FAQs

The SERIOUS Hat Band
[the top hat band]
Sykes

FAQs


Here are some of the questions we get asked the most frequently. If you can't find what you're looking for, please <get in touch.


Q: Do you charge VAT?

A: We have recently restructured things, selling a reasonably large chunk of our operation (a chain of comedy clubs since you ask). As well a very welcome injection of capital for buying new digital PA and lighting, it also means we no longer need to charge VAT to our clients. It's something to do with the three bands operating separately; but don't quote us on that. We're not accountants. But we can put you in touch with our Accountant if you'd like to talk about Accrued Earnings, nominal journal entries, deferred taxation and other black magic.

Q: How far in advance should we book?

A: We do get very booked up, especially over the summer and at Christmas. So to be sure of getting the date you want, we suggest you book as early as possible. Bookings are taken on a first come first served basis. However, we do sometimes get last minute cancellations. So even if there's not long to go, it's always worth giving us a call.

Q: Do you mind audience members getting up and singing with the band?

A: We love it, as long as you arrange it with us in advance. That way we can make sure we're adequately insured. We do ask that people singing or playing with band accept reasonable requests and instructions from the band leader. Good natured joining in is most welcome. Drunken stage invasions are not.

Q: Is your quote an all inclusive price or are there any extras that we should know about?

A: The price we quote is a fixed price. As long as you don't ask us to do anything different (like play at a venue 200 miles further away, or add extra musicians) the price we quote is the price you pay.

Q: Do you need a stage?

A: It's not something we insist on, particularly if it's an event for less than 200 people. But it is nice if there is one available. If there are more than 200 people coming to your event, it can be hard for them to see us without a stage. There can also be problems with the people on the dance floor tripping over our equipment.

Here's a rough guide:

Up to 200 guests Stage desirable (but not essential)
200 to 300 guests Stage at least 1 foot high strongly recommended
300 to 400 guests Stage at least 2 foot high strongly recommended
400 to 500 guests Stage at least 3 foot high strongly recommended
More than 500 guests Stage or raised area pretty much essential

More info...

Q: Can we choose which songs the band play?

A: It's your day. So if you can't find something on our repertoire list, let us know and we'll learn it for you. We have lots of experience in choosing the songs that make the party go with a swing so it's a good idea to remain a little bit flexible, to ensure you get a great show. You can use our song chooser to let us know which songs you love, like and loathe - or just browse our repertoire list.

More info...

Q: How can I be sure you'll be amazing on stage?

A: What a great band does on stage is made up of three elements, we think.

First, and most easily quantified, is musical ability. If a musician is worrying about which notes to play, he or she is never going to be able to focus on delivering an exciting and engaging performance. As well as being a multi-instrumentalist, our musical director Ed Dewson is also rather well qualified. Hes classically trained, with grade eight in two instruments, dual Honours degree (Music and Electronics) and a Masters Degree in Music. He also has 30 years' of experience as a band leader of auditioning, employing and working alongside musicians. So, if anyone knows a good musician when he sees one, it's Ed.

Second, we think it's crucial that the band enjoy their work. We know that excitement that we generate on the dancefloor flows from the excitement and enjoyment we feel on stage. It really is a remarkable privilege to make music for a living and anyone who is just going through the motions (no matter how musically talented they are) won't cut the mustard in any of our bands.

Finally, and here we may differ from other bands, we think it's actually all about you, and your guests. Despite working with plenty of rock stars and celebrities, we're well aware that we're at your event to entertain you, and not massage our own egos. Of course we want you to clap, cheer, sing along and dance like there's no tomorrow, and we'll encourage you to do so. But you won't have to worry about any fragile Prima Donna refusing to go on stage until all the blue smarties are removed or because the fizzy mineral water is not quite the temperature.

Q: Do you take provisional bookings?

A: No, sorry. One way to guarantee getting in a right old muddle is to have a diary littered with "provisional", "to be confirmed", "maybe or maybe not" type of bookings. We don't put anyting in our diary until you've confirmed and we've accepted the booking. That way, you know exactly where you are. With dewson entertainments you're not going to get any, "we've made a terrible mistake..." type of calls a day before your event.
All bookings are on a first come first served basis, and you can reserve a date over the telephone with a credit card.

