How Ubu Projex operates,
how Pere Ubu functions.
Home of the
What outsiders need to know:
Press & Photo Protocols
Live Recording Permission, YouTube & Bootlegs
Licenses, cover versions & film synch rights
Sending tapes to the band
What insiders need to know:
Leaving The Tour
Games & Driving
Tour accounts procedures
Crossing The Line
Availability & questions of Ubu Time
What tour managers, promoters & bands need to know:
Rock Rituals: Time & support bands
Some years ago we were touring with a popular young group. They were friends. One day I was talking to the leader about this & that, passing the time, and we got around to the internal workings of our respective bands.
"You guys got a reputation for being democratic, you know, a communal group of equals and all that," I said. "I got this reputation for being an unreasonable dictator. So I suppose you vote on things, hunh?"
"Sure," Mr. F said.
Me: "You're a four piece. What happens when there's a tie?"
Mr. F: "I've got two votes."
Me: "So the only way you get outvoted is if all three of the others stand together?"
Mr. F: "I suppose but if that happens we do what I want anyway."
The project basis of Ubu Projex is described in The Story of Ubu. Pere Ubu doesn't vote unless the outcome will be unanimous. Opinions are polled and if anyone is likely to dissent a vote is deferred and nothing happens. In practice we operate by consensus. This has had disastrous commercial consequences. It means that we sometimes don't do anything. (When the situation becomes intolerable the only solution is to disband and reformat.) Over time a series of precedents has been established. These protocols embody principles that have been accepted and are the basis for future decisions. In this byzantine world even the simplest equation has unimaginable repercussions. On the Penny/Pound Principle (from the English expression, "In for a penny, in for a pound."), for example, hangs everything Ubu.
Band meetings are rare events. They usually have apocalyptic consequences. Hence, the rarity. When a band meeting is called everyone knows there's trouble coming. In Ubu's history there have been only three or four of them. Ubu is organized so as to minimize the need for conversation - no, so as to eliminate as far as possible any conversation. This has evolved for two reasons: (1) David doesn't like talking; and, (2) in the early days it became clear to us that if you feel the need to yak on about something (specifically, art) then odds are you don't know what the hell you're talking about. (This was carried to extremes by a long-time manager who would send emails to his assistant, sitting next to him, along the lines of, "Next time you go down to the kitchen bring me a coffee please.")
David Thomas is the day-to-day Project Director. He proceeds down a course with greater or lessor band consultation, depending on circumstances. As long as more of his decisions are reasonable than fewer then the band allows him to proceed. (Historically, this has also been because he is the only band member ever to be in possession of the Nuclear Button.) One of the Project Director's responsibilities is to see to it that the Rules are maintained.
On tour the Project Director acts as Tour Manager. Other duties are assigned to band members. Guiding principle: the more you do a good job the more responsibility you get assigned. Sometimes a band member will perform several functions. These are:
The Penny/Pound Principle is our E=MC2.
Think about this nightmare world:
The Rules serve to counterbalance the awesome inertia of the organization. Ubu Projex operates on a Silence is Acceptance principle. Members are informed. If there are no objections the Project Director proceeds. This allows for a member to Not Agree while also Not Disagreeing. This is an invaluable organizational tool. Somehow we muddle through.
So, yes, Pere Ubu operates by Rule. And, no, Pere Ubu is NOT a democracy. We are, if anything, a Republic. In Pere Ubu you are responsible for yourself. We are a collection of moderately responsible adults who choose to work together as independent agents, pooling our talents and sharing in the rewards of whatever our talents are worth in the marketplace. We are all independent contractors. No one is an employee. This goes for crew & band & management.
For other miscellaneous Guiding Light principles click here.
Taking Pictures & Press Protocol
1. Pere Ubu won't have its picture taken for press or promotional purposes anywhere in public, i.e. anywhere that civilians can see us getting our picture taken. We prefer studios or out of the way locations. It is a shameful thing for a man to pose for a picture and we seek to hide our shame from the public. Photographers, note: we will not run or jump or do anything. Don't ask. Don't think you can wear us down. Many have tried. We do NOT relax.
2. Photos may be taken freely and without restriction during concerts by professionals or fans, with flashes or without flashes, for fun or for no fun. We don't care as long as you stay off the stage and don't bother others. We reserve the right to be totally and absolutely arbitrary. It is our art.
3. Please note that David Thomas, when performing in one of his solo groups, should not be described as ex-Pere Ubu or formerly of Pere Ubu. He does not blink in and out of existence. This seems to be a very hard concept for writers to come to grips with but he remains a member of Pere Ubu while playing with the pale boys, buying groceries or taking a bath.
