Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Interview of Bally Studios by Ukindietouring.com

We were recently interviewed by Rachel from  www.ukindietouring.com The first part of the interview is about the Studios, the second part about the music industry, and in particular the unsigned music industry

Here is a direct link to the interview:


and below in a transcript to the interview 

We met Rachel through her coming to the studios with her band, The Dark Lights.   https://www.facebook.com/thedarklights


Bally Rehearsal Studios might be tucked away on an industrial state in Tottenham in North London, but it’s seen some pretty high profile acts come through its doors such as Coldplay, Bombay Bicycle Club, Caribou and Snow Patrol. Founder Jimmy Mulvihill is no stranger to the music scene, having played in bands, promoted shows, recorded and produced bands and written for music press. So we were pretty chuffed when we got to have an in depth conversation about the studios and the state of the ‘industry’.

What is the history behind Bally Studios?

Bally Studios was started back in 2005 by me, Jimmy, and my partner Francesca. We had been putting on live bands and club nights in London for about 2 years at about 5 or 6 different clubs, so we were already friends with about 150 different bands. I was also playing in a band at the time, The March Hares and we were practising 3-4 times a week. I had also just finished a course at a sound engineering college.  We were putting a lot of effort into our club nights, at one point getting 20,000 flyers printed up and distributing them around North-West London for our main club night in Kilburn. The tipping point that made us want to set up our own studio was that we wanted a project that we have total 100% control over as opposed to somewhere we would run for 3-4 days a week.

We were turning up to the venue some days and the PA subwoofers had been lent out to another venue, along with the mixing desk! Another day we turned up to a gig we had flyered for 40 hours for, only to be told that the council had contacted the venue 3 weeks earlier to tell them to cease all gigs as they had had complaints from local residents about the noise and we had not been told. We thought that if we could use the contacts that we had built up over the last 2 years, keep up the hard work, and put all if that into something that was a bit more within our control, then we could make a great project. The difficulties we ran into made us determined that when we had our own project, we would inject as much positivity as possible into it.

At first, we went to set up a recording studio in Bermondsey, South London and found a “soundproofed studio complex”, but after about 2 hours it became clear that it was not soundproofed!  So we started looking for another location. While sifting through nearly 600 potential locations, one day in a guitar shop, I saw an advert for a rehearsal studio in Tottenham. I contacted the owner to see if I could use one of the studios in downtime and it turned out that he wanted to sell the existing business, which had 2 studios and a big storage room.  We would pay to take over the running of the building.  We borrowed money on credit cards and overdrafts, as well as deferring some payment for 6 months. We took over the studios in 2005 and immediately we converted the storage room into another rehearsal studio, split up the large office to create a 4th rehearsal studio and small office in 2006. In 2009 split up our giant Studio One into two different rehearsal studios, meaning that we now had 5 rehearsal studios.

We also recorded bands here and there over the years and set up a brand-new recording studio in 2010. We have now just opened an analogue and digital mixing facility in Muswell Hill.  We really put a lot of effort into making the studios as nice a place to rehearse as possible.  Thankfully we have not had to spend much money on advertising as so many bands are loyal customers, something which we never take for granted, especially with the difficulties we had at the start. We have also become good friends with a lot of bands that come to rehearse with us, which is a great social aspect of the job.

What makes Bally Studios different to other rehearsal studios?

I know it sounds like an advertising spiel, but we are genuinely enthusiastic and passionate about making the rehearsal studios as great a place to rehearse as possible.  A lot of rehearsal studios will have invested a lot of money at the start, and then take their foot off the pedal. But we have done it in totally the opposite way.  We only had 1 drum kit and 1 guitar amp between 2 different studios when we started, so we had to put a lot of effort in to compensate.

Thankfully, over the last 7 years we are now at a stage where we have 5 fully equipped rooms, with about 35 different amplifiers between them, but we still put the same amount of effort in that we did in the beginning. Each of the rooms get vacuumed daily, and we even shampoo all of the carpets once every 10 days!  Some rehearsal studios will try to make things just good enough for bands to come back, but we want to make the room as good as possible, if not only for the sense of personal pride we get, but also because we have been to other studios where staff generally wouldn’t put in as much effort as we would.

We donate money from every session booked at the studio to charity, like Guide Dogs and SoundSavers because we want the studio to really stand for something good, to benefit more than just the people running it.  This month there is a charity gig happening in King’s Cross that has been put on by people working at the studio, as well as featuring bands that come here to rehearse. We even had a little “collective” of bands between 2008 to 2011. We would introduce different bands to each other at the studio, and soon they worked out that between them, one of them had a van, one of them had a PA system, one had a drum kit and one of them worked at a live music venue.  So they managed to combine all of their resources and put on a few gigs.  We lent them guitar and bass amps for the day to help out. In London it is very difficult to find the sort of atmosphere where there is genuine community, we really do feel that the studios have a much more community-based atmosphere than other studios.

What’s your current thoughts about the music industry? Where do you think its headed?

Although it will sound a bit dramatic, I am not actually sure if there is too much of a music industry at the minute. Using the word “industry” would imply that it would have, on average, a financial and economic reward. Although, of course, there are bands that are making quite a bit of money, the vast majority of bands that we have come across are not. We have come across about 400 to 450 different bands in the last 6-7 years and we would estimate about 12 to 15 of them are actually living off of their music. Quite a few bands, I would say about 10%,  are meeting their costs, or making a massive dent into them, but not many of them are actually making a big enough profit to both live off, and to reinvest back into their band.  So while many bands are gaining followings and fan bases that even 10 years ago would have been extremely difficult to do, not many of them have actually been able to convert that into a financial reward.  So I would say that the “Music Community” is building all time, and the future looks positive for it, but the “Music Industry” is dying out. You only have to look at companies like HMV that are really suffering financially to see that in practice.
I know that might sound like semantics, but we actually think that it is something that not many bands stop to think about, the difference between the music industry and the music community.  Back in the 1980s and 1990s, it was not that rare for a band to be turning over hundreds of thousands of pounds, but then back then, promotional and distribution costs were a lot more. So the band would have a big turnover, but they would also have a large amount of costs. There was money swilling about all over the place, hence the music industry was at its peak.  If you suggested back in the 1990s some sort of system where people could listen to your music all over the world, on demand, without actually buying it, eliminating the physical format, I am not actually sure how they could have done it.  But now it costs about £30 to put your music on Spotify, and even £150 worth of Facebook advertising could mean that your band is put in front of 50,000 – 100,000 people. So even if the band is making a lot less money, relatively, with their costs being so much lower, it all evens itself out. So the financial aspect of the music industry is actually becoming less and less.

