Label Battles Shaped the Radio Dept.'s 'Running Out of Love'

Label Battles Shaped the Radio Dept.'s 'Running Out of Love'
Photo: Vikstrom
Stockholm's the Radio Dept. made Swedish politics the centrepiece of their new album, Running Out of Love (out now on Labrador), but as the band reveal to Exclaim!, that wasn't originally the main theme. While they were in the studio, the Radio Dept. were also battling their record label, Labrador, over rights to the band's publishing. The experience helped shape the music in an unexpected way.
"When we were 22 we signed a publishing deal and a record deal, which were both very unfair," Johan Duncanson tells Exclaim! "We didn't know anything about publishing at the time, but it went on not for five years or 20 years, but forever. Our whole lives or 70 years, which is the longest they could own the rights to anything.
"When we realized that everything kind of lost its meaning in a way, because every time we wrote a song and produced it, we knew that they would own it forever. So it felt extremely unfair and just not right. We had to do something about it.
"We lost that court case, but writing 'Occupied' was the only way we could get back at them. It has some mean lyrics in it. Some lines are pretty harsh, but we were very upset when that song was written. Normally I write the lyrics, but we actually wrote those lyrics together. It was so important to both of us that we had to write them together."
Oddly enough, this negative experience has resulted in some positives. Running Out of Love is arguably their most focused album to date, both musically and lyrically. And in a strange turn of events, Duncanson and Carlberg say they're now on better terms with their label than ever.
"This is our final album for the label, and we're really proud of it," says Duncanson. "We should also add that we now have a good relationship with them. Even though we lost the court case, we settled and got a new deal. Since then our relationship is much better. Surprisingly good."
There was another album they had begun that was more guitar-based, but they decided to scrap it and switch to a more dance-oriented direction for Running Out of Love. Still, Duncanson says it could be the next thing they release.
"I think [Running Out of Love] is actually better than what we had back then," he says. "But we were so upset back then, every time we made something that we liked we knew we'd have to give it away forever. So we just lost our motivation to finish that punk-y album. We didn't feel like working on it anymore. We came to terms with the label in the settlement, but then decided to make something different, something new. I wouldn't be surprised if we went back and finished that album."
Check out Radio Dept.'s 2017 tour dates here and have a listen to "We Got Game" below.