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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September 2004, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Road to Stardom: The rock band
By Ian Youngs
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Making headway in the music industry has been a struggle for Leeds-based band Four Day Hombre. In the final feature about the realities of making it in the entertainment world, singer Simon Wainwright tells BBC News Online of their ups and downs.

Four Day Hombre. Photo: Louise Helliwell
Four Day Hombre have just released their latest single, Mr M
Four Day Hombre had the world at their feet a year ago - interest from a scrum of record labels, airplay on BBC Radio 1 through an unsigned band competition and a sparkling future apparently ahead.

"We were all incredibly positive and thought there was no way we could fail at that point to get a really good deal because the reaction was just incredible," Wainwright says.

"At one point, we had almost every label in the country ringing us and chasing us and asking about us and coming to see us.

"But from that, nothing really came - we got offered a couple of deals that we didn't think were right. For one reason or another, whether it was creatively or financially, we didn't take them.

"We thought there would be more coming because it was such a positive response and they were all saying they loved it so much.

"But that's what we've learnt more than anything about the industry - what people say and what happens are two different things."

The amount of people who succeed compared to the amount of people who fail is insignificant
Simon Wainwright
The response stemmed from one demo tape the five-piece group sent to just a handful of contacts in the industry after four years together.

Contacts

They had already been down the traditional route of sending CDs to record companies - but Wainwright says it is "almost impossible" to attract interest that way.

"You might as well just throw them in the bin to be honest," he says, because most deals are the result of contacts or a good manager.

Their successful demo was sent to a lawyer, a press officer and a journalist - who soon spread the word and it got entered in the Radio 1 competition before being released as a one-off single on an independent label run by a leading music PR company.

The band did not make any money from the sold out 1,500-copy run, Wainwright says, because of the amount spent on recording, manufacture and promotion.

"The first single was more of a publicity drive. It was great to get something out there for people to hear and wake people up to the fact that we exist."

Four Day Hombre
The band want to keep creative control of their music
They received offers from other record companies - but the money was not enough for the band members to give up their jobs, or it would have meant relinquishing creative control.

Advances

Most deals see labels give bands a big advance - but the band has to fund the album recording and living costs until album sales starts flowing in, Wainwright says.

In Four Day Hombre's case, the advances were not big enough.

"It didn't really seem enough at the time to really help us along our way and it looked like we would be in real trouble later along the line," he says.

"It wasn't about the money in terms of wanting to be rich because it was peanuts really in terms of a real investment."

The singer says the deals may have worked out - but he also knows bands who did sign contracts at the same time but have now been dropped and are even worse off.

"Whichever way you turn, it's going to be really difficult because it's a really tricky industry and the amount of people who succeed compared to the amount of people who fail is insignificant," he says.

People want instant return and are so scared of failure
Simon Wainwright
And labels are under so much pressure to sell large numbers that the industry is "incredibly cut-throat", he says.

"People are always looking for a quick sell. There are loads of exceptions - there are some great labels and there are some brilliant people working in the industry.

"But because people want instant return and are so scared of failure in that way, people are just looking for things that will immediately sell."

Now the band are doing what they have always done - working on their music and building their fan base through gigs and their website - while holding down jobs in design and IT.

Nine-to-five

The combination of late-night gigs around the country and nine-to-five jobs can be arduous, Wainwright says.

"We can be gigging in London and then get back to Leeds at about 4.30 or 5am and then get up for work at 7.30 or 8am. And then maybe do three gigs in a week, coming back to work in the days."

If we wanted to do it for the money or the career, we definitely would have chosen something else
Simon Wainwright
Gigs can make some money - but not a lot - with other income from CD and merchandise sales through their website.

But the band swallows a lot of money - from shooting their latest video to fuel for their van - so most funds come from the band members themselves, Wainwright says.

"If we wanted to do it for the money or the career, we definitely would have chosen something else.

"The reason we're all doing it is because we all love writing music and playing music and no other reason at all.

"It would be the most ludicrous way to try to become famous or make money - it's so, so hard."

Four Day Hombre are playing at Baby Jupiter, Leeds, on 23 September.


SEE ALSO:
New Music: Four Day Hombre
21 Jul 03 |  Entertainment
Road to Stardom: The singer-songwriter
19 Aug 04 |  Entertainment
Road to Stardom: The actress
12 Aug 04 |  Entertainment
Road to Stardom: The comedy actress
26 Aug 04 |  Entertainment


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