We think it is a great thing, as the main point of the recording industry was to generate the profits needed to get the music to as many people as possible.  To make it self sustainable. But now you don’t need the money to do that. In the same way that people used to be paid as telephone exchange operators, to connect one call to another, technology made that job obsolete. So whilst the music industry is declining, on the whole, it is only because the barriers that needed the financial clout to overcome have been removed. Therefore there isn’t a massive need to make as much money, to the benefit of the music community.

Of course we can only comment from the angle of the mainstream rock, indie, blues, etc, guitar based music industries. Another point is that there really is no such thing as one music industry, because the different genres of music are run so differently. We are good friends with a lot of recording studios that are based in the same building as us, and they mainly concentrate on Rap, R&B and House music, and they seem to be operating on a 180° opposite angle as most of the bands and record labels that we meet. They seem to put a lot of money into short-term acts, singles, and music videos, as opposed to most of the bands that we work with, who all have a 3 to 4 year plan and operate on making their money from albums and touring, with singles and videos being loss leaders. So again, as opposed to there being one big industry, there seems to be about 50 different smaller industries being run under the big umbrella classification of music. So while we have strong opinions on the mainstream guitar based music, we would not hazard a guess about how the other music industries operate.

What makes a band stand out to you?

When we meet bands with a view to recording them, first of all, we always look for a band that actually knows what sort of music they play. It is quite surprising the amount of times that you ask a band “so what sort of music are you into, what does your band sound like?” and then they will reply “oh, a bit of everything really!” If your band really does sound like a bit of everything, i.e., It mixes jazz fusion with folk, has African drums in it, has a heavy metal undertone, can be played in nightclubs, has hints of power ballads and reggae side-by-side, etc., then I guess it could be described as “a bit of everything.”  Unfortunately, it does not really help to narrow down what sort of music the band makes, so it is not really that helpful when a band gives that answer as a reply.

We really like it when we ask a band what sort of music they are into, and they are very direct.  To us, it shows that the band realises exactly where their market is, who they will appeal to, and how they can go about building their fan base. After all, if the band does not even know what sort of style they are, how will they know who to appeal to?

So if band says something to us like “we sound very British, with very clean guitars, melody lines a bit like the Beatles, but with the subject matter a bit like The Kinks, in that we write a lot about London, but also, when we play live, we tend to be a lot less restrained than we would in the studio, a bit like The Who,” something with an extremely clear direction, we think that it’s great. It means we don’t waste time experimenting in the studio, and the band can have a much more productive session.

We also really like it when a band realises that until they have one person to handle their marketing, one person to book gigs and another to raise money for the band, they are going to have to do all of those jobs themselves. It is really great to meet a band who is willing to roll up their sleeves and take on all of those jobs with gusto. We have had a few bands that have done very well at the studios, Caribou, Bombay Bicycle Club, Kyla LaGrange, Neil’s Children, as well as bands we have also worked with in the past like Mystery Jets and Enter Shakari, and you could see at the time that they were really willing to throw themselves into doing everything they could to build up their fan base, and it is really great to see these bands get the rewards that they deserve.

Needless to say, a band really needs to love what they’re doing. When speaking to all of these bands in the past, most of them, when you asked them about their band, were grinning like cheshire cats, thrusting their demos into your hand and waxing lyrical about past gigs and past recordings. So when you ask a band about how things are going for them, and when they start complaining about how hard it is to build up a following, or when you ask them where their next gig is and they say, “oh, somewhere in South London, I think it is in a few weeks time, I’m not sure”, then it is hard to really get excited about bands like that! If they cannot even get excited about their own band, and their own gigs, how can they expect anyone else to?!?

So I really love it when a band both has talent, is really passionate and bubbling with enthusiasm about their band, as well as being clear about what music their band actually plays. Enthusiasm is infectious, so in order for something to stand out to us, that usually happens when the band itself is proud of their music, and makes us want to hear their band.  Needless to say, the music has to be great too, but we find that that will take care of itself, and doesn’t need to much analysis.

Future plans?

We were looking at opening a second rehearsal studio complex in Bow,East London, this year. We have had a little hiccup with the funding, so instead we put the money we had into the mixing facility in Muswell Hill, and from this we hope to make enough money to self fund the 2nd rehearsal studio complex in Bow. It makes sense, as we currently have about 115% – 125% demand compared to the amount of space that we have, so not only will it be great for the business, but also it will be great to open our doors to as many new bands as we can, and hopefully meet some more great people.

Apart from that, I am currently working with a publisher about getting a book published, called “Headliners Must Provide Backline” which hopefully should be out early next year, in 2013, which is a look at the financial aspects of the unsigned band industry. We are also toying with the idea of opening another 2 rehearsal studios at our current premises. The main reason we have not done this previously is because we are keen to trade under the VAT limit, so that the session fee is kept as low as possible, but we feel that at some point we will need to start adding extra studios, to satisfy the demand we have, so hopefully we will be taking the plunge with that sooner, rather than later.

Anything else to add?

In case it  hasn’t already come across, we genuinely feel that there has never been a better time to be in the music industry.  We have spoken to people in their 70s who still played in bands, and they tell us about how their dad saved up for 18 months in the 1950′s to buy their 1st guitar.  But now, the minimum wage is about £6 per hour,  and you can buy a Squire Telecaster for £120. Over 2 weekends of a minimum wage job, you could buy a good quality guitar.   There are even cheaper guitars that are available for £80 or so.
Guitar amplifiers are also a lot cheaper than ever. We recently bought a 100 watt Fender Performer for £100 on eBay, and that is a great guitar amp, definitely gigable. Digital stereo recorders are about £75, brand-new.   So for kids that are looking at starting a band, there has never been a better time, we feel, to start one.

The other day we had a 5 piece band, who were all about 16-year-old.  They paid £50 to rehearse for 8 hours, so between them it was £10 each. One of them had a guitar that cost him £150, another had a bass guitar that was about £200, and the 2nd guitarist had a guitar that cost him £20 on eBay!!  We provided all of the backline, including drums and cymbals, leads, etc, so for little over £1 an hour each, and an initial investment of about £370 between them, they had everything they needed to start rehearsing. Between them, all they needed was to work for 60 hours at minimum wage, 12 hours each on average, and they had everything they needed to start a band. For every hour that they worked at minimum wage, they could have 5 hours of practising!  If they clubbed together and each put about £15 in each, they could buy a digital recorder, and they were telling us they were hoping to record something quite soon, themselves, and put it up on Facebook for their friends to hear.

You could visibly see how passionate they were about how they wanted people to hear their band, and to them the possibilities were endless, because even though they were only 16 years old, they did not need a record label to get their music from A to B; from their instruments into other peoples ears.  They were saying that they could put up all of their recordings online and see which ones were the most popular, something which years ago would never have been possible. It is a really satisfying part of the job, that we see so many new bands all the time, and not only is being in a band a dream for them, it is something which is firmly within their grasp.

