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This article looks at the financial side of the successful pop band, the Welbeck Group. In the early days, just after their first album and European tour they did not invest wisely, or rather the agent acting for them failed to give decent financial planning advice. But they blossomed in their mid careers, and now all of them, Chris, Alex, Danny Welbeck, and Robby Welbeck have invested wisely. I asked them about how they did their financial planning.

Danny Welbeck was always very sound in his wealth management. He squirreled away averything he earned even from those  early days on the South Coast and Kent circuit back in the 1990s. He used traditional (if boring) saving methods, of banking investments. Later, he engaged the services of a financial consultant. Financial consulting has had something of a bad press recently and a chequered history, but Danny has no complaints about the financial consulting he received.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t manage some of his money personally.  As a young man, Danny Welbeck was never a particularly boozy individual, but in later life he acquired not only a taste for fine wines, but also became intrigued and then involved in the world of fine wine investment.   He now owns a part share of a Bordeaux vineyard with a couple of friends. It is making a tidy income, but then that’s because Danny is careful not to drink away all the profits!

Turning to Robby Welbeck, he began to invest in classic cars, and then a business that bought, restored and sold classic cars. However he found that he was paying so much tax, that it was hardly worth going on tour with the band again, as large amouts of profits would be eaten up in tax. However he came up with something which he laughingly calls “The Welbeck Tax Solution”. He is very reluctant to give any details on this, but it seems that he has registered one of his companies abroad, and used some not-so-well-known tax avoidance techniques to pay less tax. “It’s all 100% legitimate” says Robby, “But I needed a business tax solution, otherwise there was no incentive for me to develop the car restoration business. As it is, I now employ 5 people full-time and am thinking of opening up a new company with premises in Las Vegas. That’s where they really enjoy and respect classic cars and pay top dollar for quality restorations an refurbishments of classic cars”.

It’s interesting to see how the Welbeck brothers watch out for each other in the world of fianncial planning and wealth management. They have a couple of ventures that they have gone into together, 50:50, and if either one of them hears that some particular area for investment looks promising, he’ll share it with his brother.

The Welbeck Band itself now has its own record label and company, and the boys are doing very nicely thank you. I don’t begrudge them that. They have worked hard for what they now have!

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From the period when the Welbeck Group emerged as musical heavyweights on the UK music scene, some years ago now, they have been approached by mixers, DJs, and artists to ask for permission to remix their tracks.

Danny Welbeck, chief spokesman for the band, has always been very wary of getting involved in this area. He is on record as saying that the band take so much time to craft their songs, that it would be “sacrilege” to allow it to be, as Danny says, “stretched, cut, ripped, holed and bastardized”. Consequently there have been no official remixes of the Welbeck Group’s prodigious output.

Robby Welbeck, the bassist and synthesist of the Welbeck Group, is much more well disposed towards having some of their songs remixed. In fact he’s so keen he even has a short-list of people he would like to approach to do a project of the Welbeck Group.  I tracked Robby down at his extended estate near herne Bay, Kent, England.

I asked him  about his short list of potantial re-mixers and how likely it was that theproject would get off the ground.

“I know Danny is not keen at all, but I think I can work on him! It’s just a question of how sensitive the treatment of the songs will be. Danny feels as though the songs we recorded on our albums and singles in the past are pristine unassailable works of music art. I see them as works of musical art, sure, but feel they can stand side-by-side with some adventurous remixed versions.”

“The first person I’d like to get to do some remixing of our songs is Mark Ronson. The guy is a genius. I particularly like his brass work. He transformed “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse and really upscales other medicore songs until they sparkle. He also brought alive and revitalised the Lilly Allen track on his last album. I think I’d like to give hima  couple of the Welbeck group songs, and just leave him to it: No advice, no suggestions, no caveats or areas that he couldn’t venture into. Wide upon Mark!”

