Imagine this scenario. You’re nineteen, fresh out of school, you’re in a band that everybody loves, and suddenly a record label notices you and comes at you with an offer you can’t refuse; record an album on their label and they’ll front you half a million pounds to do it.
This is known as an ‘advance’. An advance is typically handed out from a record label to one of their signed bands in order to record an album, for the fees which can be built up from studio time, promotion, instruments (and so forth) can be pretty costly. However as good as the advance may seem to the outsider, it sometimes can be a band’s demise; on occasion leading to a swift exit from the music industry. This is because as you might well imagine, rockstar’s would rather spend their lovely little packet dining in the Ritz, hotel rooms or fuelling their addictions (whatever they may be…). As proof of this seemingly wild accusation, here are five bands who definitely squandered their label advances.
Sleep had a lot of potential for a heavy metal/rock band. After their release ‘Holy Mountain’ on Earache records, they attracted the attention of many labels including Elektra and London (who Rolling Stones had also been signed on). London gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse in 1992 – full artistic control and a six-figure advance. Rumour has it that sleep spent their advance on two things; vintage tube amps and a bucket-load of marijuana. Given that the band estimates they spent $75,000 on tube amps – speculation has in that they spent pretty much the remaining figure on the finest spliffs that money could buy. All in all the album was dropped and wasn’t even released by the label; could be the fact that it featured just one song being an hour long psychedelic guitar solo.
Yes Please! Was the terrible last album that the critically acclaimed Happy Mondays made, under the label ‘Factory’. The most famous thing about this album was that it was so costly to produce, it drove Factory into bankruptcy. Why did it cost so much? Well, the Happy Mondays wanted to record in Barbados of all places with their families present. Not only that, but the Happy Mondays had a penchant for taking a plethora of drugs; especially when they teamed up with their mate Mick Jagger who was staying nearby.
Royal Trux were an alternative rock band straight out of the late eighties, started up by Neil Haggerty and Jennifer Herrema. Due to a growing interest from labels in underground grunge music; after their second album Royal Trux were picked up by Virgin. Virgin offered them a $3,000 advance to record a third album; which Royal Trux proceeded to blow it all on heroin.
My Bloody Valentine
Irish alt rock band My Bloody Valentine were signed to Island records in 1992, and were given £250,000 to record a belter of an album (they had been given the same amount of money by label Creation to make their second). Whilst the second one was critically acclaimed by many people, the third did not do so well. My Bloody Valentine took the £250,000 and put it all into making their own studio in Streatham – which was riddled with problems. The third album was never released by Island due to lack on any decent material… and My Bloody Valentine went into a band ‘meltdown’.
With all of this in mind, record labels these days have wised up to the cheeky antics of music stars; combining their advance with their own pay packet. This serves as an incentive not to blow it all – because they are eating out of their own pocket at the end of the day! However, truth be told it probably doesn’t stop some rocking musicians still…
Author: This list was put together by Alfie Davenport who works for DV247, suppliers of Fender guitars.