Signing Story: The Rails


Kami Thompson and James Walbourne weren’t strangers to labels—each was signed to Warner Bros. and Heavenly Records, respectively. The deals were one-offs, though, and while seeking their next project they decided to unite creative forces. Stirring up interest from a label remained a secondary concern. While recording, however, they stirred up interest in each other and married.

“We have a lovely manager, Martin Kelly, at Heavenly Management,” divulges Thompson, daughter of legendary duo Richard and Linda Thompson. “Once we’d gotten a bunch of the record together, he met with Ian Brown from Mighty Village, a sort of folky label in the U.K.” Brown, excited about signing a more rock-oriented group, inked the pair.

As Mighty Village is distributed through Universal, Brown played the tracks for Island, suggesting they resurrect their Pink label by way of introducing the Rails. “All the iconic folk-rock records I really loved were on Pink,” recalls the singer. “It felt like a huge seal of approval.” In the U.S., the group is signed to Caroline, which has so far released their debut EP, Fair Warning, via iTunes.

The couple didn’t have room for negotiation. “We’re not really in a position to ask for anything,” admits the British siren. But having a powerful label with wide-reaching distribution, she reasons, would help them rise above the noise in a way they previously hadn’t. “Unless you’re Katy Perry or Taylor Swift,” she advises, “you’re not in a position of power, so you have to make peace with whatever the pitfalls are and make an independent decision about whether you’re comfortable with the payoff.” – Andy Kaufmann