15 true stories from Bally Studios
It's an interesting job working at a rehearsal stuidos, Although a lot of the work isn't that glamorous (cleaning rooms, emptying bins, fixing broken cables, etc) it's still a lot more interesting than most. Jimmy has cast his mind back to 15 things that have happened at the studio over the first 10 years that have stuck in his memory, all of them true.
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 “shhushed” me, while trying to listen to something. I stayed quiet, not being sure what was happening. When I started listening too, I could hear a woman laughing, walking down the corridor. As the woman got nearer, she started talking. The man 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 rehearsal studio 4 leads out from the back of the office, so he started tying 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 face. After about 5 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 rehearsal studio, which she repossessed from him, and off they went to his house to retreive the rest of the equipment. We never saw him again.
2) One of the band members went to a shop to grab some beers. On the way back he came into the office and asked if we had a bottle openers. I hand 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 job available at the rehearsal studio, written entirely in text speak. All of it. 2 pages worth. An excerpt; “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 lunched 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 I 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 5 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 rehearsal rooms were all currently booked up that day, but he said the 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 his of the bandmates to see what was happening. About 5 minutes 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 minutes 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? 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 either crazy or winding 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 in 5 min later and said "yeah , looks like I got the wrong place, sorry about that, cheers mate!!"
For the next few weeks I put it down that maybe the guy had genuine problems, and that there was no way on earth he could be pulling my leg. 3 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 studio!" 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 rehearsal studio, and then walked back round the office. Upon entering the office, 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 the last time when I turned up, I was at the wrong studio? 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 2 different people each time. The band mate had sent them a text saying “Rehearsal this Saturday, at the studios near Tottenham Station, but he had meant to say “Tottenham Court Rd station. They had been to the rehearsal 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 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and planned to leave all of their equipment set up overnight, and rehearse the next day on the Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They popped into the office at 11 p.m. 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 don't 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 them as well, so, without thinking, we popped the head into the door to switch off the amps, to save energy 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 to walk across the room to switch them off, so Jimmy switched on the lights, to save tripping up on anything.
Upon switch on the lights on, we suddenly realised what 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 things. 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 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. When Jimmy picked up the bottle, it was alarmingly warm. Jimmy 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 rehearsal 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 2 p.m., after Jimmy has 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 was in 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. As we said, whatever they wanted to do we were fine with, as long as it was legal and the room was returned to us in the same condition it was given in.
7) When we first took the rehearsal studio over there was already somebody 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 and rehearsals at the studio, we got a bit of help, so the agreement worked out quite well.
One day we were painting one of the rehearsal rooms and his band turned up without him. They said that although they did not have a session booked, would it be possible for them to practice? 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, including all over our hands, so we would not be able to set up the PA for them without washing our hands, etc, which would take time. They said that this was absolutely no problem, they were fine with doing that. About 4 hours later the band had finished and we were still painting. One of the band members came in and said, "great we're all finished now, we'll be popping off in a few minutes." We asked if they could ask the guy who is working for us to 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, they have done a rehearsal without him.
We asked if there anything else that they needed, and they said, “No, but could we pop into the office to sort out the 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! It was only about 10 min 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 the guy who had been working for us for their rehearsals, and he had been charging them for the storage, but keeping all of the money for himself. A bit of an awkward silence followed....... Unfortunately it meant that he had lost a lot of the 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 I went into one of the studios to close up, and 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 guitar it was, so that when I called the band to let them know I could explain to them which one had been left. It was a 1970s Gibson Les Paul, an original one, a left-handed Goldtop. I knew 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 min since he had left the studio and I tried about 3 times to call him, but every time I got a voice mail, so I just hung up. About 10 min 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 - I was expecting to leave a voicemail - and I quickly 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 guitar 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 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 Oval 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 on the train, he had left 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 left it on the train, definitely." I asked him was it a left-handed Les Paul? He said "Yes." I asked if it was a Gold Top? “Yes....” I then 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 25 min driving around London in a cab, trying to chase a non-existent guitar on a train.
9) We were setting up a 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 input on 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 outputs!) 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 he 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's wrong with that?" We told him that he was actually plugging in 240v into a mixing desk that can barely handle more than 10 V, he said "really? I have done at other places before?"
Just as we were trying to think about how 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 unplugged the guitar head by the time the guy had got to the room. Do think that is what could have caused it?" Yes, in our opinion that was definitely what caused it!! We never did find out who the other rehearsal studios was, but 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, who we had never spoke 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 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.
We later found out that the regular band had done this because they were worried in case the drummer had called up the studio to check to see if the booking had been made, which he just had. We only found out on the day of the session that they were planning on doing a session with a brand-new drummer and were keen for him to not find out, hence why they booked in under a different name. Sadly they had failed to tell us this. Unfortunately their drummer was actually planning on auditioning for a brand-new band on that same day, which was the other band that had called us, 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 same day that the regular band was planning on auditioning a new drummer, their drummer also planned to audition for a new band - with both of the auditions happening at Bally.
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 come into the office. They are shocked to see him there, and they ask what he is doing there? In return he asks them why they are there? 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."
Everyone is visibly embarrassed by this, as the drummer who he was auditioning to replace is standing there. The regular drummer quickly realises that the band is auditioning his replacement that night. As a silence sweeps the room, the lead singer from the new band that the regular drummer was auditiong for comes into the office and says "come on in mate, we are all ready for you now, lets 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 said he had just dropped by the studio to collect something, and his regular band said that they were just doing an acoustic session. It is pretty damn obvious that this was not the case for either of them, as everyone had heard everything that had been said, yet they both pretended that this was the case, and nothing more was said.
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 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 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, so I had not actually told him who he 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 music venue) How's it going?" The band watching football did not react as strongly as the drummer did, but started saying, in a vague manner, "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, wheren't you?" The drummer's face dropped, he stopped stirring the tea, and looking directly into the face of the band member said "No..... I was the sound engineer. And maybe if you guys had stopped 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 studio 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 that he thought it was on another day.
The band had just finished a rehearsal and came 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 needed to write a reminder in his diary and 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 rehearsal 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 have 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 important rehearsal, and I have not let them down!" He was basking in the glory of his punctuality, when 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 suddenly thought to himself for a few seconds, a look of panic spreads across his face, he turns 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 evening. He worked as a photographer for a national magazine. While he was in the office, he text 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 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! Sadly this guy had turned it down, despite being a huge fan of the band. 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 their rehearsal!
15) The studio's owner, Jimmy, was locking up the studio in 2006, when the office phone started to ring. He left the door of Studio 2 slightly open and ran to get the phonecall from the office. While he was running to get the phone, 2 teenagers passed him in the corridor, but he paid no attention to them. After getting the phone call, which was a band booking a session, he returned to locking studio 2 up. All of the lights had already been turned out in the studio, and he just had to lock the door. Upon approaching Studio 2 he saw one of the teenagers standing outside the studio. He 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 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 nosey, so Jimmy took this with a pinch of salt. A recording session had just finished so the studio was in a bit of a state, and Jimmy was already late for his next job, so Jimmy asked the guy if he lived near? "Just down the road!" replied the teenager. So Jimmy 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. Jimmy informed and that he could not, as he was already very late, and it usually takes about 15 to 20 min to properly check out the studio, but that he would be more than happy to show him around tomorrow.
Jimmy locked Studio 2 up and started walking out, but by now the guy was visibly panicked and demanding to see the studio. It was only once Jimmy was walking down the road that the guy confessed that his friend had gone into Studio 2, and Jimmy had just locked him in!! Jimmy asked why the guy was in Studio 2, and his friend said he was "just looking at the studio". Jimmy popped back to the office, switched on the CCTV, rewinded the footage and saw footage of Jimmy turning off all the lights, hearing the phone ring and running to the office, then 30 seconds later the 2 teenagers are seen coming into the studio 2, turning on the lights, and they start picking up microphones and putting them into their pockets! Then you can notice one of them hearing somebody coming and running outside, flicking the lights off while the other one hid behind the drum kit, at which point you see Jimmy arriving outside studio 2 and shutting the door. It was now pretty clear that the teenagers were actually stealing stuff from studio 2.
Upon watching the footage with Jimmy the teenager that was not locked in the room started backtracking and saying "we were only pretending to steal microphones, we would have definitely brought them back!" While Jimmy was trying to think about what to do, and whether to call the police, the teen who was in the office with him started pleading to release his friend. At that point a pastor from a local African church popped his head around the office, and asked the teenager in the office why he was in the office, and what the commotion was all about? It turned out the teenager who was locked in the studio was a son of the pastor, and that Jimmy was talking to his cousin. I explained to the Pastor exactly what happened, and showed him the CCTV footage himself. The Pastor looked at the footage with a steely unemotional gaze on his face, and at the end of it he turned to Jimmy and apologised, and then turned to the other teen with a furious death stare on his face. The teen noticibly whimpered and his body language was one of intense fear.
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 min after each service, taking out rubbish bins, and distributing leaflets, as punishment for trying to steal the microphones.