The following article by Paddy Murray was originally published by The Sunday World on July 2nd.
They sing. They write songs. They perform.
And neither particularly likes the music industry.
“Just a few weeks ago, Meatloaf went online to urge his fans NOT to buy the latest re-release of Bat Out of Hell,” Picturehouse lead singer Dave told me the other day.
“Why? Because he doesn’t make a penny out of the song,.”
Meatloaf explained that though he and Jim Stein man wrote the song which has sold 44 million copies around the world, “Jim and I have gotten, I am serious, pennies.”
Dave has had his fill of record companies too.
“I hope this doesn’t sound bitter, because I’m not. But we’ve struggled with the music industry from the start. Most bands do. And certainly most Irish bands do,” he said.
“The trouble is, the music industry isn’t designed to help the artists. We’ve tried to get our albums back from a record company that doesn’t appear to have any interest in them, but they won’t give them back. So everything we do, we do ourselves – in fact, we even made the albums and funded them ourselves but still can’t get our hands on them.”
Picturehouse has come and gone and come back again always, it seems, against the odds.
Now, they have a new vinyl album – How Do I Explain How This Came To Be – on the way, Sunburst is being re-released and they will perform in the National Concert Hall on September 13.
“I love music. We love music. But you need luck, timing, being in the right place at the right time – all sorts, to make the breakthrough. It’s always been that way.
“An English label signed us. But because we weren’t Blur or Oasis, they didn’t know what to do with us.
“We almost signed with a massive Scandinavian kingpin who had several independent labels. He was to sort out paperwork over the weekend. But he died. And that was that.”
And Dave said that, even when things went spectacularly right, they went spectacularly wrong!
“We supported the Corrs on tour and sold 10,000 albums at eight shows. But the venue took 25 per cent, we had to buy each record from the record company for £6.50, we had to buy our place on the tour and pay our own costs. So despite selling 10,000 records, we were out of pocket.
“When the band first folded, despite all our success, we were €86,000 in debt!”
The Picturehouse story is one that could be told by dozens of brilliant Irish bands who lost out over the years…
“The system is rigged against the artist,” Dave said.
And he’s a staunch defender of Pop Music. “I think there is snobbery about – some people seem to forget that “pop” stands for popular.
“We had sold out two gigs in the Olympia a while ago and one music critic complained about our ‘over zealous’ fans!!! That’s a new one. Complaining about the fans.”
Fans of Dave and his music can also catch him, with guitarist EsaTaponen in Don Baker’s pub, Brogan’s, in Trim on September 16th.
And, of course, Dave fronts an extremely popular wedding band The Controversial All Stars as well as running a car company called MotorBroker.ie, which imports quality cars from the UK.
“Music and cars. My two passions,” Dave says.
Here’s hoping for a Sunburst, not a Cloudburst, on September 13.