According to the Associated Press a court acquitted on Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe on March 5th of causing a teenage fan’s death at a concert in the Czech Republic.
Blythe was charged in December in Prague with causing bodily harm to another person with lethal consequences. Blythe was accused of pushing 19-year-old who had climbed onto the stage during a 2010 concert at Prague’s Abaton club. The man hit the floor with his head and later died of a head injury.
Prague’s Municipal court ruled that Blythe was not guilty because what he did was not a crime, court spokeswoman Marketa Puci said.
Blythe, who had pleaded not guilty, acknowledged that he pushed the teenager because the band doesn’t tolerate any fans on the stage, but said he was not aware of any injuries.
In its ruling, the court said it was the concert’s organizers were to blame for the accident, Puci said.
The state prosecutors, who had demanded a five-year prison term for Blythe, said they will appeal the verdict.
Blythe said that the victim – who cannot be named in line with Czech privacy laws while the case still is handled by courts – was a fan of his band and he felt sorry for the loss of life.
“I had no wish to harm him. He was just a boy. I wish he was still here.”
The 42-year-old musician was arrested in June when he returned to the Czech Republic for another gig, not realizing that he was being investigated in the Czech Republic. He was released five weeks later on $400,000 bail after a Prague court dismissed a prosecution request that Blythe be banned from leaving the country, fearing he wouldn’t return for the trial.
The relatives of the fan, who are seeking compensation, were told by the court to file a separate case, Puci said.
John Parks of Legendary Rock Interviews spoke singer Geoff Tate about the Queensryche drama, lawsuits and click tracks. Portions of interview appear below.
LRI: Hi Geoff, thanks for talking with us. This whole situation and court battle over Queensryche is something most of us could never have forseen back in the 90s but yet here we are talking about it sadly enough. Is there ever a day where the whole drama just doesn’t even enter your head?
Geoff Tate: Oh yeah, quite often (laughs). Yeah, yeah….You know, initially, the first few months that this all started happening was a very difficult time but I’ve kind of gotten past that now and am in a much better place now where things seem a lot more brighter. I had my new solo album, Kings And Thieves and the tour supporting that and that helped, just playing shows and supporting that. I never even think about the former lineup at this point, of course they launched a lawsuit against me that I won basically and from then on, I really haven’t thought about it too much. Our court date isn’t until November, 2013 so I basically have until then until all of that is officially decided, which is quite a ways from now. A lot of water is going to go under the bridge before then, definitely.
LRI: You surprised more than a few fans in recent months with your statements that you wouldn’t be opposed to sitting down in a room and just trying to talk rationally with those guys. On an obviously much less important note I have noticed that those guys are often not that accessible from a publicity end. We have reached out numerous times to both Michael Wilton and were actually scheduled to talk to Scott Rockenfield but both times have come up empty-handed. Have you also found a series of unending emails or found them pretty difficult to reach directly? (laughs)
Geoff: (laughs) Yeah, that’s pretty much been my experience over the years. That doesn’t surprise me. You know John, you’ve probably recognized the fact that I have probably done 99 percent of the interviews over the course of Queensryche’s career. There’s a reason for that, there was a reason for that when I talked to you for the last album and there’s been a reason for that our entire career; I’ve been incredibly careful and diligent about presenting our image in a certain way. I’m recognized, pretty universally, as the spokesperson for the band and there’s a reason for that (laughs). I can reliably do my interviews and put a sentence together and I think I have a very good handle on what it is that I am trying to do within the band as the band leader. I have always thought that we were collectively on the same page about this over the years so when they fired me it came as a complete shock. It was like a kick upside the head that I wasn’t expecting at all, especially at this point in our career where we’ve been a successful band for 30 plus years and have a very respected name around the world. Why in the world would any SANE people launch this whole shakeup and fire everybody who is your support system and everyone who’s involved with you, cancel all your income for the year and cut your head off by firing the face and voice of your band. They have basically sliced their own throat and rubbed the name of the band in the dirt in this quest of theirs and have no sane reason why such madness was necessary. It doesn’t make any sense. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what their whole plan is, what is their plan after the court date, it just doesn’t make any sense.
LRI: I have heard you say that you think the whole lawsuit really has a lot to do with money and they have mentioned it was also creative differences. Your wife and daughter worked for the organization and were also fired, did they just get the feeling there were too many Tates in the kitchen?
Geoff: You know, when you have a group of people, you need a leadership in place and set up efficiently, somebody has to do it.
LRI: Had you heard internet rumors that they were using your tapes while Todd La Torre was performing at some of the earlier shows? That sounds insane.