Q: Do the band expect to be bought drinks all night and receive a five course meal?

A: It is usual to feed the band and provide some kind of soft drinks (water is fine). If you're having an evening buffet, and you're happy for the band to discretely help themselves, that's normally sufficient.

Q: Can we use your PA for speeches?

A: Yes. Once the band have set up, you're welcome to use our PA for speeches, toasts or any other announcements.

Q: What does the quote include?

A: The quote is generally for three 60 minute sets, plus recorded music in the breaks, finishing at midnight.
If you need us to play longer, or later, do let us know and we'll factor that into the quote. If we will have to carry our kit a mile across a ploughed field from the car park, we'll have to hire in a couple of strong chaps so the quote will go up a bit. The key thing is to tell us what you need and we'll give you a fixed price quote. Then you know exactly what you're paying.

Q: Where are you based and how far are you prepared to travel?

A: Our warehouse is in Enfield, north London though many of the members of the band members now live outside London. Our office is in Ipswich, Suffolk.

We constantly travel throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, from Cornwall to Scotland and Wales to East Anglia. We'd rather be out and playing than sitting waiting for work on our doorstep. We spend quite a lot of our lives in Travelodges and we've recently discovered AirBnB. So, we've now got lots of new friends up and down the country who have grown used to us bowling in at three in the morning.

We play in Europe regularly, particularly Monte Carlo, France, Spain and Italy, but also in places further afield like Scandinavia and the Middle East. If you're planning an event abroad, please take a look at the section on organising a band for an international event.

Q: Why don't you advertise?

A: We don't advertise because we don't really need to. You may see us featured in the Editorial pages of a glossy magazine from time to time ("Brides" Magazine called us one of the top 30 wedding bands in the UK) but our work generally comes from recommendations, by people who've actually seen the band.

We also don't pay venues, wedding planners, event organisers or agencies to recommend us. We know how the system of "preferred suppliers" works and we want nothing to do with it. Paying somebody to say nice things about you, or to include you in their glossy brochure, isn't really a recommendation. And it's certainly not helpful to clients.

We pride ourselves on doing a great job, both on stage at your event, and with all the organisation that leads up to it. We know that, if you're happy with what we do, you'll go on to recommend us to others.

More info...

Q: What is the difference between the bands?

A: Sykes has a female singer whereas The SEROUS Hat Band and [the top hat band] have a male lead singer. Everything else about the three bands is the same, from the playing time (three sets of one hour each, or equivalent), the repertoire and the instrumentation. In fact, we spend a lot of time and trouble making sure of this, even to the extent that, when one band learns a new song, the other two bands learn them too.

More info...

Q: We want to book the band but we don't have all the details fully planned yet. What should we do to make sure we get the date we want?

A: We don't need to know precise details at the time of booking. As long as you know the date for your event, you can make a booking. If you don't know precisely where you event is happening, we can quote for a range of travel options.

Q: We've heard horror stories about bands enjoying themselves slightly too much. What is your policy on drinking, partying and so on?

A: We have a very strict No Alcohol rule. We are there to entertain, but we're also at work. Every member of our bands is a professional musician and their livelihood depends on their professional standards of behaviour - both on and off stage. Since all of our gigs come from recommendations, we know that we're only as good as our last performance.

Q: Do we get a proper contract or is it a word of mouth agreement?

A: We confirm all our bookings with a written contract. When you receive it, we ask you to sign one copy of and return to us. You keep the other copy for your records. At the time of booking we also take a deposit of 50% of the fee.

Q: Our venue need to see evidence of Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Testing) and Liability Insurance. Can you provide that?

A: All our equipment is fully PAT Tested to Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (HSR 25) standards. We're also fully insured. We can send the necessary certificates either to you, or directly to your venue if you prefer.

Q: How much space do you need?

A: It depends on the size of band you've booked of course, but a practical working space is usually about 3 metres by 6 metres (that's 10' by 20' in old money). We've played parties in the front room of somebody's house, right up to big open air festivals, so we can work round your venue. But the more space you allow for us, the easier it is for us to make it look amazing.

More info...

Q: Our event is taking place abroad. Can you cater for that?

