According to Courthouse News, ex-MACHINE HEAD bassist Adam Duce has filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates alleging trademark infringement, breach of partnership agreement and defamation, among other things.
Duce was fired from MACHINE HEAD on February 11, 2013, a few months prior to the band signing a new deal with Nuclear Blast Entertainment. According to Adam, he was expelled from the group "after he put 21 years of his life into it" so as to allow the other bandmembers to make a bigger profit.
Although MACHINE HEAD formed a general partnership and a corporation under which each member owned 25 percent, the band's guitarist/vocalist, Robert Flynn, got a larger portion of the band's income, Duce claims.
MACHINE HEAD's 2009 tour, which included dates with METALLICA, grossed more than $2 million. A 2012 Europe tour grossed more than $3 million, according to the complaint.
"After receiving very little compensation despite the millions the band was bringing in, plaintiff requested and reviewed the records from the tours. Plaintiff found that [the band's manager, co-defendant Joseph W.] Huston, Flynn, and PFM [Provident Financial Management] had squandered money throughout the trip without consulting plaintiff for the vast majority of 'expenses,'" Duce says in the lawsuit.
"Despite their increase in popularity and touring revenue, [Duce] became concerned with how little income he was receiving, despite the time and hard work put in to developing the band," the complaint states.
"Though he expressed these concerns to Flynn, Huston, and PFM, [Duce] was never satisfied with the answers he received."
The complaint adds: "Despite plaintiff's expressed concerns, he was unable to make enough money to live within his modest means. Because of this, when the band was not touring, plaintiff supplemented his income as a licensed real estate appraiser."
The lawsuit goes on to say: "After [guitarist] Ahrue Luster left the band and was replaced by [Phil] Demmel, MACHINE HEAD continued as a partnership in which all four members — [Duce], Flynn, [drummer Dave] McClain, and now Demmel — held equal 25% shares in MH from approximately late 2002 until February 2013.
"While early on, each of the partners had equal rights in the management and conduct of MH business, Flynn, with the help of Huston, began making unilateral decisions without involving the other partners, essentially usurping control of the partnership.
"Despite the fact that Huston received 10% of the band's gross income, he failed to ensure that the members of the band made even close to his 10% cut."
Duce alleges that Nuclear Blast, Flynn and Huston "wrongfully and intentionally conspired to expel and then did expel [Adam] from the band prior to signing the new record deal in an attempt to preclude [Duce] from enjoying the profits of the new record deal. As a direct, proximate result of these actions, [Duce] has been damaged in an amount to be proven at trial, but in any event in excess of $800,000," the complaint states.
Flynn wrote about Duce's departure in a "diary entry" on MACHINE HEAD's web site by "directly attacking plaintiff's work ethic," Duce says in the complaint.
"Therein, Flynn stated, inter alia, 'We may have fired Adam on 2-11-13, but Adam quit MACHINE HEAD well over a decade ago. He just never bothered to tell anyone ... but we all knew it.' Flynn went on further in the diary entry, continuing to say about plaintiff, 'No matter how un-happy [sic] or fed up he got, quitting the band would be seen as 'losing' or a 'failure.' Truth be told, he was sick of it. Sick of touring, sick of recording, sick of practicing, sick of looking at album artwork, sick of being-on-a-team-but-never-getting-the-ball, sick of yearning-for-the-honeymoon-to-resume when 20 years deep it never does. Sick of never quite hitting the big-time, sick of carving the niche ... sick of caring.'" (Ellipses in complaint.)
Adam claims that Flynn's "diary entry was libelous per se in that in contained untrue statements made to third parties that tended to harm [Duce] in his reputation and occupation." Duce adds that "Flynn published this diary entry without making a reasonable effort to ascertain the truthfulness of its contents." In addition, "Flynn was not privileged to make such statements in the diary entry. As a direct, proximate result of this diary entry, [Duce] has been damaged in an amount to be proven at trial, but in any event in excess of $1,000,000."
Guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn of San Francisco Bay Area metallers MACHINE HEAD has posted the following message on the band's Facebook page:
"For those of you just tuning in today, in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of our fifth album, 'Through The Ashes Of Empires', I've written a multi-part story in my General Journals, today is Part 3 of the story. I've decided to do a Part 4 and 5 to 'Through The Ashes Turns 10', because I realize there is more of the story that needs to be told, so most likely on Tuesday and Thursday of next week, I'll throw them up.
"Part 3 goes into the feud that happened between Kerry King [SLAYER] and I back in 2002.
'For the record: I'm not re-telling this to start and/or dig up old shit. I love Kerry, he fuckin' rules! We hung out two nights ago when SLAYER played in San Jose, we had a blast, got HAMMERED! But 10/11 years ago? Things were different, and in order to paint an accurate picture of where our heads were at for the writing of 'Through The Ashes Of Empires', this part of the story has to be told. It played a role. Consciously or unconsciously it definitely played a role.
"In 2002, Kerry King of SLAYER and I got into a public war words over disrespectful comments he'd made about MACHINE HEAD. For over a year, I had bit my tongue in hopes that he would lay off, and just give it a rest, but he didn't, and after a particularly brutal stab at us and me in particular, I went for the jugular. I fucking roasted him. Things got ugly in a hurry in public and behind the scenes it was even worse. The feud would last for 5 years until 2007, when at theMetal Hammer Awards in London it was squashed.
"I hated every minute of it.
"To have someone who had shaped your musical life so much, who took MACHINE HEAD on their second and third tours ever, who was a former friend and mentor to me, just ripping on you… it was tough. But after a while, you have to say 'fuck this.' It doesn't matter who it is, you have to stick up for yourself. I couldn't let the things being said go unanswered. It might've gotten truly ugly, but I think we both earned each other's respect a little more in the long run. I respected him for calling us out publicly, when so many people in the music business just talk shit and plot behind people's backs, he gave his opinion and what can I say? It stung. However, once squashed, I like to think he respected me for standing my ground and protecting what was mine. Maybe it was tough love from Kerry King? Maybe, but one thing's for sure, in some ways it fueled a lot of anger in me. Maybe it worked.
"In and around this same timeframe, Kerrang! magazine had shredded us in a slew of articles and show reviews. The U.K. magazine was famous for building bands up just to tear them down. At this stage in MACHINE HEAD's career, believe me, they were in full-on tear down mode.
"I had mentioned in an earlier journal about the U.S. press and how they essentially had blacklisted us. Coverage in any magazine was just about nil, nada, zilch. To this day, we've only had one major cover story and that was back in '99 for the now-defunct Metal Maniacs. American journalists were asking me during interviews to 'apologize to our fans for'Supercharger'.'
"Tours still did well and despite what the press has repeated over and over again, our fans stood by us. Sure, there was complaints from Head Cases [MACHINE HEAD fans], often times they said them respectfully to my face, or on the Internet, but they stood by MACHINE HEAD, and the ticket sales for those tours (thankfully) proved it.
"But regardless of all that, we had hit a wall in the music business. Sure, we had just re-signed with Roadrunner in Europe but our future in the U.S. was terribly uncertain. Silently getting turned down by 35 U.S. labels... man... it was a lot of rejection. It weighed on me. I began to doubt myself.
"Other bands were talking shit; ex-band members were talking shit (and still do).
"We'd gotten a little merchandise advance, but we were living month to month and about to be broke again at any day.
"It felt like the world wanted us to stop.
"The vultures were circling.
MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn has uploaded demo versions of the band's songs"Imperium", "Days Turn Blue To Gray" and "Descend The Shades Of Night" to the group's official YouTube channel. The final tracks were included on MACHINE HEAD's "Through The Ashes Of Empires" album, which celebrated its tenth anniversary earlier this week.
In the latest installment of his online blog, "The General Journals: Diary Of A Frontman... And Other Ramblings", Flynn offered up a lengthy explanation for how the demo recordings came to life.