“I’d also like to have one song heavied up, and have it remixed by Rammstein. Madness you might think? But they are an extremely talented band. I’d like to take on of out tracks, “Phoenix” remixed by Till Lindemann (the Rammstein singer) and the guitarist, Richard Z Kruspe, who has a tremendous solo album out a few years ago under the band name “Emigrate”

“Finally I’d go for Velvet Acid Christ (Brian Erikson) or Funker Vogt to synth-up a couple of tracks. Maybe even play around with a couple of my solo tracks.”

Whether this actually comes about is a matter of debate. With Danny Welbeck firmly holding the reins of the career of the Welbeck group, I think it unlikely Robby will be able to pull this off.  But we’ll see..

Funker Vogt

There were rumours flying about last weekend regarding a possible reunion for the Welbeck Group. The influential group, who started their career in the pubs and clubs around the South Coast, and hailed from Herne Bay, were being tight-lipped.

But I did manage to coerce a former roadie for the Welbeck Group and friend of Danny to give me some nuggets of information. He told me he wanted to keep his name quiet, and gave me the code name “Leon”… which as you will see later, may be a bit of a give-away!

He said that because of the reasonable passage of time between the Welbeck Group’s last performance and their (at the time) acrimonious split, there was a spirit of reconciliation in the air.

Robby Welbeck as he was at the height of the Welbeck Group's success

Danny Welbeck and his younger Brother Robby Welbeck, who at one time weren’t talking, were spotted at a gig together at the O2 Brixton Academy. The gig was a semi-private one off for the Australian techno/rave rockers Pendulum. Maybe a strnge choice for the Welbeck brothers- probably more up Robby Welbeck’s street than his brother Danny’s!

O2 Brixton Academy- where Pendulum played.

Pendulum

It’s likely that if there is any reunion, it will only involve the Welbeck Brothers and maybe Animal Alex Taylor on drums. But when they were going strong in the 80s and 90s they were a tight band. The question remains as to who would accompany Danny on rhythm guitar and vocals. Alex Taylor has no voice to speak of any in any case, singing drummers don’t work (Phil Collins was the exception that proved the rule!).

Speculation has been rife that one of the kings of leon may be tempted to join the Welbeck Band for a tour, and maybe even an album, but  a spokesman for the Leons said that there would be “serious contractual issues” to overcome. In layman’s terms that can often come down to just a quesion of money!

With a little further probing, and a few more beers, the former Welbeck Band roadie told me that Danny had been much more interested in exploring some of Robby’s whacker ideas, including the possibility of doing an orchestral piece based on whale, porpoise, dolphin and other marine life natural sounds, blended in with synthesisers and a choir. It seems clear that any new Welbeck Band reincarnation aren’t too fussed about being successful with the public then!

Plus  =commercial suicide, but cultural enrichment!

Watch this space for more information about the possible reunion of the Welbeck Group

 

My management of the Welbeck Group series comes to an end with the person who many call the bete noire of the Welbeck group- Robby Welbeck. The younger of the two Welbeck brothers, he will be the first to admit that he doesn’t share his brother Danny’s musical skills and intuitive songwriting. In fact I would say that songwriting doesn’t come naturally to Robby.  And yes, he does sometimes throw tantrums (or he did when he was younger) and get stroppy with any new ventures I or Danny might be trying to get the Welbeck Group involved in, but he is an essential part of the mix of the Welbeck group. That may surprise some people. He’s not a great bass player (although his style fits in with the Welbeck group very well) and he has no great interest in furthering the cause of popular music. But every band, even the successful Welbeck Group, needs a catalyst, a counter-point, even a dark mirror.. and robby Welbeck is those things! Oh and did I mention he loves old retro synthesisers?

The EMS Synthi AKS suitcase synth, made in Putney, London, and used by Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarra and Tangerine Dream to name a few!