It is great being around people who enjoy themselves so much.  While some bands hope that the band will generate the funds so that they can live off of it, it is brilliant to see bands who see music as its own reward; something they can do that is rewarding socially, artistically and something they can pour their energies into, that both challenges them, as well as being incredibly enjoyable.

Even coming across blogs such as this one too, the internet means that people can turn their passion into really worthwhile projects, that people can find both entertaining, as well as informative.  So while we work in the music industry, to us, music is something we fell in love with first and foremost, and it is great to see so many bands and people who feel the same way as us, such as yourself!  We’ve spent about an hour reading through your website today, and we’ll be firing emails across to a few people tomorrow, people who feel as passionate as we do about music.  To us, that’s the best thing about our job.

Save Seven Sisters South American Indoor Market

There has been a bit of press coverage recently about the South American Market at Seven Sisters Station that is at threat from closure to make way for a 7 story mixed-use building of residential properties and shops. The council seem to
be strongly in favour of it, a lot of the residents, the majority, seem to be very against it.

We are based just down the road from it, and we think that one of the best things about Tottenham is how unique many of the shops are. Apart from a few banks and betting shops, the vast majority of business's here are small independent business's. Walk up West Green Rd, and there are independent Caribbean, African and South American shops, sitting side by side. There are no chain shops that we can think of in the whole road, and we think it gives the area a unique feel.

We're not against plans to re-rejuvenate the area. On the contrary, the recent building work in Tottenham Hale has helped to really improve the area in such a quick time, and we're massively in favour of it. The area has taken on a feeling of vitality that was sorely needed, and we take our hats off the the builders and planners, they have done a sterling job. Our only concerns are that, if you are going to dictate to the residents how the future of their area will develop, and not listen to their opinions and take them on board, how are people meant to feel that the area is theirs? In the aftermath of the riots, many people said that there was a lack of pride, and they were bemused as to why people would wreck their own neighborhood. But when the council doesn't take the views of the locals on board, it's hard for people to really feel part of the community. How can you feel pride for something that isn't yours?

As the writer of the article points out, "From a Colombian mini-market I bought chocolate from Argentina, coffee from Brazil and seasoning from Peru. Spanish was being spoken everywhere." He's right, the area has a great feel, that cannot be easily replicated. Add to the mix that building work will shut the site down for 3 years, if the building schedule goes to plan, in which time many traders will have re-settled elsewhere, along with confirmation that rent will nearly double when it does opens, we can't help but feel that an important part of the community could be lost.

If the council want the residents to be proud of their area, they should invest in it, as opposed to bulldozing it and starting again. We like a Pizza Express meal as much as the next person, but we can't help feel that it would be a case of putting a square peg into a round hole. Anyone who has spent any time in the area can see that the shops currently there are there for a reason, ie. they are in demand. The residents want them. Force these independent business out, especially in such an economic climate, and with the added costs of relocating and finding new premises, many small business's could go under. And where would they go, even if they could re-locate? Most business's in the area, us included, are run on a tiny budget. When Mill Mead Road was closed last year for 7 days due to the shooting which sparked the riots, it took us the next 5 months to financially recover.

Why not build the complex at Tottenham Hale? There is a large bit of land in front of the station, currently occupied by Maplins and KFC. These are business's that would actually benefit from a sleeker presentation, and modern facilities. When they started re-developing Tottenham Hale, 1 business, a storage depot, was occupying a few acres. Storage depots don't make the same community contributions that cafes and bars do, so it was easy to knock it down and start from scratch. The owners were compensated. Will the business's in the market be compensated?

At the end of last year, the Walthamstow Standard shut down, replaced by a chain supermarket, and with it, another reason to visit the area. We hope that the same doesn't happen to "El Pueblito Paisa". If the business's are affected, we hope they will be compensated and assisted, and suitable replacement units, within the local vicinity, are sourced prior to them leaving their current locations. At the very least, we hope that people will pop along to see the market while it's still here. It's right outside Seven Sisters tube station, and is barely 12 mins from Kings Cross.

Monday, 22 October 2012

A Tube station for Northumberland Park.

Bally Studios recently celebrated 7 years of trading in Tottenham Hale, and, as co founder, I have been based in the area for over 8 years. In 2003, I was living in Highbury and Islington, a few mins walk away from the tube station. At the time, my partner and I were paying £798 a month for a one bedroom flat. The bedroom, a single, could barely accommodate a double bed. You had to climb over the bed to get to the wardrobe. There was no kitchen, just a small kitchenette in the corner of the sitting room. We lived on a busy main A-road, where lorries would pass constantly, and had a small, unofficial ledge for outside space. The rent was cheaper than most flats, as we were years into a tenancy. At the time, we were working as club promoters, so we would spend the whole week working from home, preparing for 2 weekly club nights, on Friday and Saturday night. Despite having some of the best bars in London on our doorstep, a limited budget meant we didn't have the disposable income to frequent them. With heavy heart, and craving more space., we decided to relocate, and look further afield.

At the first 3 estate agents we went to see, when we said our priority was “as much square footage for the money as possible”, all 3 of them focused in on Tottenham. Despite having lived in Highbury and Islington for years, we had never even ventured over to Tottenham, less so considered living there. One of the first properties we saw was a 1,050 sq foot 2 bedroom, Victorian property. Front and back garden, right near local bus routes, high ceilings, and, best of all, it was £758 a month, compared to the £798 a month we were paying for a place less than 1/3 of the size, which had no outside space. The property had just been renovated, and was situated in a quiet area, and we jumped at the opportunity to secure the property.

Our new home was based in Foyle Rd, a few mins walk away from Northumberland Park Train Station. Over the next few years of living in this area, it became obvious that many other people living in the area has similar reasons for being based there as we had. Young families, priced out of surrounding areas, relocated for the extra space that their budget could accommodate in Tottenham. Parking spaces were plentiful , a refreshing change. Tottenham marshes was based on our doorstep, and we grew so attached to the area, that when it came time to start a business for ourselves, we didn't hesitate to choose Tottenham as its location.

So when we saw a recent Twitter post by Bruce Castle News, highlighting a question that Joanne McCartney had put to London Mayor Boris Johnson about looking into the possiblity that he “ask TfL to conduct a feasibility study to for extending the Victoria Line to Northumberland Park” it was a subject that both appealed to our emotions, as well as one that, we felt, made sense, economically.

All tube trains currently go to Northumberland Park anyway, as this is where they are cleaned. There is a train-wash, like a car wash for tube trains, that can be clearly seen by people driving along Watermead Way. The tracks are already laid, but at present there is no platform and station facilities. Joanne McCartney shared the same hopes as many local residents, that Northumberland Park Train Station could be transformed into a tube station. Within minutes of us echoing her sentiments, Justin Hinchcliffe ‏of @TottenhamTories chirped in, that it had been “first proposed by us on 2001”. A quick internet search shows that local Labour MP, David Lammy felt that "the important thing is to deliver an extension on the Victoria Line sometime soon - people desperately need it in what is a deprived part of London."