"In May of 2002, not long after we finished the 'Supercharging America' tour, our-then-guitarist Ahrue Luster quit the band," Flynn wrote. "It seems weird even talking about theAhrue era of the band as feels like a lifetime ago, probably because it WAS a lifetime ago! Literally thousands of bands have come and gone from that era he was with us ('98-'02). We get on fine now, so I don't have anything negative to say about him other than he was just really a bizarre choice to get in the band. However, to his credit, he did bring in a some cool songs ('Blood, Sweat And Tears', parts of 'The Burning Red', parts of 'Silver' and 'Blank Generation'), but yeah, when he quit no one in the band was surprised, and most Head Cases [MACHINE HEAD fans] just went, 'Meh.'
"Once he was gone, we decided to continue as a three-piece and to write and record the next album that way. It was a good decision as we weren't interested in bringing in another person, and truthfully, we couldn't think of anyone off hand if we wanted to. We figured we'd cross that bridge when touring came up, and guess what? We had some pending European festival dates coming up in June. Someone (possibly [then-bassist] Adam [Duce] or our managerJoseph [Huston]) brought up getting my old VIO-LENCE guitarist, drinking buddy and partner in crime Phil Demmel to fill in for the dates. Phil was recently back on our radar as Adam had filled in playing bass for VIO-LENCE in the summer of 2001. But Phil playing with us? At first I wasn't into the idea. After I'd quit VIO-LENCE, there was a long period where Phil and I didn't talk, things didn't end on a good note, and I blamed him for a lot of it. On top of that, I had also taken a personal vow to never to mention VIO-LENCE in interviews, advertisements, album covers, ANYTHING related to MACHINE HEAD. I wanted MACHINE HEAD to stand or fall on its own merits and I wouldn't use my previous band in any way to help sell or sink it.
"When VIO-LENCE broke up, [Demmel's] next band TORQUE opened for MACHINE HEAD a few times, and later his next band TECHNOCRACY would open some shows too, but we didn't really hang out anymore. It wasn't until almost eight years later than him and I had a real heart to heart (leaving an Oakland Raiders game) that we cleared the air, and after that, we hung out a lot. Usually at football games or shows.
"Once I was on board, we decided to see what he'd say, so Adam reached out to him (viaAOL AIM... anyone remember that?) and Phil came back and said, 'Yes.' In fact, he told us that it would be perfect as he had decided he was retiring from the music business. He'd been doing it for 10 years since VIO-LENCE ended and he was frustrated. He had been married for a while, had a long-standing steady job and the band thing hadn't been working so what better way to end his music career than by jamming with one of his favorite bands? His choice was a good one, he'd be jamming with his old friends, touring the world for two weeks where he'd be playing over Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson, headlining festivals to 20,000 people and then go and settle down.
"It was perfect situation. We didn't want a band member and he didn't want to join a band and it was a simple agreement. Phil wheeled his stuff over from the VIO-LENCE rehearsal room (they'd recently reunited and had done a string of weekend shows, but were also getting ready to retire) and when we jammed together, it was just awesome! There was a chemistry. Something was different about the energy in the room. We all felt it.
"And while I felt something, I didn't voice it, I didn't want to.
"We went on tour and the first show was in Dublin, Ireland with EVILE and GAMA BOMBopening. The show was nutzo!!! About halfway through the show, I looked to my right and thought, 'Hey, I remember that guy!' There he was, stage right muggin' it up and smiling like a Cheshire cat every chance he got. The next show was a 'secret' TEN TON HAMMER show in London at The Garage (or as the Brits say 'the gair-ige') and hanging out on that small stage, jamming cover songs, annihilated on vodka, having onstage chug-a-lugs with hammered fans, and playing to a frankly insane group of Head Cases, there was something happening, something real, a connection.
"And it wasn't OK to talk about it...
"Because he was retiring...
"And we didn't want someone in the band...