In 2022, industry veterans David Rath, former head of A&R at the esteemed Roadrunner Records, and Cees Wessels, founder of Roadrunner Records, formed Blue Grape Music. The name will be familiar to rock music fans, as it was the merchandise company also launched by Wessels.
With a rich history of working with bands such as NICKELBACK, SLIPKNOT, TYPE O NEGATIVE, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, FEAR FACTORY, SEPULTURA, TURNSTILE, and more — bands that truly broke ground and went on to have long, successful, platinum-plus careers — Rath and Wessels are bringing their wealth of expertise to a new era of bands and a new era of the music industry.
Rath spent 21 years in the A&R and creative departments of Roadrunner Records, having been A&R on albums by SLIPKNOT, KORN, GOJIRA, COHEED AND CAMBRIA, SLASH, THE AMITY AFFLICTION, TRIVIUM, STONE SOUR, DREAM THEATER and MEGADETH, and where he oversaw music videos from NICKELBACK, THEORY OF A DEADMAN, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, Jerry Cantrell and SLIPKNOT. Rath helped guide the label through multiple changes in ownership and management, after which he oversaw the signings of platinum-selling acts YOUNG THE GIANT and Vance Joy for Atlantic and Elektra Records. As the head of the A&R department at Roadrunner, Rath most recently signed and A&R-ed Grammy-nominated acts TURNSTILE and CODE ORANGE, along with WHITE REAPER and MOTIONLESS IN WHITE, both of whom recently scored No. 1 Alternative and Active Rock radio hits. Prior to Roadrunner, Rath, a graduate of Villanova University, was the director of The Philadelphia Music Conference and drummer for the Columbia Records band HEAVENS EDGE.
The new label strives to empower its artists with the support and tools needed to create the kind of music and art that inspires the culture and propels it forward.
The current staff also includes Roadrunner alumnae Suzi Akyuz as SVP of marketing, and Paolo D'Alessandro as executive VP of international.
Distributed by Sony Music's The Orchard, Blue Grape's artists have the muscle and reach of a major with the attention and dedication of an indie. With a global staff, each artist's team is carefully crafted to best serve their creative vision and goals.
"My time with Cees developing some of the most important bands in music history was the most valuable in my career to date," says Rath. "I couldn't ask for a more knowledgeable partner to begin this journey with."
Blue Grape's inaugural signing is the two-time Grammy nominee CODE ORANGE and the first release for the label will be "What Is Really Underneath?" The release arrives on February 17 and serves as a companion album to the critically acclaimed "Underneath" that is part-remix, part-soundtrack.
"I have been lucky enough to be on the ground floor with Dave Rath and co. watching them build the foundation of Blue Grape Music," says CODE ORANGE frontman Jami Morgan. "There is no group of people that I have more faith in to create a fresh, forward leaning home for rock music and beyond. CODE ORANGE are plank walkers. First goers. That is exactly what we intend to do here and why we have chosen to partner with BGM. We are excited to establish an artist friendly home for those looking to forge new ground on a major level. As a team we will learn from the past and build the future."
CODE ORANGE's trajectory thus far embodies the Blue Grape ethos — that dedication, forward-thinking strategies, and quality music will always propel a band to the next level.
Additional Blue Grape signings will be revealed in the coming months.
Blue Grape will be headquartered in New York City, with its European operation in Amsterdam.