breached contract. At the time, we'd sold two million records at that point. We're a festival headliner, we can headline our own shows and tours. I was just like, 'we'll be fine. We got it.'"
"You know how the music business is. When you're a fuckin' hot band, every fuckin' label is like 'you should be with us, man. We'll make you [huge]. You're a star, we'll make you even bigger.' You hear that like, 150 times and you're like 'yeah man! Let's do it!' Of course all these labels are up my ass just like 'yeah dude, as soon as you're off that shitty Roadrunner label, we'll sign you right up.' We negotiated off, we're clean and free and I'm like 'alright! Here I am, let's do this!' And they're like, 'slow down. We gotta hear some demos, times have changed now.' And I'm like, 'slow down? Okay.'"
Flynn said most labels were looking for "radio hits," and that the first five label rejections were particularly difficult. "I'm kind of crushed. I just sold two million records. My last record just sold 300,000 copies so it wasn't a failure by any stretch." Flynn notes that Machine Head was ultimately rejected by 35 labels overall, which made him reconsider his role as a musician.
As Machine Head continued their search, Flynn said he considered that it could be the end of his career as a musician. He said one specific instance of feeling that way was working at a studio watching In Flames during their Clayman era become the next big thing, saying "maybe I am done. Maybe this is it. [Robb's wife Genevra Flynn] and I are having conversations like, maybe this is it. We just had 35 labels [pass]. Give up the dream."
Flynn said he and Genevra concluded that that there was no other option for Flynn as a career other than being a musician, but notes that his wife did tell him "You gotta turn this shit around and start making some money, and start doing some stuff." Because y'know, the bills and the mortgage ain't free.
Fortunately things turned around for Machine Head. The band would go on to sign with Roadrunner's European label and release Through The Ashes Of Empires, which did well enough that Roadrunner's U.S. label came knocking once again. Through The Ashes Of Empires was released in the U.S. in 2004 and Machine Head would remain on Roadrunner until 2011, when they signed with Nuclear Blast.
Check out the full interview below and check out our YouTube channel here.