Hindley Street Country Club Partnership ends in Supreme Court
With 250 million YouTube views and rapidly approaching one million subscribers, Adelaide band Hindley Street Country Club should have been a very happy collective. Instead an ugly court battle has laid bare an audacious and acrimonious split that emerged in May 2021 when co-founder and producer Darren Mullan suddenly disappeared from the weekly videos.
In short order the videographer and a number of major stars left, leaving HSCC looking less like the eclectic collective it had been – with over 110 different faces appearing across three years – and more like a cruise ship covers band. Suddenly some awkward product placements started to appear. Mullan's signature flourishes were missing, and HSCC was in the hands of one man – bass player Con Delo.
Delo is a package of bravado, brilliance, arrogance, charm, seething explosive anger, musicality and lofty demands. He had signed a rep agreement with me in late 2019, after seeking someone to promote the band outside of Adelaide. The agreement terms were soon overlooked as he changed everything. What was a 50/50 profit share became a demand for $10,000 a show – just for him. The band would get $400 each. He called me every day for a year – including Christmas Day - often more than once. Sometimes from his car, his signature opener: 'Jules, this will only take a min…..' followed by an explosion of road rage at some hapless Adelaide motorist who suddenly had a bald maniac exploding at them. "I turn green", he told me.
Often the topic was the growing number of shysters, grifters and Vegas bottom swimmers who were feting Delo. The YouTube numbers acted as a magnet. The more views, the greater the delusions as Delo was duchessed by a stream of fast talking shonks offering tours of the East Coast of the USA (unlikely), a month's residency at Dolly Parton's theme park (unimaginable), or a long season at one of the broken Vegas casino rooms.
"Con, I've spoken to people about Vegas", I said. "You gotta BUY the room and float the show, they will drop you after two weeks if it doesn't sell". And I said: "'Show?' You don't have a 'show', you are an excellent covers band but without dancers, costumes, video or a theme. And they will be as confused as fuck with the COUNTRY CLUB reference. I can't get venues in Australia to take us seriously because of that!"
One venue booker in Queensland told me outright: "We don't do country". FFS, I'd replied. "Eskimo Joe doesn't have a penguin in it! HSCC are not a country and western band."
But the calls kept coming, akin to a daily Delo bellow. At one stage, Delo said someone claiming they represented Hugh Jackman offered he would like to work with HSCC. Like stage fog, the hype and delusions vaporised.
The pandemic killed my involvement since I had an agreement that could not be delivered. At one last meeting in Sydney early 2021 when he came to see his kids, he turned strangely melancholic. "Jules, this is my last roll of the dice. I'm a middle-aged cover band bass player". Then he paid for my coffee and toastie. It was disconcerting. At that meeting he was obsessed with overthrowing Mullan and I'm cautioning him to settle amiably. "Yes Darren will be looked after", he said solemnly.
I look at myself in the mirror today and ponder how I got involved in this Greek tragedy. I'm aggression adverse and yet I'd partnered with a human hand grenade. The music spun me, some of the 300+ live recorded HSCC tracks just went to another level, particularly those featuring the now departed Sarah Lloyd, Nikki Heuskiss and Andy Seymour. (I now represent two of these).
Come May 2021 and Mullan was disappeared. He went legal. Delo ignored the lawyer, then started corresponding with his own version of garage law. Eventually Mullan raised a Supreme Court writ and Delo was forced to rent a lawyer. Costs on both sides skyrocketed. The weekly payments from YouTube were frozen.
Meanwhile Delo found a new artist rep in former Fleetwood Mac manager Dennis Dunstan. Dunstan had weathered many wars with that band, which fuelled legends, books and documentaries. Presumably his experience and counsel would easily deal with Delo, and soon a series of live dates were booked as borders opened and restrictions eased.
The 'new' version of HSCC sold out most shows, with more booked into the future. They are reportedly an excellent live show – albeit without a theme.
I was approached by Mullan's barrister and swore an affidavit in which I recounted many discussions with Delo about his HSCC partnership. I detailed conversations in which he expressly directed me to not talk to Mullan along with a lot of partnership detail.
Amazingly Delo was claiming in court documents that there never was a partnership with Mullan, that they were simply joined contractually - without producing a contract to support that proposition. It was plain: Delo was attempting to take over HSCC while trying to restrict Mullan's future career. Mullan was unable to start his own YouTube channel while the matter staggered through long and costly mediation.
Delo had incorporated a new HSCC company and venues were now eager to sign deals without knowing the ultimate control over HSCC was in jeopardy. That stuff is kryptonite for venues who all know of shows that come branded and then get stiffed when an original band member takes action to remove the brand. HSCC was on very fragile ice.
Mullan wasn't talking – to me – but sources said he was so incensed at proceedings he was prepared to shut the YouTube channel and thus strangle the project. He had, I was told, supervised distribution of proceeds from the videos to the players, using a complicated formula. Delo was less inclined to be equitable and was issuing various stories about what had happened with Mullan. The band room became toxic, departing musicians spoke of a culture of aggressive control.
It was never clear how the YouTube revenues are split – I estimated current payments were pushing over $5,000 a week based on the exponentially growing views. Some songs have reached 10m+ views. The catalogue before May 2021, when Mullan got disappeared, continues to yield solidly. Some of that money did filter down to the individual musicians who were initially delighted to get worldwide exposure and thousands of comments during a global lockdown.
A YouTube interview with ManOPause in June 2021 unsettled some of the diaspora, as Delo spent almost an hour taking complete credit for the success of the band, which until then was looked upon as a collective. Delo bounced between narcissism, vanity and false humility in the video with the American hosts drawing him out in disbelief. Soon tagging itself as the 'World's Greatest Cover Band', the rift between the talent and the boss grew.
Then came the Supreme Court showdown, after Delo and Mullan were said to be in prolonged mediation. They settled on terms that are not public, and Mullan established his own YouTube channel called 'Sing it live' at the end of April 2022. The legal costs for almost a year of lawfare would be astronomic.
Delo and Mullan were approached for comment but did not respond.
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You know, I guessed that there must have been a personality clash that caused the HSCC to hemorrhage. Jealousy is a curse and has caused many a rupture in teams, whether they be bands, sporting teams, groups of mates etc.
Thanks for the clarification.
It won't be long until Kat goes out on her own. She will be a huge star.
In hindsight, I think there was just too much talent for just one band. Add in testosterone, and, well, you see what happened. Maybe now, if the parties would just GROW UP, and realize that they could STILL benefit from one another. Imagine a Vegas (or other) residency where the two (or three) bands rotate at the same venue. I know I'd pay for 2 or 3 shows, since I appreciate their talent. And the performers (especially the vocalists) would be well rested between shows. Something to think about. Also, I wonder if the outcome would have been the same if the ladies were the decision makers....
The difference between these two guys is that one will stab you in the back and the other will stab you in the front.
They are both NOT trustworthy. Some really good musicians have been burnt by both of these guys.
One of those guys burnt his bridges in Adelaide some 28 years ago. Went away to NT and he has now burnt the rest of the bridges since he's been back.
Sad to see the HSCC gig finish, but not entirely unexpected! You could feel and see the arrogance ooze from Con, we would often comment on him when watching video clips, he's a typical narcissist! Actually saw him do a solo at a venue a few months ago, had no stage presence or created any atmosphere or engaged the crowd, in fact looked quite surly, venue could've saved themselves the fee and just had musac playing in the background! And good to see Darren M doing the new gig!
Kia Ora from Aotearoa - New Zealand.
I wondered where the tall blonde Pakeha on Keyboards with an awesome voice had disappeared to ...
Con the Baldhead could play the Bass but couldn't sing for "S**T" ...
Typical of a Cover Band ... they all end up with personality scraps and then demanding money,
then they end up hating each other ... only a common kaupapa / philosophy can keep Bands
on the 'right track' and together ... typical the EGO and GREED gets in the road. A Shame the HSCC FAIL!!
Loved the Music Songs Singers Muso's ... Shame they let that all FAIL!! due to Ego!
Darren Mullan always looks like he's enjoying himself when he's playing. Con looks like he has no idea how to smile. I watched the HSCC in spite of Con. The production and arrangements just weren't the same after Darren left. It has come back with full force on his new channel Sing It Live. If it wasn't obvious before where the ultimate talent was with regards to song choice, arrangement and production, it certainly is now.
Psychopathic traits commonly include:
Callous, unemotional traits
Lack of guilt
Lack of empathy
One of the cofounders has repeatedly made mention of Vegas and wanting to be a touring band - almost certainly another reason the variety and rotation of performers has narrowed.
And that's cool. That's what some of those involved want, and they are entitled to pursue their dreams.
Clearly, the other cofounder did not, for whatever reason, want to go to Las Vegas.
And that's cool. Not everyone has a Vegas dream, or wants to tour.
But when people want different things, you *NEGOTIATE* a fair path forward, you don't just TAKE what was built together and cut someone out of it - which is obviously what happened, since it ended up in court. Come on - no one walks away from something once it hits its stride, after having done all the grunt work to get it underway. No one walks away from something that was a dream starting to manifest. A 'choice' or a 'decision' to leave under duress is not a choice freely made.
There have been a number of comments on this across social media - sinking the boot into the aggrieved party, or laying blame on "both" parties because they 'couldn't work it out' is pretty piss poor. This article alludes to protracted attempts at mediation until Mullan took it to court. What does that tell you?
Can you just imagine how must Mullan have been feeling, to lose what he invested his heart and soul into, to be invisible and disparaged, to suck it up for a year, and now to have to start again?
Has anyone who has been quick to criticise "both" parties for ego or whatever even considered how this must have cost him financially, not only legal costs, but income foregone to work on this while years of his studio time went to HSCC, the equipment and skills gifted to it, and the time required in post production, long after recording sessions had ended - that gave ALL those musicians a platform they wouldn't have otherwise had? Since when is standing up for yourself and your work - and indeed the work of other contributors - about ego?
Its assumed there is always blame on both sides. Sometimes, there's really not. Sometimes you just can't work with someone, in which case who'd want to rebuild a burned bridge?
The lesson here is to work with who you can trust, who understands reciprocity, and that everyone needs to win.
There are great performers in HSCC, everyone should support them: www.hscc.com
There are great performers debuting (and returning) on Sing It Live, and everyone should support them: www.singitlive.world"
This is standard practice for Constantine (aka Con) Delo. He once attempted to steal a residency from a band that his own Son was playing in.
Just imagine trying to steal your own Sons work. An amazing display of envy and sense of entitlement.
For the 20+ years I've known Con he has been ripping off Musicians in Adelaide and Darwin.