In the final instalment of Who Killed Organ Freeman, the story of the mysterious disappearance of the serial pranksters’ Facebook page. We join band leader Simon Gabriel as he recounts the band’s long-running quarrell with Threshold Festival. The feud culminated this year in a video released this year by the band featuring someone purporting to be festival founder Chris Carney.
“…from the price of public toilets to what it means to be ‘grassroots’, the email response from Chris displayed quite a defensive attitude. We didn’t think this was an appropriate response for us effectively requesting £13 out of the festival budget for essential travel costs. .
‘We’re Not Getting Paid’, the resulting satirical song from the exchange should resonate well with anyone who’s played or promoted live music anywhere. It was positioned in our set a few songs from the end and before playing I told the audience about the emails, to which the whole room responded. I told them that there was a 20p coin on the portaloo floor, and if you’re brave enough to pick it up then you’re getting paid more than the band you’re watching. The festival crew were fuming, stood at their own festival getting booed by the audience. We began to play We’re Not Getting Paid.
As the penny dropped further, the sound was cut halfway through the song. The audience revolted and Carney looked a little foolish. It was a great exit for us – it really illustrated the point. We were taken into a small room and told to leave. I posted on Facebook that night and there was an overwhelming response and support.
Since then we’ve periodically wound Chris Carney up. We had the perfect opportunity once when he DJ’d on a podium above us during the LIMF closing show. I told the whole story with extra exaggerated details while he had no choice to stand there and receive the audience reaction. After our set he came down and was seething. Audiences old and new get the irony of the song, when we sing “We’re not getting paid! We’re not even joking!” at our shows, the promoters laugh, they understand, but it seems it’s just absolutely lost on certain parties”
With We’re Not Getting Paid a firm feature of their live set and a more and more advanced approach to social media trolling, Organ Freeman have plowed their own furrow in the Merseyside music community. Never part of any scene but a regular name on festival line-ups and gig nights across Liverpool and further afield, the band have proudly stood apart.
As well as their synth driven anarcho punk, the world of Organ Freeman has been built out of photo shopped imagery of niche celebrities, lampooning the local music community and revelling in slightly upsetting their chosen targets. Those chosen targets are innumerable and have few characteristics in common. Over this series we have learned about their campaigns relating to television chef Paul Hollywood, 2018s unlikeliest duet Sting and Shaggy, Steve Albini’s Shellac, and the cast of Liverpool’s prized alternative music scene. We also heard about a tiff with a band in west coast America who chose the same name So how did Simon square these online battles and the disappearance of band’s Facebook page?
“Two days after filing my issue with the Facebook Business Portal, I’m in a chippy in Southport and my phone rings. I miss the call, and when I try and call back I’m told it’s Facebook’s Global Marketing Solutions and I can’t make an inbound call. I notice an email from a man called Erez, he informs me that he just tried to call and I didn’t pick up. In his email he suggests I submit the page for appeal, however he sends me the form I previously tried where I could not see the page in the drop down to actually appeal.
“I reply to Erez that I cannot do what he thinks is the best option and ask if he’d mind calling me again. He does. Erez is a kind man, and wants to be helpful, but it’s obvious that Facebook Global Marketing Solutions is an outsourced team and not directly in touch with anyone on the actual Facebook side. He has limited resources and basically it’s clear he doesn’t have any information about our page. He asks me about the page, asks if we might have violated any of Facebook’s terms and conditions – I tell him any possible theories that I might have, I tell him the only thing I can really think of is this other Organ Freeman [the aforementioned LA Organ Freeman who we met in Part II], but he puts my mind at ease by saying if it was something like that then Facebook would have let me know and would have given us the chance to prove we’re the original name. He offers to appeal the page and send it internally. Things seem progressive and I part speaking with Erez. I wait…
“Erez emails me saying the page was removed due to ‘imitation’. I ask Erez to call me, and he does. I tell him that this is a big mistake and he’s empathetic and wants to help. I’m sure at this point it must be the LA Organ Freeman so I’m asking him what I can possibly do to have Facebook correct this. He tells me he has no idea if it’s this other band, or if it’s anything else, all he got from Facebook internal is that was the reason why. He appears to be separated as if they operate from a fort or something. He asks for ‘documentation’, I’m unsure what he means, and he says ‘anything that could show you’re not imitating anyone’.
It’s annoying because our Facebook is older than theirs, that’s proof. Regardless, myself and band members scour the the web for articles, links, photos anything with a date on to take us back 9 or 10 years. It’s an interesting task because there’s lots of memories uncovered, the disappointing thing is that it also reflects how much we lost in the facebook removal itself. I send the ‘documentation’ to Erez. I wait…
Erez calls me. I’m at work and I step outside. He tells me that’s it, Facebook can’t and won’t reinstate the page, with no more info, but it’s Facebook’s ‘final decision’ and have closed his internal ticket. I’m annoyed at this stage but it’s hard to be mad at Erez, who’s got such little information to back up their bad decision. He even tries to theorise more with me. “If it wasn’t this other band, what else do you think it might be?” he asks. “If it was a post they would have taken it down, so it must have been a part of the page itself that violated it.”, I describe the kind of stuff we’ve posted in the past, he doesn’t laugh, in the process of picturing the page I remember that our cover photo was of Sting & Shaggy…
“I tell him that and he replies “that could be it”, and tells me to wait second….
“There is a silence as Erez checks something. He can see some information about the origin of the original removal request was filed by. It’s a record label….”
One way or another, Organ Freeman’s comedic output came back to haunt them in November of this year. Simon Gabriel’s communication with Facebook representative Erez suggests that an established record label was behind the deletion and that it was due to imitation. Paul Hollywood took the Glastonbury baguette rouse in the spirit intended. The cast of Organ Freeman – Testimonials were presumably happy the suffer minor digs accustomed no doubt to the ways of the band. Even LA Organ Freeman, as bitter as they seem to be, would not go to the trouble of having all the original Organ Freeman’s memories erased without warning.
A&M Records is the label which inflicted Sting and Shaggy’s duet album on the world this year and it seems at the same time deprived a three-piece from Birkenhead of one of their main creative outlets. Despite Erez’s cooperation, it’s unclear why Simon did not receive a more comprehensive explanation to the reason behind the deletion and what is even more puzzling is the fact that no warning was given. There were plenty of parody images Simon could have replaced the current Organ Freeman Facebook profile picture with.