If he likes the country, he may buy a house there (Croatia)
Money? It's just part of the process...
Paul Godfrey, the lyricist in pop group Morcheeba, takes a surprisingly laid-back approach to his finances - except tax
Saturday August 16, 2003
Morcheeba's back catalogue is worth several million pounds - but in 1995, the band's lyricist, Paul Godfrey, was so hard up that he almost signed away his song rights for £2,000.
He was on the dole at the time, living in a bedsit with his brother Ross, the group's guitarist and melody maker. "I remember begging my music publisher to sign up all my songwriting so we could buy some equipment," says Paul, 31. "I probably could have renegotiated later but, basically, I would have been tied in."
Fortunately, the offer was turned down. Within six months, the brothers and singer Skye Edwards had secured a record deal, bought a recording studio in Clapham and released their first album, Who Can You Trust. It cost just £10,000 to make, yet sold nearly 1m copies. The follow-up, Big Calm, was made for £20,000 and has gone on to sell almost 2m.
This DIY approach to making music paid off and, after years of scraping by, Paul had cash in his pocket. "I went through a very flash phase when the first cheques came in. I bought a hot tub and a brand new BMW.
"I guess worrying about money for a long time affected me to the point that, when we did make money, I didn't know what to do with it. I was just blowing it on drugs and booze for everybody, eating out all the time and ordering the most expensive champagne. Stupid behaviour," he now admits.
Despite impressive record sales and a lavish lifestyle, Morcheeba weren't out of the woods financially. In fact, because of touring expenses, it took them five years to break even. "In America it would cost us $100,000 a week, so any money we were making on records was immediately wiped out."
It was on tour that Paul met his wife, Jen, who was nanny to Skye's children. "I was in a bit of a state and she ended up nannying me as well!" he says.
They fell in love, got married, bought a flat in south London for £100,000, then had a baby, Oscar, now three. "It all happened pretty quick," says Paul. "I had to go from being this carefree drunken loon to being a sensible family man."
When their daughter, Eve, was born last year, the couple paid £425,000 for a home overlooking the sea in the Kent village of Saltwood, where Paul grew up. He owns another house in the area, has held on to his London flat and recently "chucked a load of money into a pension" on the recommendation of his financial adviser.
He knows how much money the band makes on every CD - about £1.50 - but ask him about the stock market or whether he has an Isa, and he looks stultified. "That kind of thing just bores the hell out of me. I can't believe people actually talk about it. I mean, there's always going to be money so I should just enjoy it," he says. "I don't know exactly what my incomings or outgoings are. Really, all I know is that at any one time I'm OK, which tends to be enough."
He would, however, like to be more savvy when it comes to tax. "I want to learn how to be a bit clever with that because we pay 40%. Last year, if we'd stayed out of the country for another week, we probably could have got out of paying tax in Britain altogether."
This year Paul, who also produces and DJs, decided to take some time out. Instead of touring he is spending the summer with his family, travelling aroundCroatia in a new £35,000 VW camper van. If he likes the country, he may buy a house there.
Meanwhile, Morcheeba's greatest hits compilation, Parts Of The Process, has been released. Paul denies that this spells the end for the band, although he does tell me that Skye is working on solo material and he is planning to launch a production and writing project with Ross.
Whatever happens, he isn't going to lose sleep over how best to manage the money he has amassed so far. "I came from nothing and I'm sure I could get through again."
How he spends it
Lottery: If he won £10m, he'd buy a desert island.
Best buy: A sampler for £600. He borrowed the money but it was worthwhile as it helped him break into the music business.
Tipping: If the service and food is poor he doesn't tip, points out why and never eats there again. If it's good he gives 20%-25%.
Prefers to pay: In cash or by debit card. He doesn't have a credit card. "I've got so much money in the bank that I don't need one!"
Collects: Records and watches. He buys and sells records through friends, storing thousands in his house and thousands more at the studio. His watch collection, which includes two Rolex Daytonas, is insured for up to £30,000. "I bought the one I'm wearing for £11,000 - it's worth about £15,000 now," he says. "If I fell on really hard times I could sell them. I'm not precious, I have them and I enjoy them but if they disappeared, I wouldn't mourn them."
Outlook: Paul was influenced by his parents, who split up when he was 10. "My mum's from a very working class family and lived in a kind of bombed-out squat after the war. She's very thrifty. My dad was from a wealthy background and was a wine merchant. He liked material things. I have a lot of that from him and I guess, when I do worry about money, that comes from my mum."
· Morcheeba are playing at the V Festival next weekend at Weston Park, Staffordshire, today and Hylands Park in Chelmsford on Sunday.