No matter how you look at it, a lot goes into a record. For most bands, a record is a snapshot of everything that you’ve gone through together as musicians and friends, and the end result is usually something that was borne from a mutually enjoyable experience. Other times though, there are obstacles in the way that can test friendships, both personal and professional, and cat put an awful strain on a band.
Melbourne’s Belle Haven are set to release their new record, You, Me And Everything In Between., on June 16th. In anticipation of the new record, the group sat down with us to let us know all about the trials, tribulations, ups, downs, and everything in between that they all had to endure to bring their fans of the most important records of their career.
You, Me And Everything In Between. is out June 16th through Grayscale Records.
The story of all the nightmares leading up to the birthing of You, Me And Everything In Between. begins in 2015. I’m going to share these stories with you the way they all unfolded in front of my eyes.
This is the first time I’ve been able to put pen to paper and detail all of the events that unfolded. Prior to this however, I’ve written songs about most of these events. Songs that actually feature on YMEB.. So for the sake of common decency, each person I mention in the story I will duly refer to as the title of the song they have written about them on the record.
We’d only just released our debut record ‘Everything Ablaze’ before our booking agent at the time unfortunately parted ways with us. This was basically the equivalent to a Bruce Lee kick to the guts. He parted ways with us because he “didn’t know what to do with us.” What’s new? We’d been the ‘odd’ band for a while and we were used to that. But (our now ex) agent always seemed to support us and our pursuits in doing whatever we wanted musically… until he couldn’t keep us and keep his job too. We weren’t making him money, and weren’t making the company he worked for money either. As much as we almost wanted to be bitter about his decision, we understood why he made it; business is business. Business sucks. But we’ll get to that later.
From here, we stressed. I stressed. We tried to play it cool. I was talking to our manager at the time (great guy) a lot. We agreed to handle bookings ourselves for a while but it was ultimately too challenging. Nobody had any time. In fact, before too long, our manager didn’t have time to manage us anymore either. But because he’s such a great guy, he hired someone to take his place who he’d worked with a bit around that time. We’ll simply call this man ‘Selfmade’.
At first, Selfmade was fantastic to work with. He was very chatty and had very similar goals to the rest of us. It seemed he wasn’t just all about the money like a lot of other managers. We were offered a tour of the United States with our friends in Norma Jean which we very quickly agreed to. Shortly after taking the tour, Selfmade convinced us to pay for him to come on the tour with us as we would apparently need him there. He’d tour managed a band in the US before, so we trusted that he knew more about bigger tours like that than we did and so we bought his flights. After all, the last thing we wanted to do was embarrass ourselves in front of some of our favourite musicians.
We began to prepare for our first international tour. We wanted to shoot a music video for ‘Closet’ and release it prior to the tour beginning so that the people who had bought tickets to the tour had something new to watch to help get to know the band a bit. Here is where we introduce another key person to the story of YMEB.. We’ll call this fellow ‘HighfLIAR’, and oh boy did he mix it up.
The decision to work with HighfLIAR on the ‘Closet’ video was made due to a previous negative experience with another videographer who we’ll call ‘Little Polaroid Boy.’ What we thought would be a wise and safe decision very quickly turned into the complete opposite. See, our negative experience with Little Polaroid Boy could have been prevented with better communication and clearer expectations set by both parties. But our negative experience with HighfLIAR could have only been prevented if he had decided not to try and steal money from people who considered him a friend.
A timeline for the video was set, including shoot dates and outlining HighfLIAR’s responsibilities. We were very confident, but that all came undone very quickly. He was cancelling shoots on the day of with no warning and no real excuse. This cost us money and was very awkward to explain to the actors we’d hired for the video. He was uncontactable. Sometimes we wouldn’t hear from him in two weeks before he’d reach out to me with some poor excuse for a creative apology as to why he’d messed us around for the third time.
Suddenly it became very clear that having this video released, or even completed, before our tour with Norma Jean began was not going to happen. But we persevered; the concept for the video was one we were all very passionate about and wanted it to be captured perfectly and shown to the world.
The tour with Norma Jean started and the video was still not complete. Remember our manager, Selfmade? Now his story really takes off.
Selfmade didn’t help at all with the HighfLIAR situation. The tour had begun and his focus was on the things that really mattered: sleeping in the most comfortable bed on the bus, drugs, meeting a girl, arguing with us about almost any decision we made, and overall making sure that not a single person on the whole tour package enjoyed his company. He was really good at doing all of these things, but none of them made our first international tour any easier, and we very quickly realised we’d been tricked into giving some guy a free ‘rockstar’ experience.
As we were coming to terms with what was unfolding with Selfmade, HighfLIAR finally sent through a first draft of the new music video.
Unfortunately, we were incredibly disappointed.
