I should have known they would be trouble as soon as the drummer walks in and asks what kind of headphones I use.
“Well the industry-standard Beyer ones, of course.” I reply.
“Oh” he says, “I knew I should have brought my own.”
After soundchecking a pair of bongos that with this guy took longer than it usually takes me to set up and soundcheck a whole kit, I eventually got a half-hearted approval.
The rest of the band then arrive and decide to ignore my advice regarding the separation of the guide vocal from the backing tracks and proceed to sing all the songs together live in one session. Instead of the 3 or 4 songs that they told me they wanted to record, they sped through 10 songs like a live set.
When they began to overdub the lead vocal it became clear that this was a man who sang each song differently every time. Hence I was left with parts of his guide vocal clearly audible on the backing tracks that I couldn’t do anything about.
With their parts safely consigned to my hard drive, they made a hasty retreat, leaving me to edit, mix and master all the tracks without any advance payment.
That took me 16 hours.
I emailed the details to them so that they could download their project and requested payment for the extra 16 hours (which they were getting at an extremely large discount, I may add!).
Two weeks went by and I heard nothing from them, so I contacted them to see if they had managed to download their project ok. They hadn’t. It turned out that they had no idea how to use FTP. So after they roped in a neighbour who had some knowledge of computers (i.e. she knew how to read emails), I talked her through the process of downloading an FTP client, logging in and transferring the files. That done, I expected them to be in touch shortly with settlement of my fee.
After several emails and a few text messages I got no response. Four weeks went by and eventually they called me.
“Sorry, been on holiday” they said.
“So did the download go OK? When can I expect payment?” I replied.
“Yes, we got the download, but not everyone has had the chance to listen to it yet”
Another two weeks pass and still no sign of payment. I call them again.
“What’s happening?” I ask.
“Well there’s a problem”
“What is it?” I enquire.
“Our drummer doesn’t like the mixes and refuses to pay his share. His bongos aren’t loud enough”.
“I’m sorry about that, but since he wasn’t here during the mix, I had to make my own judgement. But, no problem, I’ll do a remix and send you a sample. If it is to his approval, I’ll remix the rest”
So I sent a remix and waited for a response. As usual, I got none! Two weeks later I managed to get hold of them again. “Well, does your drummer like the new mix?” I asked.
“He hasn’t said” came the reply.
At this point I decided I had wasted enough time on this band already.
“Ok, well as soon as he decides whether or not he wants to pay me for all the work I have put in, including a complete remix and mastering which I will do at no extra cost, please let me know”
Needless to say, I never heard from them again. I wonder if their business cards are worth anything on ebay?