So both the Tories and the Labour party, at a local level, seem to be in favour of it. Justin Hinchcliffe ‏of @TottenhamTories tweeted “we should make a united, cross-party push for it”, a sentiment we agreed with. Ken Livingstone, in 2003, was vocal for his support too, and Boris Johnson has backed a regeneration plan that promises ‘up to 10,000 new high quality homes and over 5,000 new jobs’ for Tottenham by 2025, as well as publicly backing Tottenham Hotspurs plans to build a new 56,000 all seater stadium next to their current stadium.

We've spoken to many people in the area that are equally vocal with their support. We, personally, feel that the plan for a Northumberland Park tube station would be of great benefit to the community. Support seems be be forthcoming from all areas for the plan., both socially and politically. But as of yet, the official line from TFL is “London Underground has already evaluated the business case to extend the Victoria line to Northumberland Park. The outcome (weighing up the benefits, demand and costs) indicated that the investment would not represent value for money and could not be justified when compared alongside other projects which would deliver greater benefits to London”.

At present, Northumberland Park station is a train station, National Rail, on the Stansted Express route. Despite it only having 1 or 2 trains per hour, depending on the time of day, passenger numbers have grown from 73,310 in 2004–05, to 125,000 in 2006/07, to 162,000 in 2008/2009, and, in 2009/2010, the last year we have figures for, 176,000 used the station, an all-time high. Popularity of the station has grown 150% in just 6 years, despite there being no significant change in the service. That's not to say it is 150% of what it was, it has GROWN that amount. It is 250% what it was. So that seems to contradict the official line that development “could not be justified”.

Northuberland Park is also a 5 mins stroll away from Tottenham Hotspurs Football ground, much nearer than the current 20 minute walk that it is from Seven Sisters station. Tottenham Hotspurs are planning on opening a new 56,00 stadium in less than 2 years. Each year, on average, there are 26 home games. (19 in the league, on average 7 in the Europa League, League Cup, FA Cup, depending of their performance in these competitions and if they are drawn at home or not. Catch them on a good year, and you'll see up to 32 games) Using Arsenal FC’s transport statistics (which I think is fair, considering the 2 teams are based only 1 stop apart at present, from Finsbury Park to Seven Sisters), “70% of football fans reply on other transportation means, other than private cars”. So that is up to 39,000 fans who could use the train station every game. We're business owners, so we are routinely cautious when it comes to projecting numbers, so lets say that there are only 25,000 people who would use public transport instead (which would represent only 45% of fans, as opposed to 70%), that would still equate to 650,000 fans per year who could potentially use the station from Tottenham games alone.

Add to that the 176,000 that were already using it, as a train station that has an hourly/half hourly service, and you already have 800,000 annual passengers. South Kenton only has 960,000 annual passengers. North Ealing 940,000, Grange Hill, Chigwell, Chesham and Theydon Bois have between 460,000 and 740,000 a year. So even discounting the fact that many people don't currently use it now because of the irregular service, and discounting the fact that usage for the station has been growing dramatically as it is, you still have a number nearing a million. Surely that is demand enough?

In fact, there are already massive amounts of work in place to regenerate the Tottenham Hale gyratory. Tfl themselves have said, “The current one-way system has high volumes of traffic.” http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/13315.aspx But currently, the only way that fans can get from the Tottenham ground to the tube station, and that local residents of Northumberland park can get to the tube also, is by putting this current system under even more pressure. You only have to spend a few days getting off of the tube at Seven Sisters and see the amount of people using the 341 and 476 bus routes, which take you to Northumberland Park, to see how many people need to travel to the area that already use the tube. More transport options, and a new tube station, would mean less buses on the road.

This is not even taking into account that the tracks are already in place!! The trains are already going there every day as it is. All you would need is a platform or two,and a station concourse. No tunnels, no tracks need to be laid. Of course, work would need to be done to re-route certain parts of the tracks, but compared to other more flagship projects that have recently taken place, such as the east London line, Crossrail and the Jubillee Line extension, the work would be nominal.

If budget is a concern, then there is the option to run it as a shuttle service from Seven Sisters, in the same way that the Northern Line, Mill Hill East branch is currently run. Tube passengers could interchange at Seven Sisters, from the platform, that currently serves Walthamstow Central, and change to the “Nothumberland Park Platform”, which is based approximately 100 feet away, on the same level. The same train could just keep going back and forth along the same line, and even taking into account the driver walking from one of of the train to the other when changing direction, it could still be more than possible to run a “4 train an hour service” in Non-peak times, and a direct service in peak times.

There is already increasing demand at Tottenham hale tube station, and it was named in a recent report into train/tube stations that are most susceptible to reaching capacity soon. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/05/london-rushhour-train-crowding-worst-20-years) Many people currently use the station as an interchange between the Victoria line and Stansted Express. Northumberland Park is already on the Stansted Express. Open it as a tube station, and you have another interchange that can be used by some of the 4 million annual commuters who use the National Rail/Stansted Express station at Tottenham Hale. Assuming that 2 million passengers are using Tottenham Hale in each direction, (half go one way, half go the other way) if 5% of the passengers who interchange at Tottenham Hale station for northbound travel were to change at Northumberland Park instead, that's another 100,000 passengers a year who could benefit directly from a Northumberland Park tube station. Even if it was only used at peak hours, it would take the burden off of Tottenham Hale alone, and would be preferable for many people as it would be a step free interchange, with the tube and train station at Northumberland park being at the same level. By providing secure cycle parking facilities, people from areas not served by the tube could be within cycling distance of it.

TFL assessment of the viability of the station is also missing a very obvious point. That the main reason there is no demand at present is because there is no tube station there! Therefore, there is less of culture of local residents using the tube. Before the o2 arena was built in North Grenwich, there was not much of a demand for concerts there, only because there was no venue! By building the infrastructure, the supply will create a demand for the product., as “Say's law” dictates, which was advocated by Economist John Maynard Keynes amongst others. And this is only counting people who would directly use the station for the local area and as a train interchange, and not counting the possibility of it being used as a bus interchange for surrounding areas. Within a couple of miles of the prospective site are areas that are currently not served by the Tube, such as Chingford, Edmonton, Enfield, Ponders End, Brimsdown and many others. It could be utilised as a vital interconnection between bus routes and tube stations, in the same way that Edgware, Stanmore and Walthamstow stations currently are.

The arguments for Northumberland park Tube station are strong. Even from a safety point of view, currently the whole of the Victoria line is underground, with it being the only tube line that has no open air sections. Heaven forbid, if there was an incidents even approaching the magnitude of the 7/7 attacks, it would act as a vital way for emergency services to access the Victoria Line, or for people to be evacuated quickly from. Property within the area is much cheaper, and there is also sufficient land in the area, in the form of industrial estates that have been for sale, and unsold, for years, that could be used for new housing, and a tube station would provide a transport hub for any such developments. TFL and the Mayor of London are vocally backing the Nine Elm development, which is being proposed in the same way, in that a new area of london could be created by a new tube station. Northumberland park could have a similar effect, at a fraction of the cost.

Even if it is just run as a shuttle service during off peak hours, to save money, and run as a direct service into central London or the peak hours of 7:30am – 9:30am and 4:30pm – 6:30pm, we hope that the scheme is given the opportunity it deserves. As a direct result of moving into the area, we founded a local business, which has resulted in 5 residents of Tottenham being employed. A small effect? Maybe. But imagine that multiplied by many more times. Better transport links would mean more people moving into the area, and the knock on effect can only be positive for local business’s. It could mean better bus and train interconnections, and an area of London synonymous with poverty can be given hope. It would also give the message that the government feels that Tottenham is an area worthy of investment. How do the government think that people feel when they hear Tfl say the area is not worthy of investment and that “other projects (would) would deliver greater benefits to London”. If the London Riots of last year showed us anything, it is that we should not be concentrating our efforts on the areas of London that would solely generate more income, rather that we should be investing in areas such as this. MP's are in cross party support. Residents would benefit, as would local business’s would.

On 7th August, 2011, The UK was shocked by the riots in Tottenham, and the image of Allied carpets, burning well into the night, was a catalyst that created more rioting over the next week. I remember watching it myself. I had, a couple of months earlier, moved onto the property ladder, and I was having a house party that night to celebrate purchasing my first home. Party guests who understood my affiliation with Tottenham brought the matter to my attention, and about 20-30 of us, with glasses of wine and beer in hand, watched the footage of the riots on TV, with great sadness, until about 3am. When everyone had left, I stayed up until 8am watching the footage. I went into work the next day, at 11am, witnessing, first hand, the widespread looting that was happening the next morning at the Tottenham Hale retail park. The image of Allied carpets ablaze, that night, was the enduring image, for me, of the London riots. When we were soundproofing the studios on it's first day, in 2005, I bought a job lot of carpet that was frayed at the edges, for 50% off, from that very store. It as symbolic for me, that on the night I was celebrating stepping onto the property ladder, the very building that put me on the way, was burning to the ground.

The empty shell of this building lies 850 yards from Northumberland Park Train station. What a fine legacy it would be if Northumberland park were to have it's own Tube station. How are people meant to feel proud about their own community when transport for London openly state that it is not worthy of investment, while other, more financially affluent areas, are given mass funding? The government is not meant to be investing in areas that are already financially strong money. That is what the private sector is for. By investing now, it will help to revitalize an area, and hopefully prevent some of the scenes we saw last year. This area helped me to create financial stability for myself. I am sure it can do the same for others.

We sincerely hope that TFL reconsider their stance, and we hope that the mayor for London, and the Government, both at a local and national level, put their support behind this worthy scheme. It has our full support.

15 things that have happened at Bally - 2005 - 2012

1) I was once taking payment from a band at the end of a session, when the band member I was dealing with suddenly had a terrified look come over his face. He just froze, and “shushed” me, while trying to listen to something. I stayed quiet, not sure what was happening. When I started listening too, I could suddenly hear a woman laughing, walking down the corridor. As the woman got nearer, she started talking. The fellow I had been dealing with suddenly started panicking, and started to look around to see if there was an alternative way out of the office that didn't include going out into the corridor. Our studio 4 leads out from the back of the office, so he started trying to open the door, but was so panicked that he was having a hard time trying to open it; his hands were flapping all over the place, and he kept on trying to push the door, as opposed to pulling it.

By now the woman was right outside the door, and she enters the office to make herself a tea. Immediately as she enters the office, she looks at the guy, and freezes. They both stop and stare at each other, both with a “rabbit in the headlights” look on their faces. After about 5-10 seconds of silence, she starts screaming at him, “What the f##k are you doing here!” and he starts to apologise profusely!!

It turned out that about a year earlier, they had been dating, and one day she had come home to find him gone, along with 2 of her guitars, an amp and a few guitar effects. He changed his number, and she had been looking for him, on and off, for the past year. It turned into a very entertaining argument. He actually had one of her guitars with him at the studio, which she repossessed from him.

2) One of the band members went to a shop to grab some beers. He came into the office, and asked if we had a bottle opener for his beers. I handed him one, and he said, “Have you got a second bottle opener, I have 2 beers”. I was just trying to work out if it was some sort of joke, when he suddenly realised what he said, and started shaking his head, saying “shit, sorry mate, I'm a dick, I can just open both of the bottles with the same opener.....”


3) We once received a CV and covering letter in the post, asking if there were any jobs available at the studio, written entirely in text speak. All of it. 2 pages worth. An exerpt; “Ya cn trst mee, EZ gng and hNest, gd w/ PPL, KWK lrner, gr8 wrk efik".

4) One Sunday morning, at 10:15am, I had a band member call me up, and as soon as I answered the phone, he launched into a tirade of abuse “You f##king idiot, I am standing here waiting, for you to get your f##king a##e to the studio, how dare you keep me waiting!!! You're late!!” He spent about 90 seconds in total, and after 15 seconds, I realised what had happened, but every time I tried to explain, he would cut me off.

At the end of the 90 seconds, after which he had castigated me for not turning up to the studio on time, he said he was going to “bloody well leave this bloody band with these idiots, these morons, who can't even turn up on time, that I am in a band with. Why am I the only person that can ever turn up to anything on time?”. When there was a pause, I asked him if he had forgotten about the fact that the clock went back last night, and his session as booked for 11am, and it was only 10:15am, and there was still 45 mins to go before the session started? There was a 10 second silence, followed by a “shit, sorry mate........” 

5) In 2008 , on a Saturday, a guy came into the studio and said that he had a session booked. I was a bit confused as all of our studios were all currently booked up that day, but he said that he was booked into studio 6. I explained to him that we did not have a studio 6, and he looked a bit confused, went to the fridge, bought himself a coke, and said that he was going to call one of his bandmates to see what was happening. About 5 min later he came back in, and said "it looks like I turned up at the wrong place! Sorry about that mate!" We said our goodbyes, and he left.

About 10 mins later, the same guy came back, walked into the office, and said "Hi mate, I am here for a rehearsal, studio 6?" For about 10 seconds I was awfully confused as to what was happening, and then I slowly told him that we did not have the studio 6, and was he sure that he had the right rehearsal studios? (I was thinking that maybe he might be a little bit mental...) He said to me, "no, I think this is the place, but I will just call the rest of the guys. Do you sell coke?" By now I was sure that he was mental, and half sure that maybe he was just trying to wind me up, but I told him that we did have coke, he bought a can, then went into the car park to call his bandmates. Again, he came back 5 mins later and said "Yeah , looks like I got the wrong place, sorry about that, cheers mate!!"

      For the next few weeks I had put it down that maybe the guy had genuine problems, and there is no way on earth he could be pulling my leg. Three weeks after the incident, again on Saturday, I was sitting in the office when the same guy came in and said, "Hi mate, I am here for a rehearsal and this time I have the right Studios!" I checked the diary and, indeed, this time he did have the right Studios. We exchanged pleasantries, and he bought a can of coke from the office shop, and I showed him into his studio.

I left him in the studio, and then walked back to the office. Upon entering it, he was now in the office standing there, despite the fact that I had just left him in studio one! He said, "hi mate, it is me again, do you remember me? I am here for a rehearsal, and I have the right place this time! remember last time I turned up at the wrong Studios? God that was embarrassing!!" He had a can of coke in his hand. By now I was trying to work out how the hell he had got from the studio back into the office without passing me. I was seriously confused at this point and was convinced that it was some sort of prank.

He asked if I could show him into the room so I showed him around, all the while I was in a state of bewilderment. It is only when I walked into studio one that I realised that they were in fact twins, who were wearing exactly the same clothes, (black band hoody, jeans and Converse trainers) and I had been speaking to two different people each time. Their band mate had sent them a text saying “Rehearsal this Saturday, at the studios near Tottenham Station, but he had mean to say “Tottenham Court Rd station. They had been to the studios years ago, and turned up at our place, thinking it was the studios he meant. They also just both happen to like cans of coke!

6) A band was rehearsing on a Friday night, from 6pm. to 11pm. and planned to leave all of their equipment set up overnight, and rehearse the next day on the Saturday, from 11am to 3pm. They popped into the office at 11pm. on the Friday and said that they were leaving, and was there any reason for me to go into their room? I told them that I just had to turn off the lights, and that was it, as long as everything else was all switched off. So the band members said, "I will switch off all the lights mate, so you do not need to go into the studio, save yourself the effort of going in there. All you need to do is lock the door mate, that is it!" That sounded good to us, so he went back to the room and switched off all the lights for us.

It was only while we were going to lock the front door that we suddenly heard that a couple of the guitar amps have been left on, and we suspected that the PA may have been left on as well, so, without thinking, we popped our heads into the door to switch off the amps, to save electricity overnight. The amplifiers were on the far side of the room, and you could see the red light glowing in the dark, and we would have had to walk across the room to switch them off, so I switched on the lights, to save tripping up on anything.

Upon switch on the lights, we suddenly realised why it was that the band did not want us to go into the room. There were approximately 10 to 12 hard-core porn magazines strewn around the carpet, condoms hanging from a microphone stand, a blow up doll in the corner, as well as a few other strange items. Jimmy paused for about 30 seconds, surveying what was in the room. Although it seems very strange, we just thought that we would just switch off the amps, leave the room as it was, and as long as the room was in good order and the band left the room in a good condition tomorrow, we would not make any comments.

      Upon turning off the amplifiers, and the PA, which was on, we saw a few bottles on the edge of an amplifier that did not have a lid on them. Knowing how easy is is for a bottle to spill, Jimmy picked up the bottle and went to put it on the floor, to save the amplifier being damaged from anything being spilled onto it. . When he picked up the bottle, it was alarmingly warm. He stared at the bottle, wondering why it was so warm, and it was only after about 5 seconds that he realised that the bottle was in fact full of piss! So disgusted by this revelation, Jimmy let out a big scream of "Uuuuurrrrrrgggggghhhhhh", but at this stage he had not actually turned off the PA system, and with his focus on the bottle of piss, did not realise that he was only inches away from the microphone. Therefore his "Uuuuurrrrrrgggggghhhhhh" was amplified through 3000 Watt PA system, and reverberated around the corridors at the studio!!

He quickly put the bottle of piss down, switched off the PA, and was just about to walk out the door when the bassist from the band who was rehearsing in there suddenly walked in the door against him. He had left his jacket in the studio. The bassist and Jimmy locked eyes, the bassist looked around at the room, and was visibly embarrassed by everything. He started trying to explain why everything was there, and Jimmy said that it was not his business to know, as long as everything was all neat and tidy for the next day, we would ignore what we had seen, mainly because we were so embarrassed by it all!!

     The next day we turned up at the studio at 11am, and the band did not turn up. At first we starting to worry that they were not going to turn up at all, but then we remembered that all of their equipment was in the room so they would have to turn up at some point. At approximately 2pm., after Jimmy had left several voicemails on their phone, the band sheepishly turned up, gave £44 for their session that day, without playing a note, as well as paying for the session the day before, and packed up their equipment and left without saying a word to us, even though we were trying to talk to them. They never booked at the studio again, the room was returned to a neat condition, the porn mags had disappeared, the bottles of piss had gone, and we never heard from the band again, and never found out what the hell was happening in there!

7) When we first bought the studios there was already someone who was working for the previous owner . Although we were planning on taking on all of the shifts ourselves in an effort to save money, he asked us if he could keep working at the studio, in return for the experience, and also to get some cheap rehearsals for his band. We said that this was no problem, as long as it was on the understanding that we could not guarantee the shifts, which he was fine with. His band got free storage at the studio, and free rehearsal sessions, so the agreement worked out quite well for both of us.

       One day we were painting the studios, and his band turned up, and said that although they did not have a session booked, would it be possible for them to do a rehearsal? We told them that one of the rooms was empty, and that they were free to go in there, as long as they were able to sort everything out themselves, as at the moment we had paint all over the place, so we may not be able to set up the PA for them without washing our hands, etc. They said that was absolutely no problem, they were fine with doing that. About 4 hours later, the band had finished, and we were still painting in one of the other studios. One of the band members came in and said, "Great, we are all finished now, we will be popping off in a few minutes." We asked them if they could ask the guy who is working for us o pop in, so that we could arrange which shifts he was doing in the next week, and they said that he was not at the rehearsal, that they had done a rehearsal without him.

They asked if this was a problem, and we said it was not, and was there anything else that they needed? They said “No, but could we pop around to the office to collect their payment?” We said that there was no fee for them, because of the arrangement that we had, and they seemed very happy at this, and walked off, with a spring in their step! (We assumed that they thought it was only when their other member, who was doing the odd shifts was there, that they would get the free rehearsals)

It was only about 10 mins later when we suddenly noticed that the band had come back, and they asked us "Sorry, what agreement that we have? Do we usually get free rehearsals?" We quickly realised that the band had been paying their bandmate, who had been working for us for their rehearsals, as well as charging them for the storage, but keeping all of the money for himself. Unfortunately it meant that he had lost a lot of trust both from the band, and us. He stopped both working for the studio and playing in the band soon after.