The video did not contain several key moments that were crucial to the overall message and concept. Upon asking why the shots were not there, HighfLIAR let us know that we’d have to pay him more than the agreed amount for him to shoot it as the video had exceeded the initial budget, despite this all being very clearly discussed and outlined in the first place. After asking to see a detailed run down of the expenses a multitude of times and still to this day never being provided with one, we were running out of ideas.
We didn’t have extra money to spend on a music video that was already months late and didn’t resemble what we agreed on at all. Friends began to inform us that HighfLIAR was trying to convince our circle at home that we were avoiding paying him money that we owed and were being difficult for no reason. Being so physically far away from the problem caused us to feel almost helpless and very anxious. Besides, the tour wasn’t going to slow down so that we could deal with this issue.
We discussed the situation at length in the bus on several occasions and decided that there was almost no point in finishing the video at this stage as it was so beyond being late that it almost served no purpose, especially considering that we were about to go cut a new record (later to be named You, Me And Everything In Between.) immediately after the tour ended. So, we carefully explained to HighfLIAR that we no longer wanted to continue with the video and expected a full refund as the product provided to us was provided months beyond the due date he agreed to, and ultimately didn’t resemble the product he agreed to create for us anyway.
As if things couldn’t get more difficult, HighfLIAR refused to provide a refund and so it quickly became a legal matter. But let’s wrap up the Selfmade story first, shall we?
As the tour progressed, so did our negative experiences with Selfmade. He began to lie about things other members of the band had said to try and turn us away from him using us and turn us against each other. It almost worked, but we held it together and with counsel from the more experienced musicians in Sleepwave and Norma Jean, we fired him half way through the tour, leaving him somewhere in the United States. Too mean? No way. Besides, he was unfazed as he was still somehow convinced we needed him more than he needed us.
With Selfmade off the tour, we could really enjoy the rest of it. We spent a lot of time bonding with the other bands and learned a great deal from them. But eventually, the journey was over. Tears were shed, we said our farewells, and we headed straight to Glow In The Dark Studios in Atlanta, GA. Matthew Goldman awaited us, and with him, the creation of YMEB..Now we introduce one more final character. Unfortunately, this experience only turned sour once the album was already fully recorded so I couldn’t write a song about him and therefore don’t have a song title to use as his name in this article. However, he does do a fantastic Peter Griffin impersonation so we’ll just call him Peter.
Peter worked at Glow In The Dark Studios as well and was a friend of the band since we met him when recording ‘Everything Ablaze.’ As soon as he heard the demos for YMEB., he asked us if he could mix it when it was done being tracked. He offered us an amazing deal and having heard some of his recent work (which was fantastic) we happily agreed.
M-i-s-t-a-k-e. Don’t do business with a busy friend who cuts you a great deal. They won’t prioritise you over better paying opportunities because business is business, and business sucks. Just don’t do it. Let me explain.
We finished the record and it was better than we could have imagined (Matthew Goldman is truly a wizard). Filled to the brim with joy, we travelling home to Australia whilst Goldman prepared for the record to be passed to Peter for mixing.
“I’ve set aside a week to do this”, Peter told us. That was all he said he would need to fully mix the record. Granted that 1 week was 6 weeks from when we sent it to him, but that was no issue to us. 7 weeks total waiting time was worth it to have our musical baby sounding the best it had ever sounded.
Now, I don’t know about you, but to me there’s a very notable difference between 7 weeks and 11 months. But guess which timeframe is how long it took to have the record mixed? During which time, we were lied to, ignored and constantly put on the back-burner. Sadly, this experience was like poison being fed directly into the veins of our friendship with Peter and as such, it suffered a lot. The part that hurt the most was that Peter knew how much we were struggling already with the HighfLIAR situation, and knowingly created more issues for us. We were already speaking with various labels, Greyscale Records included, but couldn’t confidently tell any of them when the album would be fully completed as Peter was barely responding to us and making new excuses at every turn.
So how did we arrive here? How did all of this mess lead to YMEB. being signed by Greyscale Records and set to release on June 16? Well, remember HighfLIAR? How I mentioned that situation became a legal matter? Well, we won and got our money back in the end after many months of stress. Selfmade? That fellow now serves as one of the best lessons we’ve ever learned as a band. Peter? He eventually finished the album. It just took roughly 10 months, 2 weeks and many anxiety attacks longer than he promised us, that’s all.
There aren’t many musical nightmares worse than everything we went through leading up to YMEB., but we’d do it all again if we had to. Would we do anything differently? Absolutely we would. The whole ordeal has taught us a lot of lessons, but above all of them, there is one that I’ve learnt that I’ll never forget. That is to never, ever, give anyone the privilege of standing alongside you or your art unless they can prove to you that they love your art more than they love money. If only we had have known that before the journey toward ‘You, Me And Everything In Between.’ began.