A: Yes, we've played events all around the world including Monte Carlo, Paris, Rome, Mallorca, Dubai and Sweden. Through our existing contacts we can arrange the logistics for events in most countries, and we are developing new links all the time. We have people who are fluent in Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Dutch and German amongst our musicians and staff, we so we can usually make ourselves understood.

More info...

Q: Our event is in a temporary marquee? Do we have to make any special electrical arrangements?

A: Yes. We will send you a Tech Spec to pass on to your marquee company, or you can download it yourself here. We're happy to liaise directly with the company if you want us to.

More info...

Q: How long do you need to set up?

A: We will aim to arrive a couple of hours before we start playing, to give ourselves plenty of time to set up.

Q: The price you've quoted seems very high for just three hours work. Why is that?

A: This is the question that all musicians love to answer.

By the time we step on stage we've already loaded up our cars with our own instruments and kit, driven to our warehouse and loaded up the van with the PA and lights, and then driven to the location of the event. We always allow plenty of time to set up, so we usually arrive several hours before we start playing.

At the end of the evening we have do it all again, only in reverse. So you can see why our working days are at least 12 hours, and often much much longer. Not that we're complaining of course, because it's the best job in the world!

More info...

Q: What equipment do you bring with you? Do we need to supply anything ourselves?

A: Apart from electricity, the band is completely self-contained. We bring all the sound and lighting equipment with us. So unless you're attempting to create a complete Saturday Night Fever disco floor effect, our lights will be quite enough for the dancers to strut their funky stuff.

More info...

Q: Can my boyfriend's band play a set while you take a break?

A: No problem, but we do need to make the necessary arrangements in advance so that we're not all tripping over each other on the night. You're welcome to use our PA and lights but we normally suggest you bring your own instruments and plug them into our sound system. We'll mix the sound for you, so all you need to do is play like rock stars!

Q: How much do you charge?

A: We don't have a fixed prices as our costs depend on many factors, the two biggest of which are the costs of paying the individual musicians and the price of transporting them and the kit to your location. The location and timings of the event effect both of those figures so we like to get it right from the get-go. And once we've quoted a price we stick to it (unless you make any dramatic changes to what you want us to do, like moving the event 200 miles further away or asking us to play until 5am of course).

We know it's a nuisance having to request a quote but we hope you'll agree that having an accurate figure from the outset is worth that extra trouble. And don't forget that we're normally available for you seven days a week, so you'll get a reply very quickly.

Q: How do we check if you're available for our date?

A: We don't publish our availability online as it often changes from moment to moment. We don't want people making plans, assuming we're free, and then finding out we're not. So, please get in touch and register your interest. We can than make sure we keep you up to date if things looks like their likely to change.

Q: How many people can your sound and lighting equipment cater for?

A: The simple answer to this is, as many as you like. Just let us know the size of your venue and the number of people attending, and we'll bring all the sound and lighting equipment you need. Our own professional standard, touring grade PA equipment is usually sufficient for most events. However, if you need us to hire in extra equipment for bigger events such as charity balls or larger corporate functions, we have excellent relations with the leading sound and lighting suppliers in the country.

For the technically minded amongst you, our in house speakers are Martin Audio and our amplifiers are QSX Audio or Lab Gruppen. Mixing desks and outboard gear are provided by the likes of Allen & Heath, Mackie, DBX, Behringer and Alesis.

Q: What happens is a member of the band is ill?

A: On busy nights we book extra musicians either to be on 'standby' or to come along and sit in with the band (at no extra cost to you of course). So, if the worst happens, we've already got it covered. If find yourself with an extra musician or two on stage, that's almost certainly why. We hope you'll think of it as an added bonus!

On top of this, many of the musicians in our bands are multi-instrumentalists. Most of the guitarists are also able to play bass guitar for example, and some of them also play keyboards as well. And more often than not, they're amazing singers too. Having one or two of these super-versatile chaps on standby means you're not only guaranteed the band will be there if bubonic plague hits our shores, but you'll also be blissfully unaware; we rotate the musicians around regularly to make sure everyone knows what everyone else does and their musical 'chops' are fully up to scratch on every instrument.

Contact Us


London, UK

Phone: 0845 838 5191

Mobile:

Email:

hatband


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