Just how far-fetched is Get Him to the Greek, the new movie by Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller, which reprises Russell Brand’s rock star character from that film?
In the comedy, which opens this Friday, record company exec Sergio Roma (Sean “P. Diddy” Combs) entrusts intern Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) with the task of getting England’s Aldous Snow (Brand) to his 10-year anniversary concert at the Los Angeles Greek Theatre.
“He is rock music personified,” Green notes, and the craziness ensues from your basic all-night party antics to the ol’ drug balloon up the bum trick to clear airport security (a.k.a. “candy in the jar,” as Roma puts it).
Many people might think the script is over the top, but ask anyone in the music business and they’ll have at least one similar story. Toronto’s R.J. Guha recalls promoting a concert in the mid-’90s by Lee Scratch Perry when the Jamaican reggae/dub legend refused to perform.
“He said, ‘The hotel’s haunted. I’m not staying here and I’m not playing.’ We had to move him from the old Ramada on Jarvis to the King Eddy for three times the price,” recalls Guha.
“Then he decided to play, and even then he was late, showed up and blew his whistle all night.”
Record producer David Bendeth (Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, Hedley), a British-born Canadian now running his own studio in New Jersey, says “stuff happens” between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. — “that’s when artists get into trouble.” Knowing this, he doesn’t schedule any recording sessions before noon, and still they “never” start on time. “Then we have the maid open the room and we find 33 beers on the floor. That’s happened like 20 times.”
Cam Carpenter, who has done marketing, artist relations, publicity, marketing and A&R for the majors, recalls a misunderstanding with an English rock star when he didn’t go backstage after a show. He had seen him earlier, but was later spotted hanging out with the opener. After the irate singer wailed on the label president, Carpenter had to rush to Ottawa to straighten things out.
“I called a limo to take me home to grab a change of clothes, went to Cherry Beach to catch an Air Canada helicopter to get to Pearson, flew to Ottawa, caught a limo to the venue and made it to soundcheck on time, only to find out he refused to see me,” Carpenter says, sounding like this could be a follow-up to Get Him To The Greek.
“I caught a drive to Montreal the next day, was turned down at soundcheck again and then one hour after the sold-out show was taken in to the dressing room for our one-on-one. He seemed happy to see me, we had a pint and whatever was bothering him seemed to be forgotten.”
Chances are when Roma tells Green in the movie, “Your job is to control the artist. If he’s too messed up, hit him with this adrenalin needle,” that no other record exec has gone to that extreme. But there might be someone out there with a story like that.