QUEENSRŸCHE members Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield and Parker Lundgren announced on June 20 that they were parting ways with singer Geoff Tate and recruiting powerhouse vocalist Todd La Torre of CRIMSON GLORY as his replacement. The new QUEENSRŸCHE lineup has already performed live, having played two shows in their home city of Seattle under the name RISING WEST.
Tate revealed in a recent interview with RollingStone.com that he filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates on June 12 in King County Superior Court in the state of Washington in order to “sort out who is what, and who owns what, and that stuff.” Tate is also attempting to get a court injunction against Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield that would prevent them from using the name QUEENSRŸCHE for their new group.
On Monday, July 9, Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield filed a response to Tate‘s motion for preliminary injunction and included individual declarations from all of the defendants supporting their position that Tate‘s motion should be denied.
In his sworn “reply declaration in further support” of his motion for preliminary injunction — which was filed this past Thursday, July 12 in the King County Superior Court in Seattle, Washington and obtained by BLABBERMOUTH.NET — Tate says, “Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton allege that they, together with Chris DeGarmo, started the band THE MOB. This is incorrect. They were not a band. They did not have a singer and they did not have a name. When I joined, we became a band and we agreed on a name, THE MOB, after a song released by the band BLACK SABBATH.
“Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton are also incorrect in alleging that I did not contribute to the making of our first record, the EP ‘Queensrÿche’. I sang all the songs of the EP and with DeGarmo wrote what became the most popular song on the album, ‘Lady Wore Black’. I also helped pay for the cost for the recording studio.
“From then until last month, when I was kicked out of the band, I have been the lead singer and predominant songwriter for the band. I have never quit the band or wanted to quit the band. And contrary to what Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton allege, I never threatened to quit the band. QUEENSRŸCHE has been my life.
“Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton allege that I did not want to share songwriting credit with them and that, following DeGarmo‘s departure, I began rejecting songs they had written choosing, instead, to work with outside musicians. These allegations are not true. I have been happy to share songwriting credit. That is evident from the songwriting splits in the spreadsheet attached as Exhibit A to my initial declaration. I even shared songwriting credit during the later albums, although Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton were not entitled to the credit. I agreed to share songwriting credit equally among all band members for the ‘Q2K’ release even though Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton did not participate in songwriting. Rockenfield also received 30 percent songwriting credit for two songs on the ‘American Soldier’ album although he did not contribute to the songwriting process. He merely played the drums on previous recordings of the two songs, when the writers of the songs (who had been hired by QUEENSRŸCHE to write songs for the album) recorded them for demos.
“Also, as stated in my earlier declaration, I began working with outside musicians because Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton were not contributing toward songwriting. I did not want to work with outside musicians. Doing so is not in the band’s interests financially, since it costs the band money to hire outside musicians, or collaboratively, since it drives a wedge among the permanent band members. Just like I had done with DeGarmo and Wilton earlier on, I would have preferred to write songs with Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton, and repeatedly asked them for songs, but they did not provide the songs.
“Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton claim that I do not like the older songs in the QUEENSRŸCHE catalog and do not play them at QUEENSRŸCHE shows. That is not true. Those songs are a critical piece of the band’s history and, unlike Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton, I contributed to writing those songs. I also like playing those songs at shows. Indeed, I cannot and do not decide by myself what songs get played at shows. As a band, we decide on a particular cross-section of songs to play for shows. Among those songs are always a number of songs from QUEENSRŸCHE‘s earlier records. Indeed, recent shows have focused exclusively on earlier releases. For a show last year in New York City, for example, we played every song on our second full-length album, ‘Rage For Order’, which was released in 1986. For a show in 2011, on an ocean cruise called ShipRocked, we played the entire ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ album. I am also attaching as Exhibits A and B hereto the set lists for two shows we recently did, which show that QUEENSRŸCHE was performing a wide selection of songs that cover its entire catalog.
“Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton also complain about a cabaret tour the band did in 2010. But until recently they had not complained about that tour. The idea for the tour began with Lars Sorensen, a former manager of QUEENSRŸCHE who was head of entertainment for Snoqualmie Casino. He asked us to do two shows for Valentine’s Day and asked that they be ‘special’ or ‘different.’ He mentioned that another band had recently done a cabaret type show that had been successful. He offered QUEENSRŸCHE $50,000 per show, $100,000 total, which was significant, particularly since there would be no significant travel expenses. I discussed the cabaret idea with the band and they voiced no objections to the idea. Instead, their questions were limited to what they would be paid. The show was a success and the band agreed to do a tour of the cabaret style shows. We performed a total of 24 shows throughout 2010. Given the number of shows, the tour was very lucrative, especially considering that, in 2010, many bands were struggling to get any performances.
“Rockenfield, Jackson; and Wilton accuse of me of telling the audience at a concert that they ‘suck.’ But they take what I said out of context. I was not insulting the audience. Instead, I was trying to motivate or excite them. The show was the Rocklahoma festival in Oklahoma. It was May and it was very hot and QUEENSRŸCHE played late in the evening, after the fans had watched a number of other bands. QUEENSRŸCHE opened its set with a number of its older songs, including ‘Damaged’, ‘I Don’t Believe In Love’, and ‘Hit The Black’. 1 The fans were unresponsive. This has happened before and, when it occurs, as the singer, I try to motivate them to get more involved in the show. That is what I did here. I was trying to motivate them, inspire them to get more excited about the show.
“Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton allege that Susan Tate usurped control of the band. That is untrue. She reluctantly agreed to be our manager, and at half the pay of our other managers, only after QUEENSRŸCHE had problems with two other managers.
“In or around 2001, QUEENSRŸCHE was becoming dissatisfied with its manager at the time. QUEENSRŸCHE was interested in touring with two separate metal bands that were very popular at the time. Our manager told us that he had contacted them and, for one band, was waiting to hear back and, for the other, had been told the band was not interested. We contacted these bands directly, however, and were told that the conversations alleged by our manager had not occurred. Based on that, and other disagreements we had with our manager, the band members agreed to terminate its relationship with the manager.
“The next manager we hired, Lars Sorensen, quit. In response, Susan, who, by now, had been working as an assistant manager, was asked by Rockenfield to serve as the lead manager. Rockenfield‘s only question to Susan was whether she would continue to accept the five-percent fee she previously agreed to accept. This was less than half what other managers charge bands. She agreed. Rockenfield said he would ensure that Susan became QUEENSRŸCHE‘s manager. He went to the meeting and we all agreed she could be the band’s manager. She continued to earn half what other managers get paid until she was fired by Rockenfield, Jackson and Wilton.
“Approximately one year prior to the termination of Susan as band manager, Michael Wilton came to me and the other band members, and said that he wanted to hire Paul Geary as the new manager for QUEENSRŸCHE. The band members all discussed it and we agreed that Susan was doing a good job and that the band did not need a new manager. Rockenfield and I called Paul Geary. During the call, Rockenfield did most of the talking. We told Geary that we were not interested in hiring a new manager and that Wilton had contacted him behind our backs. The decision was not just mine alone, as Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton now allege. The decision not to hire Paul Geary at that time was a band decision.
“I previously discussed the incident in Brazil when I punched Rockenfield and slapped Wilton. I was upset at the time, having been told that my wife and daughter had been fired, and that I was ‘next.’ I regret losing my temper and my actions are not acceptable. It is also very unlike me to act in this manner. I do not lose my temper, become loud or threatening, or hit people. People who know me describe me as even keeled, mild-mannered and easy-going. And once the incident in Brazil ended, it did not continue. I did not threaten Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton during or after the show in Brazil. I also did not threaten them at any point after that. Although I have no doubt it was upsetting to Rockenfield and Wilton, they were not injured. It was also clear that they were not and are not afraid of me. They did not press charges or request a restraining order or try to commence any other type of legal action. They performed two more shows with me in May 2012. I also do not believe that Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton kicked me out of the band based on what happened in Brazil. I think instead that they had planned on firing me since at least February 2012 and that this incident just gave them an excuse to do it.