First you need to understand that Danny Welbeck is passionate about some things in music, just not making money or being succesful. As you may know from interviews with him, he loves the bass register and low frequency notes, and is an avid collector of both early bass synthesiser modules and experiemental electronic music, such as those by Morton Subotnik and Walter (now Wendy) Carlos. Naturally Bob Moog is Robby Welbeck’s hero!

Bob Moog. American synthesiser pioneer

Robby's two favoutite albums: Here is German electronic band Tangerine Dream's Rubycon.

He has become quite an expert on electronic music history and ambient music development and is planning a book on this. A million miles away from the Welbeck Group!  He thinks that the influence Walter Carlos had is huge- but in the early seventies, the synthesiser and electronic music was seen as just a gimmick.

Meanwhile, Robby tends to be the one that the media love (when Alex Cooper isn’t going wild that is) because he is irreverent, opinionated and always good for a headline quote. Many times Robby has nearly brought the Welbeck Group to confrontations through “an ill-judged comment tossed out like a bone to the baying wild dogs of the music press”- and that was a Robby quote!

Robby was always the one that moved the most onstage- and therefore became the focal point for the more  up-tempo songs. That was great, but I often had to warn him off carrying on that sort of behaviour post-gig. Ultimately the Welbeck Group were a serious music band, and some of Robby’s juvenile frivolity threatened to undermine the image that I and Danny Welbeck were trying to create. He could often be petulant and destructive:

But I like the bloke. He’s managed to live in his brother Danny’s shadow without becoming morose or resentful. And he has written a few really nice songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he took time off  from the Welbeck group to record some of his own songs… probably roping in Colin Cornell to help out with arranging.

In conclusion, I think Robby is great- sometimes like a happy puppy, sometimes like a moody Mastiff, but he is essential to the Welbeck Group, and therefore a joy to manage!

Colin Cornell was in a number of bands before he was enticed to join the Welbeck Group. He was in The Amazing Thunderheads, a sort of Syd Barrett tribute band (he won’t like me for calling it that but that’s what they seemed like- all English whimsy and light psychedelia!). He then fronted his own band, which tried to do the 80’s synth romantic sound updated with heavier lyrics for the 90s. I consider that only a partial success although Colin still feels that they pushed the music envelope.

It was about this time, still before Colin joined the Welbeck Group, that he began to invest in retro keyboard- a passion he shares with the bass player in the Welbeck Group, Danny Welbeck.

He also has as his keyboard hero, one of mine too- Vangelis. His first breakthrough album Heaven and hell still bears repeated listening today!

Vangelis today

I had long discussions with Colin Cornell about joining the Welbeck Group. It was obvious that he was talented and had songwriting as well as arranging skills. He could also play a mean keyboard. He could sing harmony, and occasionally main vocals, and could also play guitar, and slide guitar. A Multi-talented guy by anyone’s reckoning!  The reason I had such long and protracted discussions with him about joining the Welbeck Group was because he wanted to be a full member of the band, while I wanted to pay him a wage, like Alex Cooper, the drummer.

Colin Cornell shows off his retro ARP Odyssey synthesiser

However I was aware that Danny Welbeck considered Colin a musical equal and was very keen to have someone share the responsibility for coming up with great songs. So I had the usual conflict as a band manager. Money versus artistry. Was it worth the risk of having Colin come in and sharing the profits three ways (after Alex’s wage) in return for revitalisation and less strain on Danny Welbeck to be the leader of the Welbeck group all the time?

At the end of the day, I was persuaded by Danny that full band membership was the right course for Colin. I was glad about that in the long run. Colin has contributed a very keen edge to the Welbeck Group’s music. One that has allowed Danny Welbeck to concentrate on more esoteric lines of music in his songwriting, and give him the space to allow for some failures. The Welbeck Group gained more than the sum of its parts, as they say.

