Garbage To Universal: No Moss, No Contract

Rockers filed lawsuit Monday against Universal Music Group, claiming Almo Sounds contract became invalid when founder Jerry Moss left after conglomerate took over.

Apparently, Garbage are only happy when Jerry Moss reigns.

The Madison, Wisconsin, rockers sued Universal Music Group on Monday, claiming their 1994 contract with Almo Sounds became invalid when Moss, the label's founder, left after the massive record company conglomerate bought it last fall.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the California Superior Court for Los Angeles County, Garbage — a project made up mostly of music industry veterans — specifically bargained for a "key man" clause, "because they wanted to make sure that they contracted with an independent label that was operated by [someone] whom they trusted to help promote the band's career."

The lawsuit claims UMG is "effectively holding [singer] Shirley Manson as ransom" by threatening to uphold stipulations in a contract she signed as Angelfish with Radioactive Records (which now is also owned by UMG) — stipulations the suit says have been ignored since Garbage came to fame in 1994.

Radioactive has the option to demand a second Angelfish album (the first was a commercial dud) but has instead collected royalties from Garbage's multiplatinum self-titled and Version 2.0 albums.

Los Angeles lawyer Marc Marmaro, Garbage and the bandmembers — who include Doug Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig — filed the lawsuit, which names UMG, Almo, Radioactive, MCA Records and three other affiliated companies.

The band claims it was forced to take action as a result of "the wrongful, monopolistic and strong-arm tactics" of UMG. It's asking the court to void Garbage's current contract, as well as Manson's Angelfish contract with Radioactive.

A spokesperson at UMG said the company feels the case is meritless. Gayle Fine, a spokesperson for Q Prime, Garbage's management company, said the group did not wish to discuss the case.

Garbage are in Madison recording their third album. According to postings by Manson on the group's official Web site, drummer Matt Chamberlain (Tori Amos and Fiona Apple) worked with the band in the studio last week on a track called "Over a Cup of Coffee."