Geoff: Oh yeah, but to be honest, that’s pretty evident. Queensryche has always used click tracks and backing vocals on the live presentations because Eddie can’t really sing and we haven’t had a decent singer in the band doing backgrounds since Chris left. In order to pull off the music you have to layer my voice in there so they used that and when they fired me and started doing shows they used the backing tracks that have guitar parts and keyboard parts and backing vocals. Honestly, I’m a lot happier doing what I’m doing now and my new bandmates and I hope that they’re happier doing what they’re doing. We are going to be performing all fifteen tracks of Operation Mindcrime as well as a great deal of additional material and based on the rehearsals I don’t think you or anyone else is going to want to miss it. I just wish that the three of them could have handled it all in a much more civilized way and just sat down like men in a room and said “Look, the three of us want to go in a different direction. We’ve had a good run, 30 years, how can we make this split happen in a way that we all look good and take care of the employees who have been with us all these years, how can we make it right?” There was no conversation like that, there was none of that. How can you treat people who have worked their asses off for you at below industry standard pay for all these years and just fire them via a letter? That is so cold, corporate and heartless. It is just unbelievable to me that they are now these kinds of people, the three of them are bad people, really, to do that kind of thing. What is so difficult about sitting in a room and talking about our situation unless you’re just so vindictive and mean that your only goal is to screw everybody. People are judged by their actions and I think their actions are very telling as to what kind of people they are.
Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is refusing to take part in meet-and-greet sessions on the band’s current tour because he says he doesn’t agree with fans paying $899 for the band’s Kickstart My Heart ticket package.
Lee says, “For those of you that are asking why I am not doing any more meet-and-greets – it’s got nothing to do with me not wanting to meet the fans. I just don’t agree with doing it under the given circumstances. I love you all and I’ll gladly high-five y’all if I see you – and you won’t have to pay me for that.”
Last year Lee released a furious statement slamming fan who tried to take photos in private circumstances, stating, “You wouldn’t want a handshake standing at the pisser in the bathroom next to me, would you? Or when you’re eating a quiet meal with your family, some rude jackass comes up and asks for a picture. Just take a second and think: is this cool?”
He later revealed the outburst came after someone attempted to snap a picture while he was collecting the ashes of his recently-departed mother.
On March 6th, 2013, Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society will playing a one-off set at L.A.’s Club Nokia, delivering stripped-down versions of a selection of songs. Accompanied by a four-piece string section, a pedal steel player and the promise of “special guests,” the entire performance will be filmed for an upcoming CD/DVD release called Unblackened.
In between rehearsals, Metal Hammer caught up with Wylde for an exclusive chat about Unblackened.
Metalhammer: So, how did the idea for Unblackened originate?
Wylde: “Well, the guys were asking about doing another DVD and we’d already done The Song Remains Not the Same, Boozed, Broozed and Broken Boned, and Doom Troopin’ Live, so I just said, ‘Instead of doing another heavy one, why don’t we just do the mellow thing? Like do one where there’s a string section so it’s different from the heavy ones.”
Metalhammer: How difficult was it to cobble a setlist together?
Wylde: “Put it this way, we don’t have the same problem that the Stones have yet,” Zakk explains. “You know what I mean? (laughs) Like six trillion songs to choose from… Between (all of the) albums, I think I put strings on thirty tunes and we’re probably going to end up doing maybe twenty songs.”
Metalhammer: Will the music still be heavy enough to make us want to break kitchen tables?
Wylde: “Well you know, when I mean ‘heavy,’ I mean that it’s got weight and integrity to it. I’m saying that if you listen to Desperado by the Eagles, it’s got some depth to it, you know? It’s got weight. It doesn’t seem like a cheesy, corny power ballad. Or Heart of Gold or Old Man, by Neil Young. These are not power ballads. They’re just good songs, but they’re slow. It’s just more of a mellow tune, as opposed to something heavy. When Sabbath did Changes, I didn’t consider that a power ballad. It’s a great, dark song. It’s got weight to it. Bridge Over Troubled Water— that’s got weight and depth. I mean, I’ll listen to Sarah McLachlan; there’s a lot of weight and a lot of depth there. It’s not cheesy, fluff, corny pop stuff, you know what I mean? Obviously there’s a certain time and place for everything…”
Band signs with Century Media Records, becoming de facto labelmates with former singer Geoff Tate
Billboard has exclusively learned that rock band Queensryche has signed with metal label Century Media Records for a worldwide record deal. The group will release its next album — its first with singer Todd La Torre — on June 11.
Drummer Scott Rockenfield says, “Century Media has been extremely enthusiastic ever since they came into the equation with us, and for what it’s worth it’s hard to find enthusiasm like that. After 35 years I guess I’m gracious and honored that we have people that are that enthusiastic about the band, so we’re really happy about moving forward with them.”
Century Media president of North American Don Robertson wrote in an email to Billboard about the label’s interest in the band, “Many of us at the label have been longtime fans of Queensryche as a band. When we heard they were recording a new record, we were all definitely interested.”