8) At the end of a rehearsal in 2007, when I went into one of the studios to close up for the night, I noticed that a guitarist had left a guitar in the room. I knew that there were 3 guitarists in the band so I peeked into the hardcase to see what the guitar was, so that I could explain to them which one had been left, and noticed that it was a 1970s Gibson Les Paul, an original one, left-handed. I thought that the guy would probably realise when he got home that it was missing, so I thought I would give them a call just to tell him that I had put it away in the storage cupboard for him and he could either come back the next day to collect it, or he could collect it at his next rehearsal.

It was now about 40 mins since he had left the studio, so I thought it was worth giving him a call. I tried about 3 times to call him, every time I got a voice mail, so I just hung up. About 10 mins later I thought I had better leave a voice message on his phone in case he checked it when he got back, to save him panicking when he realised that his guitar had gone. So I called his phone, intending on leaving a voicemail, and this time the guy actually picked up. I was a bit thrown, as I did not expect to get through to him, I was expecting to leave a voicemail. To be polite, and make small talk, I said to him that it was good to see him again that night, I hoped he had enjoyed the rehearsal, and I was just about to say that I had found the guitar when he suddenly started saying, "Look mate, this is the worst possible time for you to call me!"

He was audibly panicking, so I went to tell him that if was because of his missing guitar that he was worried, that I had found it. I kept trying to tell him, but he kept interrupting me. He then said "I have left my bloody guitar on the train about 20 mins ago, and I have been trying to chase the train ever since then! I am in a cab at the minute , and we are going to try to cut the train off at Stockwell station, where hopefully I can get back on it and try to find it. I have contacted the London Underground and they are going to try to stop the train also."

I told him that he had not left it on the train, he had left it in the room, and he said "No, definitely not mate, I definitely left it on the train, I definitely remember seeing it on the train." I asked him was it a left-handed Les Paul. He said "Yes.” “Gold Top?” “Yes....” I told them that unless someone else from this band had also left a left-handed 1970s Gibson Les Paul Goldtop there, then he had definitely left it at the studio! There followed about 20 seconds of silence, followed by the sound of a grown man weeping. It turned out he had spent the last 20 mins driving around London in a cab, trying to chase a non-existent guitar on a train!

9) We were setting up the bands equipment for them for their rehearsal, and the guitarist asked if it was possible to put his guitar through the PA. We asked if it was an acoustic guitar, and he said that yes it was, so there was no problem.

He then went to hand us a guitar lead, but we suddenly realise that the guitar lead was actually coming out of the guitar head!! So he was plugging his acoustic guitar into a guitar head, and then taking the speaker output from that and plugging it into a line in input from the mixing desk!! (For people who are not quite sure about why this would be wrong, guitars usually output signal, which is about 1/10,000th the level of electricity, which is what the guitar head puts out!) More to the point, the guitar head was already turned on, so he was handing us a cable with electric current going through it!!

We quickly dropped the speaker cable and ran and switched off the guitar head, and asked him if you realised what he had just been doing!?! He said "Oh yeah, sure. I just use the head as a preamp, and then run the signal through the PA to get the volume. I just use the head as a way to boost the volume, what is wrong with that?" We told him that he was actually plugging in 240 V into a mixing desk that can barely handle more than 10 V, he said "Really? I have done that at other places before."

Just as we were trying to think about the hell he could have done this, the singer from the band said "Oh yeah, but remember that last place we went to, when the mixing desk exploded, remember we had already unplugged the guitar head out of the desk by the time the guy had got to the room. Do you think that is what could have caused it?" Yes, in our opinion that was definitely what caused it!! We never did find out what the other Rehearsal Studios was that had had a mixing desk blown up by the band, and we were thankful that we managed to catch it in time.

10) A band had been rehearsing at the studio quite regularly, about once a week, for about a year. Over the last few weeks though, we could sense that there was tension between them and their drummer. He had been leaving the sessions early, paying his bit of the money separately without them, and had not been joining them while they were going for breaks, instead staying in the room chatting on the phone.

One day, the band called up and asked if they could book a session but under a different band name. We recognised their phone number and their voice, and said, "Oh, so not the usual band name then?" They said, "No, this is a different project, a side project." They wanted to book in for the coming Friday, so we booked them in.

A couple of days later, another band, one we had never spoken to before, called up and asked if they could have a studio rehearsal, for the coming Friday, and we booked them in as well. About 2 hours after this booking was made, we had a phone call from the drummer from the regular band, the band with the tension within it. The current member of staff who took the phone call had only been working there for about a week, so when the drummer asked "Can you check the diary please to let me know if ######(the regular band name) have booked in, for this Friday" our member of staff looked at the booking schedule, and told him they were not in there. This was because they had booked in under a totally different name. The regular band had done so because they were worried in case the drummer had called up the studio to check to see if the booking had been made. We only found out on the day of the session that they were planning on doing a session with a brand-new drummer, who they were keen to audition, and were keen for him to not find out, hence why they booked in under a different name. But unfortunately,their drummer was actually planning on auditioning for a brand-new band, on the same night, and when he called up to check to see if his current band was booked in that day, because they had booked in under a different name, we told them that they had not.

       On the day of the booking, the drummer is in the office, making a cup of coffee for himself, when the rest of his bandmates from his regular band came into the office, and shocked to see him there, asked what he was doing there? He asked them why they are there? A period of about 10 seconds of silence follows. Just then, the new drummer that the regular band was auditioning turns up and says, "Hi, can you tell me where (he then names the lead singer and the guitarist in the band by name) are, I am here to audition for them, as the drummer."

With everyone visibly embarrassed by this, as the regular drummer is standing there, he realises that the band is auditioning his replacement that night. As a silence sweeps the room, the female lead singer from the new band that he was trying out for comes into the office and says "Come on in mate, we are all ready for you now, let's see how your drums sound with our music!" It was pretty clear that both the regular band was auditioning a new drummer, and the drummer was auditioning for a new band.

Strangely enough, the drummer then said to his bandmates, who were auditioning his replacement that he had just dropped by the studio to collect something, and his regular band said that they were just doing an acoustic session, with no drummer. Although it is pretty damn obvious that this was not the case for either of them, everyone had just heard what everyone else had said, they both pretended that this was the case, went along with the lie, and nothing more was said. The regular band actually came to a couple more rehearsals with their original drummer, but soon after that, they turned up to their session with a totally different drummer, and nothing more was said to us about the situation.

