BILLY SHEEHAN Explains THE WINERY DOGS' Decision To Release 'III' Album Without Outside Record Label

March 1, 2023

THE WINERY DOGS bassist Billy Sheehan spoke to Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio about the band's decision to release its third album "III", via its Three Dog Music label (via Burnside Distribution/The Orchard). He said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I kind of like it. The music business has changed a lot, and there's not as many studios and there's no record companies giving out big budgets for albums, but if you have a MacBook Air, you have the equivalent of a studio that couldn't have even existed with all that technology years ago. Yeah, some people argue digital versus this or that, and then on top of that, on that same laptop, you're a couple of clicks away from thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions or even more people. So, as much as it's changed, there's still great opportunity for a band or a musician to go and put their songs out and get people to hear them and then eventually tour.

"So, we decided to put this record out ourselves," he continued. "We used a record company on the first two, and they did an okay job, but it really wasn't anything we couldn't have done ourselves. So we decided to take more control of the situation, which more people do now. A lot of people are self-producing and self-creating a record. And it's all under your control. You don't have any record company saying 'I think this' or 'I think that.' It's the musicians… We do our own cover art. We produce our own record.

"So you're really the master of your own destiny now as a musician, and I think that's a good thing," Billy added. "So the gates are wide open. They're crowded, though, 'cause there's a million people, or more than a million, trying to do the same thing. So it's crowded, but just work hard. Drag as much talent out of yourself as you possibly can and then hit it even harder again. It's not easy to make it happen. Those that do have fought a very, very tough fight. But it can be done. And I believe it can be done by anyone."

Last month, Sheehan's THE WINERY DOGS bandmate, drummer Mike Portnoy, told Darren Paltrowitz, host of the "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz", that "III" marks the first time he has ever worked without a label. "'Cause everything else I do, most of them are with InsideOut Music. SONS OF APOLLO, TRANSLATLANTIC, LIQUID TENSION [EXPERIMENT], the stuff I do with Neal Morse, that's all with InsideOut," he said. "And THE WINERY DOGS' first two albums even were with Loud & Proud, who have since folded. So, here we are finding ourselves in a situation, in 2023, where you really need labels less and less. And this new album is my personal first experience working without a label. I think [THE WINERY DOGS — guitarist/vocalist] Richie's [Kotzen] done his solo albums this way and suggested maybe we do THE WINERY DOGS one this way.

"I guess it's kind of where we're at," Portnoy continued. "You don't really need a label to get your music out there. As long as you have a distributor and a publicist, you could do the artwork yourself or the people you work with, and it's all about social media these days. Most of the labels are relying on us, the artists, to promote their records these days. I've seen it happen with labels; I've seen it happen with concert promoters. They're relying on the artists' social media to get the word out more than they're doing it themselves. So I think that's kind of where we're going. It's kind of refreshing, to be honest. It puts a little more pressure on us to be doing a lot of the legwork, but we reap the benefits from it. We're no longer at the mercy of a label.

"When I was starting out with DREAM THEATER in the '80s and '90s, you couldn't do anything unless you had a record deal," Mike recalled. "You couldn't go into a recording studio and make a record and get a video out unless you had a record company. But times have changed so much since then. Now, as long as you have a YouTube account or Instagram account, you could put your own music on to Spotify or iTunes or whatever, you can have total control over your music, which is a good thing, I guess."

THE WINERY DOGS is the powerhouse trio consisting of Kotzen, Portnoy and Sheehan

"III" arrived on February 3. Following in the footsteps of their first two albums, "III" was once again produced by THE WINERY DOGS and mixed by longtime band associate Jay Ruston.

"III" is the follow-up to the band's critically acclaimed and Billboard-charting album "Hot Streak", which was released October 2, 2015 on Loud & Proud Records via RED (a division of Sony Music Entertainment). After landing in the Top Five on many of Amazon's pre-order charts, including No. 1 on the Amazon BestSellers/Hard Rock chart and No. 1 on the Amazon Pre-Orders/Hard Rock Albums charts, it sold 30% more than their 2013 self-titled debut, landing them on various Billboard album charts including No. 2 on "Top Current Alternative Albums," No. 5 on "Top Current Hard Music" and "Top Hard Music Albums," No. 6 on "Top Current Rock Albums" and "Album Core / Genre Rock," No. 15 "Top Current Physical Albums," No. 16 "Top Current Albums," and No. 30 on the "Top 200 Albums" chart.

Upon its release, "Hot Streak" racked up rave reviews. hailed, "'Hot Streak' is the trio's second album, and its loose, friendly feel shows that the trio doesn't feel compelled to rely on instrumental pyrotechnics. The bluesy, soulful 'Think it Over' would appeal to those who admire THE ALLMAN BROTHERS, while 'Captain Love' shows that the band also has some hard rock energy to unleash, and the title track lets fly some of the technical proficiency that its members are known for." And praised, "'Hot Streak' picks up where their debut CD left off, but showcases the band coming into their own with straight-ahead rockers like 'Oblivion', 'Captain Love' and 'Devil You Know'."

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