Colin Cornell visited and sampled the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland

Colin, of course, goes off from time to time to do his solo projects, including an interesting one about the Large Hadron Collider, where he was able to travel to Switzerland and sample the awesome sound of the LHC starting up. He also claims he saw evidence of a Higgs bosun (“God”) particle- but no-one believes him.  The Hadron album should be out this Summer and features artwork by Danny Welbeck’s wife, Yolanda Welbeck.

The Large Hadron Collider start up sampled sound!

Danny Welbeck, chief composer, songwriter and lyricist with the band gave me some insight into the song “Icarus Phoenix” from the Welbeck Group’s second album. Let’s take a look at the lyrics first:

My brother I flew

beneath your shadow

Upon wings of hunger for learning

How I envied

The heights you achieved

And my heart, like the sun, was burning

But then too high

You skimmed the sun

And fell earthward with fiery wings

I could not hold you

I could not save you

The memory- such pain it brings

(Chorus)

Fly again my brother

Write in the sky our names;

Icarus and Deadalus, together

Each a phoenix from the flames

“I was always interested ine legend of Icarus and Deadalus, and used it to represent, very loosely, a period when Robby (Welbeck) and I were drifting apart” said Danny Welbeck. “The Welbeck Band was going through difficult times, and I felt that Robby seemed to have a humger for success that might burn him if he pushed it too far, hance the references to Icarus flying too close to the sun. I then used the image of burnt wings (actually the sun melted the wax that held the feathers on Icarus’ wings in the legend- the wings themselves didn’t catch fire) to bring forth the mythical bird, the phoenix, which was said to be able to rise, reincarnated from a fire.” I realised that the relationship was father/son in the legend, but in a way, that was the sort of relationship Ronny Welbeck and I had for a while.”

I looked up the legend of Icarus and Deadalus, and here’s a potted version:

Icarus’s father, Daedalus, was an Athenian craftsman, imprisoned by King Minos of Crete. Deadalus attempted to escape from his exile in the palace of Knossos.

Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son, Icarus.

Trying his wings firstly, Daedalus before taking off from the island,warns his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to follow his path of flight.

Overcome by the euphoria that flying lent him, Icarus soared through the sky, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which melted the wax. The wings fell apart and Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.

Here’s a famous painting of the fallen Icarus:

Mourning for Icarus by HJ Draper

Robby and Danny Welbeck were chatting with me over a bottle of wine in the South of France a few weeks ago remembering, with fondness and anguish, their early modes of transport in getting to a gig.

Their first mode of transport was their legs! For their first schoo, gigs, they took their instruments there on the bus,  sometimes a coastal road open-top bus… and used the school music department amplifiers and PA. Theopen top bus still runs today along the Thanet coast.  But when the Welbeck Group use it, it’s just for nostalgia purposes  and they don’t have to lug the gear up the stairs to the top deck in the rain!

The only time we were let down was when Robby had a puncture and no puncture repair kit or spare inner tube. He was late for the school gig, and made sure that in future he carried a spare inner tube in his bass guitar case that was strapped to his back!

As they gained gigs in the South East of England, they used Danny Welbeck’s dad as a part-time driver/roadie until he was too unwell to continue. The vehicle was an estate car with the rear seats doen to take the gear, and the Welbeck brothers piles up as best they coul among the amps, cases and leads. The estate car was not really ideal, but it usually did the business. “It had a faulty clutch, leaked oil, and didn’t have any power-assisted steering, so it was a complete pig to drive!” said Danny. It was also, for some bizarre reason, registered abroad, in France. No-one ever understood why- maybe it was cheaper? Who knows?!!

Later they invested in that stalwart of all early bands’ transportation, the Ford Transit Van. Colin Cornell, keyboard player and songwriter with the band remembers that the transit was like a Tardis- you looked at all your gear on the pavement and thought “That will never all go into the van!”  But invariably it did- even if it meant one of the band (usually the drummer, Alex) had to get a bus or train home!

They then moved on to using a hire firm to transport them and their equipment to their gigs as they got bigger and better venues across the country.

Finally the Welbeck Group now travel in style as you can see: