Hamfatter wow the Dragons!
By Helen Burchell
When will they, will they, be famous? Pretty soon, we think, as Cambridgeshire band Hamfatter wow the BBC's devilishly difficult Dragons and walk away with the backing of Dragon Peter Jones and a cool £75,000 deal!
Hamfatter secure £75,000 on the BBC's Dragons' Den - Monday 21st July
What a night for Cambridgeshire band Hamfatter - not only have they secured £75,000 to produce and promote their next album, but they had all but one of the BBC's Dragons fighting to out-bid each other.
Vocalist Eoin O'Mahony
A storming live rendition of their hit single Sziget was enough to have the Dragons reaching for their wallets, with entrepreneur Peter Jones eventually coming up with the goods.
BBC Introducing - you could be discovered too!
Fame and fortune doesn't just drop into your lap, and that's why BBC Introducing is the best place to go if you want your unsigned band to be discovered. That's exactly how Hamfatter started off. They were discovered on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Audio Files.
Hamfatter with Jeremy Sallis in 2007
Regular listeners to Audio Files Introducing on Thursday nights at 6pm might remember that Hamfatter have performed live in session on the show three times now and are a perfect example of local talent being celebrated on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire - and being helped on the road to success.
Listen to Hamfatter singing Do Something Stupid (Tonight) - a live Audio Files studio session from July 2007:
The band made their first appearance on the airwaves four years ago when they played in the nearby Flying Pig pub beer garden during a Saturday afternoon show with presenter Jez Sallis. An extremely hungover Jimbo played during the prestigious opening ceremony of the lighting of the 'Olympic BBQ' but greater stardom was just over the horizon...
The Audio Files also secured them their first national airplay on Radio One on the Huw Stephens' BBC Introducing show when the band had a massive chart push with their phenomenal single Sziget, plus mentions on Steve Lamacq.
It just goes to show that Scots, and blokes with beards, aren't all bad - the boys are now friends of the show - and The Audio Files Introducing will have the first acoustic airplay of a specially-recorded session for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on Thursday's show (24th July), of the new single, Girl I Love.
Hamfatter in pictures
We caught up with the band at the launch of their third album at Cambridge's Junction. See the backstage and on-stage action from July 2007 right here:
Dragons' Den: the pitch
If you missed Dragons' Den on Monday 21st July, you missed a brilliant and unique pitch by Cambridgeshire band Hamfatter. Not content with the usual record label deals, and wanting to maintain their independence, the band came up with a business plan which would allow them to bankroll their next album without losing their identity.
"Hi, I'm Jamie Turner and I'm looking for £75K to record, promote and distribute the next Hamfatter album..."
Hamfatter have carefully calculated how to use an investment of £75,000 to its best potential: £10K for recording; £7K for video production; £13K for manufacturing; £30K for promotion and £15K for advertising. But this is tenfold the amount they had to produce their last album, so how do you persuade five hard-nosed Dragons that such an increase is essential?
Their past form - releasing three Hamfatter albums to date, all on a shoe-string - together with their offer of 20% of all future album sales (ALL albums, not just their fourth) is enough to tempt the wily Dragons into making lesser offers, and then attempting to out-manoeuvre each other.
A bit of success on the national music scene doesn't hurt, either. As Eoin, Hamfatter's lead vocalist explains, their last album "launched the band on the national scene, gaining us airplay on Radio 1, XFM and BBC 6 Music". They've also been picked up by some of the top music papers and their single, Sziget, peaked at number 13 in the Indie chart.
And then there's the music. If that's not right, they're not going to receive any backing at all. And so they blast out that single, Sziget, complete with brass section, and pretty much blow the Dragons away...
Into the Dragons' lair
Hamfatter manage to turn the Dragons' Den format on its head - with four out of the five Dragons pitching THEIR bids to the band.
Hamfatter strike the pose...
Who's taking the smallest cut of the band's earnings? That would be Duncan Bannatyne. BUT, who's got the best music industry contacts? Well, that's probably the combined power of Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden, co-owners of a music download site - but, key to their bid is taking a higher cut than Bannatyne. Of course, with Paphitis and Meaden, Hamfatter would benefit from the experience and backing of two Dragons for the price of one.
And then, there's Peter Jones... He's actually the only Dragon to ask Hamfatter about their music. If he's to bankroll them, he wants to know that they won't suddenly change their style so drastically that their fourth album will be un-marketable.
Jones likes what he's heard so far and wants to hear more. Something from the proposed new album. This is the low-point in the show for Hamfatter. They haven't got anything ready - well, nothing that they're prepared to play for Jones. They offer "a rough demo in a week's time". "That's a shame," says Jones, and looks as though this could be the deal-breaker as far as he's concerned.
Carrots and sticks
A few pregnant pauses and anxious glances later, Jones comes up with the deal to beat all others. He wants 30% of future earnings - but he's not going to insist on taking a cut of sales from Hamfatter's back catalogue, as the other Dragons are proposing. And he's keen. He actually seems to like the music - and not simply the prospect of bankrolling the next chart success to hit the British music scene.
Hamfatter's brass section in our studio
"I am going to make you an offer," says Jones. "I'm going to offer you the full amount of money - £75,000, and I want, in return, 30%. It's a very straightforward deal and I am very incentivised - from day one to year five - unlike the other deals.
"And," continues Jones, "to be perfectly blunt I have huge access to everyone at Sony. I'm not saying you want to go there, but we're talking about influences and getting you out there. I think I could actually do that anyway."
'Nuff said. That's the clincher for Hamfatter, who explain why they took Jones's offer over the other Dragons: "We talked, and decided that essentially the experience that Peter could offer us was just too good to miss."
And now Dragon, Peter Jones, is preparing to breathe fire into Hamfatter's future.
Want more Hamfatter?
Jeremy Sallis, presenter of Audio Files Introducing on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire caught up with Hamfatter after their success on Dragons' Den and asked about their appearance on the show.
You can listen to them spilling the beans in this interview. Did you realise that the piles of money sitting in front of the Dragons are fake? Or that the band actually had to pitch to the Dragons for over two hours, even though only ten minutes' of that is broadcast? Or that the staircase used in the show goes nowhere?
All this and much more Hamfatter right here:
Hamfatter in the headlines
Busking for the big bucks - BBC News Online reports on Hamfatter's success:
Watch this space for more Hamfatter exclusives from the studio of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Audio Files.
last updated: 22/07/2008 at 13:03
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