The deal resulted from Queensryche’s team putting out feelers for interest in the album. Conversations directly with the group began when the band met Robertson at the Anaheim, Calif., NAMM convention in January. Rockenfield and Robertson declined to reveal details about the deal, other than Robertson stating in his email, “We have the option to be in business with Queensryche for a long time.”
Queensryche announced last summer that it was recording that album with La Torre, after former singer Geoff Tate was fired from the band in June. But the group’s new contract is newsworthy on several counts. Since June, Queensryche has been in engaged in a lawsuit with Tate and his wife, former Queensryche manager Susan Tate, regarding the legality of his firing, his severance package and which party owns the rights to the name. The paperwork Tate submitted with his lawsuit included a declaration from Century Media A&R/product manager/InsideOut Music label manager Paul Gargano. Gargano’s declaration supported a preliminary injunction request (sought by the Tates) that would have prevented Queensryche and Tate from working under that moniker until the matter is settled in Seattle’s King County Superior Court. (Superior Court Judge Carol A. Schapira denied that request in July.)
Further, in the wake of his firing, Tate released his second solo album, Kings & Thieves, on InsideOut in November as part of a worldwide multi-album deal. InsideOut, which features progressive and theatrical metal, is a Century Media-associated label. That makes Tate and his former bandmates—Rockenfield, guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren, and bassist Eddie Jackson—semi-distant labelmates.
Topping all that off: Tate announced on Jan. 25 that he signed a contract with Cleopatra Records, known for goth albums and catalog reissues, to release an album with his own version of Queensryche later this year. For now, Tate and the original Queensryche are legally permitted to enter business agreements under that name. This resulted from a failed attempt by Queensryche to stop Tate from using the name until the suit was settled; Schapira ruled in October that both parties could continue working as Queensryche.
Billboard sent a request for comment to Tate about Queensryche signing with Century Media, but did not receive one by press time.
Gargano had summarized his declaration with, “In my opinion, based on my experience in the industry, the best course of action to take at this point would be to stop any tours or recordings by anyone in the name of Queensryche until the litigation is resolved.” One reason he listed was because he had seen how bands’ brand value were eroded “after those bands attempt[ed] to replace their lead singer, [especially] when they do so in an acrimonious manner.” In July, Gargano further commented on his position in an email to Billboard, writing in part that “the intention of the injunction was to protect the future value of Queensryche by eliminating the possibility of there being multiple versions of Queensryche. Not only did the judge deny the injunction—she also urged and encouraged that there should be two Queensryche bands moving forward. Which is precisely what the injunction intended to avoid.”
When asked if there was any concern about the potential for conflict with Tate or Queensryche in relationship to Gargano, Robertson wrote, “Our employees’ personal opinions in no way reflect the opinions of Century Media as a company. We expect there to be no conflict with any of our artists.”
Rockenfield says he isn’t concerned either. “To be honest, we don’t really care. The label wouldn’t be signing us if they weren’t interested in what we’re doing as Queensryche,” he says. “They know exactly what’s going on in the lawsuit. They’ve read everything, they did their own research because they’re not going to throw money and time and support into something if they didn’t know what they were doing. Don and Steve[Joh, head of Century Media A&R] are hugely supportive of what we’re doing, and that’s all we need.”
Robertson also stated that Joh, not Gargano, will oversee Queenryche’s A&R/product manager responsibilities.
In September Tate rolled out his own Queensryche lineup, followed by a November announcement that the 25th anniversary of the band’s 1988 breakthrough album “Operation: Mindcrime” would be celebrated with a tour. Two of those members (guitarist Glen Drover and drummer Bobby Blotzer) have since left the band. The lineup now features brothers Rudy and Robert Sarzo on bass and drums, respectively; drummer Simon Wright; guitarist Kelly Gray; and keyboardist Randy Gane. Multiple guest musicians are also performing on Tate’s upcoming Queensryche record, such as Brad Gillis, K.K. Downing and Ty Tabor.
As far as the original Queensryche is concerned, it’s focusing on its Return to History tour, which begins March 5, and completing the album. “Recording is finished. It’s that final stage where we mix and we master . . . It’s been quite crazy so we’re winding down so we can focus on the final section of the record, which is the artwork and the name and everything else,” Rockenfield says. The band has reteamed with producer James “Jimbo” Barton, who also guided Queensryche in the studio for its albums Operation: Mindcrime, Empire and Promised Land, for its latest project.
What will happen when the album hits shelves — and the lawsuit is settled — remains to be seen. The trial date is set for Nov. 18. Asked how it would affect the terms of their deal if its version of Queensryche loses the lawsuit, Robertson wrote, “I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it.”