Booking gigs is a bloody nightmare, and a hugely time-consuming business. Of course, from a fairly young age you’re aware of the concept of managers and the notion that they do all this sort of stuff for you, for a share of the money. Accordingly, the prospect of getting one becomes something of a holy grail to a young band, an answer to all your prayers, and the missing ingredient in the package that will fast track you to fame and fortune once obtained.
The best manager I ever had was a bloke called Daryl. I say best because I actually got something useful out of him (weed). As an actual manager he turned out to be comically awful…
The problem is that as a band you’re so keen to have someone help you out that it’s easy to fall for the charm of people who turn out to be as useful as a chocolate fireplace. We did a rip-roaring show in rural Australia, which is no mean feat for any band that isn’t playing the peculiarly unique brand of Aussie pub rock so loved by country Australia. Daryl approached us after the gig and said he wanted to manage us – he had a management company that booked shows all over the country, mainly in the rural areas (outside of a few massive cities, Australia is populated rather sparsely by any number of small towns, and the country is so big that they’re all in the middle of nowhere). These shows are not exactly glamorous, but they tend to pay ok as many bands simply have no interest in doing them. They’re also not easy to get without good contacts, so a manager who can get you these shows is a useful addition.
We arranged to meet up and Daryl won over any initial scepticism by giving me a large bag of weed for free. Promises were made, a deal was struck, and things looked to have potential. I think he was taking twenty percent of all our performance fees, which was twenty percent of gigs we wouldn’t be playing otherwise, so it seemed an acceptable deal.
We did a few shows around the state, and his partner came along and watched us at one of them. We chatted and all was good, and then the next morning I received a lengthy and unintentionally hilarious email detailing all of the ways we had gone wrong at the show – not least of which was our poor choice of clothing, which was categorically NOT what we were wearing on the poster, which had apparently upset the landlord considerably. In fact it was looking distinctly possible that if I wasn’t careful I may well end up in detention. It seemed rather strange though, to berate us for not bringing the energy of our full band show to a three hour acoustic performance on the patio of a pub on a Sunday lunchtime, and the scolding was even more strange given that we were received well by a crowd that enthusiastically spent their money on our merchandise.
This all led to a crisis meeting at which once again a large bag of weed was donated to me on arrival, and Spider and I sat their getting stoned while pretending to listen to Daryl’s grievances against us. Promises were made of thousands of dollars to be invested in the recording of a new album and there was talk of getting us to play Glastonbury as Daryl was a good friend of Michael Eavis, the proprietor of said festival. It was hard to reconcile this level of industry contacts with the guy in front of us who complained about the gig posters we’d supplied him and replaced them with designs of his own – which were basically all your worst colour and font nightmares combined into one and filtered through Microsoft Paint at the wrong resolution. I mean, he actually used the Comic Sans font. Telling him so didn’t endear us to him any further.
But we kept things amicable because hey, thousands of dollars were still being dangled. And then another meeting occurred where we played Daryl some demos of new songs we had lined up and, inevitably, out came the song-writing advice and creative instructions, including the always well-received suggestions for changes to lyrics. Up until this point I had never considered that there was some bullshit simply not worth putting up with, even in exchange for free weed, but it turns out I was very much wrong, and that was the end of that. Well, not quite the end, as Daryl then claimed that we owed him for the weed he’d “given” us. Yeah… good luck with that…