4. Mr Thomas is happy to do written interviews via email as long as it's understood that anything interesting will be posted at the web site. In-person, face to face interviews can be arranged-- contact the Directors of Ubu Projex.
5. Please print our web site address:
6. For press tour requirements see below.
Live Recording Permission & Bootlegs
NB. To find the procedures involved in recording a cover version of an Ubu song, see below.
1. For private, archival, radio, etc. recordings you need to get our written approval. Check with Ubu Projex concerning the procedure.
2. You need to sign a letter of agreement that guarantees the following:
3. We reserve the right to be absolutely arbitrary. We trust the following: VPRO (Holland), Couleur 3 Radio (Switzerland) and Danish Broadcasting Corporation (solely on the basis of the King of Denmark's defense of the jews in WWII). Others will be treated with suspicion.
How do you feel about audience recording for personal home use?
1. We will not give permission for that sort of recording.
I recently had posted the Rocket from the Tombs Jack Slack Lp, on Ebay and was threatened with legal action by your agent for doing so. I purchased this record legally in Canada over 10 years ago and believe I had every right to post and sell this record. I will attach below the emails from your agent . I removed the record for sale to prevent any possible infringement on your rights. Please let me know your position on this matter.
The album you refer to is an illegal bootleg. Regardless of whether or not it's been bought in good faith, there is no such thing as legal ownership of stolen property. Go out and buy a stolen necklace in good faith. See what happens. If someone sells a legal copy of a copyrighted work that is a perfectly sound and normal transaction. It is the foundation of all commerce. There is, however, no such thing as legal ownership of stolen property. There are no circumstances of law anywhere on the planet I dare say that allow for legal ownership of something stolen. Clearly this incident may seem like an unfair situation from your end but, on the other hand, if you're honest about it, you probably knew it was a bootleg when you bought it. A bootleg is stolen property. Of course everyone has bootlegs and we're pretty loose about this when it comes to fans trading bootlegs with each other privately.
On the subject of YouTube... Responses to Fan Enquiries
For the latest see Grocery Police Department page.
What is particularly galling is the law in this matter. As you discovered we own the copyright and any posting of our material violates that copyright unless it is licensed. When we discover a violation we inform YouTube and they promptly remove the material. However, the law is written in such a way that should the same material be posted after a week, or weeks (I'm unsure of the time frame), YouTube is legally permitted to host the new posting until they are AGAIN notified of the violation - even though it may be the same material. You can imagine then that for a small company of artists like ourselves this becomes a matter of constantly policing the site. It becomes a significant waste of time and energy. And it constitutes what I would call a form of harassment. Though not legally. So here we are, two different parties viewing the law from two different angles, both frustrated by the same law.
If you don't like Ronald McDonald and Happy Meals and Special Sauce then you don't have to buy a Big Mac. The McDonalds Corporation, however, is under no obligation to run their affairs so as to please you or your sensibilities. And frankly they'd be nuts to even worry about it.
That record companies choose to promote their products on YouTube is of no concern to us. But, note, they choose. They select exactly what they want to be distributed. No one asked us.
Licenses, cover versions & film synch rights
FILM SYNCH RIGHTS
We will need to see a synopsis of the film before giving our artistic blessing. Send this to the Directors of Ubu Projex.
We require you to master from a redbook CDR which we provide at your expense; we do not allow you to master from any other sound source (specifically not from any commercially available records).
You must acquire the proper permissions. In practice someone based in North America only needs to contact the North American publisher and record company even if ROW permission is also needed. Likewise, someone based outside North America only needs to contact the ex-North American publisher and record company even if North American permission is also needed. In all cases you must also contact the Directors. Most of our catalog is published by Bug Music. Most of the historical period songs (approx 1975-1980) are published by EMI Music or Bug Music, depending on the territory. Bug provides a licensing/film synch page.
You don't need our permission to record or perform our songs. You do need to pay mechanical royalties on any manufactured copies, and downloads you may have sold. You can do this by paying stupid amounts of money to the Harry Fox Agency or you can pay us directly via PayPal at the following rate:
Number of Songs multiplied by Number of Copies multiplied by $0.105
You should also report the song title, writers and publisher information to the relevant performing rights society of the performance territory.
To arrange a direct license with Ubu Projex email the Directors. It would be nice if you got the words right. Please check the lyrics.
Please note the following guidelines for in-stores. These are not meant to discourage in-stores, simply to ensure that they're successful as well as being enjoyable for all concerned.
