The head of an Auckland recording studio holding rights and royalties to 30 years of recordings by Th' Dudes says the studio offered the band a pay-out for songs recorded there.
Stebbing Recording Centre general manager Vaughan Stebbing says the studio offered the band - through former Dudes singer and guitarist Dave Dobbyn - a third of the royalties, around the time of the 2005 NZ Music Awards.
Dobbyn and fellow Dudes Ian Morris, Peter Urlich, Peter White and Bruce Hambling say the band have never received a cent from songs recorded during late-70s sessions at the Jervois Rd studio.
Instead, the band claims owner Eldred Stebbing has for 30 years collected the profits from the recordings, both in original album release and compilation form.
Vaughan Stebbing this week told the Weekend Herald the studio estimated it had made about $120,000 in royalties from Dudes material, mostly from sales of the Nature's Best compilations of the early 2000s.
Volume one of the compilation sold up to 140,000 copies, and the second volume about half that. .
After making an initial, lower offer, the studio had offered the band $40,000.
But it was rejected in "a very aggressive letter" from Th' Dudes' lawyers, and the band was now demanding about $75,000, he said.
Stebbing Studios' founder Eldred Stebbing said he had allowed the band to record in the studio, assuming it would recover costs through sales of the 2000-or-so albums produced.
"It wasn't until years after, when we were approached by other record companies to use [Dudes recordings] for compilations, that it built up the royalties."
It was then that the offer to Th' Dudes was made, he said.
"We did all the cost of production and remastering for compilation ... but they expect the whole lot of royalties back."
Vaughan Stebbing, who worked at the studio at the time Th' Dudes were recording, said sales of the band's first two albums - Right First Time and Where are the Boys - would not have covered the cost of recording.
But Dudes' lawyer Chris Hocquard yesterday rejected claims of dollar demands by the band, saying the statement of claim filed in court did not specify a sum.
Th' Dudes had no idea of their earnings in the years since recording with Stebbing, and the court would have to figure them out, he said.
"Part of the court process is these records will become available to us in discovery, and once we see these, we will be in a better position to see what's going on."
He said the band had been in discussions with Stebbing for years.
Stebbing had made one earlier offer of $7000 in 2006, but only after years refusing even to acknowledge a debt, Mr Hocquard said. "We all know we are not talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we know that the court process is too expensive to go that way, but every attempt to get anywhere, to date, has failed and has pushed us to the court as a last resort."
He also questioned Stebbing's claim the studio had made $120,000 from Th' Dudes.
"If they say they are around $120,000, then from how many units , and where are these figures?"
The matter returns to the High Court at Auckland next month.