Gun Shy Assassin has been covering the mounting tensions between Death’s camp and the dudes at Sick Drummer Magazine — who organized the Death To All Tour — amid allegations from fans that VIP merch orders remain unfilled and rumors about musicians not getting paid.
Finally, the dudes at Sick Drummer Magazine have issued a statement on all these rumors, which prompted Death’s manager, Eric Greif, to issue his own statement — which you will only find here at GSA.
First, we’ll get you the Sick Drummer statement, and cap it off with Greif’s retort, which is a must-read.
“We have seen everything online regarding the Death To All Tour and the negative light being shined upon us,” says Sick Drummer. “There are always two sides to every story and we assure you that we did nothing more than tried to the best of our abilities to put on a great tour for all involved. The tour was (from what we understand) one of the best shows the majority of those who attended have ever seen, but unfortunately the tour just did not make as much money as originally projected.
“As for the talk of VIP merch orders not being filled or money from merch orders being held, we never held that money at all, as it was collected by a third party and all the post-tour orders have shipped,” says Sick Drummer. “We personally made replies on the DTA facebook regarding the post-tour merch orders and when they all shipped, but are no longer able to post on that page as we have been removed, even though we created it. Regarding the CD/LP for the VIP package holders, if our recordings are never able to be released, we have another exclusive item to make it up to all of you.
“The Atlanta and Dallas dates that were postponed were changed to cancelled so that general admission/VIP ticket holders could get their refunds if they wanted them, rather than wait for new dates,” the statement continues. “We always had the intent of making up those shows. If you have not received a VIP package refund for those dates, please send us a message and we will take care of you in short order.
“We can assure you that everyone on the tour has received full or partial payment and we have entered into individual agreements to resolve all payments remaining. As far as Sweet Relief is concerned, they will receive the full amount that was originally pledged, based on the agreement we have in place with them. We are the only ones to walk away from this tour making nothing and that’s fine with us. We lost money on the tour and to imply otherwise is simply false.
“We have spent the last 4 years promoting music for next to nothing and know our true fans understand our dedication, loyalty and sacrifice,” says Sick Drummer’s statement. “Seeing recent posts on Facebook pages and other websites that have garnered physical threats of violence against us, is both shocking and sad. Were there mistakes made? Yes, there are mistakes made on most tours. Do tours fail on a regular basis? Yes. Was this a huge tour to put together? Yes. Do we deserve to have violent threats made against us? Absolutely not.
“In the end we are still happy and honored to have been the ones to conceive, create and bring this tour to all the fans that were able to see it,” the statement ends. “We stand by all of our commitments/responsibilities and have never ventured from that ground.”
For the Sick Drummer dudes to say they’ve made no money doing what they do is a flat-out lie; they’re a member of the Blast Beat Ad Network. That may explain why a large number of sites have not picked up on this important story.
Now, here’s Greif’s full response:
“It is with profound regret that I must clarify the reality of the Death To All Tour, now that rumors are in full swing and Sick Drummer Magazine has issued a statement at their zine. First, I must thank the musicians and crew for making this such a wondrous experience for the fans. The Schuldiners & I were tremendously proud of how much Chuck’s spirit was captured by these nine seasoned pros on stage. What events these five shows were! So it should be clear that, on the surface, Death To All was an awesome experience for me as a fan, as the former manager of Death, and as the person legally entrusted with guarding Chuck’s legacy.
“I was approached by Anton Hefele of Grind Percussion LLC (who go by the business name Sick Drummer Magazine) with the enticing premise of he & his partner Ian Macdonald organizing such an historic tour, and I was asked to designate the charity of our choice. The Schuldiners & I endorse Sweet Relief (sweetrelief.org), so that was simple. I was assured by others whom I trusted that Sick Drummer was a legit organization and could pull the tour off. In fact, they themselves stated clearly that they had all contingencies sorted out to handle any & all tour outcomes, like any legit folks in the metal music business would. They guaranteed musician & crew salaries, worked the gig bookings out with The Pantheon Agency, and after some wrangling did a licensing contract with us at Perseverance Holdings Ltd. that would see compensation going to the Schuldiner family for the use of Chuck’s songs & the prestige of the Death name & logo. The biggest commitment they made, however, was that 20% of every ticket and merch item sold would go straight to Sweet Relief. This was the crux of why we’d allow this tour to happen under Chuck’s name.
“I trusted in these two guys from Sick Drummer Magazine. So did Jane Schuldiner, Beth Schuldiner and Chris Steele. So did the musicians. So did the Death fans. After rocky negotiations produced an 11th hour contract, including their cancelling of shows in Atlanta and Dallas (that they had added after the first five), we still gave them the benefit of the doubt. I was on the entire tour and witnessed first hand the organizational confusion and the financial incompetence, as did every musician. Clearly I knew there was no way they would be able to afford all of what they were obligated to pay, even despite sold out venues and purchased merch flying out the door. The sharp pain of worry in my gut was only eased by the thought that they had promised they could handle any outcome. I was wrong.
“I discovered within a month of the tour finishing that each musician, beyond a bit of cash given during the five dates, was handed a worthless check in Orlando, signifying most of their pay. I found that the same applied to the crew. Perseverance Holdings Ltd. was unpaid. The booking agency was unpaid. Worst of all: Sweet Relief didn’t get a single penny of the supposed ‘20% off the top’ that Sick Drummer had been touting.
“I had to break the news to the Schuldiners of the diabolical circumstances, and they were crushed. Still, I tried to keep this from the public. I went back & forth with Ian Macdonald who seemed to throw his hands in the air in a mea culpa of ‘we didn’t mean it, dude — we’re just shitty businessmen.’ All told, I reckon they currently owe around $100,000 to everyone, including the charity.
“Fans also started writing to us en masse to complain about missing merch and costly VIP tickets never refunded. When I started writing on the Death To All Facebook page that they should press Sick Drummer for refunds, I was suddenly removed from the page as an admin. Yes indeed Sick Drummer cobbled together promissory notes to give to everyone, whilst at the same time pleading with the musicians not to take any legal action. They even agreed that they’d never again undertake anything related to Chuck or Death…but, for whatever reason, they refused to relinquish a claim to the tour name ‘Death To All,’ which added insult to injury. But by then I was just numb.
“I want to apologize to everyone for having to write such a detailed statement so that the rumors can be put to rest. Some of you might say that none of this matters because the shows were cool and you had a killer time. But promises made are promises meant to be kept, especially contractual ones. Chuck’s name was used. The charity was meant to receive immediate cash. I have never insinuated that either Anton or Ian are crooks, but the truth of the matter is that my trust in these two guys has let a lot of folks down, and for that I am full of regret. We would like to see Death To All happen again, perhaps in different parts of the world, and next time this kind of financial fiasco will not happen on my watch.”
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And spread the word to other Death fans about this story. If this doesn’t spark some sort of rage in you as a metal fan, you may want to check that pulse.