Note that Pere Ubu does not always do in-store performances as a full band.
1. Please remember that all in-store appearances must be approved in advance.
2. Mr Thomas gets nervous when the record store owner / manager offers free cds or merchandise. Should the record store want to make a gift the transaction shall be handled by a third party (the Record Company rep). The third party shall approach Mr Thomas discreetly, describing what gift is offered. Mr Thomas will then okay a formal presentation at which brief, formal speeches of presentation and acceptance are made.
3. The Record Company representative must do the following:
4. The record store MUST NOT play any Pere Ubu recordings for the duration of Mr Thomas' visit. It is simply too embarrassing, draws undue attention to his presence & most importantly forces him to withdraw into a protective shell of weird uncommunicativeness. This is not desirable.
5. Please remember that the first 30 seconds of arrival in-store sets the tone for the entire episode. If Mr Thomas is allowed to slip into an Outcast Lemon Mode you will have an unsatisfactory experience. INTRODUCE HIM. ENCOURAGE CONVERSATION. TAKE UP ANY SLACK. If you know a fan who wants to meet him then by all means introduce them. Mr Thomas prefers civilians. He wants to be approached. He wants to talk in these circumstances since that's what the gig is.
Mr Thomas can be the most charming & exciting personality if very simple steps are taken to avoid awkwardness. Once he gets rolling there are no problems, you can sit back, relax & observe a professional smarming his way into the hearts of all around him. The initial stages, however, are critical. Keep in mind that Mr Thomas undertakes these events as a performance.
MEET & GREETs are not a problem because of the informal nature of the event.
David Thomas's hotel requirement while on the road doing promo & performances of any kind is:
David works hard to make these trips successful. He doesn't get paid any extra for them and he expects to be treated well on the road so the experience is enjoyable and civilized and not unnecessarily tiring.
Please ensure that the Directors of Ubu Projex have the names, phones and faxes of all David's hotels on promo trips at least a week in advance. The fax number is essential.
In general we decline benefit requests unless they are for friends or personal acquaintances. We would never do one for an institution. We donate concert appearances. This allows us to give of our best. We generally decline requests for unreleased tracks. We don't produce out-takes or alternate mixes, nor do we keep back anything of quality that we don't eventually release. Without intending to, such requests, effectively, ask us to donate something inferior only so that our name attracts fans to buy the record. This is an unfair transaction, as far we're concerned, and means that we do not give of our best.
>I would like to send you a tape with my music. I am curious what >you'd think of it.
David replies: I don't want to give out opinions. I don't want to be under obligation. I'd rather not hear 8 things that are wonderful than to have to say something nice about one thing that I find detestable. Odds are I won't listen in any case or if I do that I won't remember anything about the experience. I won't return the tape or cd even if you send postage. If you still want to send a tape under these conditions then do so.
Don't ask for a response & don't hope for one.
If you "leave the tour" you are responsible for all costs incurred from the point that you leave the tour til the point that you return to the tour. This includes costs incurred that would normally and reasonably be paid by the tour account.
Example A: There are 3 off days and the tour is in Chicago. You decide to visit your mom in St Louis. You are responsible for your own accommodation and travel expenses. Furthermore, if you are late getting back, through no fault of your own, and we miss a show, you are responsible, in theory, for lost revenue and/or penalties.
If you plan ahead with the tour manager and it can be arranged without adding cost to the tour budget then you can be reimbursed for any actual, receipted hotel costs you incurred up to the amount the tour account allocated had you stayed with the tour.
Example B: You decide to stay on in Europe after a tour. The return of your equipment becomes your responsibility and costs incurred beyond what the tour account would expect to pay are your responsibility.
The above notwithstanding, we will still do what we can (within reason!) to help with post tour travel arrangements, the crucial point is that after the end of the tour there is no tour manager and you are therefore responsible for making sure that the arrangements work. Any help we give is on a good intentions basis, meaning we'll try to help but if things screw up there's no comeback on us
Example C: You leave the tour and make arrangements to meet the band in Barcelona. On the way to Barcelona the tour bus loses its brakes crossing the Yugoslav mountains. The gig has to be canceled. You are then responsible for rejoining the tour which has now diverted to Udine. Why? Because if you hadn't left the tour you'd be in Udine with the rest of us.
Example D: You arrange to meet the band in Harwich onboard the ferry to Stockholm. The band is late and misses the ferry. You are on the ferry and YOU are responsible. Why? Because if you hadn't left the tour you'd be with the band driving down to Dover and insanely across Europe in a frantic effort to make the gig.