“In an attempt to prove that I have been violent before, Rockenfield mentions an incident in 2007. But he does not disclose what caused it. At that time, QUEENSRŸCHE was on tour. When QUEENSRŸCHE is on tour, at every stop, it sets up a booth to sell QUEENSRŸCHE merchandise. The sale of merchandise goes through Queensrÿche Merchandising, Inc. with profits from the sale of merchandise being distributed among the band members. At a show in 2007, Susan noticed hanging from the merchandise booth drum sticks and drum heads signed by Rockenfield for sale. QUEENSRŸCHE didn’t sell drum sticks and drum heads. Susan asked the man selling the merchandise about it, and he told her that Rockenfield had told him to sell the drum sticks and the drum heads and to give him the money. Rockenfield had not discussed this with the band first, and we did not know about it. It was unfair to the band because he was using valuable merchandise space and not sharing what he earned from the sales with the rest of the band. When the other band members learned what he had done, we were all upset. I tried to talk about it with Rockenfield. He was in his dressing room, sitting at his laptop. When I asked him about it, he would not even acknowledge that I was talking with him. He just kept staring at his laptop screen, indifferent about what he had done. Unable to get his attention, and becoming more and more upset about what he had done and his disregard for me, I shut the laptop screen down. I did not spit on him or push him, as Rockenfield now claims.
“As I mentioned in my earlier declaration, ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ was a concept album, a ‘rock opera,’ based on a story I wrote while I was living in Canada. The story was about a recovering drug addict, Nikki, who leaves mainstream society and joins a revolutionary group. When I first conceived of the story, I mentioned it to the other band members, but they did not like it. They eventually agreed to the idea and the album went on to go platinum, selling more than a million copies.
“In 2011, Zoetifex Studios in Pittsburgh became interested in producing an animated film based on the story of ‘Operation: Mindcrime’. As a first step, Zoetifex wanted exclusive rights to option the story into a movie. That way, Zoetifex could begin searching for investors willing to invest in the making of the movie. They approached Neil Sussman, the attorney for QUEENSRŸCHE, and offered QUEENSRŸCHE money for the rights. But I owned the copyright to the story, not the band. I had conceived of the idea and had written the story. It was no different than how songwriting royalties are distributed. If you write the song, you get the songwriting royalties. Similarly, since I wrote the story, I owned the copyright for the story. QUEENSRŸCHE‘s attorney agreed that the story belonged to me and that I was solely entitled to any money paid by Zoetifex for the option rights. He informed Michael Kadrie of Zoetifex of his position. Mr. Kadrie agreed and Zoetifex paid me $10,000 for the exclusive rights to the ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ story. Rockenfield, Jackson, and •Wilton‘s contention that I tried to ‘cut them out,’ however, is false. In addition, as the contract that they provide to the Court shows, during the negotiation process, which was handled by Susan, Susan negotiated with Zoetifex that, if the movie was made, QUEENSRŸCHE would get $250,000 to write the score for the movie. Susan requested this because, at the time, Rockenfield was interested in writing scores for movies, and he told Susan that he would like to write the score for this movie. As a result, Susan got Zoetifex to agree to hire the band to write the score if the movie was made.
“Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton claim they first learned of the Zoetifex agreement after this litigation was commenced. They were aware of it well before that. It was discussed during our meeting in February 2012.
“In their opposition, Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton request a bond of $10 million based on the statements of Paul Geary that he can book five shows a week at $20,000 per show between now and the trial date. That equals $4.8 million a year just on touring for 12 months. Mr. Geary is a band manager. He is not a promoter. The distinction is key since a manager tries to sell the band to promoters and promoters are the ones who decide to book shows for bands. Mr. Geary can only speculate on what the band can do over the next year.
“To my knowledge, QUEENSRŸCHE has never generated nearly that much revenue merely from touring. And I am convinced that, in its current configuration, QUEENSRŸCHE will never generate much interest from promoters, let alone anywhere near the scale stated by Mr. Geary. Furthermore, if QUEENSRŸCHE played five shows a week, every week, between now and the end of the litigation, they will completely burn the market. They will have played every single venue, including the smallest bars and restaurants, which would be remotely interested in booking them. This would be not only in the United States, but around the world. As a result, when the litigation ends, and the Court decides how to distribute the assets of the QUEENSRŸCHE companies, including the band name, the band name will be stripped of almost all its value since the band will be unable to tour.”
Photo credit: Stephanie Cabral