11) We once had a guy in a band who was asking me about the other bands that we have rehearsing at the studio. I mentioned a band that had recently released an album that was getting rave reviews in the press, as they have been rehearsing at the studio regularly, and in fact they were rehearsing at the studio at the exact time we were having the conversation. So I said to him, "Well, we have ######## (band name withheld) rehearsing here, they had been rehearsing here for quite a bit" and the guy said "Oh, I absolutely love that band!! They are great!!" At that exact point, the lead singer from the band that had been getting rave reviews, the band we were just talking about, came into the office, so I said to him "This fella here is a big fan of ########, you guys should speak to each other!"

So the lead singer of the band turned to the guy said, "Oh, so you like ########## eh?" He was saying it in a knowingly joking manner, seeing as it was his band. Unfortunately, the guy who was such a big fan of the band, did not recognize the lead singer, and said "yeah, I love them! Well, their new album is a bit shit mind, they seem to have jumped on the bandwagon a bit, so it's not as good as their other albums....." I had assumed that he would recognise the lead singer of one of his favourite bands, and had not actually told him who was, as I did not think I needed to. It was then that I informed the guy that he was in fact talking to the lead singer of #########. An awkward silence followed.......

12) We also had an occasion where a band was in the office watching some football and then another band came into the office to make some tea . The drummer in the band making the tea suddenly said to the band watching football, "Oh, hi guys , remember me? We met the other day at ####### (I have withheld the name of the venue) How's it going?" The band did not react strongly as the drummer did, but started saying "Oh yeah, I think I remember you. Yeah, it was a good gig wasn't it. Shame that the sound was so shit, apart from that it was a good night though. You were playing in one of the other bands, weren't you?" The drummer's face dropped, he stopped stirring the tea, and looking directly into the face of the band, said "No. I was the sound man. And maybe if you guys had not stop turning up your guitar amps on stage, maybe the sound would not have been so bad....." Another awkward silence followed......

13) There was one band who used to rehearse at the Studios regularly who had a band member who was notoriously unorganised. Numerous times, his band members had said that they would have to call him on the day to make sure that he had remembered when their rehearsal session was, and that there were numerous times he had to tell them that he had forgotten, or had thought it was another day.

The band had just finished a rehearsal, and had come into the office to pay, and while they were paying, they mentioned to us that they had a very big gig on the coming Thursday. They started saying to their bandmate that he had to 100% be sure to be at the venue by 6:30pm, because it was an extremely important gig. They had spent many months trying to secure this gig, and they were very keen to make the most of it. He said to them "Yes, I will definitely make sure I do that!" They were insistent that he need to write in his diary and put a reminder on his mobile phone, to which he kept saying "Don't worry, I will definitely remember!!"

But still they were insistent, and it was only after a lot of persuading that he made a note in his diary and his mobile phone "6:30pm, meeting with band, make sure I am not late!!" They kept on checking with him that he understood, and he kept reassuring them that he did.

       Come the next Thursday, we were setting up the studios for the evening rehearsals, and the unreliable band member suddenly walks into the office, at 6:20pm, and says "See, what did I tell you, I told you that I would be here on time!! I am here early, and they are nowhere to be seen!! See, they said it was an important rehearsal, and I have not let them down!" I said to him, "I thought it was a gig that you guys were doing, in Brixton? I thought you were supporting a band, not a rehearsal.....," He thought to himself for a few seconds, and quickly turned around, and starts sprinting down the corridor, saying, "Shit, I cannot believe that I forgot about the gig!! They are going to kill me!!"

14) We once had a band who was in the office, making tea, and he received a text message on his phone from his work colleague asking if he was available for work the next day, in the evening. He worked as a journalist and photographer for a national magazine. While he was in the office, he texted back to say that "No, he was not available", and then complained to us that they were always getting him to go in and do extra work.

The next week, when he came in, all of his bandmates were laughing at him. It turned out that the "job" was covering the Led Zepplin 2007 gig at the O2 Arena. His boss had thought that if he had mentioned the name of the gig when asking people if they were available for it, that he would have had multiple people saying yes, so he decided to ask if everyone was available and the person who said yes would be deserving of going to such a show! Ironically enough, on the night that he got a text message from his boss, his band was actually covering "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", by Led Zeppelin, in the rehearsal studio!!

15) I was locking up the studio one night, in 2006, when the office phone started to ring. I left the door studio 2 slightly open and ran to get the phonecall from the office. While I was running to get the phone, 2 teenagers passed me in the corridor, but I paid no attention to them. After getting the phone call, which was a band booking a session, I returned to locking studio 2 up.

All of the lights had already been turned out in the studio, and I just had to lock the door. Upon approaching studio 2, I saw one of the teenagers standing outside the studio. I said hello to him, and the teenager started saying "Hey man, can you show me the rest of your studios please, I am looking to do an album?" 
    We get a a lot of teenagers who want to have a look around the studio who are not serious about recording an album, they just want to have a look around a professional recording studio to be nosy, and also the recording session had just finished, so the studio was in a bit of a state, and I was already late for my next job, so I asked the guy if he lived near? "Just down the road!" replied the teenager. So I said to him, "Come up tomorrow, I will give you the full tour!" The teenager started to get a bit angsty, and said it was vital that he sees the studios now. I reiterated that I could not, as I was already very late, and it usually takes about 15 to 20 mins to properly check out the studio, that he would be more than happy, as he said, to reschedule.

I locked studio 2 up and started walking out, but by now the guy was visibly panicked and demanding to see the studio. It is only when I was walking down the road that the guy confessed that his friend had gone into studio 2, and I had just locked him in!!
    I asked why the guy was in studio 2, and his friend said he was "just looking at the studio". So I popped back to the office, switched on the CCTV, rewound the footage for studio 2, and saw footage of me turning off all the lights, hearing the phone ring and running to the office, then the two teenagers coming into the studio 2, turning on the lights, and starting to pick up microphones and putting them into their pockets! Then I noticed one of them hearing somebody coming, and running outside while the other one hid behind the drum kit, at which point you see me arriving outside studio 2. It was now pretty clear that the teenagers were actually stealing stuff from studio 2.
    Upon watching the footage with me the teenager that was not locked in the room started backtracking and saying "They were only pretending to steal microphones they would definitely have brought them back!" While I was trying to think about what to do, whether to call the police or not, the guy who was in the office with me started pleading for me to release his friend, who was still locked in studio 2!

At that point, a pastor from a local African church popped his head around the office, and asked the teenager who I was talking to why he was in my office? It turned out the guy who was locked in the studio was a son of the pastor, and this was his cousin I was talking to! I explained to the Pastor exactly what happened, and showed him the CCTV footage himself. For the next 6 months, whenever we came into the studio on a Sunday, the 2 boys who were trying to steal the microphones were to be seen sweeping the church for approximately 45 mins after each service, taking out rubbish bins, and distributing leaflets, as punishment for trying to steal the microphones!