Read the novel Catch 22 for a full understanding of the principles involved.
Leaving the tour causes anxiety whatever happens and potential loss for the tour if something goes wrong. We will not discourage the activity but it becomes your problem in all facets.
1) Insurance for instruments & personal belongings is the sole responsibility of the individual.
2) When possible, Travel Insurance supplement will be paid based on the rate for a year's cover as available in the UK.
1. All games are based on The Price Is Right rules.
2. All traffic tickets for moving violations are the sole responsibility of the driver. Parking tickets are the sole responsibility of the driver unless he is simply following orders.
Small Town Cop Override: You are driving thru the no man's land between Croatia and Serbia. You are stopped by a Croatian Police road check who insist you passed another vehicle on a bridge which is a very serious offense in Croatia according to the Traffic Code brandished in your face. You look back. There is nothing that a reasonable person would define as a "bridge." You look ahead. You see the UN checkpoint and the fact that this is the last chance they have to punish you for wanting to go to Serbia. Ruling: Driver is not responsible.
Addendum dated 09/08/95...
At 12:32 pm 9/7/95, MR STEVEN A MEHLMAN wrote:
>what are floats?
A float is a chunk of money put into someone's care for the purpose of paying expenses. For example: two vehicles. Tour manager in one, road crew or band member in the other, each has a float to take care of expenses. At the end of a period of time, accounts are settled. Receipts and balance of cash handed over.
>you mentioned cabs, are we really to be reimbursed. for cabs?
If you are instructed to take a cab for the purposes of the tour, then, yes. Personal use for convenience, no.
>what can we be reimbursed. for?
Authorized expenses that involve the function of the tour is the short answer.
A PD protocol question:
Band member travels to a show a few days before show and returns a few days after show, under his/her own steam, as they have friends to stay with in that town. Do we pay them a PD for only the day of the show? Or do we pay them for their travel days, equal to the other band members?
If he's going to the town just because of our show then he should be paid per diems for the working time plus 2 travel days - staying over for tourism or any nonwork reason is irrelevant.
If he's combining the trip with other work then he should be paid ONE travel day per diem and NOT TWO and the cost of his work permit should be split between the two works (though if he wouldn't have got a work permit for his other work then I don't think we should charge him a share of the work permit costs).
The Penny/Pound Principle is the non-negotiable bottom line.
A band member "crosses the line" when he/she threatens the integrity of the band because of an attitude or course of action. When a member crosses the line they become poison in the system that must be purged immediately. One Rule is non-negotiable and inviolate: The Penny/Pound Principle.
1. Ubu was reformed on a project year basis. (A project year is longer than 12 months.) A project year is determined by an lp lifetime which in practice seems to begin with the actual studio recording (the point at which money comes due from a record company) and end with the last required group work in support of the lp. During a project year a band member keeps himself available for Ubu work. At the end of a project year a member can choose to not re-up.
2. In practice, members consult with the Directors of Ubu Projex & so far as possible mutually agreed schedules are arrived at. It has been clearly stated & accepted that the onus is with the individual member to clear his schedule with the Directors of Ubu Projex before committing to personal work. If necessary, members are left out of sub-projects when scheduling conflicts arise & the promotional or business opportunity available is judged to be too important to pass up.
1. Pere Ubu shows up on time. We expect everyone else to be on time. No, no... wait, we're not anywhere near that reasonable. Pere Ubu shows up ahead of time. If you show up ON TIME you're already late as far as we're concerned.
2. The sole function of an opening act is to start on time and to stop on time. Period. Do NOT book Pere Ubu unless you agree to this. When Pere Ubu is an opening act we start on time, we stop on time, and we don't do an encore. We don't expect to get a soundcheck and we don't expect to get to do a full show. Those are the rules by which rock music functions. Do not try to change them. You are not a musician and you have no rights in this matter. Mr Thomas in particular is very sensitive to time.
NB. If Ubu is appearing in a festival, or in a non-headline capacity, we will NOT do an encore no matter what unless the duly-authorized stage manager tells us face to face. In the past this has led to upset when we have refused to go out again without this specific authorization. We play by the rules beyond the point of sanity. We expect others to do the same.
As for giveaways that's up to you. I never like them cuz I hate giving stuff away so it depends on whether the promotional advantage is worth promoting a welfare-state mentality within the populace of the USA. That's a decision I leave to you... along with its karmic load. Long ago we determined what trivia questions are to be used for Pere Ubu giveaways. Choose one: