It’s hard to express exactly how I feel after yesterday’s news. I am a mixture of angry, probably on the edge of livid, and depressed, being close to tears at one point. I am also embarrassed as I have to let down a large number of people who have given me nothing but their total support in recent months.
I haven’t been posting or blogging as much in the last week or so as Mark Wilkinson and I have been trying to sort out a major problem that has crept up on us and which is now unavoidable.
In May this year Mark and I agreed to quotes for the deluxe edition of “A Feast of Consequences” with a company called MPO. Mark discussed at length the printing details and delivery times with the companies UK representative and we were told the turnover for the entire project would be 4 weeks but that we should build in a week’s leeway.
It was important to hit all the schedules and on our part the artwork was delivered 2 weeks early, the DVD a week early and the album master bang on time to hit all production times for an agreed delivery to us here at the studio on the first week of September
I had already booked a European tour a year before and arranged all the album recording and production schedules to enable me to have the standard and deluxe versions on the road to sell. Once I knew the delivery date of the album I put it up for pre order and I have sold to date 4200 copies of the deluxe edition the packages for which are all here, ready and waiting in the control room.
We dealt with MPO in good faith and trusted them to deliver on time having continually stressed the importance of that delivery date from the earliest stages.
We soon recognised there was a problem developing. It took over 2 weeks from when Mark delivered the artwork to receiving digiproofs, the first and easiest check in the printing process. This should have been done in a day. We then had to chase wet proofs, the definitive print on the paper as per the production run. This should be a one off to check before committing to the print run and the artists has the chance to change the settings before the full run. When Mark saw the “wet proof” he rejected as the print work and paper were unacceptable. It turned out these weren’t wet proofs but the company had gone straight to a production run of 5000 books to save time! This was at the beginning of August and after the printing plant in Czechland had told us that the original paper we wanted was not in stock. We had to change the printing specs. Communications between our company liaison in the UK and the plant were not being relayed to us and I found the delivery date moved back to the 7th September with assurances that after the new paper had been agreed to on the 23rd August everything was back on line, print work was due in the UK on the 30th and the units would be put together and with us the following weekend. I was told this last Wednesday, the 28th August.
On Friday 30th I was told that the delivery date was changing again and this time it would be the 25th September unless we accepted the 5000 run of rejected artwork which could be delivered earlier. We refused. After spending so much time and effort creating such a high quality project we weren’t going to sell ourselves or you short in the final run.
Mark sourced an alternative printing plant in Denmark he had used before for his book and they said they could turn it around in 2 weeks from delivery of artwork on the paper we originally wanted. He told MPO and they had to get quotes which they got on Monday and for which we hung around all afternoon waiting on decisions. In the end MPO have stayed with the Czech plant and I have no other option but to accept this as a move to another plant would result in me breaching contract and leaving myself open for a lawsuit.
Our agreed time in May for delivery was 2nd September. It will now be taking the Czech plant close to 10 weeks to deliver a product that the Danes said they could have done in 2 weeks and which other printers we have discussed the problem with are incredulous about.
I can only profusely apologise for this but there is absolutely nothing we can do to get the deluxe versions to you any earlier. It is totally out of my control and I am at the mercy of the Czech printers.
The packaging teams up here have been put together and let go twice now and I will have to arrange a new team for when the album eventually arrives at the end of September. It will be done.
What makes it worse for me is that I will not have any deluxe versions to sell on the tour until then and I know there are a lot of people waiting to buy it on the merchandise stall at the shows.
I also have adverts booked in Classic Prog in the October issue that comes out on the 17th September announcing the deluxe version “on sale now”. None of the journalists in the monthlies will see that version for reviewing before the December issues. I also have a Dutch and German promotion companies who can’t work with the version until October. It is a complete mess!
I discussed this problem with John Reid and we may have something to fill the gap and at least get a copy of the album to you before the tour. John has worked all weekend to set up a broadcast e-mail to everyone who has bought the deluxe version. The e-mail will come directly from the shop (shop.fishheadsclub.com) and will have the subject “Your Fishheads Shop order is complete-download your files” .The e-mail includes an individual code for the 24bit FLAC download which you are to get with your deluxe version. This will come with a file containing the 20 page booklet artwork PDF. It will be downloadable from the shop either with the link you will receive in e-mail or by visiting the shop and clicking on ‘My Account’. It’s not the deluxe box set but you will get a chance to hear the music and see some of the artwork. All I will ask is please don’t share the download around as to have it escape out would be disastrous at this moment in time. I would have preferred to have had the FLACs go out later but this is the only thing I can do just now to give you something for your support through the advance reorders and to reward your patience.
Mark and I both feel terrible just now. After all the euphoria of delivering the album and all its elements and like you waiting on the hard copies to fall through the door it’s a tremendous disappointment to be so badly let down by third parties when we have spent months setting up the artwork, the recordings, the filming, the touring and the promotion to all come together in a perfect wave.
I won’t let myself be pulled down by what appears to ultimately be project mismanagement on MPO’s behalf as they are responsible for liaising directly with the printers. I will deal with my responsibilities and try to make a fist of it all. I will do my utmost to get the deluxe editions out as soon as they arrive here and I hope the FLACS will supply some comfort and introduce you to what still is a great album and which you will at least be able to hear in the coming days before many of you see me live on the European tour.
I will have the standard jewel case CD’s for sale on the tour. The FLAC’s and MP3’s will be on sale on the shop from the 14th as will the standard jewel case edition of “A Feast of Consequences”
I will put the deluxe version up for sale in the shop on the 14th again but with the disclaimer that it won’t be in stock until the 25th September. All the pre orders will be sent out first
Anyone ordering on the website from the 14th onward will receive the FLAC codes for the 24 bit download and the sleeve PDF as soon as the order is paid for in the shop. Please note that any orders taken from the 14th will not have the signed digiprint.
All I can say is I’m sorry to let you down but the situation has been completely out of our control. I’ll do my best to rectify the matter as soon as I can and again I can only thank you for all your support and commitment to this project in the last months and also for your continued patience and understanding over this situation.
To end with I have been given a statement by Andy Higgins our UK contact with MPO
To say I am disappointed with the way this project has rolled out would be a massive understatement…..
I have done everything humanly possible to improve the situation but the printers have been immovable and have offered no solutions….
I am hugely disappointed that we have not been able to fulfil this project within your required timeline and I am fully aware of the knock on effects to you personally and the relationship with your fan-base and I can assure that I will continue to push the printers for an improved delivery date.
My sincere apologies again
Andy Higgins MPO”
Thanks again for being out there for me
Take care, stay alive